Quartz Composer is a really nice piece of software for visualists. It allows you to create animated and/or interactive compositions mixing sounds, images, effects, user inputs and any other kind of data. In fact, Quartz Composer was the main reason I bought a MacBook Pro 18 months ago.
The first composition I created was this simple kaleidoscopic effect with shifting colors:
And this is how I designed the color wheel sub-patch:
If creating a composition is really simple and straightforward, exporting the result to a video file is another story…
0x8272938b: -[QCContext renderPatch:time:arguments:] 0x8272906d: -[QCGraphicsContext renderPatch:time:arguments:] 0x827281bb: -[QCOpenGLContext renderPatch:time:arguments:] 0x0000d873 0x8276495b: -[QCView render:arguments:] 0x82763f68: -[QCView startRendering:] 0x0000cd80 0x8548584e: _nsnote_callback 0x81ccda90: __CFXNotificationPost 0x81cba008: _CFXNotificationPostNotification 0x8547c7b8: -[NSNotificationCenter postNotificationName:object:userInfo:] 0x86da2f5f: -[NSWindow _reallyDoOrderWindow:relativeTo:findKey:forCounter:force:isModal:] 0x86da2bbe: -[NSWindow orderWindow:relativeTo:] 0x86da0544: -[NSWindow makeKeyAndOrderFront:] 0x86fa55c1: -[NSWindowController showWindow:] 0x0000ca7f 0x873461d3: -[NSToolbarButton sendAction:to:] 0x86fb73c1: -[NSToolbarItemViewer mouseDown:] 0x86ea4763: -[NSWindow sendEvent:] 0x86dd9ee2: -[NSApplication sendEvent:] 0x0000a994 0x86d70922: -[NSApplication run] 0x00001d2b
My last chance was another plugin: Movie Exporter
v0.0.20091011). As the
other one, you have to drop your original composition in a Render in Image
macro block and export the resulting stream to the Movie Exporter block:
It did the trick but it looked like I messed things up: my goal was to export a 720p clip. But compression artifacts are so present in the final video that I think the exported images are blow-ups of a rendering executed at a much lower resolution. The rendering in the preview panel support this hypothesis:
Another big problem with this video export lies in the framerate: it cannot be set. For this composition the plugin exported a clip at 11fps. Which is far from fluid. I guess it’s because of the plugin grabbing images in real-time instead of taking the necessary time to render them one by one.
At the end, because of the reduced number of options available to export QC’s compositions to movies, and because of the proprietary nature of the platform, I don’t want to invest more time and energy in Quartz Composer.
I did some more experiments with it last year. I plan to share them with you and published them in the coming weeks. Then I’ll be free to sell my Apple machine and switch back to a full Open-Source stack (I’m thinking of Processing, PureData and their derivates here).