Digital Media Design


Performance Video – Kinect on MAC & PC

Kinect on MAC

Interfacing the Kinect for Interactivity

Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft Kinect

The Performance Video Project has evolved over the weeks but the common requirement for our concept is to have some form of interactivity. This will allow the audience to have some control and to be able to interact with the Video.

Each member of the group is investigating a different method of input device for a MAX MSP Patcher which still needs to be designed to control the Video. I have taken on the task of researching into the newest home use technology, that is a Microsoft Kinect, which I plan to interface to my dual boot Macbook Pro.

MAX MSP for the Kinect on MAC

jit.freenect.grab MAX MSP Patcher

jit.freenect.grab MAX MSP Patcher

First though I started by researching MAX MSP patchers specifically for the Kinect theorising that it would make sense to work backwards, this way I would be able to identify the software requirements in order to get the Patcher to work.

I now had a list of software requirements and applications and libraries to download and install before I could connect the Kinect these are:-

  • Xcode
  • Macports
  • Libfreenect

Xcode is a free download from the Apple App Store but the current version 4.0 only runs on Lion so I had to install the version from the disks that came with my Macbook – you’ll find Xcode as an optional install on the OSX disk.

Macports download and installation instruction can be found here – it’s very involved but if you work through them methodically the installation should be fairly straightforward.

I found that the libfreenect software was not required in the end, which is just as well as this does involve more than just downloading and running an installation – it needs compiling!

There’s also an alternative called Homebrew which can be found here which is an alternative to Macports packaging systems for installing software applications for the OSX platform. I didn’t use this as I’d already gone down the Macports route but they say this is an easier way of installing what you need.

After I’d completed all this work I got slightly sidetracked after coming across a link to Microsoft’s official Kinect Drivers for installation on a PC. This can be found at where you can download the 32 or 64 bit versions, make sure you read the system requirements.

I had to install the following additional applications.

  • Visual Studio Express
  • DirectX 9
  • .NET Framework 4.0

With all the software installed I connected the Kinect for the first time and started one of the demo programs that came with the SDK download, unfortunately the system reported that I was missing some .dll files which I manually installed but after some investigation it seemed that the 3rd party firewall I was using was blocking these files from running so by just temporarily disabling this Firewall the errors stopped and the Kinect worked perfectly. Each of the demo programs functioned as expected, so I now had a working and fully interfaced Kinect but only for the PC, time to get the MAC installation working.

Rebooting the Mac to OSX I reconnected the Kinect and ran the MAX MSP Patchers I had installed earlier and surprisingly it worked first time even though I had yet to install libfreenect libraries, which is why I mentioned earlier that you may not need this.

Having continued with my research I found several more examples of MAC Kinect installs one in particular was of interest involving the use of Quartz Composer which is either already installed or comes with the OSX System Disk. Quartz Composer works in a similar way to MAX MSP in allowing the design of applications without writing any code.

Keen to try this alternative I set about loading the required libraries and programs to get the Kinect to work with Quartz Composer.

What Next?

The next stage is to design a MAX MSP Patcher that will link the input from the Kinect to be able to call and run Video loops depending on the position of the person or persons in front of the Kinect.

Project Blog Entry Links

  1. Performance Video – Conclusion
  2. Performance Video – Wiimote MAC
  3. Performance Video – VJ’ing using Quartz Composer
  4. Performance Video – Kinnect on MAC and PC
  5. Performance Video – MAX MSP Jitter
  6. Performance Video – Modul8
  7. Performance Video – The Human Orchestra


Word Count 728


9 Responses to Performance Video – Kinect on MAC & PC

  1. Pingback: Performance Video - The Human Orchestra

  2. Pingback: Performance Video - AUCB Digital Media Production

  3. Pingback: Quartz Composer VJing application using a Midi Controller

  4. Guilherme Aguiar says:

    Congratulations and thank you for the work by Article
    Realized the previous procedures: I installed Xcode and MacPorts
    What to do now INSTALLING Kinect SDK on mac? It comes as exe file …

  5. admin says:

    Hi check out the other blog entries for this project, but what you need is Synapse for Kinect – the Kinect SDK as you quite rightly say is not compatible with a Mac installation. Links to the Blog entries are at the bottom of each Blog.

    I hope this helps

  6. Guilherme Aguiar says:

    Hi thanks for the reply. I downloaded the synapse but he does not want to install on mac. I’m using version 10.7.5. what might be happening?

  7. admin says:

    Hi to be honest I’ve not tried my installation since upgrading to Mountain Lion, so it may no longer work – the only solution maybe to install Snow Leopard as dual boot option. Synapse has been recently updated – make sure you have the latest version which can be found here:-

  8. Guilherme Aguiar says:

    Hmmm, I understand, but had previously downloaded from this link .. I’ll see what I can do .. I need to use windows in my mac and my disk is not very large .. We’ll have to wait for the Synapse Lion .. Or try using the kinect on windows even ..

  9. admin says:

    Yes it would be possible using Windows but for my project I wanted to use Quartz Composer which is Mac only. You could always install Windows using Bootcamp and then you could use the Kinect SDK. Best of Luck.

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