Digital DJ -- how to move from CD to DVD, and create visuals for ripped vinyl?
October 30, 2004 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I've been a DJ for many years...but only in the last two have I really embraced CD's...and still carry a huge chunk of vinyl to every gig. Now the club I am at is going completely digital - and its worse than just CD's...I need advice...theres more once you get past the doormen...

So...the club I play at every weekend is buying new DVD players (and a video mixer) - these will allow me to cue and mix (and even scratch) in much the same way as a normal CD system allows you to replicate vinyl usage.

Which means two things - firstly I need to get all my new music on DVD's...and that means editing up my own DVD's - can anyone suggest software/tools to make this happen (win XP at home, and reasonable skillz and power)

Secondly - theres plenty of music that I get on vinyl, which has no available video...I'm comfortable ripping and making CD's, but how the hell do i put a visual with that, and make it into a DVD I can play live.

PS - They are ditching the vinyl after I stopped crying, I realised I couldn't just 'buck the trend' and take vinyl anyway. I love the club and the I don't just want to DJ elsewhere.

Any advice....greatly, sources for video and ideas on visuals specifically wanted.
posted by mattr to Technology (4 answers total)
Hi Matt. Nothing directly constructive from me I'm afraid, but you could do worse than to take your question to UK-Dance too. There are a few multimedia dj and vj types there, including a couple of people from Raya. It's a nice little community all round, and I'm sure you'd get some good input. The Big Chill forum might be worth a try too, but I don't really use it myself.
posted by bifter at 11:15 AM on October 30, 2004

You don't write, you don't call... we're worried about you, son. Why not pop in on Sunday and we'll have a nice chat, maybe cook something up for you. What do you say, Mattr?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:18 PM on October 30, 2004

I seem to be recommending this quite often :)

I love Traktor DJ studio, and I started DJing on reel-to-reels, old belt-drives, pushbutton-useless technics 1500s, autogram radio program mixers with the giant knobs and stuff. I even wrote a how to once.

A 500 mhz to 1ghz p3 with a defragged HD runs Traktor quite well, and will even easily spin mp3/CD from the CD drive, or from external USB/firewire drives. (at least v 1.5)

All you need is inputs to the booth and you've got your own deck, all your tunes, your interface is all yours and always yours and life can be pretty sweet.

There's a Hercules DJ console available, but I just use the keyboard and mouse and have a hotkey layout that's logical. (z,x to 1,2 on the keyboard is deck A, c,v to 34 is deck B I'd use the console if I could afford it and if it worked as well.

As it is now I'm usually just running live stereo on both decks with no cue channel. I know most of my tracks well enough that I can visually grab the downbeat off the meters and match from that, and the semi-automated beatmatching helps in that a lot. Yeah, I've done that live on some decent sized systems.

You can assign a stereo pair to do left = master, right = cue and split it, or do left = deck A, right = deck B and mix with an external mixer like you have two discrete decks. (You can of course do external multichannel audio devices. I've had terrible lag results with multiple soundcards, though.)

The problem I find with that is that you've still got to have one hand on the mouse or keyboard to do pitch control, and one hand on a mixer, and it's never going to be set up well in a realistic working DJ booth; you'd be stretchin' around stuff most likely. If you brought your own stand and mixer it'd probably work better.

But it's highly viable, at a price that's competitive with bringing around your own pair of 1200s.

And you can do some seriously insane shit with it. On the fly tempo-locked looping. Instant reverse. Cuts and transforms as fast as you can trigger any chosen keyboard, keypad, midi box, whatever. You can pitch bend to like 75% or something, so doing stuff like dropping a track that's half-bpm matched to a 130-140 bpm techno track while it's in reverse is child's play. Fractional note loops. Programmed loops. Beat grids.

Scratching on it sucks, though. Bad. At least by mouse. Maybe it's better with a jogwheel or Final Scratch.

Oh, and they make a CD version of Final Scratch for $69USD now, so with a decent machine and the Final Scratch cds and the breakout box any house CDJ system is yours too.
posted by loquacious at 12:41 AM on October 31, 2004

You have to burn your music to DVDs? Why? Every DVD player I've ever seen plays CDs, too. How many hours of music are you playing, anyway? I mean, if you're going to burn it to DVD, you might as well premix the whole night on one disc and Fedex it over every week from your hut on the beach. You wouldn't even need to be there. But that would suck and wouldn't take into account requests, the night's vibe, nor the unknowable effects that human interaction can have (did you have a bad cab ride to the club? Is some hottie shaking their buns in your direction? Did you just have a good lay? That all affects what you want to play once you hit the booth.)

So, do this: premix your music on CDs, at least partially (say, in strings of two or three songs at a time). This way, your smallest particle is long enough you're not risking not being able to keep up. Then get a laptop and load that sumbitch up with video and audio clips, including any works in progress you might have. Work out some sort of video choreography the same way you do for the music--premix some of it into recognizable component particles--but do the video mixing live using S-Video or RCA-in jacks. Choose your stuff on the fly, video and audio. Have a couple of pre-burned full video mixes if you want, as backups, but you'll love it more if you're picking and choosing as you go, just like you do with music. (I am assuming you are an englightened, creative DJ/VJ, not one of those lazy fuckers who plays the same songs every night for months, in the same order, or worse, relies solely on mixes made at home and just kind of farts around in the booth doing nothing.)

This setup allows impromptu video looping because you can just bounce between copies of the same video clip on either of the DVD players and the laptop. Your flexibility is very, very high this way and not locked in. Veejaying really requires at least three video inputs and outputs, not two like deejaying does.

So I would take that slightly pre-mixed material, play the audio on one player, the video on another, and use the laptop as a transition device between the two.

I can't help you with the Windows DVD-making tools. But just remember that you don't have to make a one-piece tw-hour video for each DVD. DVD discs are expensive, but I'd load those babies with two to seven minutes of video each, total.

A now-defunct club in the Bastille area of Paris used to do video-jaying. It was pretty fricking awesome. One incredibly simple but highly effective bit was a long series of scenes taken from soap operas where the characters were taking a drink of alcohol. One after the other. They looked so desperate for the drink. They each seemed to linger a bit too long with their lips on the rim and their eyes darted to the right, toward another person just over their shoulder. I wasn't sure if it made me want to drink more or less.

However, they also had a problem that I see repeatedly when people VJ: I could see too many of the transitions. There'd be the fricking desktop of the computer there, huge, overhead, with the mouse moving around. That's like letting people listen in to your audio cues, you know? Keep it moving or keep it dark.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:01 PM on October 31, 2004

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