Lab week - TouchDesigner

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Maker-in-residence report

Author Peter Polacsek and Lennard Schaack
Date 28.10.2019

In our lab week we were exploring and experimenting with TouchDesigner, a node-based visual coding software. We were introduced to this program in Luis’ class Data & Matter, in which he showed us a work of Christopher Bauder (http://www.christopherbauder.com/#/cb).

Introduction to TouchDesigner

We decided to take a look into the software, that is available for download on: https://derivative.ca (free for non-commercial).

We started with the idea of creating visuals for soundtracks that we would compose in Ableton Live. We figured out that there is a way of connecting Ableton with TouchDesigner. But TouchDesigner has way more to offer. So next to our approach of sound input, we started to play around with other possibilities (and are still doing this).

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A good way to familiarize yourself with the software are tutorials. There are a variety of different video tutorials online, but also on their own website they upload new projects frequently. https://derivative.ca/tutorials

To start with an absolute beginner tutorial for getting to know the interface and all the tools of the program we can recommend to watch Ben Voigt’s tutorial at the 2018 TouchDesigner Summit first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmM1lCWtn6o

It includes a basic introduction for structure (nodes) and navigation, explanation of the different operators (TOP, DAT, ...) and easy and quick examples to follow.

Sound reactive particles

In this 15 minute tutorial you will learn how to build a particle cloud that is reacting to sounds and therefore can be connected to Ableton easily. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8X_FFB-ikQ

Feedback

The Feedback Techniques is also a nice way of distorting video/image elements. We have two tutorials that are worth looking into.

The first one is about video input: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-XwzEzYhUU

The second one is about pixel sorting. This video is made by Bileam Tschepe. He has a bunch of great tutorials on his youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xasLIEw23zY

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Type Experiments

Sound reactive typography

Based on this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJE48IVzNVc

Replaced shapes with text and played around with diffusion, displacement, edges, difference and ramps to get unexpected results.

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Reflection

We started with the idea of creating visuals for sounds and connect the software with Ableton, but eventually ended up with experimenting and playing around with all sorts of elements. It is a fun way of exploring a new program and learn by doing. We built up chains of nodes, that we then extended, replaced and looped to get new, unexpected results. It is a super impressive and powerful tool to play around with, which makes it a great software for designers to work with.

More Information

https://docs.derivative.ca/Main_Page For more information and links, support and documentation you can go to the docs.derivative.ca

https://docs.derivative.ca/TDAbleton This link will give you the instruction for combining Ableton with TouchDesigner