Intro to Making Audio / Video Loops for DJs and VJs

Download the audio tracks, video footage, and completed A/V loop for this tutorial.

If you need more source material to get started with, grab some bonus audio loops (in Retro/Lofi/8bit/Glitch styles at various BPM) provided by Anton Crnkovic or some raw Super 8 footage courtesy of Tim Hicks.

An addition to our regular tutorials on how to use VDMX for real-time video mixing, one of our goals on the VIDVOX blog is to help people get better at using some of the other equipment that video artists, particularly VJs, come into contact with in the process of creating their own original live performances.

For this A/V performance technique lesson we'll be taking a look at some of the begineer tools that are used by musicians and DJs to make music, followed by a quick intro in creating video loops from scratch. To top it off the two separate tracks will be combined into a single A/V movie file for use in VDMX or other VJ software for live remixing.

Often the biggest stumbling blocks with getting into making a new kind of art is figuring out where to begin and overcoming the initial phase of not being very good at it - with that in mind, whether it is sound or image that is new to you remember the goal here is to just have some fun becoming familiar with working with a new kind of media.

ps. Releasing a set of creative commons A/V clips gets you on the way to the 'starving artists discount' for VDMX.

If you're a musician or DJ with an existing library of sound files, you can probably skip to the 2nd step on shooting and capturing video. Likewise, video artists and VJs who have banks of prepared videos can spend more time focusing on step 1 dealing with creating sound files to sync up with their movies in step 3.

After completing this tutorial, move on to watching the guest visit from The Eclectic Method explaining his process for creating remixes using A/V samples triggered by Ableton Live and VDMX.

"Dual deck" remixing a single A/V loop on two layers in VDMX with a simple mixer.

1. An Introduction To Making Audio Loops:

For people just beginning with making music, there are a lot of great apps available on the Mac and iOS that can be used as a starting point for creating a wide variety of sounds in different styles and genres depending on what you're looking to make. Many of these programs come with their own sound libraries and generators, and others will let you capture and process sounds sampled from a microphone. While you may eventually find yourself moving on to more pro software like Traktor or Ableton Live in the future, to begin with we recommend trying some of the simpler audio loop making apps.

Here are two quick lessons in using iMPC and Figure on the iPad to jam out original loops and render them to fixed sound files that can be copied over to a Mac to be later synced up with a video. We'd also recommend checking out Garage Band and exploring the app store for other unique instruments and sounds.

Thanks to Kevin Luddy for demoing these apps!

2. An Introduction To Making Video Loops:

One of the top questions we get from new VJs, whether they are coming from a musical background or otherwise, is where to get original material for mixing and projecting during shows.

For most people these days, the quickest way to gather starter material is using the camera from a smart phone or tablet - you can usually find something to shoot, whether it is an interesting texture, a reflection of light on a window, or your friends having fun. Try playing with different kinds of shots such as close up vs far away, lots of motion vs slow moving, or blurry vs in focus. Don't forget you can listen to the audio loop a few times beforehand to get a sense of the timing and flow.

To make our basic video loops to sync up with our prepared audio tracks from step one, we've simply recorded a few seconds of raw footage of spring flowers on an iPhone camera (below, right) and copied them over to a Mac to be further edited in step 3.

Tip: If you don't have access to a camera, or are more interested in digitally rendered video, Apple Motion is another great place is begin for creating your own visuals from scratch.

Use the free 'Image Capture' utility, iPhoto, or DropBox app to copy movies and images from the iPhone or iPad camera.

3. Using iMovie to Create A/V Loops From Audio and Video Samples

For the final step in this tutorial we'll be using the simple video editor iMovie to loaded our prepared tracks and combine them into A/V movie loops that can be used for live performances with VDMX.

If you don't have your own files, download some example audio tracks and raw video footage.

To begin, first import the video file you've created (or downloaded) in steps 2 into a new iMovie project. Scan through the raw video footage until you find a section of equal length with the right the pacing and drag them into the timeline to create a new project.

Next add the audio loop as a soundtrack using the ♫ view from the toolbar. Double click on the clip to open the inspector to fine tune the colors levels, apply automatic image stabilization, and other video effects to the file before exporting.

Notes:

When using the 'Export using Quicktime' option in iMovie remember to use the PhotoJPEG, Apple Intermediate or Hap video codec to get the best playback in VDMX.

Add audio loops to your iTunes library to access them from within the iMovie timeline.

Read up more on topics like movie playback and audio analysis in VDMX.