014 – Quartz Composer, Projection Mapping

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Quartz Composer is a visual programming environment where you don’t have to write your code. The programming is done by connecting different boxes together with wires. Each box (or patch in Quartz Composer lingo) does a specific thing, like a command (function call) in Processing. For example, in the image below, there is a Sphere patch that will render a 3D Sphere to the output window and the Wave Generator (LFO) moves the X Position of the Sphere.

Screenshot 2013-11-14 10.43.41

Quartz Composer can do pretty much the same things any other programming environment. I personally find it the most enjoyable way to work with code. Today we will check out the basics of QC and get some more details about projection mapping.

Follow the instructions here to install Quartz Composer.

Install plugins for Quartz Composer

The possibilities of QC can be expanded by installing plugins. I compiled a bunch of the most useful ones.

  1. Download the plugins
  2. Open a new Finder Window
  3. Hold the alt key on your keyboard and select Go–>Library from the top menu.
  4. Find a folder called Graphics
  5. Copy the two folders you downloaded (Quartz Composer Patches and Quartz Composer Plug-Ins) there.

Screenshot 2013-11-14 13.31.20

Arduino + Quartz Composer

You can pretty easily read the inputs of an Arduino with Quartz Composer. Sending outputs is not as reliable. This is how you do it:

  1. Make sure you have the Serial IO plugin installed. If you downloaded and installed the plugins above, you should have it.
  2. Download this .zip file. It has an Arduino sketch and an example QC composition.
  3. Upload the code to your Arduino
  4. Open the composition
  5. Change the Device port to match your Arduino serial port name. You can find out the name by opening the Arduino software and checking the Serial Port from there.
  6. Make an interactive artwork

Screenshot 2013-11-14 13.19.34

Example Compositions Made During the Class + Some Extras

Download all the examples.


Shows how to load a video and how to apply effects to it


We mapped some video to a picture of the Arabia buildingarabia


Shows 3 different ways to play videos in QC

Inspiration and artists

Some mapping projects. There are tons of them and you have probably seen many so I tried to select examples that show a few different ideas:

Andi f you are rich enough, you can totally overdo it

Interesting facts about the energy consumption of this project:

Equipment used / number and types of projectors / lumens / power:
44 projectors on the mosque (24 x 20K lumens + 20 18K lumens) = 840,000 lumens
5 projectors on the fort (5 x 20K lumens) = 100,000 lumens
940,000 lumens total
49 projectors x 3.2kW x 60 hours = 9,400kW total show (Mosque and Fort)

CO2 Offsetting plan:
9,400kW = 12,878 lbs of CO2 = 6 tons of CO2
(1.37 pounds CO2 per kW / 2204 pounds = 1 ton of CO2)
6 tons x 5 trees per ton = 30 trees

Quartz Composer Resources:

Other resources

QC is only one tool. Here’s a couple of others for mapping and other video projection needs.



Video Projection Tool