Photo Cloud Animation
Realtime animation of 500 photos
For a national conference, together with the photo-event bureau Limelights, we developed an animation in Quartz Composer on the GPU (Graphical Processor Unit) which used portrait photos of the 500 visitors of that conference. Because the animation had to play just 15 minutes after the visitors had their picture taken near the registration desk, there was no time to pre-render the movie. So instead we developed a real time sequence which would render on the graphics card and which could be started the moment the picture files appeared on the computer.
The animation was composed and prepared in Quartz Composer, a specialized Apple application, which is used to test and demo the capabilities of the graphics card. We used Quartz Composer because it helps to quickly render visual results. Also the use of Quartz Composer allowed us to simultaneously work on the development and the design without having to wait on one another. Because Quartz Composer itself was not adequate enough to render the core part of the animation —a reverse explosion of the 500 portraits into a given structure— we developed a custom plugin for it. This plugin rendered the imploding cloud of 500 photos in OpenGL and used accelerated graphics techniques to make sure loading of the image textures onto the tiles was optimized and quickly enough to render the animation in FullHD at 25fps.
Because we managed to get this animation running so short after the taking of the photos, we ended up not only showing the implosion animation at the time it was requested by the client, but also leading up to this moment as an idle state sequence.