The Sampler in VirtualDJ 8 provides an easy way for you to play back video content directly from within your DJing software, saving you from having to hop between different software applications or use multiple laptops. It supersedes the Clipbank plugin that was required to play video clips on older versions of VirtualDJ, and is much more flexible.
It does take a bit of work to set up, so this guide will take you through the steps required to load video clips into the sampler. Please note this does not apply to music videos, which are best played directly on the decks.
(Note that these instructions have been written based on a Windows computer – processes may vary slightly on Mac).
Locating the Sampler
If the Sampler isn’t already visible in the Sideview, you can toggle it into view by clicking on the little Sampler grid button at the bottom of the screen. (Please not this tutorial is based on the default skin, and positions of User Interface buttons etc may be different in other skins).
Creating a new Sample Bank
Sample banks provide a way of organising your video content into meaningful categories to make it easier to find clips quickly.
To create a new Sample Bank, right-click on the orange Sampler folder in the file browser area on the left-hand-side. Select “Create new sample bank…” and enter a meaningful name for your new bank.
To switch between Sample Banks you can either right-click on a sample bank in the Folder view and select “Set Active” or you can right-click on the sample bank selector at the top-right of the Sampler panel, and select one of the Sample Banks from this list.
Add Video Content to the Sample Bank
To load video files into the sampler you can either locate it on your computer using the folders and files navigator inside VirtualDJ and then drag it onto the Sampler bank that you’ve created, or you can simply drag the video files directly from a folder on your desktop into VirtualDJ.
You can now click on any of these samples to switch them on and off. However, there’s not really any point in switching more than one video sample on, as only one will be visible in the video output (unless your videos have transparent areas in them). I find it’s easier to control if you set the video samples up such that only one sample can play at a time.
Assigning The Samples To a Group
To do this, you need to put all of your samples into a Group, as only one sample from a Group can be played at a time.
Select all of your samples (either by clicking the first one, then pressing Shift and clicking the last one, or by simply pressing Control-A to Select All), then right-click and select “Assign to Group > New Group”.
Now, when you switch on any other sample from within that group, any other sample currently playing in that group will be switched off automatically. (Groups are unique to each bank though, so you could switch on a sample in one bank, switch to another bank and switch on another sample on top of that. Unfortunately there’s not currently a way of preventing this).
Opening The Sample Editor
Now we need to configure our samples to behave the way we require. This is done with the Sample Editor. To access the Sample Editor you’ll need to switch from Trigger Pad View to List View. You do this by clicking on the View Display toggle button – the button with a grid on it in the top-right of the Sampler.
Also in this area is the Sampler Trigger Mode button – you’ll probably want this set to “On/Off”, which is the icon shown in the screenshot below. The other modes are Hold, which will only play the clip while it is pressed; and Stutter and Unmute which are of probably only of use when using the Sampler to play audio clips.
Once in List view, you can either right-click on a sample and open the Sample Editor from there, or for easier access you can add an ‘Edit’ button to the list of samples. To do this, right-click on one of the column headers at the top of the list. This opens a menu which allows you to configure what information is shown in the List View. If you click on “Edit”, this will add a new column to the list with a little cog icon for each sample. You can then simply click on this cog icon to access the Sample Editor.
Configuring Each Video Sample
The Sample Editor allows you to control how each sample behaves, as will as editing the sample if required.
For most of the video clips in my products you will want them to loop continuously. To do this, set the Mode to Loop. For video clips which aren’t designed to be beat-driven, you should set the Loop mode to Flat.
Sometimes you want a clip to just play once and then stop. To do this, set the Mode to Drop.
There’s currently (at the time of writing) a bug in VirtualDJ which means that the default thumbnail image in video clips gets deleted if you make any changes to a Sample using the Sample Editor. To replace the thumbnail you will need to hover your mouse over the waveform in the Sample Editor – move left and right across the waveform until you find a good frame to use as the new thumbnail, then take your mouse off of the waveform by moving it directly upwards, and then right-click on the little square icon in the top-left of the Sample Editor, and select “use video preview” from the menu that appears:
Unfortunately there’s not currently (at the time of writing) a way of selecting a bunch of samples and applying the same looping settings to them all at once, or automatically setting a thumbnail image for all samples. This is something I’ve been asking the VirtualDJ developers to implement for 3 years, and still hasn’t been done which is a real shame as it makes it a very time-consuming process to configure a large video clip library. The good news is that you only have to do it once. If you find all this tedious setup frustrating, please let the developers know through their Wishlist forum and maybe they’ll eventually implement my suggestions: http://www.virtualdj.com/forums/188630/Wishes_and_new_features/
Beat-driven Video Clips
For video clips which are designed to be beat-driven (for example, my Club Candy TV products, VDJ Toolkit Volume 4, Christmas Beats, and the Lighting clips in VDJ Toolkit Volume 3), you need to set the Loop type to Sync-Lock. You may also need to set the BPM to match the BPM of the clip that you’re using if VirtualDJ hasn’t correctly identified it. For all of my beat-driven products this is 125bpm.
This will allow VirtualDJ to match the speed of the visuals to the master tempo in VirtualDJ.
Once you’ve done that, you can switch off the Audio track using the Audio button at the bottom, so that any audio on the video clips isn’t output through the speakers.
To switch on the video output in VirtualDJ, make sure the Video mixer is selected in the mixer panel, and then click on the “MASTER OUTPUT” box in the middle to activate it. You may need to make some changes to the display settings on your computer to allow this to work.
Your video will be output full-screen on your second monitor output.
By organising all of your video clip content into Sample Banks, you can quickly and easily have hundreds of video clips available at your fingertips, making it very easy to control video whilst DJing:
Other useful things to know about the Sampler
There are various options related to Video in general, and the Sampler in the main VirtualDJ Options menu. For example, the samplerImageSize option allows you to set the size of the thumbnail images in the Sampler Trigger Pad view.
Alternatives to the Sampler
One of the main limitations of the sampler (at the time of writing) is the lack of ability to play a sequence of clips from within a bank.
There is a plugin available for VirtualDJ called TellyMedia which allows you to play a ‘carousel’ of video files: http://www.tellyvisuals.com/. I haven’t tried this personally, but have heard a lot of praise for the plugin and for the support provided by the developer from people who have used this plugin. (At the time of writing, the plugin was only available for Windows).