If you’ve been keen to start VJing as a career or even just thought about taking it up part-time to make some extra money on the weekends, chances are you’ve heard of tools like Resolume or MadMapper.
While some softwares are great for a complete live VJ performance, others can offer very specific features like projection mapping or generative visuals. Knowing exactly what you need to accomplish and which tools would work best can not only help you speed up your process, but also help you deliver quality work consistently.
So in this blog let’s talk about the top 5 VJ softwares for you in 2021 & what each of them do
Top 5 VJ Softwares
No VJ list is complete without Resolume, so let’s just get this out of the way. Widely regarded as the industry standard VJ tool, Resolume comes in three different options – Avenue, Arena & Wire.
The easy user interface & almost infinite tutorials online, make it easy for a beginner to pickup the software & begin performing. Resolume Arena brings with it all the power you need to create spectacular video mapping shows & LED installs.
Resolume’s huge user-base means the software is constantly evolving with new features & functionality being added constantly.
VERDICT : Easy access to tutorials & an established community makes Resolume the best VJ software for you to start with.
This name might be new to you. VDMX is slightly different from most of the other tools available today because it was designed & developed by a team of coders that believe in the open source framework. This means that the source code is made available for other users to experiment with.
Another interesting perk with VDMX is that it’s fundamentally based on the concept of audio-reactivity. So you can analyze audio and create amazing graphics using various elements of the audio. It can also serve as a lighting console for a more versatile performance.
Unfortunately, VDMX is currently only available for Mac.
VERDICT : If you are a computer programmer, using VMDX might be the perfect solution for you because you can use languages such as Quartz, Composer, Vuo, and GLSL to create custom visual effects.
Modul8 is predominantly used for real-time video mixing. While it offers more or less the same features as other softwares on this list, Moudl8’s unique factor is its ability to build and share modules of the program with other users.
You can easily install modules you download from the user database of previously built module’s and never be left behind with new and advanced development. Which in my opinion is a pretty great feature.
There are a few drawback though. Again it’s only available to Mac users at the moment. Moreover, Modul8 has a rather strange user interface. Although, one might argue that it’s layout is fairly intuitive to light engineers.
VERDICT : Modul8 can be a really powerful tool if you’re well-versed with VJ concepts & the software’s layouts. But a steep learning curve makes it difficult for new users to pick up.
MadMapper is more of a projection & pixel manipulation software than a VJ tool by itself. It was designed to conveniently shape displays & that’s exactly what it does best.
That being said though, this has been my goto tool for the best part of 3 years. Easy layering options, MIDI compatibility & cross-platform integration make it a super versatile tool. Especially if you’re mapping.
MadMapper is available on Mac & Windows. Moreover, it offers a convenient ‘rent’ option that gives you access to all the premium features for one month at a reasonable price.
VERDICT : Not particularly a VJ software, but hands-down the most convenient tool when it comes down to projection mapping or pixel mapping. A great tool to use in combination with any other VJ softwares.
Ok, I might get a little shade for adding Touchdesigner to this list, but I couldn’t help myself!
TouchDesigner is a node based visual programming language for real time interactive multimedia content, developed by the Toronto-based company Derivative. It’s been used by artists, programmers, creative coders, software designers, and performers to create performances, installations, and fixed media works.
It’s convenient node based interface may seem daunting at first, but opens new dimensions when it comes to creating or performing. You can create intricate systems that perform almost any bizarre function you can imagine & incorporate all kinds of systems into your performance.
You might be interested to know that the famous cube by Deadmau5 was completely imagined, developed & performed using Touchdesigner.
VERDICT : While it might not be the best tool to start with, you might want to consider giving TD a shot. Especially if you enjoy coding!
So that’s my top 5 VJ softwares!
I have to admit though, that these are by no means the only tools available. There’s an abundance of softwares made specifically for VJs & live visual performances. There might be a software that’s better suited to your needs or you’re more comfortable using; that’s not on this list.
In which case, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a comment below and let me know!
Resolume VJ Course
If you’re keen to learn more about the art of VJing, on Resolume specifically, you might be interested to check out our VJ course with me. As part of the course, we’ll cover topics like setting up MIDIs, the business of VJing, projection mapping and more.
Check out our course here!