Mashup Audio and Video with vidibox for iPad – As Good As Mash and… Anything!

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vidibox header

Love food? I do! But far from that pretentious way some might be with it, I’m in that simpler category of food lovers – if it’s good, I’ll have seconds before I feel the need to mouth off about it in an essay. And I’m not afraid of big bad carbs either. Like the almost universal companion of foods in this part of the world – the humble mash. But enough about food.

A piece of audio – from a sample to a symphony – can happily exist as a standalone, as it always has. Until the late 70s, that is, when artistes began serving it with a kind of mash – the video. Then came MTV and their Video Jockeys, and 30 years later, audio without video almost plays like a sad piece of roast chicken missing her carb companion.

So what’s vidibox all about? It’s an audio/video remixing App ‘that lets users create real-time music and video projects from an intuitive drum pad interface’. It comes with a long list of features, but what the developers forgot to add is that it is super fun!

vidibox welcome
It is aimed at ‘DJs, VJs, installation artists, digital storytellers, video mashup fans and music lovers’ and gives them ‘the ability to express themselves easily with intuitive, professional quality video and audio mixing’.

Some features grabbed from iTunes and the vidibox website are as follows:

  • Transparent drum pad interface – grid slots can contain audio, video or both
  • Simple drag and drop media to import into grid slots
  • Separate and fast audio and video import and editing
  • Hold, trigger or loop media
  • Play up to 16 tracks simultaneously, freestyle or quantized to the BPM
  • Choose from several video composition layouts
  • External screen support (display with app hidden)
  • Audio and video FX bank
  • Record videos of performances in real time and share
  • Audiobus support; MIDI in/out support via CoreMidi

There are various starting points, but for this app in particular, I liked starting my sessions at the top – deciding what the dish is going to be called.
vidibox start vidibox optionsOnce the details and various options are selected, grid slots in the new project can be populated with up to 16 audio or video samples (or both). The grid UI here will be familiar to those who have used drum machines/pads.
vidibox grid

Audio and video samples can be imported from various sources – sample projects (courtesy of the developers), iPad camera roll, file sharing (uploaded via iTunes) and the iPad music library (labelled iPod library). And importing is as simple as dragging and dropping into a slot, which is highlighted as you hover.
vidibox import

vidibox import 3

If the sample needs some work, an edit pane can be opened allowing some degree of tweaking for both audio and video.
vidibox edit

All that’s left is to then choose a visual layout from a long list of options, and start cooking! And of course, feel free to use an external display to show off your VJing skills to an audience, via an adapter or AirPlay.
vidibox layout

Especially delicious

So long as you have a good supply of audio and video samples at the ready, this app plays great! Importing is a piece of cake, and while occasionally some samples need converting, this is done discreetly and swiftly. And that can also work on-the-fly.

When in full swing with many slots active, you would’ve thought it would be difficult to keep track of the action – not so. A slim but obvious ‘play timeline’ above each active slot is a perfect solution. A similarly clever trick is to allow on-the-fly volume control along the left axis of each slot; an even cleverer one is the option to toggle volume control when each slot is tapped in different locations. Very well thought out.

The audio and video effects may be a tad simple for the serious DJ, but I thought there is sufficient here to keep most users happy, for now. I particularly like the crosshairs interface – it’s even possible to control all 3 video effects (zoom, colour, level) simultaneously.
vidibox vfx vidibox afx

And lastly, a testament to both the app and of course the engine in the kitchen – 16 looped samples playing simultaneously, with on-the-fly audio/video effects couldn’t crack the solid performance.

A Bit Undercooked

This app is still version 1 with only 4 updates so far, so a little perspective is needed. On a good note, the developers have an open forum to report issues and encourage feature requests.

The video on-the-fly recording, editing and importing is sufficient, but the audio editing features could do with a lot more. And annoyingly, neither audio nor video can be previewed before dragging into a slot.

And speaking of dragging into a slot, you’d better be sure of the position of the particular sample as: 1. you cannot yet rearrange the slot order, and 2. there’s no undo function! Aargh!

There is a visual metronome in the form of a flashing white dot in the bottom right corner of the screen, but no option to make it audible. And frustratingly, it isn’t yet possible to tap tempo.

And my last complaint: having to manually save the project! Yes, I did lose one.

Finally

It’s still a young app, and already it’s one that is performing fantastically, so the downers do not tip the balance. Professional VJs will no doubt have a list of reasons why this app is not quite pro-grade yet, but I for one really enjoyed using it! In fact, I missed dinner once.

Here’s a UK and US App Store link for vidibox; it’s priced at £6.99/$9.99 and is designed for iPad 2 upwards. The developers do mention that it is best experienced using an iPad 4th generation/Air or iPad Mini Retina.

One more thing: This App was gifted by the developers to the author.

f'reez

Part-time MD, full-time Creative - I'm either performing on-stage, writing backstage, or practising off-stage, using as many of those shiny things they keep designing in Cupertino as I can. Shame they aren't waterproof yet - it's always a challenge against the elements here in the Northeast of England.

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