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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth Apps
There is a fairly large collection of Quartz Compositions stored in /System/Library/Compositions, including all those used for iChat, Photo Booth, iTunes Visualizers, and iMovie Effects. Many of them have no apparent purpose in any of the above, and yet, are fully compatible with iChat and Photo Booth if it weren't for the presence of a couple of hidden flags.

I've gone through and tested all of them to find those that would work, and removed a few that just wouldn't work right or were just plain boring. The list of 24 I ended up with add three panels of visual effects to both iChat and Photo Booth. The list is as follows:

ASCII Art, Blue Print, Blur, City Lights, Color Controls, Color Invert, Compound Eye, Concert, Copy Machine, Crystallize, Dot Screen, Exposure Adjust, Film Stock, Gamma Adjust, Kaleidescope, Line Overlay, Line Screen, Monochrome, Neon, Pixellate, Pointillize, Posterize, Sharpen, Swing, Tracer, Zoom Blur

To make these files work, you first need to drag them from /System/Library/Compositions to /Library/Compositions. If the Compositions folder doesn't exist in /Library, simply create it. After moving the files (or those you'd like to use), drag the files from the new location into your favorite binary-property-list-aware text editor, such as BBEdit, TextWrangler, PlistEdit Pro, or Property List Editor (part of Apple's Xcode developer tools package on the OS X disc.).

Locate the following text within each file and delete it:
  <key>excludedHosts</key>
  <array>
    <string>com.apple.PhotoBooth</string>
    <string>com.apple.iChat</string>
  </array>
Save the files. When complete, you will see three additional groups of effects available in both programs (if you edited all 24 effects). Some are quite unique and others a kinda cool. I've been doing this since Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), and it still works in 10.6.x (Snow Leopard).

[robg adds: In Snow Leopard, you can see a preview of each effect by using Quick Look, the Preview column, or CoverFlow mode. If you're using Property List Editor or PlistEdit Pro to edit, delete the excludedHosts key. I tested this one with the Tracer effect, and it worked fine. ]
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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: mmnw on Oct 12, '09 08:03:15AM

I don't have a /System/Library/Compositions Folder. Where does it come from? Is it in a default installation or did you something special to get it?
I do have a Compositions folder somewhere in /Development containing examples, which came with XCode. But it seems to be a different set of effects.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: mmnw on Oct 12, '09 08:09:30AM

In addition to my previous comment:
Is it possible, that this is kind of a "Tiger-Only" hint?
I just checked all my Macs. The folder only appeared on machines that originally came with Tiger and where upgraded later on. My younger Leopard and Snow Leopard machines do not contain this folder.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: mkuron on Oct 12, '09 08:19:57AM

I do have a /System/Library/Compositions folder on Snow Leopard. I verified that it was installed by the Essentials.pkg from the SL disk.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: omz on Oct 12, '09 08:23:45AM

Do you use a language other than English as your system language?
The folder's name is localized, so e.g. in a German Mac OS X, it would be "Kompositionen" instead of "Compositions".



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: mkuron on Oct 12, '09 08:21:14AM

What's the reason Apple is hiding these from iChat and PhotoBooth by default?



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Problem Locating Text
Authored by: akwest89 on Oct 12, '09 08:53:27AM

So I'm somewhat new to Mac and Unix, but love how accessible everything is for users to modify. I did as the article said and downloaded TextWrangler to edit the text, but I cant find the section you mentioned. I tried using the search option with the app, but nothing would come up. I don't know of any other way to locate the text other than reading each file line by line. Any suggestions on where to locate that area for removal?



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Problem Locating Text
Authored by: akwest89 on Oct 12, '09 09:36:20AM

Alright... it's official-I'm an idiot. Realized the error of my ways and beg for forgiveness from the intellectually gifted Mac community.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: asmeurer on Oct 12, '09 08:59:12AM

Wow. Thanks for this. I knew about the sample application that came with the developer tools that yet you see these, but I didn't know you could import them into Photo Booth like this.



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Kernel Panic...
Authored by: servo on Oct 12, '09 09:04:31AM

Just thought I should mention I suffered my first kernel panic in at least 6 months while editing some of the files using plist editor. I'm on Snow Leopard with a 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro w/ 4 GB RAM.

Maybe Apple made these unavailable because they aren't 100% stable? Of course my panic could have been a weird coincidence too.



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Kernel Panic...
Authored by: las_vegas on Oct 12, '09 03:07:50PM

As pointed out in this previous hint, some effects may have been written in 32bit code. If this is the case, you should set iChat and Photo Booth to run in 32bit mode.

If this is not the case, be sure that all editing is done from the /Library/Compositions folder and that neither iChat nor PhotoBooth are running while you're editing the files.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: DamnItsHot on Oct 12, '09 09:47:38AM

I like the hint a lot - BTW: I count 26 in your list not 24.

Cheers!



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: las_vegas on Oct 12, '09 03:11:42PM

Hmm… You're right! That means that two of them didn't work at all. I'll have to check the list again.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: DCJ001 on Oct 12, '09 10:16:30AM

When I use QuickLook to view the files, I see the Apple image embedded in each file. But, when I use the file as a PhotoBooth background, the Apple image is no longer present.

I have not modified the text in the files yet. But what is the reason that the text within the files should be modified. Thanks.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: las_vegas on Oct 12, '09 02:58:18PM

The apple logo indicates that a feed is passed through the effect when used properly. If the effect is used as you described, it's showing as a background rather than an effect.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: Jeff Thompson on Oct 12, '09 11:31:13AM
Note that the folder name is /System/Library/Compositions not /System/Library/Compostions

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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: intrinsicchaos on Oct 12, '09 06:43:28PM

Fun hint!

But two of the Quartz files didn't have the excludedHosts key: CopyMachine.qtz and Swing.qtz. They don't show up in Photo Booth, either.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: las_vegas on Oct 13, '09 10:38:20AM

Those are the two extra. Sorry, they should have not made it to the list. There are in fact, only 24.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: sduck on Oct 12, '09 08:19:56PM

Same problem with Copy Machine and Swing - can't find the parameters to delete.

Also when I edited the other ones, I can use the effects on the first new page, but when trying to access the next new page, the app crashes every time.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: las_vegas on Oct 13, '09 10:41:19AM
Again, this may be due to this previous hint. Possibly, some of the effects are actually running in 32bit.

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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: 010111 on Oct 13, '09 10:28:29AM

not really mentioned here... but you can drag any of those .qtz files into the "Preview" window of the Screensaver prefpane.

some of them (like Wall / Travelator / Fall / Moving Images / Stix) even came with some oddly named preferences in the "Options" button.

"Image Hose" even appears to have a dropzone in the "Options" to drag your own picture in. (haven't tried it yet.)

some of them don't work at all... or seemingly. but all the ones i listed do. and probably some of the others.

make for pretty minimalist screensavers... but that is what i like anyway.



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: 010111 on Oct 13, '09 10:41:32AM

these actually use a substantial amount of CPU when used as screensavers. like 25% or so.

much much more than i get even from pretty graphics intensive dedicated screensavers.

so probably not actually the best idea ever. but they do work as screensavers. FYI.



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Film Stock.qtz protection faults my iChat
Authored by: withdave on Oct 13, '09 04:03:05PM

I started reviewing all the new components in iChat, however when I selected 'Film Stock.qtz' it kernel protection faulted. From that point on, iChat would protection fault just trying to scroll to the "Show Video Effects" pane which contained that composition. After rebooting I deleted that file from my /Library/Compositions/ folder and now there are no problems using any of the new compositions. Perhaps this file also caused the protection fault mentioned by another poster. (Mac Mini Intel Core 2 Duo model without the NVidia chip.)



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: sTvN on Oct 18, '09 01:21:35PM
To aid with copying all these files over, you can run:

cd /System/Library/Compositions
cp -r ASCII\ Art.qtz Blue\ Print.qtz Blur.qtz City\ Lights.qtz Color\ Controls.qtz Color\ Invert.qtz \
    Compound\ Eye.qtz Concert.qtz Crystallize.qtz Dot\ Screen.qtz Exposure\ Adjust.qtz Film\ Stock.qtz \
    Gamma\ Adjust.qtz Kaleidescope.qtz Line\ Overlay.qtz Line\ Screen.qtz Monochrome.qtz Neon.qtz \
    Pixellate.qtz Pointillize.qtz Posterize.qtz Sharpen.qtz Tracer.qtz Zoom\ Blur.qtz \
    /Library/Compositions/



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: mchagers on Nov 02, '09 12:33:38PM

This is indeed a neat trick providing hours of fun to my kids. However I found that of the qtz files mentioned, sharpen would consistently cause Photo booth to crash.
After removing it I could play with all the other effects.
(MacBookPro, OSX 10.6.1)



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Add more visual effects to iChat and Photo Booth
Authored by: impiaaa on Nov 06, '09 07:26:34PM
I made a script to dramatically simplify this process, here. To run it, unzip it, launch Terminal (Applications/Utilities), then type: python  (with a trailing space). Drag and drop the unzipped .py file into the window. Press return.

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