Blending patching, performance, and timeline metaphors, with a healthy dose of effects and sound capabilities, VisualJockey is a unique tool you can now have for free. Need an excuse to load Boot Camp, Mac users?

The Mac may be in the spotlight these days, but Windows may boast the broadest access to freeware and open source tools for live visuals.

The latest edition: VisualJockey, as pointed out (alongside other free Windows tools) by beatfix on comments.

VisualJockey: Real-time Animation

You get a pretty powerful set of tools in this app, first introduced in 1999:

  • Full Windows support, including Vista
  • Alpha support throughout; image, AVI, QuickTime file format compatibility
  • Global keystone capability
  • MIDI, multi-monitor support
  • Compatible with FreeFrame plug-ins (open plug-in spec for visuals)
  • Sound beatmatching, internal LFOs with lots of waveshapes
  • Generators for particles, patterns
  • 2D color filtering, effects, blue screen
  • 20+ transitions or custom bitmap transitions
  • 3D support for 3DS import, primitives, 3D animation
  • Export to AVI (which means it can double as an editor)

In fact, VisualJockey’s approach I think is unique — a set of tabs controlling different approaches, a hybrid blend of other interface paradigms. Want a timeline? A reactive sound system? A modular, generative 3D patch? It’s all in there. The UI is decidedly retro, and you get more flexibility from true modular patching environments, but at this price, if you feel like you want another tool in your belt, it’s hard to resist. And with export, this could be handy to have around alongside your existing tool of choice.

But VisualJockey is just the start — here are a few more from beatfix (and me):

 vvvv — perhaps a reason to use Windows in itself, with gorgeous DirectX rendering capabilities, a massive, active community, and great documentation — including hooking up to unusual physical inputs. Proprietary, but free for non-commercial use and cheap even for paying gigs.


OpenTZT: full-featured, quite popular VJ app — unfortunately, development has halted, so if you want to maintain this and you’ve got the code chops, go for it — the project is seeking programmers.

Whorld: an “open-source visualizer for sacred geometry”

FFRend FreeFrame Renderer, open-source effects processing with batch processing capabilities for dumping video through effects before a gig

EffecTV Video effect, peculiar but perhaps useful in your tool belt for special effects or as a code example

And cross-platform tools, many also on Windows and Mac:

Gephex modular VJ software

GEM for Pure Data, an open source cousin to Max/MSP/Jitter with some powerful features of its own — and excellent support for GEM on Windows (it was originally written for Windows and SGI)

I’ve heard concerns about the “poverty” aesthetic among VJs, but if you have to get work to make money, starting on a budget can be a way to go. And with powerful tools like GEM and vvvv that have few equals even in the payware/proprietary world, there’s no reason you can’t mix some free goodies in with your paid tools of choice.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in comments. And yeah, we’ll have to do a round-up for Mac (though pickings are slimmer, outside Quartz Composer and Pd) and Linux (which has more options).

  • grigori

    Since you catching up to some Free tools, I think you should mention and Nodekit software.

    "The Tagtool is a live performance instrument for drawing and animation. It’s similar to a music instrument, only it plugs into a projector instead of the sound system.

    It is operated collaboratively by an artist drawing the pictures and an animator adding movement to the artwork with a gamepad. "

    Besides, it gives flexibility to build the system yourself with use of such things as Arduino for the hardware piece itself and Nodekit software is set to be open source. But I really think it deserves its own post.

  • grigori

    Oh, and Nodekit is for Windows only. Another point towards PC visual camp. Just watch them migrate back in masses. jk

  • and for OSX? any freeware VJ?

  • vj fader has some great cross platform video apps…(most of them free)
    AV drum is an amazing audion/video step sequencer and he just released a free 'lite' version of his flagship application.

  • i've used visual jockey from the beginning. b4 resolume was as dynamic as it is now, with it's sound engine and stuff, i wanted something i could plug shit togethor in and i've never stopped using it, even if it is a bit quirky. in fact i think that's it's charm… no manual and most of the core program having being codged together by about 15 different programmers, it's just amazing for happy accidents. i even don't know how to recreate some of the patches i have if i had to… 😉
    it's somewhere between a normal vj prog and a node based softwae, most of the 'blocks' being a lot more than simple value sliders, so if programming gives you a headache, but you want more control i highly recommend it as a secondary source to luma over your 'lovely interface' vj app…
    since the initial programmers abandoned it about 3 years ago, it's ben lovingly restored to health by jean luc mavrick and the gang. it'd be nice to see the community revived now it's been released as freeware and the sdk is available to boot…
    as people said on vjforums – you might just be converted to a vjohovah if you're not careful.

  • cheers for the heads up on the tagtool. i wanted to get a bit retro and get some illustrators in to do some more analog style visuals. looks ace…

  • Hi Guys. Check out the Quase-Cinema free VJ app for Windows and Mac OS X.

  • Forgot the link… <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  • grigori

    Leon Trimble, you welcome mate! 🙂 Tell us how you go. myspace/vdmokstati (add me)

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