Want to jazz up your DJ sets with instant visual glitz? DJ Yoda tells Clash how to deploy video to quickly get those creative forces flowing.
“I don’t see myself as a Vj,” chuckles Duncan Beiny, AKA Dj Yoda, with endearing humility considering this turntablist is as famous for his eclectic video sequences as for ripping up the wax. Thing is, he’s not joking. “I see myself as a Dj - but with video”, he grins. “Before I started the video stuff, I used to throw audio clips from movies into my sets.” It made sense to show the snippets to clubbers rather than just play them the audio once it was feasible to do so. “When you Dj with a big screen behind your head, you are basically saying: ‘I want you all to watch this. Check it out’.” What’s odd, he thinks, is that “surprisingly few people do this, given the technology is there.” So how did Yoda evolve from scratch merchant to video star?
Initially, he added video to his live show by Djing over old movies to create a new soundtrack on the fly. Next came painful attempts to scratch with DVDs but digital tools soon killed old-school discs. These days, Yoda rolls with a laptop and Serato Dj software. “As a hip-hop Dj, it makes sense to use Serato because you can still scratch and it has a great video plug-in. Essentially, I just mix music and ignore the video. The software does it all for me.” This, presumably, is why he doesn’t call himself a Vj, but there must be more to it? The secret is in preparing clips to perform - and he is seriously methodical about this. One route is to use music videos. unfortunately, few club tracks have a video, and if they do, the music often differs to the audio-only version. The alternative is to unearth visuals and audio separately. “If I see a funny clip, I’ll find music to go with it, or if I have a great track, I’ll hunt suitable video.” He mashes the two elements into files that look and sound great, before licking them into the right format with Handbrake (free at Handbrake.fr). Serato’s Media Crate feature will even assign one of your video clips to any audio files that lack visual glitz. If sourcing video seems a faff, there’s Vj footage out there ready to rock. “Some people use swirly visuals or their own animations but I prefer clips that make me laugh. It’s like sampling music”, says the jedi Master.
To tinker with Serato you need a piece of its Dj hardware, be it a mixer or laptop controller. There are loads of each but Yoda is keen to promote the Pioneer DDj-SX (see panel). It’s the first one he’d use instead of turntables, partly because it boasts features such as buttons to simultaneously bang out drum beats and cued-up video. To be fair, Serato isn’t the only game in town - there’s tons of video Dj software of varying degrees of sophistication. for simplicity, though, the new Vjay iPad app is a fine option. “With this, you don’t need to bother with all the stuff I said before. Download a few videos and you’re ready to mix.” Assuming, of course, that you don’t mind prodding an iPad rather than proper controls.
Final advice? “Yes. Be honest to your tastes. This is like any instrument - you only know once you start. So just get on with it.”
DJ Yoda's Video Toolbox
This iPad app is a cool way to start. It’s aimed at mixing with videos more than making your own material but it can use any media on your device, including footage shot with its camera.
£6.99 • Algoriddim.com
Now that Serato does video this is a great way to Vj. This controller is the first Yoda would use instead of turntables as it’s laden with features, such as buttons for firing up video clips.
£799 • Pioneer.eu
From a Dj perspective, Serato Video makes sense as you can scratch or even use vinyl. This Video plugin enables you to simply Dj while the software handles all the video elements.
£95 • Serato.com
ABLETON LIVE 9 STANDARD
To match up separate video and audio clips or create mash-ups, Yoda uses Ableton Live as he says it enables him to stretch video in the same classy way that it will manipulate audio.
£280 • Ableton.com
Words: Alex Pell
Photography: Matthew Farag