Virtual DJ & Karaoke Studio

VDJ8 How-To Series

This is a series of How-To pages related to Virtual DJ & Karaoke Studio 8. Please see the main How-To Page to view all pages in this series.

Part 3: The Player Line

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For this video, we will focus on the heart of VDJ Studio: The player line.

The term "player line" is used because each media player represents a channel, or "line", of a mixing console. Each line contains a full media player along with all of the necessary mixer controls.

Let's disect each element of the Player Line from top to bottom:

At the top, you have four rows of text describing the loaded file. What actually shows here is configurable, and later on we will demonstrate how to customize this. For now, let's move down to the information display area:

At the top of this area is the Remain Time counter. This shows the duration of the file when it is not playing, and represents the remaining time during playback, counting down.

Next is a brief description of the file type. Audio types are shown in Blue. Video types are shown Orange, and CDG Karaoke types in Yellow.

When first opening a CDG ZIP file, it will briefly display the word "UNZIPPING" in white while it unzips the file into a temporary folder.

Below that is the audio properties. This shows the number of channels as well as the sample rate. Note that files with more than 2 channels are mixed-down to 2-channel stereo, but this area shows how many original channels are contained in the file.

All audio is also resampled, if necessary, to either 44.1 kHz, or 48 kHz, depending on your setting in the Options dialog, covered in a future video.

If the file is video-only, having no audio track, it will simply say "NO AUDIO".

Finally, at the bottom is a miniature audio analyzer, and the current state of the player line. It can be one of STOPPED, PLAYING, or Paused.

Next we have our transport controls, starting with the Position Indicator. You can drag the position during Playback or Pause to seek within the file.

Below that are your transport buttons. The Play/Pause button toggles between playback and paused states. The Stop button stops playback, resetting the position to the beginning. Note that you can hold CTRL while clicking Stop, causing the song to gracefully fade out and stop over a six second period. You will note the time display reflects the 6-second countdown.

The Open button allows you to open a file from your computer.

Now we are getting into the Audio control area, starting with the "Pan" slider. This slider pans the audio to the left or right channel. Double-clicking this will re-center it.

In the main mixing secion we have to vertical slider controls. The larger slider adjusts the mix volume level. The detent position, or "default" or "center" position, is zero decibels, or zero db, which equates to 100% volume. You can go as high as 150%, or roughly a 3.5db boost.

The smaller slider is referred to as the Pitch slider or Pitch control, however it can adjust one of three selectable properties:

It can control the actual Pitch, or Speed, which speeds up or slows down the audio like speeding up or slowing down a record;

When set to control the Tempo, it also speeds or slows the audio, but without affecting the musical pitch.

When set to Key, this changes the musical key of the audio without affecting the speed. This is often used for Karaoke, when a singer may wish to sing in a lower key.

Note that some video file types do not allow Speed changes. In those cases, this slider will only be able to adjust the Key.

Above the volume slider is an indicator that shows what the Pitch slider is currently set to do. Clicking on that indicator brings up a popup menu, allowing you to change what function the Slider will perform.

By default, when you load a Karaoke file, it is automatically set to Key.

On the right-hand side of the player line are several buttons:

- The Repeat button engages Loop Playback mode, which continuously restarts the file. Note that this is not a seamless loop, though in a future update this will be changed.

- The Mute button prevents audio from this line from playing on the main output.

- The Trigger function causes this player line to engage the next player line when it reaches the end of the song. Much like the Playlist, it does this when the audio drops below a pre-set level, for seamless and gapless playback. You can rack up several files in several player lines and have each trigger the next.

- The Zero button simply causes the pitch slider to slowly crawl back to the zero position. This may be helpful after beat-matching, to gradually bring the song to its original speed or tempo.

- The Preview causes this line to play through a second audio device, if configured. This is useful for checking a song with headphones. If it is a video, and you have a second screen configured, you will also see a video preview in the preview area.

Note that by default, clicking Preview "mutes" the line so that audio only goes through the secondary audio device. This way you do not accidentally play it over the main sound system. You can change this behavior in the Options dialog.

- The EQ button brings up a per-song Equalizer over the top area of the player line. This is a 5-band, 12db/octave EQ whose settings are saved in your database, and only apply to that particular song. This lets you "fix" a song that may have too much bass, has a "tinny" sound, or otherwise needs equalization to sound good.

At the bottom of each line, you will find indicators as to the status of the audio routing through the Crossfader control. Most users will likely never use the Crossfader, but we'll briefly explain its use.

Selecting the Left or Right arrow on a Player line "assigns" that line to the left or right sides of the crossfade control. This means that moving the crossfader to the right, while this song is assigned to the Left, will cause this line's audio to decrease, and vice-versa.

Selecting the dot in the center causes the audio to go straight through, regardless of the crossfader control. This is known as "Punching In".

To the right of the Crossfader assignment buttons is a TV icon. When playing a video or CDG karaoke file, this indicator lights up to indicate that it is currently showing on the main video screen.

If you then start another line with Video or CDG Karaoke, its indicator then lights up, and this line's indicator turns grey. Clicking on it will cause it to re-take the main screen, allowing you to switch between running videos and CDGs quickly, and the status of this icon lets you know which one is currently on the main screen at a glance.

Now that we've covered what you can see on the player line, let's talk about a couple of options that are accessible only with a right-click. Note that many of the line's functions are also in the right-click menu, but we'll focus on those items that are not visibly accessible.

First, some CDG Karaoke files contain more than one data track - meaning that they may contain lyrics that could be in different languages, color schemes, or whatever the creator of the original CD intended. These are contained in "channels", and you can choose which channel is displayed. The default is zero as the vast majority of Karaoke tracks only contain lyric data in that channel.

If you run into a CDG Karaoke song that shows no lyrics, try this option to see if there is more than one "channel". Sometimes the lyric data is hidden in a channel other than zero.

This setting does not persist, meaning it resets to channel zero upon opening a new file.

Next, some CDG Karaoke songs are referred to as being "multiplexed". This means that the Left and Right channel of the Karaoke song may contain different audio - usually, one channel has the vocal track and the other is instrumental only. There is no standard on which is which, so it is dependant on the creator of the karaoke track.

With VDJ you can right-click on that player to select only the Left channel, only the Right channel, or both channels either in stereo or Mono. Note that you can use this function for any file, not just CDG Karaoke, to mix down the Left and/or Right channels as you see fit.

This setting also does not persist - opening a new file in this player line resets to "Stereo" playback.

Now let's move back to the top of the player line and configure exactly what information is shown in the four rows of text. Within the Right-click menu, select "Filename Display Options".

This dialog provides many different ways to show information about the file loaded into the player line.

We will go through the default settings, then you can change these as you see fit.

Notice that there are two separate display methods - one for when an ID3 tag is available, usually only in MP3 files - and another for when such information is not present.

By default, when an ID3 tag is available, the first row shows the line number. Note that it is written as "Line perent X". The percent x is replaced with the actual line number. You can use any of the percent variables noted on the right side of the dialog, and they will be replaced with the information specified.

So in our example, with an ID3 tag, rows 3, 4 and 5 show the Genre, Artist, and Track Title, respectively.

Without an ID3 tag, the second row shows the folder name, two folders up, while the third row shows the first folder up, or the "parent" folder. Finally, the fourth row shows the filename.

When a file is deemed to be a Karaoke file, there is another option: Display the Singer's Name at the top. This is very helpful when hosting, to remember who is singing at a particular moment, or who is coming up if you have already loaded their song into a player line.

This applies automatically to CDG Karaoke, but if you selected the option to "Treat Videos as Karaoke" within the Screen configuration dialog, this setting then applies to all Video files as well.

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