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X.5 Quartz Composer Notes

295 words on

While making the Quartz Composition of yesterday’s post, I noticed a few more things about Quartz Composer which I missed earlier on.


A great new patch which I didn’t see in my initial X.5 Quartz Composer review was the Timelines patch. It lets you define and edit a number of functions depending on the time graphically. While this seems odd at first, it can really take the pain out of trying to orchestrate some animation on screen where you want to have more than one thing that changes with time. Certainly beats writing a bit of JavaScript that spits out the correct numbers in dependence of the time.

Timelines editor window in Quartz Composer

As you can see in the screenshot, it’s fairly easy to orchestrate the time development of several values. You can even do non-linear developments using standard vector graphics editing techniques with tangent directions. The only ‘but’ here is that currently the editor still seems to be a big buggy and the Quartz Composer application can be easily crashed by dragging anchor points around too wildly. I recommend frequent saving of the file while using it.


Quartz Composer’s random number generator always seems to begin with the same number. I wonder how random it actually is.

Quartz Composer Visualizer

Quartz Composer Visualizer Icon I mentioned the cool Quartz Composer Visualizer application earlier on. It can be used to display Quartz Compositions across several tiled screens – even if they are attached to different machines. At least in its standard setup the Compositions are rendered separately on the different machines which the application controls. And each of them creates its own random numbers, thus making things inconsistent across screens for my example. No biggie, I suppose, but keeping me from using my composition with the Visualizer without extra effort.

January 24, 2008, 1:34

Tagged as X.5.


Comment by Stefen Kaur: User icon

Where did you find a timeline patch with a patch time input? Is there any place to get it. That’s exactly the patch I need. The current one does not have a patch time input on it.

July 1, 2009, 20:34

Comment by ssp: User icon

It’s just the normal Timelines patch that comes with Quartz Composer. I think by default it uses the time point of the parent patch. But using the contextual menu on the patch will reveal a ‘Timebase’ submenu which lets you set the timebase to ‘External’. That reveals the ‘Patch Time’ input as you see it in my composition.

Strangely, this option is rather well-hidden.

July 1, 2009, 22:01

Comment by Nicholas Teeple: User icon

Thanks a lot. I was so confused about how to restart the timeline in quartz composer. Seems like such a no-brainer for the sample file.

April 24, 2011, 1:08

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