Mixing, Adjusting and Generating Complementary Color Data-Sources in VDMX

While Quartz Composer is mainly used for creating interactive video sources and FX, one of of the other powerful ways it can be used in VDMX is to create your own custom plugins that can generate values or manipulate data-sources that can be used to drive other parameters in your setup. Another great thing about this feature is that once these compositions are created they can be shared and easily installed on different computers so that other people can take advantage of the new functionality.

For this tutorial we'll be looking at three very simple Quartz Composer compositions can be used within VDMX for manipulating color data-sources in particular.

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Making three templates for the Livid Base

When getting a new MIDI controller to use with VDMX, or other VJ / music making software, one of the most exciting aspects is finding out the best way to map the sliders and buttons to various controls that you want to use during performance, and along with that coming up with new ways that you can configure your software video generators and FX to get the most out of the layout of your instrument.

In this set of technique tutorials we'll be looking at three new example VDMX setups we've come up with for the Livid Base that take advantage of the controller in a few different ways including its multi-color LEDs and pressure sensitive pads.

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Automatic BPM Detection in VDMX using Waveclock

By enabling the “Waveclock” beat tracking feature in the VDMX Clock plugin, the music from a microphone or line input can be analyzed to automatically handle the adjustment of the BPM and measure position to ensure that the timing of changes in your video are perfectly in sync with the bands and DJs that you are working with. 

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Recording a demo reel from a Quartz Composer composition or other video generator to share online

It kind of goes without saying that these days, posting your work online is a great way to promote yourself as a VJ or creative coder, and to make new contacts for future collaborations. Along with a studio or live mix of your visual work, including some of the original resources that were used during the making of your process for other people to learn from is another way to make your mark on the community. 

For this technique tutorial we'll be looking at recording a demo reel that shows off the different ways that your generative compositions can be used in a live setting by using different sets of control data to drive its parameters, such as time based LFOs, MIDI / OSC control, and audio analysis data-source providers. Once we've finished creating the sample movie, we'll also walk through how to share the files using the videopong.net website where they can be hosted, downloaded and remixed by other video artists for free.

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Making custom face tracking video FX and data-sources for VDMX with Quartz Composer

For this quick technique tutorial we've made two basic Quartz Composer compositions using the “Detection” object that can be loaded into VDMX to perform basic face capture and replacement FX that can be connected in a variety of ways. You can also use these example patches as starting points for your own patches that perform more complex behaviors like tracking multiple faces within a single frame or publishing additional control information.

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DJ Mixer EQ Style Masking FX for VDMX (with bonus X-Session Pro template)

In this technique tutorial we'll focus on two different ways the idea of a DJ style low, mid, high EQ control can be interpreted in the world of video as FX in VDMX as a means to mask out or adjust the gain level on separate discrete parts of a video stream for the purposes of blending video layers together.

The first example exchanges the low, mid and high levels for the individual RGB channels of the image for raising or lowering the intensity of each independently. The second qcFX uses a similar concept to a 3-band equalizer, breaking down the image into three different sections based on the luma (brightness) level of each pixel instead of its frequency ranges.

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Bar graph visualizations with Quartz Composer and VDMX

Among the many uses of Quartz Composer, and perhaps one that is often overlooked, is the ability to make visualizations of data and other information. Since the compositions are rendered in realtime, when creating them for this purpose it can be helpful to make the patches reusable with published input values for use in other environments, or replicating within QC itself.

In this two part video tutorial we'll first create a composition in Quartz Composer that renders a simple bar graph data visualization with inputs for changing its labels and values that can be used in other applications. Once the patch is completed it can be loaded into VDMX and set up to respond to a variety of different inputs as a visualizer of tempo or audio levels as part of a VJ set, an on screen display of MIDI / DMX channels, or any other arbitrary data that you can get into your computer by OSC.

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Guest Tutorial with Shakinda of iLoveQC

Since it was started about a year ago the iLoveQC website has become one of the top resources and community sites for Quartz Composer developers and Mac VJs using the node based language. If you haven't already taken the time to check out the site, they've got some great interviews with artists, tutorials to get started, FX for download and even Final Cut Pro plugins for non-realtime video production. For this guest tutorial we're joined by iLoveQC founder Graham Robinson, also known as Shakinda who has been part of the in the VJ community for quite some time and is an all around QC guru.

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Passing DMX Universes into Quartz Composer from VDMX

Along with being able to directly control any UI item in VDMX, such as sliders and buttons, with the value from a DMX channel, when using Quartz Composer compositions it is possible to pass in an entire DMX universe (512 channels) of data all at once as a list of DMX values (ranged 0-255). Once inside the patch, the control information can be parsed programmatically to control real-time visuals or virtual lighting elements inside the patch, or to pass back value into VDMX by published outputs as control data.

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VJ Spain Guest Tutorial Part 3 - Usando Quartz Composer en VDMX

Today we are once again joined by guest poster Marcos Prack with part three of his series of Spanish video tutorials for a lesson on using Quartz Composer iterators and using compositions inside of VDMX: "En este tutorial os muestro como crear una composición en Quartz Composer y publicar parámetros que controlaremos luego en VDMX."

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The Quartz Composer Interaction object and VDMX Preview Windows

One of the newer features added to Quartz Composer is a new 'Interaction' object which allows for mouse clicks in the QC Viewer, as well as Preview Window plugins within VDMX, to be detected when billboard and sprites are clicked, making it possible to control patches in a variety of ways not possible with standard ​input splitters.

For this tutorial we'll first create a basic Quartz Composer composition that makes use of the 'Interaction' object ​and then import it into VDMX where it can be manipulated directly from a Preview Window plugin.

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Receiving MIDI SMPTE Time Code (MTC) in VDMX

​MIDI Time Code (MTC) is a specification for sending SMPTE values from a master playback application such as QLab or Apple Logic to keep the play time of other real-time music and visuals software in sync over MIDI.​ While MTC has a few drawbacks it can be very useful when setting up live performances where VDMX is being used alongside audio software that can send it.

In this tutorial we'll look at how to receive MTC ​in VDMX in two ways: First, the classic example of syncing the time position of a QuickTime movie to the incoming timecode. In the second case instead of a traditional movie, a simple Quartz Composer patch will receive the MTC and render a real-time animated read out of the values in standard SMPTE format.

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Valentines Day Starter Project

Getting ready for your Valentines Day gig?

Here's a quick starter project for VDMX that includes a simple particle generator Quartz Composer composition that rains down hearts over a live camera input or movie loops to add an extra bit of special something-something to the visuals.

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More Quartz Composer Resources

After experimenting with standard set of included objects, check out some of these sites for more examples, tutorials, and custom plugins written by other developers that you can use to get more out of Quartz Composer.

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