Quartonian VSM (Video Stills Manipulator) is a specialised simplified tool for creating beat synced animations from folders full of still images.
This is my first attempt at a full stand alone Cocoa application, it was created entirely in Quartz Composer and Interface Builder, there is no actual objective-c coding.
This is designed primarily as a live performance tool. It could be used for motion graphics design but at the moment the easiest way of recording the output is to output to tv out on a second display record to DV tape then recapture the output.
Hardware and software requirements
Requires OS X 10.4.4, Suggested minimum system is a 1Ghz G4 with a 32MB Graphics card. Second display required for live performance. A Mac mini would be fast enough to run this but there is no way to get a second display connection. The current base model 12″ ibook (1.33Ghz G4 with Radeon 9550 32MB) works very well with this. This is available as a universal binary, I haven’t got access to one to test but it should run VERY well on any intel core duo mac.
To start it going just click on each text box and drag a folder full of images in. Go to the performance tab then start turning on and off layouts and fx to see what everything does.
To set the BPM tap the mouse four times in the output window. When the BPM changes, click back to the output window and hit space to clear the bpm so you can enter it again.
Dual screen output can be managed by setting up screen spanning then dragging the output display so that it completely fills the tv out (position the title bar just off the top). It’s a little awkward right now, proper full screen output requires managing OpenGL pbuffers so it’s not going to happen just yet.
Tips and Tricks
If the framerate stutters or lags behind the beat sync it means the images are too big to cache in RAM /VRAM.
First thing to try is to resize your images, if you have less than a 128MB graphics card then resize the images to 800×600 or less in order to make sure it can stick to beat synced display. If you want to use the fast flash mode (x4 BPM) I recommend you resize the images even smaller, you can still get great results with even 320×240 images due to the bicubic interpolation that is done on the graphics card. Yellowmugs softwares EasyBatchPhoto is the best tool I’ve found for resizing folders of images.
Second, there is currently a performance limitation where images loaded from folders in Quartz Composer do not use the entire amount of VRAM/RAM for caching. Depending on the amount of VRAM you have you may get a much better result by copying your folders of still images into a RAM disk first then loading them in. It’s been suggested to me that Esperance DV ram disk is the best to use.
For best results load VSM with images containing a proper alpha channel and set blend mode to “Over”. The best format for this is PNG24.
Quartonian VSM 1.0 Release
Requires Mac OS X 10.4.4, 32MB Graphics card, 1 Ghz G4 processor or better.
Changes from beta. Improved rewritten beat sync engine. Bugfixes.
Application for end users.
Download Quartonian VSM 1.0 Release Universal Binary
Copyright Roger Bolton, Released under GPLv2.