ArKaos is a long-standing name in VJ apps, as one of the tools that defined the genre in the 90s. GrandVJ has been gradually evolving with a more modern foundation, marked by a simple, musical, performance-oriented interface and high-performance playback. Its engine is the same as powers high-end media servers – but at a fraction of the price.

Version 1.5 offers a new crop of features, but the biggest may be the ability to pipe in audio and MIDI from a music app via a plug-in. Using a VST for Windows and Mac, you can insert the new ArKaos Connect to send interactive sound and control signal from any music app into the GrandVJ app, for live synchronized visuals. You’ll see in the demo a two-computer rig – the sort that a visual and musical performer might set up for onstage collaboration – connected via Ethernet, working in this case with Cubase. (ArKaos says they’ve directly tested Ableton Live, Cubase, Cakewalk Sonar X1, Reaper, and FL Studio; any VST host should theoretically work. I’m guessing Live will be the most common of those, given its wild popularity in live performance.)

This isn’t the only way to get audio and MIDI between machines, but it does seem an added convenience. I’m only unsure of the “custom ArKaos protocol” and why that was necessary; I’ll have to investigate.

Whether or not that piques your interest, there’s plenty new in 1.5. Among other additions:

  • Transitions: 37 additional transitions lets you fade in both Synth and Mixer mode through 2d and 3D visuals. (Barn door, anyone? Venetian blinds? Okay, actually, I need to get the real list of transitions as I test.)
  • Browser Preview. (Hugely helpful, for viewing visuals, effects, transitions, sources in the Browser before you even load them.)
  • Akai APC20 support. (The APC40 was supported previously, but the smaller size of the APC20 is a draw in cramped live setups.)
  • Enhanced multiple windows under Windows 7.

GrandVJ’s mixing architecture I think won’t appeal to everyone – it’s not as wide-open as VDMX or Resolume, for instance, and its mixer setup does take some adjustment. On the other hand, it has consistently been musical in its approach, particular in its trademark on-screen MIDI keyboard and “synth” triggering. It’s possibly the easiest app out there to use with MIDI, and on the Mac, Quartz Composer setup – and bundled compositions – mean custom and generative visuals are a real possibility. Adding new VST integration could significantly broaden its appeal.

We badly need to do a CDM VJ app shootout, if anyone is up for helping or wants to make suggestions. I’m open to ideas.

More on the ArKaos site:

GrandVJ is priced from EUR279.

  • The product looks really cool, but the licencing is exactly the type which encourages beginners to pirate it instead of buying it.

  • 24k

    Too bad it is AR'crap'os as I have heard it been receded to as in the VJ scene, there is a ral stigma around the brand, at least here in aus, still having ripped hair out syncing Resolume to abelton for live shows, the idea of a simple vst is too gOod to ignore despite the companies reputation

  • Juno

    "there is a ral stigma around the brand, at least here in aus"

    Never heard of this. Your reference?

  • Peter Kirn

    @24k: If they're referring to the original ArKaos, GrandVJ has an entirely different code base. It's a fundamentally different app, a complete rewrite.

    The only stigma I ever saw around ArKaos was years ago, and it was because the app had become so ubiquitous. But I'm talking the 320×240 era, like back when you got cred points using Motion Dive in Japanese. 😉 

  • The product has indeed come a long way. The new transitions and VST connect are great new features. The ability to control audio levels on a clip by clip level has also been implemented. Not bad for a free incremental update. Many bugs were also squashed.

  • The Quartz Composer support is nice for Mac Users. I was able to load Syphon into Grand VJ 1.5, however, its seems the QC Support is somewhat lacking.

    Only "effects" that support the "Image Filter" protocol seem to be supported, which means you cannot render directly 3D geometry "in an effect" unless you do a work arounds that should not strictly be necessary (Use a render in Image Macro). Its a great step though, and already makes it a lot more dynamic and customizable:

    Syphon in Grand VJ:

    Grand VJ + Mad Mapper:

  • Arkaos is definitely different from most other VJ apps.. And I agree its routes are musical, with the ease of integrating triggers much like a musician would.. That being said…..
    If I needed to put together a quick way for a band to trigger visuals with their set than I prolly would recomend Arkaos.. Though as a Visual artist I and many of my fellow VJs agree that Arkaos is very "out of the box" (Though Quarts composer makes this arguable). I now use Arkaos as a back up back up back up.. I feel I have WAY more creative control in Modul8 and VDMX (obviously)… Though some of Arkaos plug ins are supper beautiful and I love that you can throw just about any Codec into it, For the most part I feel that the entire ARKAOS Brand from Grand VJ to there media servers are intended to control PRE DESIGNED and PRE EDITED shows for trade shows and concerts (Again the lack of Mapping capabilities makes Arkaos Outdated and comletely turns its back on most contemporary Projection artists.) with the capability to tweak certain things on the fly. Having sound automate your visuals is deff cool though as a working VJ I RARELY patch things that way.. I like pushng the beat with triggers and my own physcal actions. (the VST plug is shockingly over due though) But it all does point to pre-edited/AUTOMATED visual response.

  • is it working nicely from mac to pc and vice versa?

  • rob

    i personally love grand vj the new 1.5 rocks & when linked into say 3dtext machine its almost at quartz & grand standards i would love it for quartz composer to be multi platform so windows users could be on par lucky that we got blufftitler & xnth over mac users ha ha at the stage of evolution that were at i would think that new computers should be able to read all computer languages & play all software side by side weather mac, windows, linux, atari, so on. duel boot is only 1 or the other no option to link & play both at same time 🙁 there is good news a program called sython is moving in that direction its just a matter of time untill theres a option to play all platforms on same operating system linux can play windows software already but not at that stage of playing all platforms at same time yet we,ll get there proberly same time as when we get real time holographic tv " no more 3d glass,s " they say at the rate of progress about 10 years.

  • i want to buy this program but i dont have visa card,,do you have any shop in india ?