ideas, ramblings, theory

Your Vision is Quartz

So, Quartz Composer, one of the many benefits of OSX that drew me away from the WinBoxes.  Free to use(*), widely modded and loudly trumpeted amongst the visualist community… yet so very difficult to get into.  Despite initially looking not much more complicated than Audiomulch or Bidule, I’ve never been able to quite grasp the signal flow and get past the strange parent / child metaphor that to me is expressed in a pretty unclear, unhelpful way.

I even attended a 2 day workshop on Quartz Composer and it helped me little beyond driving me back to Jitter.  Speaking of which… I can’t emphasise enough how much easier it is to use the latest iteration of Max.  All the helpful additional tool tips, resources and the way it autocompletes stuff for you.  Very intuitive!  But I digress…

There was one benefit to attending that QC workshop and that was meeting fellow audio-visualist Abres Ojos in his daytime flesh suit as Scott Baker.

The other day he mentioned to me that there is finally a book out about Quartz Composer!

Here it is!  And a preview here.

Looks to be pretty great.  I’ve ordered a copy, despite being totally poor.  There’s nothing like abject poverty to motivate one to learn a new coding system (said nobody ever!)

But seriously… if it is anywhere near as useful as the dwarf fortress guide it will definately be worth not eating for a few days.

Yet here I am putting forward all this talk of Quartz Composer being a reason to get a Mac (also VDMX, Metasynth plus no dropped cycles when using real-time audio fx in real… time) and I hear rumours that Apple are discontinuing it?  While this is all just idle gossip at this stage I do recall hearing stories of Pierre-Olivier Latour being largely left to his own devices in a basement office not unlike the one depicted in IT Crowd.  If Apple cared about all the visualists who see it as a tool of choice surely they would have put it up for sale by itself in the App Store?  Look at the page that uses the .com domain.  Confidence inspiring?

To make matters worse, it appears they have discontinued it for anyone with Snow Leopard.  I just recently went for a search for the latest version of XCode (where QC resides) and discovered that it needs OS X Lion 10.7 and above.  😦  So after some forum hunting I discovered the latest version of XCode compatible with Snow Leopard is 4.2, and that it isn’t given away free.  Good thing I didn’t pay the $99 to be a developer.  I got a friend to look for me and it isn’t even available to download anymore.  I’m sure they have their reasons but polls like this show a majority of musicians still using Snow Leopard and I’d say (audio)visualists will also be in that group.  So if you want a copy of Quartz Composer and still run Snow Leopard you will need to consort with the wrong kind of people in dark alley-ways of the internet basically.  Thanks Apple for criminalising our use of your software.

I think Pierre-Olivier Latour should abandon ship from Apple with whatever patents and trademarks he can.  Then start a kickstarter for a new version of PixelShox.  I can’t be the only one thinking it strange that the only choice of modular generative graphics environments on Mac are basically Artmatic, Processing and Jitter.

In related news…

While searching around for useful QC plugins I returned to the wonderful world of Anton Marini AKA Vade to discover news of his residency at Eyebeam.  It appears he is working on an app for live visual performance that he describes as “…a tool that is meant to be played. A tool that doesn’t feel like work. A tool that is designed to adapt effortlessly to changing circumstance.”

Do this experiment. Open your performance environment of choice, and make a new empty project. Load your music library and put it on random. Hit play.Now perform visuals. Quick, get something on screen that fits the mood.How long does it take you to create a composition? How much flexibility do you really have once you’ve settled on the look / feeling / mood of the first track, to react to whatever happens to come on next? Do you feel behind?

Heard this before but Vade has been behind successful Syphon and with his QC plugins arguably instrumental in the success of programs like VDMX so maybe?  I’m looking forward to it.


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