How to meld the two? Enter the VJ. Video jockey apps have recently been stepping up their game to enter the small-to-medium market — and, to be fair, a few make server hardware/software combos that are truly mainstream. My problem with this genre of playback/manipulation app is that they are too, well, “VJ-ey.” They never seem to have the critical functions for video that truly pro apps have, and they also never seem to fully grasp what the lighting folks wanted in the first place — an easy way to manipulate/map/playback/mixup content. They all carry potentially very powerful control language interfacing, but usually it’s only good for interfacing to some sort of VJ controller. Not to knock that kind of gear, it’s just that you won’t be seeing them anytime soon sitting next to the MA at FOH. Unless you’re fully versed in MIDI, OSC and DMX and the interpretation thereof, these apps are time consuming and useless.
Resolume Arena 4 Media Server is neither of those two. Arena is the advanced version of Resolume’s Avenue and adds quite a bit to the overall “pro-ness” of this class of video app.
Resolume Arena 4’s interface is easy and well-laid-out. Users of Avenue will have no problem navigating, and it’s completely customizable if you prefer to go with something other than the default. Content selection is based on the concept of columns, layers and individual clips, with controls for selection that are easy to read and access. Transitions are easy as well, with effects for transitions a drag-and-drop affair. One very powerful feature I like is the Dashboard available on Clips, Layers and Composition. It’s a handy bank of eight “knobs” that you can drag any transform parameter onto and then control from there. An Output monitor and Preview are visible, but I found myself wishing these could be re-sized at will.
The real upgrade for Avenue users to Arena is the mapping, DMX, SMPTE and soft-edge capabilities. When Advanced Output is selected, you’re presented with two tabs, one for Input Selection and one for Output Transformation. Input Selection allows you to create “slices” of the screen for various uses — multi-screen layout, video-mapping, etc. Slices can also have Soft-edge enabled, which allows you to easily create edge-blended material. Simply adjust the power to eliminate the overlay difference. Warping of the screen via Bézier curves, scaling, or adding points can found here as well. These last two points are enough make this software a worthwhile investment for just about anyone. (That is, if you’re not using projectors that have it built in, of course.) Resolume Arena 4 can also be controlled via SMPTE and DMX (via the Enttec DMX USB Pro) or Art-Net. The Automap sheet was clear and concise, letting me view what channel did what.
Resolume is pretty picky about what types of media files it will play. For this reason, the DXV codec is included. Regular video codecs require the CPU to decompress the frames before they can be pushed to the video card for display. Using the DXV Codec, video frames are decompressed by the video card’s GPU, which can do this much more efficiently than the CPU. The DXV Codec is a cross-platform QuickTime codec so you use any QuickTime enabled application on Mac and PC to render video files. Tested apps include: QuickTime Pro, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Adobe After Effects, Premiere, Sony Vegas, 3D Studio Max and Maya.
What I find missing from Resolume
Arena 4 (and most AV performance apps) is the ability to run things in a cued environment. To be fair, if you were using a lighting console for control, this isn’t an issue, but stand-alone use leaves me desiring this type of feature. RA4 is more of a “live” performance tool, and it’s powerful indeed. With a super-fast codec, a well-laid-out interface and a decent price, it’s sure to be a hit with the VJ crowd — and the lighting folks should have an easy time triggering video from now on.
Resolume Arena 4 Media Server Software
What it is: An app for Mac/PC that allows manipulation of video content as well as an interface for lighting/video control
Pros: Easy, simple GUI; very fast, edge-blending, warping,
SMPTE, DMX IN
Cons: Interface adjustability; still doesn’t feel quite “pro”
How Much: €699/one computer (about $922)