Introducing Syphon

Syphon is an open source Mac OS X technology that allows applications to share frames - full frame rate video or stills - with one another in realtime. Now you can leverage the expressive power of a plethora of tools to mix, mash, edit, sample, texture-map, synthesize, and present your imagery using the best tool for each part of the job. Syphon gives you flexibility to break out of single-app solutions and mix creative applications to suit your needs.

Videos: Syphon Overview | Quartz Composer Integration | FreeFrame GL Integration | Syphon 2K Jitter Demo | Syphon Vimeo Group


Syphon provides an ecosystem for sharing imagery between applications and new media development environments. Syphon is designed to be efficient and will not duplicate resources unnecessarily, keeping your frame rate and best interests in mind.

  • Hardware acceleration on the GPU - Servers and Clients share video on the graphics card - where it belongs, allowing for HD or larger video at 60 FPS
  • Alpha-channels - share rendered 3D content and video with masks and keys, allowing compositing to happen easily and naturally.
  • An ever-growing number of Syphon-enabled applications, plus plugin support for Quartz Composer, FreeFrame GL, Max MSP Jitter and Unity Pro
  • A simple SDK so developers can add Syphon to just about any application

System Requirements

You can use Syphon on any Mac running MacOS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later.

Developer SDK

Syphon.framework allows 3rd party developers to leverage frame-sharing in their applications or plugins. A simple Objective-C interface allows the publishing and acquisition of frames in very few lines of code. Under the hood, Syphon uses the power of IOSurface plus a selection of Cocoa and Core Foundation technologies to manage the communication between servers and clients. Syphon is 32 / 64 bit clean. (download, documentation)

  • Simple Server/Client
    A pair of applications to test Syphon functionality (download)

If you’d like to get involved, join us at the GitHub projects for the framework and implementations.


Contact and Support

Some common questions are answered in our FAQ. You can contact us via our Syphon forum, which has sections for both users and developers.

syphon-announce is a low-volume mailing list with announcements of updates to the frameworks and implementations.


Syphon is designed for and by new media technologists, realtime video artists and visualists. It is a labor of love, developed in the spare time of the authors. It is open, free and a gift to the new media community. If Syphon is useful to you, please contribute to help continue development and support the cause.


Syphon.framework, test suite, and initial implementations are written by Tom Butterworth and Anton Marini.


Syphon.framework, test suite, and our provided reference implementations are licensed under a Simplified BSD software license.