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Effect Builder AE is a development kit for building Adobe After Effects™ plug-ins from Quartz Compositions on MacOS X. With Effect Builder AE and Quartz Composer you can quickly create your own effects like generators, filters, and transitions without programming knowledge. With Core Image enabled graphics hardware, effects are rendered hardware accelerated.


  • Apple Macintosh computer (PowerPC G4, G5 / Intel)
  • MacOS X, 10.4+, Quartz Composer, and Adobe After Effects 7.x - 9.x. (CS4). Does not support 10.x (CS5).
  • For best performance and support for high color depth (16 bit per color channel) a graphics card that supports Core Image is recommended.


With Effect Builder AE you can build a wide range of effects for Adobe After Effects 7.0+. Effects support 8, and up to 16 bit per color channel. 16 bit are only supported on Core Image enabled hardware and with some other restrictions. To find out what color depth your computer supports, please launch Effect Builder AE and open the “About...“ window.

Effect plug-ins are self-containing, i.e. they include their Quartz Compositon (QC) by default. For maximum flexibility you can optionally load another, external QC for an effect from within After Effects, and you can even edit this external QC without compiling the effect again or restarting After Effects. As another option an effect can load an external image or a whole folder of images to be used by the effect.

Effect Builder AE supports all basic parameters that are handled by After Effects. You can use these parameters to control your effect‘s QC and animate the QC by After Effects‘ parameter animation.

Effects can be assigned unique product codes, which makes them require corresponding license codes to get enabled. This allows users to distribute their own high quality effects on a commercial basis. 

User Interface 

Effect Builder AE provides a simple and intuitive user interface that lets you easily setup and manage effect plug-ins - see image below. The toolbar contains buttons for creating categories and effects, assigning QCs to effects, adding parameters to effects, and finally building effects. On the left hand you can see the effect table with categories and effects. On the right hand upper part some general adjustments can be done. Below you can see the parameter table, and at the bottom a parameter panel related to a position parameter is visible.

Screen shot of an effect library window in Effect Builder AE.

Screen shot of an effect library window in Effect Builder AE. (click to enlarge)

Effect Builder AE shows a preview of your effect - see image below. This is a great help and speeds up creation of effects as you can immediately see how parameter adjustments affect rendering. You can specify test images that are automatically fed into the effects' QCs for evaluation. The controller at the top of the preview window lets you play your effect and accurately navigate through time.

Screen shot of a preview window in Effect BuilderAE.

Screen shot of a preview window in Effect Builder AE. (click to enlarge)

Steps to Build an Effect

Building effect plug-ins for After Effects™ from Quartz Compositions is fairly easy and takes only ten steps with Effect Builder AE. Please click on any of the images below and press 'n' or 'p' to step through. Also check our trial version (download here). The software package includes a few samples (Quick Start) with more detailed instructions, so you can easily follow these steps and create a few effects within minutes. 

1. Create EffectCategory 2. CreateEffect3. Edit Category and EffectName4. Assign Quartz Composition toEffect5. Make a fewAdjustments6. Add ParameterControls7. Adjust ParameterControls8. Adjust Parameter's defaultValue9. Test Effect in thePreview10. BuildEffect

Steps to build an Effect. Click on any of the images and press 'n' or 'p' to step through.

Further Information

  • For more detailed information, please check Effect Builder AE's documentation.
  • Download our demo version here. The included "Quick Start" tutorial contains a few samples with ready QCs. So you can easily check Effect Builder AE without even launching Quartz Composer.
  • Check our link collection "QC Links" with websites about Quartz Compositions with lots of examples and tricks.