Apart from XL extras, GrandVJ's UI is easier to read and use, with features like color coding. Image courtesy ArKaos.

Apart from XL extras, GrandVJ’s UI is easier to read and use, with features like color coding. Image courtesy ArKaos.

GrandVJ remains one of the top tools for VJing and live visuals, from the firm that helped popularize these tools. But competition remains fierce. Version 2, now entering public beta, offers some reasons for current users to remain loyal – and could even lure people considering a new tool.

Spoiler alert: mapping is arriving.

The first thing you’ll notice, though, is the UI. GrandVJ’s keyboard-layout UI is one of the main draws of the tool, but you still have to enter Mixer Mode for more sophisticated layering and control. The new version uses color coding to streamline workflows there, among other improvements. Add to that the mapping add-on, and you have a robust tool for visual performance.

New in this version, in brief:

  • Color coding to show what corresponds to layers (orange) versus cells (blue)
  • Clearer “panel lock” that separates effects, position/size, and mixing.
  • New effects and processing: TV Pixelation, “Godrays” (basically a trail feedback effect), Video Distortion, Color Correction, Edge Glow, Splitter (via X or Y), Stretching Blinds
  • Improved multithreading
  • Extended codec support
  • Audio file playback (present in other tools, but finally in GrandVJ, too)
  • Flexible licensing makes it easier to move licenses from one machine to another – and you can now activate both your main machine and a backup (for example).

And to get to the main headline, there’s Video Mapper. As with rivals, you pay extra for mapping, but GrandVJ XT adds that mapping in integrated functionality, and ArKaos promises other “advanced” extras to come.

We’ve been watching mapping for some time in ArKaos’ media server products, but it’s great to see it in a program aimed at the individual artist and VJ.

Mapping isn’t just for fancy 3D projection mapping on architecture; it also can make it useful to target multiple displays with independent content, resolution, and orientation, even if they’re rectangles.

GrandVJ is a very reasonable US$329 – the mapping we’ll want to look at closely, as that bumps the price up to a heftier US$799. Upgrades to XT cost $449 but a 10% off sale is on for 1.x users who are ready to adopt early.

I see lots of stuff I know people want, so let us know what you think of this beta, and expect a hands-on soon.

Beta information and more details on the upgrade:
GrandVJ 2 Beta [ArKaos Engineering]