Quartz Composer, the free Mac developer and live visual tool, can be daunting to beginners. Its modular synthesis approach to manipulating live visuals is powerful, but is open-ended enough that it can be hard to know where to begin. And some of its real power — like the ability to create highly-optimized custom image and video processing that runs on your graphics card — is largely undocumented.

Fortunately, over a year after QC’s release as part of OS X 10.4, a growing community of users has been sharing its secrets. If you want to follow along with some of my unstructured notes for the class I’m teaching at Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward gallery, please come visit our blog and be an honorary, “out-of-Brooklyn” student:

Quartz Composer Journal

I’ll have more structured resources, and eventually a full tutorial, here on Create Digital Motion soon. In the meantime, though, you can enjoy Windell’s video feedback tutorial, which unlocks some of the mysteries of the Core Image Accumulator — and makes a Mac-loving cat a star. And let us know if you have example QC patches — or questions/problems, for that matter.

  • Sam

    Very cool! Thanks.

    I have been trying to pick a complex, open ended application to learn. Is this anything like Jitter? Processing?? I hope so as it's free. Eager to see what tutorials, etc you have coming!!

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    It's like Jitter in that there's a patching interface and you connect objects via virtual patch cables to assemble modular processing of visuals. Processing is similar in that they both can render in OpenGL 3D, but otherwise is largely a different animal as it relies upon Java and uses coding (no graphical UI).

    I'm actually thinking of doing a very un-scientific comparison of those products. But if you're interested in processing live video images and high-performance 2d graphics filtering, as well as doing basic animation of 2d images in 3d space, it has a lot of appeal. Processing and Jitter are both far broader in capabilities, and more easily extensible (at least through official routes) but it depends on what you're doing. More soon!

  • http://www.nicholasarner.com Nick Arner

    Peter, would it be possible to post the link to your journal again? I'd love to take a look at those resources if you have them!