Here’s a video roundup for you fans of Quartz Composer, the powerful, free live motion graphics synthesizer and developer tool on Mac OS X 10.4 and later. Korg KAOSS Pad 3s and game controllers prove again to be very cool controllers for visual performance. If you’re not a QC user, these will work well with other custom visual apps, too (Jitter, Pd/GEM, vvvv, Processing, etc.).

Korg KAOSS Pad as Live Visual Controller

Via Matrixsynth, the new Korg KAOSS Pad 3 proves to be a truly powerful tool for manipulating live visuals. As opposed to previous KAOSS Pads, which had only an undifferentiated X/Y pad, the KP3 has LED feedback that allows you to create custom grid interfaces. This gets put to powerful effect by mapping MIDI input to custom synthesized 3D visualization patches in Quartz Composer, courtesy YouTube user porchka66. Assuming you’ve got a Mac to run it (mini for six hundred bucks, perhaps?), you’ve got a powerful custom visual synthesizer with more flexibility than pricey options like the Edirol CG-8, at a tiny fraction of the price. If you don’t like the look of the visuals here, incidentally, you can patch your custom visuals to look like whatever you want (something that’s harder with closed-box hardware).

Game Controller as Visual Controller / Synth

Too poor to buy a KP3? Use a cheap game controller instead. That’s what our friend Surya Buchwald did in a recent experiment, courtesy the lovely game controller-to-MIDI utility on Mac, Junxion:A/V Synth Controlled by Gamepad [The Lava Flow]

Simple results so far, but this should give you other ideas. I really like the synesthesia going here, with the patch acting both as visual and sonic synthesizer.

I’m surprised there aren’t more game controllers out there in performances; they’re cheap, there’s a wide variety of designs, and they’re reasonably easy to configure for use with Macs and PCs. (Xbox 360 controllers now work on PCs, too, and I expect might be adapted to Mac use, as well. PS/2 and GameCube controllers can be used with cheap USB adapters on any platform.) The results, again, can be anything you want them to be.

Quartz Composer Meets After Effects

In a combination you don’t often encounter, After Effects and Quartz Composer both got applied to this music video production, by Tim Jaeger (also on The Lava Blog; thanks for the correction). I love the minimalist, graphic look, with QC visuals evidently generated dynamically by the music:

Music video made with Quartz Composer, After Effects [The Lava Flow]

Got a favorite use for Quartz Composer? Upload some video and let us know about it!

  • The Kaoss pad looks promising, but I think the demo only kind of lays out the basics. How it is used with audio is where I see this being a lot more useful. In the end, though, the kaoss pad is just another interface and it is all about what you do with what it gives you that actually makes it worthwhile or interesting.

  • Thanks Peter! Correction though – the music video was done by Tim Jaeger of dvjtj.com (apparent only from the author listing).

  • I love the A/V synth one. Some of those Kaoss pad patches were interesting, but the demonstration just kept gooooooing!

  • Pingback: Audio+visual experiment | IANIN()