Building interest in Quartz Composer

SteveElbows's picture

Following on from a suggestion in another thread about this topic, I thought I would start discussing this.

Some random initial thoughts:

A few high profile uses of QC would do some good. eg something that tied QC into a popular trend. Im half-surprised nobody took that twitterverse example and heavily modified it in some interesting ways, as Im sure that would get some attention. Once upon a time when Leopard came out and Apple had removed the ichat/photobooth star wars hologram effect. I made my own version (which didnt end up being very similar to the hologram effect) and put it on macrumors.com and the file got about 20000 downloads. In comparison, when I hacked together thaat itunes visualizer using 2D Fluid CL stuff, I got a really low number of downloads on macrumors.

The somewhat neglected and rusty state of QuartzCompositions.com probably isnt helping the cause.

QC is gaining some increased use in VJing circles via apps such as VDMX.

More training/example videos.

Whatever is done I think there are some pretty big barriers to getting QC useage to expand massively, ranging from a limited number of people being realy into node-based programming, to its non-crossplatform nature.

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SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

To be honest my heart is not into QC promotion so much at the moment, so whilst I long hoped that I would make something in QC that would encourage interest, my dreams may now be pointing in a slightly different direction.

eg if I think about what I would really like to be involved with, it would be a cross-platform node-based system for harnessing new and upcoming web-standards stuff. There are some interesting developments ranging from various HTML5 stuff to hardware accelerated CSS transforms to Kronos and Google initiatives to bring OpenGL ES to the web in some way.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

As I wrote on the other thread:

Quote:
Well, the key would be for Apple to basically be integrating the solutions that Kineme stuff offers into their own scenario...

-Not locking in releases to OS updates. -Absorbing the function of 3rd party stuff on their own terms. -Not "breaking" stuff and reducing function. -Having one on one contact and not shrinking from questions, or being afraid to say something doesn't work or justify decisions. (In audio engineering, I wouldn't be surprised to be contacted by the heads of a company to explain why something works how it does, though I'm talking about gear more expensive than Macs, so they ought to. I fully expect anyone to disclose if something doesn't work right, or be prepared to justify thought process... or simply say "that is private and not for public discussion or debate, instead of a sidestep/non-answer). -Taking time to actually look at what people are doing beyond the most cursory and superficial observation. -Making sure that "innovations" haven't been surpassed in more stable ways before implementing them in house. -Small contests and public events to hype the tech. -High level abstraction for app building... ala QB. -Limited implementations on stuff like iPhone, or possibly on Windows through frameworks held in iTunes or Quicktime (I'm positive that no one but me would have the nerve to suggest that to Apple... that would be one of the first things out of my mouth, with which I'm sure I would be ushered out the door!)

-Then, I'm sure Chris would say a bunch of stuff about performance, multi-threading, disclosing more code, etc :)

At this point, there is basically a big market for a QC editor and viewer that works correctly in SL.

This is all pretty blazingly obvious stuff. Then again, this is better fleshed out somewhere else than this thread.

Aside from that stuff, and to expand, a Quartz Builder/QC app based store, more natural sequencing of things ala garage band, viewer splits so that you can see a scene from multiple vantage points, mode developed interaction modes, in-house modeling/export of mesh, and integration of all kind of movement sequence info into the "sequencer" interface- whether it's interpolate stuff, tempo changes, Value Historian type info, or imported 3d animation files (like a mega developed piano player roll/loop editor- timelines, but not lame).

So, make it so that there is less need for training to begin with by introducing paradigms that are already well established (like loop editing), in addition to what already exists. It makes sense to the average (eg., non programmer) person to grab a circle and move it, and have that motion be recorded, then be able to "loop" it, reverse it, slow it down/speed up, via something more like editing video or music, while "adding" more layers of editing, and recording that on top. Most people go "lfo, interpolate...timelines...huh?"

Stuff like selecting a macro, having a window pop up, and View what's happening in just that macro would be another nicety. Embedded images on the editor surface, to include really substantial instructions or sketches. There are soooo many things that could/need to be added to something like this for it to have really widespread appeal, and I'm barely scratching the surface.

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Education is one area where node-based programming environments have had some success.

Personally Im rally into music visualization and when I am not just dreaming about making eyecandy or being a rockstar I ponder the possibilities for creating interesting visuals that could be useful in music education. Even relatively simple stuff such as showing people what notes they are playing or the structure of various sequences in realtime in appealing ways could have some mileage perhaps.

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Well I would like to see an app that incorporated some of the more intuitive and less programatical way of manipulating stuff, but I wonder at what point that starts to muddy the waters of what node-based programming is about. So on that front Im content with QC as it is, and having a host app that does other UI & data things better and passes them on to QC. Having said that, as they already provide things like a timeline patch it wouldnt hurt to polish them.

Im not sure I see the node-bases programming market/userbase as being quite as large as you suggest in some of your posts, for I feel it sometimes falls into an precipice between those who can program efficiently in code, and those who wont go beyond toying with a few presets and tweaking parameters. I fit nicely into the gap because I am a frustrated nearly-programmer who for a multitude of reasons wants to rewire stuff, but without getting too deep into code.

Maybe on this issue we can learn something from the history of programming and configuring synths, of which I only know a little about, but see signs that there were relatively small numbers of people who actually did a lot of hardcore meddling with patch cables, and even fewer who could figure out programming FM synths much. Now we are in a world of soft synths and I own reaktor but mostly find myself just tweaking presets of gluing things together, as soon as I look too deeply under the hood my brain explodes.

cwright's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

gtoledo3 wrote:
Most people go "lfo, interpolate...timelines...huh?"

Hey, I saw LFO, and immediately knew what was going on... but then, I'm a nerd, so maybe not ""most people"... ;)

gtoledo3 wrote:
Stuff like selecting a macro, having a window pop up, and View what's happening in just that macro would be another nicety.

How would that work for non-rendering macros? or would that be a feature only for rendering macros?

I like your other historian-esq ideas -- I've got a few of my own that we should perhaps bounce around via email for a bit, then dump it here on the forums...

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Just too add even more to what you were saying youd like QC to do:

QC isnt trying to be an amazing best of realtime & pre-recorded/configured animation killer app. For my particular desires I would really want something that was a combination of VJing software, Compositing (After Effects/Motion), 3D animation, game engine and Quartz Composer. Its a tough one to pull off, if anything I see more trend for node-based programming to appear within specific areas of non-realtime creative software (eg nodular procedural materials in a 3D app) these days, but I get the idea that if I lived long enough there could be a great coming together eventually.

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Touch Designer on Windows shows the output from each node, which is kind of amazing but also sometimes does my head in, or maybe thats just because the rest of their UI has some issues and the jargon they use makes my nose bleed (they probably inherited that aspect from Houdini of which Touch is a realtime offshoot).

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Or looking at it from another direction, I guess what Im trying to say is that I feel there is only so much QC should do to cater for people who have no interest or instinct for thinking about how to solve problems/create stuff in a programming way. Therefore uses of it which never require the operator to know or care what an lfo is may best be supported by way of an app that happens to use QC underneath, whcih can be tinkered with only by those inclined to do so.

toneburst's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

My impression is that more people are using Quartz Composer all the time. I'm seeing more videos tagged with Quartz Composer on vimeo these days. I'm also hearing on the VJ grapevine that more realtime video applications are supporting QC. I've just been contacted by a developer from Arkaos saying they're adding QC support, VDMX uses QC compositions all over the place, Modul8 also supports it. I realise VJ use is a niche, but it's relatively 'hip', especially with people like Ali Demirel and Matt Black using Quartz Composer sources and effects in VDMX performing in front of thousands of people.

I think QC's profile is increasing, if anything. For a free application, with little official support, and poor documentation (sorry, Apple), it's done pretty well.

Having said all that, I've been getting less feedback on my blog lately. I tend to put that down to the fact that I let it slide for a while, as I was tied up with other stuff.

a|x

toneburst's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

gtoledo3 wrote:
Aside from that stuff, and to expand, a Quartz Builder/QC app based store, more natural sequencing of things ala garage band, viewer splits so that you can see a scene from multiple vantage points, mode developed interaction modes, in-house modeling/export of mesh, and integration of all kind of movement sequence info into the "sequencer" interface- whether it's interpolate stuff, tempo changes, Value Historian type info, or imported 3d animation files (like a mega developed piano player roll/loop editor- timelines, but not lame).

This stuff is all covered by other applications though. You're basically talking about any 3D modelling and animation application you can think of there. I don't think there's much mileage in Apple bolting on all this extra functionality when there are any number of similar products on the market already.

As it is, QC does a relatively simple job, and does it, on the whole quite well, interface niggles and teething problems associated with new technologies aside.

Quote:
So, make it so that there is less need for training to begin with by introducing paradigms that are already well established (like loop editing), in addition to what already exists. It makes sense to the average (eg., non programmer) person to grab a circle and move it, and have that motion be recorded, then be able to "loop" it, reverse it, slow it down/speed up, via something more like editing video or music, while "adding" more layers of editing, and recording that on top. Most people go "lfo, interpolate...timelines...huh?"

I actually think QC is about as simple to use as it could be, given the flexibility of the application. It's a relatively open system, which is where it's charm and power lies- it could only be made simpler by reducing it's flexibility. Having said that, proper documentation of EVERY patch would be really useful. Some patches are pretty obscure. Just improving documentation would go a long way towards making QC more accessible. The interface encourages experimentation, in my opinion, and far from being inaccessible to non-programmers, I'd say it's probably a good introduction to some basic programming concepts for those who don't have a background in coding.

a|x

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

cwright wrote:
gtoledo3 wrote:
Most people go "lfo, interpolate...timelines...huh?"

Hey, I saw LFO, and immediately knew what was going on... but then, I'm a nerd, so maybe not ""most people"... ;)

gtoledo3 wrote:
Stuff like selecting a macro, having a window pop up, and View what's happening in just that macro would be another nicety.

How would that work for non-rendering macros? or would that be a feature only for rendering macros?

I like your other historian-esq ideas -- I've got a few of my own that we should perhaps bounce around via email for a bit, then dump it here on the forums...

Well, a big "me too" on the lfo/interpolation stuff. I knew what was going on there from audio synthesis, and I thought it was actually a very cool approach, so I was drawn to it. I would never get rid of it or make another approach necessary, just augment sequencing capabilities.

The sub-viewer would be for renderer chains or render macros, as well as loaders, possibly even other places in the chain... think of a big "official" floating quicklook style window instead of a seeing an image in a tooltip and having to keep "hovering" over the image port, more or less, but that in cases where there isn't a port, it would have to grab image and pump it to the Viewer transparently to the user, like an implicit read pixels or render in image type of thing.

It would be like, selecting the macro/patch, and then the tooltip preview would just stick until you closed it.

The thing about an idea like that is basically bringing OS X features to the app. It comes from a standpoint of smooth integration. I can Quicklook a file... sooo, I want to "quicklook" a macro (and the basic function is already there via tooltip, it was just implemented in a lackluster way).

We'll take the vh/sequencer stuff off-forum as those conversations get so dense and long anyway.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

I agree... with much of that, but I think that the perceived market for home recording gear was also very small, and that turned out to be wildly wrong.

I perceive the market for node based stuff as small because the method of achieving the end is something that people don't really care about, but I perceive the market for home based movie/video/ easy special fx and animation for home and personal/amateur media production as vastly large.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Well, I "model" something using sample and holds and gravity warps to sculpt to a very advanced and intricate level in QC already, I just can't save it or export since it's virtual data. I can model right now.

I'm not talking about wasting a bunch of time lopping something in that there isn't already a working method for. There would not be a bolting of a bunch of unrelated stuff to do that at all. One could save the "info" it took to do the sculpting in the qtz itself as a data string, or maybe just export it.

I think the major advantage is that it would make it more of a showcase of what can be done with their graphics engine, and it would be fairly amazing to do developed 3d animation from cradle to grave all in one app, especially since I can do it already, as long as I am patient enough to "never close" the qtz... and it's not able to be seen by anyone except by screen grab, since I can't save the virtual warp data right now.

Yeah... you and I feel that QC is simple as do many on the forum, but also realize that I'm talking about blindingly simple editing, not just "simple". I disagree with the idea that it would have to be made less flexible to make it simpler though I can see how that would be a typical interpretation. I'm simply talking about different types of interaction modes to create sequences... different ways of programming a qtz that wouldn't interfere with what people are used to.

In a sequencer mode, for example, it would make sense to be able to view a render chain as a video style preview strip, ala Final Cut/AVID/iMovie, to total non-coders, and then be able to cut/loop it. Someone could have done the initial "programming" solely through recording interactions. Yet, another person could choose to code it from scratch, and also "view" their chain in that mode, and then cut the timeline if they wanted to, but it wouldn't be needed if they wanted to use a classic method.

Stuff like that wouldn't interfere with typical use anymore than adding a timeline patch would, as I would see it. If it did, I would be totally against it, and it would be horrendous to see ideas like that introduced in a inappropriate way that hobbled old stuff. In my mind, it would just be bringing QC up to par for sequencing, video, and introducing typical media queue paradigms for those used to, and desirous of that.

As much as I'm talking about adding some simple interaction modes, I would like to see it go even further in adding various scripting languages, and giving more to coders.

I basically see it as a giant media/data synth and sequencer, for manipulation as well as creation of the media. So, I would like ability to smoothly export stuff in the same way that I'm able to import (like exporting a deformed mesh one has made in OpenCL as a model file, even if proprietary and only able to be used by QC).

I certainly like the current QC methods. I'm just talking about the difference between a narrow use app, and something that I think would see more widespread use. If it made sense to use in home or small business media production scenarios, or for bands to make little programs or do videos, stores to use for titling for their commercials, but all "in app", it would be a total annihilator of all media programs. Especially if at the end of it all, you just click a button to export as an app or render to portable movie.

I understand that suggesting methods that would allow people to be less adept at using technology or doing coding, to derive QC benefit, is kind of heresy. I feel dirty :)

I'm probably not going to keep

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Apple arent likely to go down that route as they would be annihilating some of their own apps, eg motion. Plus depending on exactly how they implemented the UI for this stuff, they might not get many users anyway to justify the effort, given that many people who do this stuff have already invested time & money into using other tools, or that what QC does best might not be intuitive to them at all.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

whoops, I cut that sentence... I meant to end, "I'm probably not going to keep going on about features though, because I could talk until I'm blue in the face and come up with alternate interaction ideas that would solve the same problems that would be pretty different approaches".

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Well one of the things Im finding interesting in this internet era is getting to see just how big the long-tail is. I think its fairly safe to say that the idea that there are millions of potentially creative people out there, who have just been held back for certain specific reasons, is turning out to be a bit of a myth. Or at least there are limited numbers of people who will jump through hoops to achieve this stuff, and removing a few barriers makes little difference if there are more dramatic barriers to their creativity than QC can reasonably hope to eliminate.

I think it would take a dramatic shift in the way creative software works to change this, well beyond the scope of what QC could offer even if Apple decided there was money in persuing such an agenda.

If anything Id expect radical change in future to be based on paradigm shifts such as that which the Wii has started for gaming. Things like Microsofts project Natal, multitouch etc, combined with some real clever app design and a future internet where humans share creative assets/building blocks on a far wider scale than is done at present.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Well, I'm kind of suggesting being able to do QC/iMovie/GarageBand/Renderman/ + all in one app, so yeah, I realize the seeming absurdity of it, but I believe it's still what is eventually going to happen sooner or later anyway. Adobe is certainly hitting close to it. All of it (control of media) will be happening in one app, with different modes that can be used in conjunction or not, not skipping and jumping around, imo. In a way, if one was to view the OS as a big app, it is kind of like that already, just less tightly integrated. It will just be a race to see who does tight integration in a way that makes most sense.

cwright's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

One thing I had mentioned while there was that with QC as a dev tool, it pretty much guarantees that no one (95-98%) will see it. How many people have tinkered with Photo Booth? it's arguably more useless than QC, and yet more people play simply because it's there. Xcode, and dev tools in general, are much more "scary". While it's a minor thing, I'm willing to bet that more than a few people haven't had a chance to touch QC simply because the editor's not there by default. (Certainly not millions, probably not even thousands. But it only takes a handful of talent to make something amazing).

As cool as the Wii is, it isn't the be-all end-all (I'm sure you already know this, of course). There are some game styles are are absolutely terrible on the wiimote. Similar with creative tools, I don't think there's a single be-all end-all type of tool out there. There are simply too many things for a single tool to address them all. Multitouch, in my opinion, is severely overhyped (a solution in search of a problem). There are certainly a few areas where it can do cool stuff, don't get me wrong, but it's not a barrier to information exchange. And besides, with all this H1N1 hysteria, do we really want people to exchange more information via touch? I avoid using public terminals already, and that's not out of germophobia (I have a rather hearty immune system, thanks to the miracle of european serfdom + genetics ;).

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

I hear you. The thing that impressed me with the Wii was not really what it can do, or the quality of the games, but that it actually succeeded in getting quite a lot of people who had not played computer games before, to have a go. Even my Dad has got one, and he hadnt really played games since Space Invaders on the Atari gave him a bad dream!

So yeah I probably dont expect a single creative app to change everything and dominate, I just anticipate that a combination of networks and new controller/interaction methods will lead to some stuff in future that will appeal to people who dont currently use computers to create.

I do wonder if I am under the spell of multitouch for no good reason, certainly I see limitations with gestures and just what it will achieve, especially when I see apps that try to simulate 'what a real desk is like' and end up losing the benefits of traditional UIs and IT efficency in the process. But then Im the sort of fool who will spend a small fortune on a Jazzmutant Lemur only to discover that people were right when they said that tactile feedback can be rather important when performing by controlling stuff in realtime.

cwright's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

That's been my impression as well (large growth), though a non-trivial number of people are getting frustrated because of the lack of apparent support, because of frustration, and because QC is sometimes overhyped to the point where unreasonable demands are placed upon it, and it then fails. Those are all social issues, not with QC itself (well, the documentation bit might be QC). You'd be impressed with the number of people who yell at us for making kineme3d, but leaving off the option to render multi-million polygon meshes in real time. Because, like, there's a check box for that or something ;)

What I also find is that communities swell up, and then turn to ghost towns (quartzcompositions, primarily) -- this early in QC's infancy, it's dangerous to have ghost towns. People come across them, and get caught in the past; wrong or outdated information, broken examples, references to already-fixed bugs (look how long it took to get us to convince people to stop putting plugins in /Library and /System/Library -- yet some /still/ swear by it even though there's absolutely no difference in functionality in Leopard and Snow Leopard), all that leads to frustration and confusion. blogs (not just yours) follow a similar pattern (sam kass, caleb cannon -- did great stuff in the beginning, but then stopped around leopard's release. google fodder still turns that stuff up, though it's half irrelevant anymore). I'm glad our little band here hasn't dissolved or turn against itself or anything. :)

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Mmmm very true, and unrealistic user expectations are certainly something that make me glad Ive not become a proper developer - it seems it can be a burden to be an enabler of dreams because it sets off the imagination in some, who then go on to expect the impossible.

As a user who wants to do certain specific things in realtime, Ive just had to learn to be realistic and come to terms with the fact that there are not enough other people who want the same functionality that I do, for people to develop what I want and get a worthwhile return for their efforts. You can probably imagine how glum I became when my feature request for skeletal animation did not exactly reveal a mass of people hungry for such features, but hey ho.

Ghost towns stuff is an issue I guess, I mentioned quartzcompositions earlier, although I think to a certain extent such woes can be overcome if there are visible places where the QC spirit is alive and well, such as here. All the same, much as I love this site, something less overwhelming that is far more visual and composition-focussed may help.

I sometimes use twitter search sites to see what chatter about QC is going on, people discovering QC and getting excited seems to be a fairly frequent occurence, but I assume many people just dabble and move on.

cwright's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

I too was kinda disappointed by the turnout. There have bee maybe half a dozen people really interested in skeletal animation, but none with an actual plan for how it would behave in the editor. I honestly wasn't expecting that. Sometimes I wonder if people really are interested, they're just silent (we have a massive silent population here)... not helpful. Or, if it's something people would love, they just don't know it yet (that's always a shot in the dark -- some of our things didn't become the hits I thought they'd be too).

I completely agree that a composition/tutorial based resource would complement the QC community / kineme at large -- we're extremely heavy in the software side of things, which isn't really useful to beginners who are still earning their wings, so to speak.

The twitter idea's actually pretty cool (as much as I hate twitter ;) -- perhaps an interesting widget here would be to have a list of recent QC tweets... something interesting might pop up on occasion? I really don't know (I'm wildly inexperienced with that, so I could be completely off base).

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

With features like that, I also wonder if many of the people would love it presently have few reasons to even look at quartz composer, or be aware it exists, but that would change if such features existed.

Again I sometimes wonder where QC should end and apps that use QC begin, so with skeletal animation if I was confident that there would be a market for a 'poor mans motionbuilder meets VJing meets QC' and I had money to invest I would want to throw it at both QC plugins to provide the underlying functionality but also an app to expose it to people in a gentler way, which would then ultimately lead to some of those people wanting to learn QC so they could do more customisation than the base app allowed.

Anyway I hadnt realised that lack of feedback on how skeletal stuff would behave in the editor was such an issue, so whilst the feature may never happen I will probably return to that thread now and add further thoughts even if its a purely academic exercise.

Cheers, I love talking about all these issues but I tend to have sporadic bursts of talking too much about this stuff and then prolonged periods of silence or I get distracted by other things. Looks like this was one of those evenings where I couldnt contain myself ;)

leegrosbauer's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

SteveElbows wrote:
... both QC plugins to provide the underlying functionality but also an app to expose it to people in a gentler way, which would then ultimately lead to some of those people wanting to learn QC so they could do more customisation than the base app allowed ...

Kineme and several others do a pretty good job of covering the plugin area and development of exciting new plugins seems to be a rather regular event. Mr. Marini is currently working on bridges with openFrameworks and Mr. Nagy is tying into Photoshop, just to mention a couple. That part seems vibrant, alive and well.

I think the observation here about QC capable hosting applications is very worthy. Cwright made an earlier reference to people willfully 'playing' in Photo Booth which is indeed just one such application. If simply getting people to play is of significant value in popularizing Quartz Composer or at the very least in popularizing quartz compositions, and I myself do believe it could be, I would merely once again urge the existing group of users to start interacting extensively via audio-video conferencing and via internet broadcasting while also making extensive use of quartz compositions and of Quartz Composer itself within that context. While that may seem like an exercise of preaching to the choir, it nonetheless might broaden everyone's comfort level with using those particular communication tools. More precisely, if we all did it regularly and were all comfortable with it .. perhaps the broader public might catch on. There's nothing particularly difficult about AV conferencing. It's just that folks are not usually immediately amenable to webcams and to streaming themselves or their work. Regardless, it's a truly easy and viable method of exposing quartz compositions and Quartz Composer.

I also think that Mr. Drinkwater's comments about the need for improved documentation is a significant observation. One of the happiest new features in the QC4 Editor's Patch Library are the linked patch example compositions which have begun to appear, albeit rather sparsely. That's just a great feature, in my opinion, and could be extremely valuable in assisting new users if broadly implemented.

usefuldesign.au's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

"cwright" wrote:
Multitouch, in my opinion, is severely overhyped (a solution in search of a problem).

Sometimes I feel QC is in the same quandary (a solution in search of a problem). I'm obviously excluding OSX developers from my comments in this case. Director and Flash started out with pretty limited functionality compared to what they do now but the audience for the content was huge (www being inherently cross-platform) and the demand and capability rose steadily. One big issue for QC is that the content has to be viewed on a Mac and plugins etc have to be installed on host machine (if used). Otherwise I'm sure we'd have seen some cool QC based media and computational rich websites by now.

Content creators (motion graphics, digital signage, web graphics) will always prefer tools and plugins that give the sweetest result for least amount headache and time, so I can't see QC ever penetrating that market to a significant degree. Plugin developers will use QC not the $$$tate of the art app end-users imo. QC at best will be an invisible ubiquitous technology.

I'm not sure why hyping QC to the masses is desirable unless it's a case of ensuring it's place at the Apple table. I'd be interested to know what percentage of commercial OS X apps use Quartz compositions in a serious way to build their app. Surely dev requirements guaranties QC's survival for a while yet anyhow.

Anyhow Kineme has certainly done as much as anything to give QC legs outside the Apple developer world. As a beginner I was actually looking for a synth-for-video because of my audio synth background, and chanced across QC on the OSX Dev DVD. LFO said it all to me! As one who knew programming basics from the era of BASIC, it still took a lot of major all-nighters to get QC at a rudimentary level even when I was ripping other peoples work apart to learn it. Better docs and methodologies would have tremendously. When I can earn a living from QC I'l happily add to the documentation & educational resources out there. Before then it seems a bit premature to hype QC too much.

leegrosbauer's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Neither live streamed nor recorded composition content has to be viewed on a Mac. Gtoledo is currently getting thousands upon thousands of views over at Vimeo for a single featured composition. The actual compositions themselves do have to be run on a Mac, however. So, while not everybody can run compositions, everybody regardless of platform can indeed view them as long as someone or something is presenting them for viewing. I can stream a live composition anywhere in the world at any time to any platform. I can also post both live and static composition imagery to web hosts. We all can do that. But there isn't much interest in doing some of those things. That's understandable, btw. Limited audience, somewhat frivolous, etc. Perhaps just a little too playful and ephemeral, I suspect.

That said, on August 8, 2009 Apple presented what was billed as the first ever streaming live concert for iPhone. I watched it in Safari on my desktop. While I can't say with authority, the presentation appeared to me to be abundantly laced with live quartz effects. Did anyone else here see this event? Was that or was it not a prime example of quartz composition presentation for the masses? No problem if I've misjudged the effects, but that's how it looked to me.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

QC as the start of an ultra high level/easy abstraction for programming, hand in hand with an exporter like Quartz Builder is akin to bringing programming to the masses is what I believe. I mean, not everyone understood how to do the functions that stuff like Photoshop or Fruityloops accomplished, it's just that it was so blazingly obvious to anyone mucking around.

Who would have thought that every band would be able to record their own vids (like they are now), people would be taking home movies of child births, people would be doing podcasts, or that people would have their own personal websites, and make "glitter letters" and such? Look at how much interest there is in stuff like the iPhone app store, and then consider that QC plus Quartz Builder is basically the computer version of that, but possibly easier to use.

I think that if something could do that and make cross platform apps by creating a kind of thin OS shell, pulling needed frameworks into the app, etc., but needed the OS itself to make said apps... that it would basically destroy all other OS's. NeXT was really close to that, but it was ahead of it's time... and then the Windows compatibility got lopped off, eventually mutating into our currently loved OS.

If Windows was to do this first, and make it work well (apps that deploy on OS X or Win7 smoothly), Apple would be screwed. If anyone was to do this, all other OS manufacturers ought to be crapping themselves, because whoever did it would have the ultimate development platform. I'm totally aware of all of the technical limitations and amounts of work and programming involved, and I don't make any of my statements ignorant of those. I also think it is less about blazingly efficient performance in all scenarios, and that cross compatibility itself is a kind of efficiency that is different and sometimes more desirable than speed.

IMO, I'm sure some would think this is a really ridiculous take on things, but I think that having iTunes or Quicktime on Windows maybe host the necessary frameworks and include a virtualizer that could run qtz's - even if limited in patches one could use - would immediately make the technology about a million times more appealing, and create a really revolutionary situation. I mean... they could even limit it to the last OS version patches, or just a variety of filters, or some subset of patches.

I don't think that any company can indefinitely saturate the hardware market as intensely as they have for so long and not start to see a really dramatic, exponential, drop at some point. It always makes more sense to sell "air" or close to it (eg., software, bottled water, etc), than predicating sales on tangible hardware products and depending on a markup price structure that could slip out of your control. Making OS X "the" OS is more of an important move in the longrun than trying to clutch onto hardware sales. Yeah, yeah, they started in the garage by mating OS to hardware, but that was decades ago - it's still fine sensibility for a specific department of Apple, but blithely ignores the importance of not holding back the OS, which is being unconsciously hamstrung as a development environment by using it pretty much solely to hock the hardware... and luring in developers to a really attractive development environment, that conveniently doesn't compile for other OS's.

I don't know when, but hardware sales are going to DROP, and it's going to happen really quick once it starts (hey, everyone has every right to say I'm full of it on that, but I could definitely start trotting out many past incidents with other companies, and history tends to repeat itself). How many iPod versions are people going to buy within 10 years time? I'm dubious. How many times are people going to buy laptops after they self destruct in a couple years times from gpu/heat issues (ok, argue away on that too... I may be wrong, but I think time will tell. I HOPE I'm wrong).

It's dangerous for the Apple marketing to wreak of smugness the way it does, especially in lieu of anyone worth their salt knowing that there are some serious SL issues. It is only more annoying to power users and makes them want to say "hey, it's not that perfect", instead of looking the other way and cutting slack from prior good performance.

It doesn't help them to make an impression, marketing-wise, that one has to be more "enlightened" or smarter somehow to use a Mac. I've actually heard someone who was spending an hour piddling around trying to get their internet connection going in Vista, say that they didn't think they were smart enough to use a Mac! This is NOT the right conclusion, and spoke volumes to me about the way that some people see those ads.

I told him "hey, you probably wouldn't be over there still trying to figure out how to get on the internet an hour later when you have an air card (or whatever Sony calls it), AND a wwan usb thing, if you were using OS X". It's like a cruel, cruel thing that so many people will not get to use OS X, and think it's for "pro's" and is more complex.

In the scenario of being a hardware oriented company, your suppliers have a great deal of control in bending you over the barrel, or you have to constantly be coming out with new hardware that uses cheap parts that you can mark up quite a bit. At least one really smart move was for Apple to setup the Apple stores and strong online presence, as it's at least likely also been a big help to not have to cow-tow to vendors as much.

usefuldesign.au's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

My recorded content often doesn't look as good as good as in QC viewer. Prob b/c I have an olden-days G5 and rendering on GPU is faster than the QT playback it can muster. In fact I can't even watch HD on Vimeo since they changed it, just stutters to much.

Streaming I guess is an option when fibre to the desktop is everywhere. Seems kind of crazy though when a 500Kb .qtz file can do higher image quality than a 200Mb streamed content file.

Didn't catch the iPhone streaming (timezone.) Even though the 'event' was live I guess a lot of the visuals could have been prerendered, although that's not the case when they do app demo's is it. Remember seeing that Guitar player iPhone app go pear-shaped in front of a live audience of a few million so that wasn't baked earlier!

The neat thing about Flash when it emerged was the relatively smaller content downloads c.f. streaming full screen video. A .qtz player pluggin for Safari on other platforms (Win/iPhone) would certainly be enough to say make once play anywhere for our projects. A mature QCBuilder for other platforms would also be a major step in right direction but I can't see that happening.

usefuldesign.au's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

gtoledo3 wrote:
I don't know when, but hardware sales are going to DROP, and it's going to happen really quick once it starts (hey, everyone has every right to say I'm full of it on that, but I could definitely start trotting out many past incidents with other companies, and history tends to repeat itself). How many iPod versions are people going to buy within 10 years time? I'm dubious. How many times are people going to buy laptops after they self destruct in a couple years times from gpu/heat issues (ok, argue away on that too... I may be wrong, but I think time will tell. I HOPE I'm wrong).

Hey I HOPE you are right about that, would mean either hardware becomes prohibitively expensive (post Copenhagen!) or it is so ridiculously overpowered for the software requirements that upgrades need not occur as often for a mac to stay relevant and useful. I can't see that occurring though. Software has a way of soaking up every last CPU cycle made available by hardware advances and why would that not keep happening? Think you're correct on a plateaux for iPods though which is prob why Apple will keep adding functionality to them to keep the latest model 'must-have' desirable for the hipsters.

(I've never owned a iPod, even though I celebrated their initial release as a sign Apple was still capable of magic despite the heavy weight corporate structure and ever present talk of an Apple demise which iPod pretty much squashed).

cybero's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Quote:

It doesn't help them to make an impression, marketing-wise, that one has to be more "enlightened" or smarter somehow to use a Mac. I've actually heard someone who was spending an hour piddling around trying to get their internet connection going in Vista, say that they didn't think they were smart enough to use a Mac! This is NOT the right conclusion, and spoke volumes to me about the way that some people see those ads.

Bullseye on that one GT, exclusivity and need for an IT related PhD kind of image just doesn't sell the Mac to the wary masses.

As you say - not the right conclusion at all, in fact.

Ease of use, coupled with strength in depth makes it an ideal pitch for a Variety is Spice For All sales pitch.

From the newbie to the veteran tech head, and all other professional and amateur media users, data intensive users and others besides, the Mac would sit well and give a good return on their investment.

Where OS X SL is at presently is IMHO at least three to four years ahead of Windows 7 and far more reliable [apart from the Open CL and some Grand Dispatch moans from the developer community].

cwright's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

I'm quite familiar with the CL gripes, but what are the GCD issues you've been hearing about? I've only tinkered with grand central thus far (to figure out how it works behind the scenes, mostly), but I don't really see where issues could lie (other than a lousy implementation, which is possible but unlikely, given the simplicity of the task at hand and the pervasiveness of its use -- every app with a run loop (read: all but some command line apps) now uses gcd behind the scenes, as it's part of AppKit...)

cybero's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Quote:

IMO, I'm sure some would think this is a really ridiculous take on things, but I think that having iTunes or Quicktime on Windows maybe host the necessary frameworks and include a virtualizer that could run qtz's - even if limited in patches one could use - would immediately make the technology about a million times more appealing, and create a really revolutionary situation. I mean... they could even limit it to the last OS version patches, or just a variety of filters, or some subset of patches.

With you on that one GT, one of my favourite things about QC, visualizing music [and data too].

I have to admit, I am as yet to get into the WM PLayer visualization toolkit & I do see the moans and groans about why do we have to have QT & iTunes on our Windows machines being a none too insignificant hurdle to overcome, but it can be done and getting some beautiful Tiger - Leopard like standard audio responsive compositions running , with Options of course, would be a merry way to go , all told.

Of course, Lee, you are also right to point out that by incorporating QC effects into live transmissions and web conferencing some further inroads to bringing the technology to the attention of the currently non QC aware could also help, but in some ways , it would depend upon their incorporation being made explicit from the outset, otherwise, whose to know.

Quote:

what I would really like to be involved with, it would be a cross-platform node-based system for harnessing new and upcoming web-standards stuff ...HTML5 stuff ...

Well Steve, I totally agree with you on that cross platform point and I for one am well into promoting technologies I love and find very useful, see http://9elements.com/io/projects/html5/canvas/ for one really beautiful HTML 5 example.

Imagine that being done with cross platform friendly QC frameworks.

The later caveats & points raised in subsequent posts about running Open CL or Open GL and Open CL's current state of security incognita are the primary shrinkbacks regards exploiting those technologies, unfortunately. Thanks for those well considered points cwright.

As you said - education , especially media and music education would be very fertile and productive ground for QC deployment and demonstration.

I'm sorry to hear that your marvellous Open CL based iTunes visualizer received so few downloads.

I'd only had time to briefly view the item upon its initial release & only managed to post up praise in response to that quite recently, but it is currently one of my favourite visualizers & might well pick up some more deserved recognition.

Expect to see it mentioned possibly more than once in despatches within the next week or so as I begin to flesh out my site with some improved videos of Tiger / Leopard visualizers and my new Snowy QC stuff.

Do you have a link to that item I can place onto my site?

I really don't object to bounce rate from my site :-), especially if / when it points to something useful or tasty, like your works and others besides , including, but not limited to the incredible Kineme.

cybero's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

The GCD issues would seem to be down to those not figuring how to get the best advantages out of GCD for their application development.

I've not personally had any such issues to report upon, but will track back with those I had stumbled upon later - after lunch :-).

It wouldn't surprise me if they were the result of a bumpy learning curve elsewhere [pbck].

cwright's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

ahh, that makes sense -- more of a "this doesn't automagically fix everything in my app" type thing. meh. :)

If you find anything to the contrary, I'd love to hear it.

cybero's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer - GCD related

Most of the following links relate to the learning curve stuff, if I hadn't have been emptying my cache and history so much whilst testing some web related procedures, I'd have a few more. TBH, I'm only just getting to grips with the GCD concurrency stuff, but it looks very interesting indeed. Interesting to note how others, elsewhere are still getting just how truly cross platform GCD is / can be.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=848476

http://www.madebysofa.com/#blog

http://www.mail-archive.com/9fans@9fans.net/msg10581.html

& then the truly useful Apple example stuff

https://developer.apple.com/mac/library/navigation/index.html?section=Re... - search term 'dispatch'

provides the following by way of specific examples

Dispatch_Compared Compare overhead of various GCD alternative APIs

DispatchFractal Fractal computation and display with libdispatch

Dispatch_Samples Grand Central Dispatch examples of sources, dispatch_apply, and dispatch_group. Last change: Updated to current libdispatch API, and added samples readFileF.c and nWide.c

DispatchWebServer A web server using Grand Central Dispatch events. Last change: Update to newer APIs, more comments. Overview section. Supports content compression.

DispatchLife The classic game of Life implemented using Grand Central Dispatch. Last change: Updated for new libdispatch APIs

leegrosbauer's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

ah. Full glory high resolution quartz comps everywhere on all platforms? No. Certainly not. That isn't going to happen. But I'm also not one of the folks that's of the opinion that QC ought to be capable of standing it's own when it's out of it's element, either. For instance, many effects circumstances are simply implemented more beneficially with other tools or in post production and tossing QC up against them, while optimistic, is kind of pointless. Likewise, most people have different expectations of web presentations than they do for live performances in clubs and theaters. How many folks regularly download the super giant HD movie previews, for instance? I don't, although I'm fully capable of doing so. I watch the smaller and lower resolution mid size versions and call it good.

So, I feel that QC enhanced presentations could easily fit frequently and nicely into modest streaming circumstances, if folks were of a mind to do so. I would acknowledge, however, that somewhat advanced presentation skills probably ought to be an important part of the mix. And it's a fact that we're not well practiced broadcasters in here. But I think if we were, there would probably be much to be shown for the QC presentation circumstances that I've advocated for.

leegrosbauer's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

cybero wrote:
... by incorporating QC effects into live transmissions and web conferencing some further inroads to bringing the technology to the attention of the currently non QC aware could also help, but in some ways , it would depend upon their incorporation being made explicit from the outset, otherwise, whose to know ...

Well, yeah. But, in fairness, nobody even knows when it's made on a Mac most of the time either. I guess then, for the types of modest but frequent presentations that I envision, it would indeed be reasonable to make it explicit. Include a direct acknowledgement in some formal credits? Sure, why not. All I can say is that in my own modest conferencing experiences, folks do regularly inquire how I achieve even simple appearing QC effects such as zoom or sharpen. Needless to say, if they are Windows users, they lose interest as soon as I tell them, heh .. but the intitial attentiveness to the presence of quartz effects is common and frequent.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Well, everyone seems to forget that NeXT/NeXTStep/OpenStep (eg. Cocoa) could work with Windows NT, and one could compile to Windows using the Developer Tools/AppKit. (This is where all the NS stuff you read about comes from... yes, Apple did not invent this OS for those unfamiliar with the sequence of events).

I know that there has been many frameworks, and tech along the way, but it's not some crazy thing, because it was ALREADY able to have been done. It's just that now, the Developer Tools are a "free" suite, and it's more purposeful for Apple to use it to attract people to buy Mac stuff, than to have it be everything it COULD be as a Development environment.

I understand the decision ( I mean, Web Objects used to be a separate and pretty pricey product ), but I don't agree with it. IMO, all of this stuff we are doing should be able to work in "Web Objects" land and work with it's Java foundation, and the fact that it doesn't is a pretty big slip up, and very short sighted, as it should be maintained and brought up to speed with every release, whether they want to make it public right now or not.

When it was a given that OS X ran on Mac hardware without problems... ok, I can buy that it makes sense to always sell it as a package. Yet, it doesn't. So that logic goes out the window. I can also imagine many horrible antiquated PC systems that couldn't run the OS well, but so what. You just put a minimum spec on the software package. I have as much likeliness of putting together a working system as Apple does, imo, and at least I wouldn't be able to fry an egg on mine.

It's just kind of sad for me, for there to have been this ultimate development environment and revolutionary OS tech, that got rolled back and hamstrung to sell hunks of carbon that will end up in a land fill. There comes a point when trying to sell chunks of hardware actually limits the advancement of a more valuable commodity, which is the OS (again, hey, I'm just some opinionated guy, but I think history tends to bear out what I'm saying. I'm stopping short of making a dissertation out of this!).

usefuldesign.au's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

I think those are points worth underlining, GT. I had kinda overlooked your take on it. There's some irony in Apple putting much of there Mac product person-hours into a software product (OS X) that they almost give away to sell a bunch 'carbon' which Apple mostly buys as off the shelf components and assembled in a sweeter box — if not hotter ;) — than PC makers. (Itself designed by another ID firm often enough).

Apple Mac division core business: the total widget, as in the equals sign in the equation not many of the elements being summed.

I guess if somebody removed irony from capitalism you wouldn't get left with much change though.

Don't know much about Web Objects except it was their very early on in web dev. Does it have much market share (iTunes store exempt)? Could QC be rolled into that in a way that Safari/Firefox on a PC could view it?? That would be incredible.

usefuldesign.au's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Hey thanks for the fruityloops link GT, I never saw that product. I was just browsing Synthmaker and really liked how you could design and couple GUI elements (sliders, knobs etc etc) to modules for custom-made front panels to go with the modules. I would love to see something like this for QC or QBuilder app. Pity it's WinDo$s only.

I know there is Interface Builder in Xcode but that's remained a no go zone for me except for random "playing". Don't know how to bind to a QC and build a project app. On my 'one-day' list.

SteveElbows's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

cybero wrote:
I'm sorry to hear that your marvellous Open CL based iTunes visualizer received so few downloads.

I'd only had time to briefly view the item upon its initial release & only managed to post up praise in response to that quite recently, but it is currently one of my favourite visualizers & might well pick up some more deserved recognition.

Expect to see it mentioned possibly more than once in despatches within the next week or so as I begin to flesh out my site with some improved videos of Tiger / Leopard visualizers and my new Snowy QC stuff.

Do you have a link to that item I can place onto my site?

I really don't object to bounce rate from my site :-), especially if / when it points to something useful or tasty, like your works and others besides , including, but not limited to the incredible Kineme.

Sorry for the delay in replying - My Macbook Pro died, I think it finally succumbed to the 8600M fault.

Anyways my point about EarFluid not getting much attention was not exactly a complaint, I havent tried to promote it much for a variety of reasons. I was just mentioning it to contast against the high number of downloads I got for a QC thing when Leopard came out, but Im guessing that got lots of downloads because it was related to star wars, and because it was replacing functionality that had been removed from Leopard before release which people had been anticipating having seen it demoed by apple previously. I dont know if I should read into it any further, eg that photobooth & ichat effects have a higher profile/use than itunes visualizers, probably not.

Anyways if I ever get round to polishing EarFluid further and trying to promote it, I will take you up on your generous offer of help.

Cheers

cybero's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Just taken a fresh look at the Twitterverse example, which as we know has become increasingly 'broken' with successive updates, actually to the Twitter API, which is were I have begun to spend some time in regards of sorting this little item out. Shall post more once sorted out.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

I made a Artificial Intelligence that can actually search and speak Twitter posts... it got some moderate attention, but basically, it's pointless. The AR stuff isn't exactly "utilitarian" either, insofar as there being little point for an average home user to use anything involving it. This is the way it goes with gimmicky stuff.

I've harped on it plenty; QC needs to be an application development system for media presentation (and other stuff), where design types can make applications. Then, it needs to have AT LEAST support for iOS, and perhaps being built to rely on, or pull from, other frameworks at a compile stage, so that there is compatibility on other systems (eg., Windows/Linux).

To me, it makes sense that marketing departments, home musicians, local media production (tv, etc), would like a system for making interactive apps, in a way similar to QC, but fleshed out by some more user friendly ways of programming events. Also, with being bound to the Desktop, I feel that QC has been somewhat marginalized, as iOS and the "devices" are what's hot.

I'm dubious about if I think that what users want out of QC vs. what makes sense for Apple to have QC be, are one and the same.

I really agree about QuartzCompositions.com. I've applied for a username/password 2 or 3 times, and have never got one. It's a shame that the owners of it have totally neglected maintenance.

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Wow, never saw this. No prob about the fruityloops thing. I can't say I've ever used it, other than looking at someone using it who was just learning audio software, and giving some pointers as I was looking at what they were doing.

If you want to blow your mind, there is a software called "Magix Music Maker" that is viewed as this totally low-rent DAW software, Windows only. The thing is, to my memory, it looked totally like Garage Band before Garage Band.

I have the vague memory that eMagic contributed code for it, but didn't sell it under there company, just coding it for Magix. When eMagic/Logic got absorbed by Apple, all of a sudden there was this "garageband" software that looked suspiciously like Magix Music Maker. People talked a lot about garageband being a rip off of "Acid", but in fact, it was way more similar to Magix, which was sort of an unknown "learn how to start recording" software.

Alas, the history of DAW software has been lost to recording mags that haven't made their contents put on the web.

usefuldesign.au's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

Wow, MMM looks kinda like family doesn't it.

This Music Maker name reminded me of the first big synth I built. E&MM was the name of a British electronic music mag that published the circuit designs for the best synth I ever made. Here's a Spectrum I found online. I gave mine a more classic JP8 profile.

Those were the days, etching PCBs on the qt at the old man's radiation labs, ordering custom ICs from OS, inventing a keyboard gate & CV triggering mechanism with platinum guitar strings (the E&MM one was not great) and days off Yr8 soldering thousands of components to get it done for a concert!

Wish I could get it going again — it was only monophonic but had a cool sonic range. Making that synth sealed my fate as a QC programmer ; )

usefuldesign.au's picture
Re: Building interest in Quartz Composer

I think if Apple could find it's way to exposing QC in it's consumer products more generously (looking at you Keynote) it would start gathering more broad interest. iWork and iLife in general. People are selling QT renderings of trivial post effects to Keynote users that are locked down as renders because the KN animation is so pre-fab. What KN does do, it does very well for most part (not QC comps!)

Anything that crosses over from niche to mainstream or lets just say the next level up of user base does usually do so with a particularly compelling new application that lots of people want to imitate/be a part of so are prepared to take the time/money hit to get it.

In a way, I can't see it not happening at some stage (a few years?), it seems so obvious. If I was boss of the QC dev team, I'd be looking to sponsor such an undertaking either inside another app like Keynote or a creating more versatile/consumer oriented System level tool that can just drop QC goodness into any relevant application. Needless to say I've passed on my thoughts many times…