Joshua Ellis ( writes us with an insanely cool discovery on the Mac OS X 10.4 developer DVD. I’m still waiting on my Tiger shipment, but this will definitely be on my install. Josh writes:

So I’m playing with the new Quartz Composer in OS X 10.4, which allows you to do weird sort of graphic installation-y stuff, plus design your own screensavers. It’s basically a drag-and-drop OpenGL composer, sort of like Max/MSP for making eye candy. You can load images or QuickTime movies and do real-time graphics processing on them.

In the list of controller tools? MIDI Clock, MIDI Controllers (aka pitch and mod wheel) and MIDI Notes. I haven’t gotten all my drivers updated yet, but it appears that this eye candy can be controlled via MIDI (in addition to the keyboard, an LFO, RSS feeds, the command line…pretty much anything). And you can write your eye candy out as an actual application. Which other people can download.

You have to install the XCode Tools to get this on Tiger, but they’re included free on the DVD. The app is called “Quartz Composer”. I think Macs may have just gotten a couple of hundred times more interesting.

Josh also tells us you can interactively map audio inputs to assign volume peak and spectrum to other controllers(!) While this is no substitute for Max/MSP and Jitter, for some visual fun and Swiss Army Knife-interactivity, looks like a must-install. Stay tuned.

  • Guest


    It's basically an AU plugin test environment, but it appears to be complete enough that if all you need is an AU host that can take MIDI and let you play your synths and use effects and so on, you can. It looks pretty cool and has some reasonably signal-routing options and so on.

  • admin

    I'll check it out. And do I need an AU test environment? Yes, I do! 🙂

    Now, erm, Apple, about this shipment of Tiger (cough, cough) . . .

  • mute

    Yup! And it looks more useful than just that, too– I didn't have a chance to mess with it much.

    (finally, I am no longer "guest." I also posted that giant list of places to download free AU instruments a couple of months ago, too.)

  • Guest

    I was looking forward to Quartz Composer but found out that it can't run on my old iMac. You need at least 16 megs of vram and some programable videocard gpu. Pixelshox (QC's direct ancester), does run on my machine, but it's unfinished and is not compatible with .qtz files (Quartz Composer's output files).

    Aside from MIDI controllersI know that you can have controllers that use the audio input in Pixelshox, I can imagine that those are in QC too.

    Note that you can also use .qtz files as screen savers and even play them in any Quicktime aware application.

    In any case this application is just too cool…I'll buy a new Mac just so I can use it 🙂

  • admin

    Wow, looks like you're right you're right! Seems the Pixelshox developer wound up at Apple. I loved Pixelshox, so this is great news.

    I'll try to post some brief 'vjing with QC' tutorials by the end of the month.

    Peter 8)

  • admin

    Have you tried it on your older machine? I wonder if this will even run on my PB.

    Of course, one way to go is Jitter . . . though no matter what, you've got the same resources to play with.

  • Guest

    To be precise, Quartz Composer is quite a bit more than PixelShox was.. It's had another whole year of development, including integration with Core Image and Core Video, which didn't exist when PixelShox was available.


  • Guest

    :sigh :upset :eek 😡 :p :grin 8)

  • Guest

    no substitue for MAX/MSP and Jitter?

    I beg to differ, this blows away MAX/MSP/Jitter and it's free.

    the trick is it's very easy to use Interface builder to build a proper Cocoa Mac OS X interface and link it to parameters in a QC composition.

    QC also has full integration with OpenGL / Core Image and Core Video so it's many times faster than MAX/MSP/Jitter

  • Guest

    Got some pretty good results using QC on a MacMini, which has relatively low hardware acceleration for 3D (and the Quartz 2D option is still at the default 'off' position Tiger ships with) – it even gives you the rendering load.

    It's a very easy environment to use.