Apr.07.16 Square Root of Sin | Student Exhibition | MARS Center
Moscow-based artists and new media producers Yan Kalnberzin and Evgeny Afonin (as Curiosity Media Lab) have been conducting TouchDesigner workshops in Moscow for a number of years now. What began as short, intensive sessions evolved into week-long workshops and eventually into three month marathon sessions which culminate in incredible showings of the students' work. We were blown away by the exhibited work and also by Yan and Egevny's continuous efforts to teach TouchDesigner and to share their considerable knowledge and experience.
We asked them why they do this and then we asked the students about their experiences in class and working with TouchDesigner. Here is what we learned.
Yan Kalnberzin: We were first invited to make some small masterclasses on Anja Intektra's PLUMSFEST event 3 years ago. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and it made my brain work another way. Rethink and reformulate how and what I do and I liked it much. Students were asking questions and I couldn't sometimes give answers. So I had to dig into some new fields (and I still do).
Then we made some intensive week-long masterclasses and that was also cool. But I felt that only few of students had enough time to get used to the interface and concepts of TouchDesigner if they started from scratch. So we decided to make an experiment and make a longterm course. Last year was the first 3-month beginner's course and then there was another 3-month advanced course. At the end of their study the students made an exhibition of their works and in spite of all our expectations it was not trash at all. I was inspired by their ideas.
Apr.05.16 Mapping The Cave | Secret Mapping Experiment
everything is a secret now.
So reads the about section of the Secret Mapping Experiment Facebook page along with links to the group's tumblr and instagram accounts. Keeping secrets isn't an easy thing to do - especially when those secrets revolve around throwing an uninhibited spectrum of light onto, from - and in the case of The Cave into- some spectacularly abandoned or disused spaces and "gigantic masterpieces of engineering machines".
We had a few questions for this secret society and in the spirit of not revealing too much, faces, places and some names have been changed or not provided. Here's what we can tell...
Mar.16.16 The Future of Music | Making of a 360 Film
"THE FUTURE OF MUSIC" is a ground-breaking 360° virtual experience made by director Greg Barth and Phenomena Labs that immerses the viewer in a surrealist musical space.
The point of view is that of "interviewer" in a behind-the-scenes mockumentary with Carré Bleu, a revolutionary music inventor who is in the midst of presenting his unique production methods for recording an instrumental track.
The very amusing and clever part is that each of these instruments is an actual human turned into a gravity-defying "GIF-strument". The Kick is a checker-board-latex-suited-character with spikes on his derrière falling back onto confetti-filled balloons - twice! The Synth combines a wacky combination of vacuum cleaner and toilet rolls; the Snare has the chief sound engineer being pushed through a colorful sheet of real sugar-glass and so on…
Dec.03.15 Christopher Bauder's Mesmerizing Kinetic Lights System Soars
2015 Vodafone - CeBIT, Hanover.
Brainchild of Christopher Bauder, the modular Kinetic Light System is an award-winning product embedding TouchDesigner which choreographs and moves not just light and pixels but actual physical objects, high above one’s head via steel wire and powered cable DMX winches to which large arrays of light elements are tethered.
It is an amazing system that has produced stunning results for a variety of installations both temporary and permanent while without fail catching people by surprise with its organic, mesmerizing movement.
In early 2015 TouchDesigner was brought into the Kinetic Lights ecosystem to provide an environment for show creation and to control movement and lights. We started a conversation with Christopher Bauder shortly thereafter which after almost 3 years to the day is at last ready to share! It’s a marathon of an interview which had to be put on hold several times due to Kinetic Lights’ success and the ensuing demand it ignited all over the world. We’d like to thank Mr. Bauder for spending so much time answering our questions and sharing his wealth of insight and experience and trust our readers will enjoy!
GRID performance with Robert Henke (Monolake) at the Fête des Lumières Light Art Festival 2013 in Lyon.
Derivative:Looking back through your succesion of work what stands out is a defiance of constraints - spatially, dimensionally, by medium, movement, forms, and certainly by scale and complexity! You don't like flat or 'box' anything! You design and produce complete systems that seem to live unhinged (well technically not quite!) in environments-at-large. (System defined as: (1.) a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular; systems as (2.) a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; and (3.) systems as a way of thinking that is based on a big idea?)
Christopher Bauder: Yes, I like that! Describes pretty well what I love and what I am after!
D:Can you tell us a bit about your background then, how you came to realize this and do what you do?
CB: I studied "Visual Communication" at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany. I was specialising in "media design" and the newly emerging "interaction design". It was all 2D screen design at the time and I always imagined that there should be something more to interact with than a screen, mouse and keyboard. Everything felt so flat and unemotional.
One semester we were given the task to use an everyday household item and extend it with a digital function. I chose an ordinary stepladder and used some sensors and midi connection to turn it into a musical instrument. When hardware and software finally came together and I triggered my samples on the computer, I was thrilled by the newly found option to hook up stuff to a computer as alternative input or output device. We even performed as a kind of band with several so called ToneLadders and toured extensively for two years all over Europe from media festival to media festival.
Since then I am always trying to question and reinvent the principles of how we interact with computers and how computer generated information can be displayed outside the computer in our physical world.
Sep.21.15 An Interactive Sonic Play-Space in a Maze of Netting
"When you walk in, you'll see a series of netting, mesh material… We want you to touch it. It's all very hands-on. There's six sections within this maze of netting that people can go up to each station. Within those stations my song has been, essentially, dissected and spread out across 44 speakers going around the rectangle of the space. So if you're in section one, and you are interacting with the netting and the material, the Microsoft Kinect cameras are essentially following your movements. Whatever you're doing with your arms and your hands, if you're pushing on the netting, the depth is being translated to data that goes into the master mainframe computer, which is running my song in real time on Ableton Live." Matthew Dear Discusses His Installation at the New Museum, Pitchfork
photo Drew Reynolds
photo Drew Reynolds
photo Drew Reynolds
DELQA is a collaboration between Matthew Dear and a talented Brooklyn-based creative team that puts visitors "inside Dear's music" with the ability to change and affect the composition by interacting with arrangements of netting in a gallery space. It is a playful and very clever interactive piece conceived of and produced in-part by Gabe Liberti and Dave Rife of Dave and Gabe, multimedia artists who design and build interactive sound and light installations.
The musical composition is multi-layered and dynamic such that the arrangement and sound synthesis can be transformed on the fly. In an interview with Microsoft, Dear explained he "wanted to compose a sonic dreamscape, fully realizing that dreams are weird and not always black and white. The music rests between peaceful and chaotic states, allowing the listener to come up with their own story while engaging with the piece."
We had the pleasure of meeting Gabe and Dave at a recent TouchIn NYC meetup organized by Kamil Narwatil of VolvoxLabs where Gabe presented on the project. Afterwards we had a chance to learn more about how the project came about and how the team combined skills in architecture, acoustics, interaction design, and music to create an experience that allowed the audience to be participants in this musical realization.
Gabe Liberti: It was the most immersive experience we've been able to create yet and leveraged all of our skills from spatial sound design to real-time interactive lighting. The crowd reaction was magical because they were listening, physically exploring, and also performing the music and visuals happening all around them. It was an opportunity for us to design and install a 44-channel spatial audio system that transformed the gallery into a living world of sound.
Last year we wrote about the brilliant multimedia dance performance PIÈCE À VIVRE (Living Room), a collaborative work between Moscow-based artists and new media producers Evgeniy Afonin and Yan Kalnberzin, who also co-founded the creative company Russian Visual Artists. We were understandably excited when Evgeniy contacted us to share his most recent project EXHIBIT ITEM/AWAKENING.
The contemporary dance performance strikes out in bold and innovative directions. Most notably, the entire production takes place on a semitransparent glass stage platform comprised of a complex lighting and video setup. LED strips and other lighting devices are embedded inside the stage under the glass which is projection-mapped from above. Finally "hydrogel", a substance resembling shaved ice or slushy snow covers the stage forming a medium upon which the performer - well... slides.
Almost all control, video, and LED content production and synchronization was achieved with TouchDesigner.
EXHIBIT ITEM/AWAKENING was recently awarded two prizes from the prestigious "Golden Mask Award", the National Theatre Award established in 1993 by the Theatre Union of the Russian Federation. The Golden Mask Award is the most prestigious award presented to productions in all genres of theatre art: drama, opera, ballet, modern dance, operetta, musical, and puppet theatre."
Receiving their awards: Evgeniy Afonin, Anna Abalikhina, Galina Solodovnikova, Yuriy Chulkov, Sergey Vasilyev
The first prize was awarded to the entire team for "Contemporary Dance/Best Production", and a remarkable achievement (in the traditional theatrical world where LED and projection mapping rarely make an appearance), Evgeniy and his partner Sergey Vasilyev received a second award for "Best Light Designer in Musical Theatre".
The play is now in the repertory of stately Alexandrinskiy Theatre in Saint Petersburg where the theatre staff handles the TouchDesigner-based lighting system via an interface Evgeniy designed specifically for this purpose.
It's a stunning work and a spectacular achievement! Evgeniy tells us about the making of the production below, thank-you Evgeniy!
Aug.19.15 Maotik's Light Bearers: 2,500 Fireflies Animate and Delight
"On a summer evening, the air is filled with the flash of fireflies calling to one another. Intrigued by their dialogue we created a poetic representation of their conversation.
Our immersive environment is a multmedia interpretation of a natural ecosystem that combines thousands of original crafted objects with state-of-the-art technology such as lasers. Visitors are invited to participate in the experience by creating their own audiovisual show inspired by the frail beauty of fireflies, they themselves become light bearers."
There can be no immunity to the surprise and delight experienced when suddenly in the darkness of a hot summer night, one encounters the glimmering pulses of fireflies in the tall grass. Mathieu Le Sourd, a.k.a. Maotik, together with multidisciplinary artist Etienne Paquette have designed Light Bearers, a very magical installation that simulates this wondrous experience indoors at Montreal's Insectarium.
Furthermore this swarm of 'fireflies', which are in fact 2,500 light bulbs filled with light-diffusing tonic water, can be controlled at one's whimsy, by activating an invisible hand-guided laser. "Point at different spots across the elegant glass field and Le Sourd's clever combination of Leap Motion sensors and TouchDesigner software will set them aglow like the lightning bugs that inspired them." we learn at The Creators Project.
Feb.24.15 Vincent Houzé on Rapid-Prototyping and Working in Real Time
My first steps with Arduino and a little proof of concept. Rotating the little white knob drives the cardboard box rotation and the virtual box rotation the rocks collide with. Graphics and sim generated with TouchDesigner. Mapping is a bit approximate, adhesive tape and 12$ servo can only take you so far.
Paper + pico projector + TouchDesigner
We first became aquainted with Vincent Houzé through the very compelling and often amusing videos he shares of his artistic and R&D experiments. Made with TouchDesigner, these short video proofs-of-concept for dynamic simulations, video mapping and GLSL shaders typically also incorporate paper, cardboard, glue and sometimes Arduino and rotors. They appreciably make their often complex point simply and elegantly with easy to find resources, showing an excellent aptitude for designing and prototyping with TouchDesigner.
Vincent currently lives in New York and works on large scale architectural installations and interactive installations. He is currently employed by award-winning company AV&C and also collaborates with local artists and designers like VolvoxLabs for example, where he brought his expertise in real time 3D graphics to shaping the Dubfire show.
Most recently we were intrigued by the teaser for Hybrid, a dance performance with immersive projections of motion and sound reactive visuals where Vincent designed and developed the visuals. We thought this would be an opportune time to catch up and have a conversation about Vincent's work.
Feb.16.15 Luminosity - Keith Lostracco's TouchDesigner Media Server
Blizzcon StarcraftII Stage Mapped
There exists an impressive and growing range of TouchDesigner-built tools and applications authored by the community to perform and operate live shows. The most recent and likely ambitious we've seen to date is Keith Lostracco's brand new TouchDesigner media server 'Luminosity'.
No stranger to taking on the building of dauntingly complex systems (see Keith Lostracco's Mindbending Fractal World "Escape Time"), Keith tells us Luminosity was built to create a front end for TouchDesigner aimed at providing operators with an easy-to-use interface to perform, control, and distribute realtime media while retaining the open-ended programmability of TouchDesigner as well as its speed.
Keith describes Luminosity's functionality as combining a high-end media server, a VJ program, and TouchDesigner. The same types of audio routing and distribution methods found in digital audio workstations and mixers were implemented here to process video and data as well as audio.
The initial idea - which was to facilitate the playing of clips (video, TouchDesigner Components and audio clips) in a similar way that popular VJ softwares or Ableton Live does, quickly evolved to taking on the functionality of high-end media server systems.
A staggering undertaking with spectacularly comprehensive results, Luminosity was debuted for V Squared Labs' Blizzcon Starcraft where 12 projectors 3d mapped the complex stage with full previs, and again at the Superbowl this weekend to manage a 24-projector ESPN event.
With a number of features pending, this tool is not quite 'finished' but it's a fair prediction that Luminosity will prove to be useful in many places and that it will continue to evolve.
We caught up with the Brooklyn-based VolvoxLabs team Kamil Nawratil and Pa Her to discus their latest and grandest project of 2014 - the visual design, AV system programming and stage design for DJ Ali Shirazinia aka Dubfire's Live HYBRID tour.
The remarkably rich production which premiered at the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in October has the unmistakable dark, techno-organic Volvox signature style, both figuratively and also quite literally in this case as there's a narrative that explores the coming-into-being of a techno-organic entity as it evolves from the micro level. It's very fine work that skillfully combines and syncs 2D and 3D imagery as well as generative sound-reactive visuals.
The team used TouchDesigner to create a reliable playback system to drive the show (with no frame loss or delays) and the TouchDesigner Ableton Sync Live Environment to drive and generate visuals from the live music. Here's what Pa and Kamil had to say:
About 2 years ago we became familiar with Fred Trétout when he published a video for the very cool (and rather adorable) SPOKA, an interactive projection mapped night light with an equally compelling description: "Spoka is a small night light, it can take its iron armor, trace the history of a life time or reveal its wireframe, the spectator have to choose! He can also move the light and rotate the model to see its most beautiful angle."
Fred's recent installation FACETS shares many of the qualities that first attracted us to his work: a pronounced tendency for playfulness, imaginative expression, and user-engagement conveyed through excellent design and use of technology.
Fred, who is currently in France teaching a TouchDesigner course at his alma mater took the time to talk to us about his work and experiences. Enjoy!
Fred Trétout': I had the idea of creating Facets shortly after discovering TouchDesigner. I wanted to rediscover the fun I had in my first VJ evenings when I was using the open source software Alchemy with a graphics tablet. The accumulation of geometric forms of the Tangram in symmetry allows with a little big of imagination to see faces, animals, robots ...
Nov.26.14 Book: An Introduction to TouchDesigner by Elburz Sorkhabi
Anyone who spends time on the TouchDesigner forum will already know Elburz Sorkhabi who is always very generously sharing his deep storage of TouchDesigner wisdom to help others in the community. Elburz has now gone a step further and written a book!
"An Introduction to TouchDesigner" is completely free and accessible online. It is set up as a main text/book that comes with example project files and HD video walkthroughs. The source code for the book is available on the nVoid GitHub and licensed under creative commons to allow anyone to edit, add, and share - which means that this book will continually grow and remain current.
Needless to say, we are THRILLED to have access here not only to Elburz' extensive gained-in-the-field experience but also to his 'curation' of existing knowledge repositories like the forum, wiki - and we are looking forward to what happens next.
We had a few questions for the author...
I come from an art background, and more specifically a musical background. I was a professional trombonist for many years working in classical and commercial music, and eventually wound up in electronic music production, composition, and performance.
I really wanted to create my music live when performing and starting getting involved with tools like Cycling 74's Max. I started building quite a number of tools and eventually volunteered to make the visual tools for the shows I was putting on with colleagues. This led to me exploring a multitude of generative and customizable video applications like Resolume and TouchDesigner.
Now I am the Technical Director at nVoid Art-Tech Limited and we specialize in creating interactive experiences - both large and small in scale. We work across the globe with many different technologies to augment installations and narratives with designers, artists, brands and institutions. We have had the privilege of working with incredible partners on projects for google, Kanye West, Giorgio Armani, Nike, Bionic League, the Seattle Art Museum, Verizon, the National Museum of Scotland, Nuit Blanche, MacLaren Momentum, Informa Canada, and Random Media Core.
Interactive installation, Burj khalifa, Dubai with GSMPRJCT, TouchDesigner programming by NVoid
Interior Design Show 2014, designed and developed with zero11zero
Nov.11.14 Odaibe's Visual Treatment for My Name is Nobody
My Name is Nobody, photo credit: Robert Cybulski
My Name is Nobody, photo credit: Robert Cybulski
MY NAME IS NOBODY is an avant-garde interdisciplinary performance based on music by Croatian electroaccoustic composer Frano Durovic that premiered October 8th at the 2014 Avant Art Festival at the Audiovisual Technology Center. A collaboration between artists, dancers and performers (full credits at end of page), it is an impressive undertaking that is adroitly produced.
The innovative visual production was designed and realised by Bartek Szlachcic, a graphic designer and electronic music producer whose interests lie in "visualizing sound with experimental tools" and who produces audiovisual works and musical collaborations as Odaibe.
My Name is Nobody's video notes tell us that the visuals were based on "already prepared photographs and various generative visual forms written in specially prepared software environment. In the spectacle, 4 screens, 4 projectors and a Kinect sensor were used. These formal and artistic treatments plus the contribution of 8 dancers intensify the atmosphere and build an extra-verbal albeit very substantive narration based on an eerie and psychedelic message."
Our introduction to Bartek's work came earlier this year with "Solaris" (below), made in the process of learning TouchDesigner and "messing around mainly with particles, forces, the animation editor and TOPs". Set to Cliff Martinez' famous (and many would venture dangerous-to-appropriate) score for Steven Soderberg's equally esteemed Solaris, Bartek's interpretation of the nebulous probing, undulating ocean/planet/entity did not land short of its mark and was well-received by the community.
We've been following Bartek's work with interest and appreciation and finally caught up with him after the premiere of My Name is Nobody to talk about the performance and to get some background on his experiences as an artist/designer and on working with TouchDesigner.
Preliminary drawing, Solaris planet and 'swirling'- Bartek's visual thinking always begins with pencil and paper.
Nov.04.14 Pixelux Studio's Kinetic Wall of Light System for Yves Saint Laurent SS 2015
Kinetic Wall of Light, Yves Saint Laurent's Défilé Men Summer 2015
A year ago we spoke to Xavier Gruchet about Pixelux Studio's pedal-powered interactive Magic Cube, an installation produced for Lyon's Fête des Lumières where a "graphic monolith made from mysterious glowing matter" was circled by 28 bicycles connected to the "graphic engine". The speed and stamina of 28 riders produced a data stream to generate graphic, animation and sound layers in real-time. After 3 minutes of mad peddling, riders were rewarded with a display of " pure energy - white matter"!
Pedal-Powered Interactive Magic Cube
Kinetic Wall of Light, Yves Saint Laurent's Défilé Men Summer 2015
More recently, the Kinetic Wall of Light described by Pixelux' Xavier Gruchet as a "visual experiment in optical illusion and light distortion", directed a LOT of lumens - 2,800,000 of them - on Yves Saint Laurent's Défilé Men Summer 2015. The KWL is a grid of 20 x 10 moving light panels operating as a kinetic system that displays graphics generated in realtime with the motion of the fixtures.
The entire system is handled within the TouchDesigner environment running on a single workstation. Generative algorithms drive movement and control the LEDs to create complex patterns of motion: organic ripples of light energy model the shape of the wall.
Xavier provides us below with a detailed breakdown of how his team designed a system to manage, in real time, the grid of fixtures (the motion and the LED's matrix), with an integrated visualization to help during the creative process.
Oct.27.14 TUNDRA's Powwow Under the Powerlines & Songs from Inside The Whale "
TUNDRA is the collective from Saint Petersburg who last year brought us The Void, and with it the challenge to remain still long enough to "visualize the idea of emptiness". The tricky part was to attain this state of stillness while situated in a hyper-immersive 360-degree surround installation of vortex-style spinning panoramic projections and quadrophonic sound.
‘emptiness here isn’t regarded as an absence of everything, but as an initial state when anything can appear’ says TUNDRA. ‘to see the dark room turn into the big bang epicenter a visitor should become ‘empty’.
Drawing a bead on our perpetual state of distraction and fidgetiness,The Void delivered a graphic, startling experience, an intervention, that struck a chord as it rapidly rippled throughout the blogosphere. (see publication links at end of article).
Tundra define themselves as a "collaborative artistic collective" whose members include musicians, sound engineers, programmers and visual artists. Their focus is to create "spaces and experiences by making sound, visuals and emotions work together" in audiovisual performances and interactive installations.
The collective work out of a studio in the Taiga community, a "creative space" in a rented mansion that has become the epicentre of a disruptive "art revolution" The Guardian writes "an underground arts movement that is challenging the zeitgeist of greed, turning old buildings into creative utopias".
While this may well be an outside take on what has been transpiring in the arts/culture of Saint Petersburg/Russia it resonates with our experience from the standpoint of the work we see produced by artists and designers in the Russian and Eastern European TouchDesigner communities. The remarkably high calibre of work, the frequency with which it is created and the playfulness and elegance in the ideas and understanding generating the work have all led to personal rumination of a kind of 'renaissance'.
"The Whale" installation on the Brusov Ship, Moscow River
Tundra have been industrious this past year, producing in quick succession a series of complex and demanding back2back projects that draw visitors and participants into enchanting and other-worldly places. Le Vent Nous Portera invites visitors to play in and interact with an illuminated virtual forest; "The Whale" discussed here later, invites us into a giant whale's mouth to hear its songs!
Their latest installation "POWWOW" is a live audiovisual performance and light sculpture made for the Motive for Peace exhibition that closed at the Street Art Museum in St. Petersburg last weekend ." All night long" the promo said...
Installed and performed on the site of a decommissioned plastic factory TUNDRA controlled a large array of light and sound with TouchDesigner via DMX. We're looking forward to video but from the photos the piece has an eerie, vast, electrifying feel about it. We spoke to Tundra about their latest work and here is what they had to say.
Oct.20.14 Keith Lostraco's Mindbending Fractal World "Escape Time"
A year ago we spoke to Trypta's Keith Lostraco for our review of TouchDesigner-built Performance Interfaces by members the community. Capable of producing the intricacy you see above, Keith's Fragtool is an incredibly powerful and elaborate application that has become a key element in Trypta's visuals, enabling the creation of 3D fractal animations in realtime to music in a way that was not previously possible with other software. Here are some snippets of that conversation:
Background: In 2002 Keith designed and built a three room recording studio near Nelson BC, started to play bass and drums and to produce electronic music with his brother Greg. In 2006 Keith dove into 3D animation (Maya) and performing live visuals at local festivals and shows for Greg's live electronic act. In 2008 after using Max/MSP at a live event Keith discovered TouchDesigner and soon after, began using TouchDesigner exclusively. In 2012 the brothers started Trypta, "an audio visual act intended to blend the mediums of live audio and synchronized live visuals with the feel and presence of a movie while using the audience in the performance - it's hard to describe in words!" (It really is!)
ANTARCTIC TAKT - AUDIO VISUAL LIVE PERFORMANCE ANTARCTIC TAKT - AUDIO VISUAL LIVE PERFORMANCE
Concept & Music by Dasha Rush
Visuals by Stanislav Glazov (Licht.Pfad)
Design Development by Margo Kudrina (Licht.Pfad)
Sep.23.14 Matthew Ragan Explores Representations of Time
Clocks that create pictures of the past, cameras that watch the world - Matthew Ragan has been postulating concepts revolving around time and its representations, in the process making beautiful abstract art. This work he tells us, is a result of his good fortune to be working with Dr. Erika Hughes and Professor Boyd Branch this year in their continued efforts to develop a work "centered around ethnographic theatre".
Much of this dialogue Matthew says, takes root around philosophical arguments and observations of Vilem Flusser, a theorist who was "deeply interested in the role of media and the apparatuses operated by subjects in the world". For Flusser the apparatus is a "a tool that changes the meaning of the world in contrast to mechanical tools that work to change the world itself."
In this scenario a camera is seen both as a mechanical tool and as an apparatus that can change how we construct meaning in the world. With these ideas as "scaffolding", Matthew tells us "I've been playing with different ideas around how to construct meaning out of different pieces of the world."
Matthew: The first tool I built started as an exploration of ideas of time and representations of time. I wanted to know what a clock that created a picture of the past would look like. Specifically, I liked the idea of a camera that watched the world, and then each second, minute, and hour the average color of the camera's view became a sample of the world. This would mean that looking at a color clock would be like looking at the past in terms of color. A way of looking at the world that we can't physically accomplish without the use of a computer.
Living Room Performance is made with TouchDesigner, Kinect and OSC feed from an iPad
A Short Artist Bio
Yan Kalnberzin is a video and media artist who graduated from the Moscow Institute of Aviation Technology. He was an active artist in Moscow's underground of the 2000s as part of the musical group PBOYUL. One of the pioneers of stop-motion animation in Moscow, Yan created the stop-motion clip "sea lilies" for band "Kids of Picasso". Yan was also one of the founders of company Russian Visual Artists.
Yan is the creator of video and special effects for numerous theater performances: "Agate Returns Home", "The Golden Cockerel", "A Doll's House," "Cops on Fire," "Dorian Gray", "Sugar" and many others. Yan participated in Moscow festival "Circle of Light" in 2011 mapping the festival's primary facade, the Hotel Moscow.
We first became acquainted with Yan in 2013 when he taught an intensive week-long TouchDesigner workshop in Moscow organized by Plums Fest. Yan came to TouchDesigner with a Houdini background. He says he appreciates the "logic of a 3D context a lot" and in TouchDesigner loves the "realtime performance combined with high procedural possibilities".
Yan describes his personal work as the creation of video for "plastic performances" which he says can be defined as "performances connected with human movement. You could say dance performances, but they are sometimes far from dance!"
The two recent works featured here Living Room Performance and POLINATRON illustrate this point quite clearly. Both performances while very different from each other, each in a masterful, mesmerizing and somewhat polar manner, push what we've seen to date when technologies and processes like gesture recognition, motion-tracking, mapping, video, projection and so on, are used on a live stage for dance and theatrical performance.
Yan's work while playful and experimental (in the sense of creating 'experimental art' and also in regards to allowing what is learned and discovered while making the work to inform the process of making it) shows a profound and mature aptitude for creating startlingly new experiences very fluidly that deliver fantastic surprises.
We asked Yan to tell us a bit about Living Room Performance and POLINATRON, and he very kindly obliged. Enjoy.
Aug.26.14 Front Pictures' Multimedia Renaissance: Pushing the Limits of High-Performance
Front Pictures studio has always aimed at expanding horizons in advanced media technologies. A year ago we became acquainted with the studio and wrote about the Fulldome environments and experiences they had been developing and perfecting. They continue to impress not only with the scope and revolutionary approaches they bring to their projects but also in their commitment to make these solutions affordable and realizable.
When a new shopping center "Art Mall" was planned to open in Kiev, Front Pictures was invited to participate as a studio of innovative technologies. The mall concept involved an art installation as the primary content for shopping space.
What the team conceived and then produced for the 1400 sq-m space raises the stakes on 'high performance' across the spectrum, leaving most of us asking variously-phrased versions of "How in the world was this achieved?!"
Here is the story then of the astounding "Renaissance – The Age of Genius" exhibition as it came to life on the walls of the Art Mall A-Gallery as told by its creators.
"We relied heavily on TouchDesigner after an initial test period in Leavsden Studios in the fall of 2010, and developed a very flexible and powerful realtime pipeline to drive some of the major aspects of shooting the film. Think ICT's Lightstage, but real-time, interactive, fast and stable - that should give you a hint! I worked with both director Alfonso Cuaron and DoP Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki with this system, as well as with our overall show supervisor Tim Webber.
We found TouchDesigner to be extremly flexible, and pushed it further into the other stages too. By the end of a 5 month long shoot we were using it every day."
-- Theodor Groeneboom, Framestore
TouchDesigner on set of Gravity showing the flattened cube render that is projected in the lightbox.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity.
"We were using TouchDesigner for lots of different things, we were master control for the entire stage with the lightbox driven by the robot's timeline. Theo lit the movie using TouchDesigner - 70% of the film's live action was lit through TouchDesigner.
The movie was run through TouchDesigner as well. Our real-time visualization system where we could superimpose graphics through the lens view to make sure everything was lining up was all realised through TouchDesigner. We had on-set repositioning, on-set color correction - a whole visualization system run through TouchDesigner; there was script supervision for the Assistant Director, all the notes called out during the shot - for example: "grab left", "look right", "spaceship coming in" - was all on a TouchDesigner timeline that we controlled.
All of the audio playback was slaved to our TouchDesigner system as well so we would be sending out MIDI triggers through TouchDesigner to the sound department.
We designed and built an entire set-wide ecosystem of production around TouchDesigner."
-- Jeff Linnell, Bot & Dolly
The robot arm with the tilting actors' rig shown with the lightbox
One of Gravity's remarkable achievements is that it sets a new milestone in the "suspension of disbelief" - possibly the greatest factor that continues to drive people to the silver screen. It does so with the kind of ground-breaking innovation that will not only transform the way that films are made, but that also liberates our ability to tell stories that were hitherto thought impossible to translate from imagination to moving images.
It is now part of the film's folklore that director David Fincher had counselled Cuaron that the technology necessary to make Gravity didn't yet exist and advised the filmmaker to wait another five years. Cuaron forged ahead and it did indeed take 4.5 years to make the film.
In respect to the technology central to the filmmaking process, what differentiates Gravity from any other film is that an unprecedented amount of digital production and visual effects were integrated on-set in real-time (vs. post production) through the ingenious combining and use of these newly devised and appropriated technologies.
The making of Gravity is an epic story of its own and TouchDesigner plays a diverse role as we learn here in a technically-detailed account from Framestore's Theodor Groeneboom, on-set technical director and sequence lead compositor of Gravity.
Apr.28.14 Exploring Possibilities for Speed and Immersion in Spherical Space with Maotik
Inspired by a philosophical concept and evolving from a hand-made structure to a full dome immersive performance featured on the Apple 30th birthday TV spot, Dromos is the fruit of a unique creative process. Here is the story.
Maotik (Mathieu Le Sourd) is a French new media artist based in Montreal. He has been working on various projects using TouchDesigner, developing generative visuals and engaging participants with interactive environments. Last year, he focused on the full dome spherical environment at the SATosphere, Société des Arts Technologique. Along with electronic composer Fraction, he produced two immersive performances/installations, Dromos and ObE. Presented for the first time during MUTEK Festival last year, Dromos has been critically acclaimed and widely disseminated by the media.
Dromos- An Immersive Live Performance
"Get Lost in a symphony celebrating the science of speed"
Apr.07.14 Direct From Dublin: Lakker's Live AV for 'Containing a Thousand'
LAKKER:AV - MIDI reactive visual set (samples). Created with TouchDesigner and Ableton Live 9
Lakker's Dara Smitha and Ian McDonnell
Containing a Thousand EP Launch @ Oslo Hackney, London
Ian McDonnell and Dara Smith make up Dublin-based Lakker who since the early 2000s have been dishing out deep, dark, bass-loaded electronic music, tracks that have graced the decks of those with a tendency to tip the scales on the spectrum of "dark" and "heavy" - Aphex Twin and Surgeon for instance. The music has a graceful eloquence that is richly dense, informed and shaped from years of immersion and exploration, running the full gamut of genres - electronica, punk, metal, noise, breakcore, techno and jungle.
The visual design accompanying Lakker's sound work is compelling too (very), and particularly interesting in its minimal and disciplined use and reuse of a single motif with extraordinarily diverse results. As far back as we can see on Lakker's Vimeo, the Lakker visuals have revolved around an iconic shape (that we are calling the Lakker icon) which is treated with different textures, colour and animations in each rendition.
We spoke with Dara Smith about the new TouchDesigner-based visual set he was in the final stretches of preparing for the launch of Lakker's latest EP Containing a Thousand at Oslo Hackney, London March 22.
Dara who works in motion graphics and is familiar with node-based tools like Nuke and Max MSP discovered TouchDesigner via the work of Alva Noto (carsten nicolai of raster noton). "I saw his gig and said 'I want to know what did that!' I did some research and found you guys -it was a life changer for me." he says.
We liked very much what we saw and heard coming from the Dublin duo, asked some questions, got excellent answers. Enjoy!
Mar.27.14 Matt Guertin's Epic, Never Ending, Oculus Rift, Kinect, TouchDesigner 3D Project
Oculus Rift - Kinect TouchDesigner 3D
This video is the culmination of a year and a half of 'work' (playing and having fun would be a better way of describing it...haha). The reason I ordered the Oculus Rift in the first place is to do exactly what you see here. All of the programming is done in TouchDesigner. The live interaction method I developed along with the 3D drawing is done using GLSL Shaders that I wrote which is what allows it to be so fast and responsive as far as not having a noticeable delay.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the creation of this video involved a huge file with many components, and a ton of rendering which is the cause for some of the glitches (3D drawing ie.) and the slower frame rate. I will release a couple other videos soon which will focus on each of the individual components so that people can get an actual feel for how fast and responsive this setup actually is. The 3D drawing for instance when stripped down to nothing but it's necessary parts will run flawlessly at close to 50 fps and is much smoother than what you see in this video.
Screengrabs: Oculus Rift - Kinect TouchDesigner 3D Sequence
It is with great enthusiasm that we publish Matt Guertin's chronicle on the building of his ever-expanding project which will not be finished for some time if our last email exchange concerning the release of Oculus Rift's second developer kit is an indicator of things to come. Reinforcing this belief, 5 minutes before posting, Matt has sent a new 'must include' video that will "speak for itself" he says. "It's pretty crazy and really demonstrates the true speed/responsiveness of the real-time interaction." (video below)
By way of introduction, in August of 2012 Matt responded to an email I sent immediately after watching his quite strange video "I Like My Coffee Table" on YouTube. His response:
"I have been in love with gadgets, lighting, etc. ever since I was young but besides using Google Sketchup a little I have never used any other sort of 3D modelling software or done any kind of actual programming - besides what I have learned while using TouchDesigner which I started using almost a year ago. I guess that is a good testament to how intuitive the software is.
Currently I work as a lighting and stage designer in Minneapolis and have designed stuff for a wide range of shows which include a local modelling agency, corporate events, as well as some of the biggest names in electronic music. I was introduced to TouchDesigner about a year ago, around the same time I saw videos of the Amon Tobin setup.
Needless to say I was amazed. I would have to mark that moment as the beginning of my quest to learn as much as I could about the program and have probably watched the video about the creation and design process 100 times or so. TouchDesigner is pretty much all I prefer to do now in my spare time when I am not setting up and running shows and thanks to TouchDesigner I don't even have a cable television bill anymore. The 42" flat screen I used to watch Oprah on is now a giant computer monitor and much more interesting.
I have never really cared for video games much and cannot remember a time in my life when I looked up to an imaginary super hero. I feel like that may have changed though since discovering all of this. TouchDesigner is like an awesome video game that I finally enjoy and Vello Virkhaus is Superman."
If this account at a glance looks long, it is in fact very concise in view of what Matt is sharing here - the tools, research, process, trials and reconfigurations, introduction of new tools, new code... it goes on and the project evolves, improves. It is fascinating, at times very funny, and an excellent testament of deep prototyping. Enjoy!
LNLO is an electronic art and design lab based in Monaco whose partners come from distinct but complementary disciplines: Laurent Brun – electronic engeneering and game design, and Helen Eastwood – fine art and interior design.
We recently spoke with Laurent Brun about LNLO's practice and dynamic as well as three of the studio's recent projects that made use of TouchDesigner in creative and inventive ways to light things up, to move them around, and to entertain and engage audiences.
Derivative: Can you tell us a bit about LNLO - the partnership and practice?
Laurent Brun: We consider ourselves more like artists than "partners in a design lab". We have a really sensory approach to our work and always keep focus on the final emotion we want to create. We two have really different points of view that we balance and finely tune to create artworks that are a representative mixture of our personalities. We are interested in working on any thematic as long as we can transmit our emotional vision of the subject. As collaboration is always rewarding, we are interested in working with other artists, especially on cross-displinary projects (music, dancing etc...).
D: Can you tell us also how you came to use TouchDesigner and how the software has worked for you?
LB: I formerly worked as a video game programer, so I am quiet efficient in C++, I was lately looking for a video API that could help me in some VJ software project. I found a link to TouchDesigner on a VJ forum and tried it. After few weeks I bought a licence and made the FLUX project (that has nothing to do with the original VJ project).
I am really a coder and not used to graphical interface (like VVVV or MaxMSP) so I was scared that TouchDesigner would also have strong limitations. But as I have access to C++ Chops / C++ SOP / CUDA and Python, I always find a way to achieve what I want. Now that I am used to TouchDesigner, I can really speed up prototyping and building new projects. Last year 95% of my work was done with TouchDesigner, so that is self-explanatory.
LNLO's Laurent Brun and Helen Eastwood
What follows is play-by-play of LNLO's work and experience, merci Laurent and Helen!
We are very pleased to announce that TouchDesigner will have stellar community representation at SXSW this year. In brief: 2 projects - Moment Factory's LAX Terminal and Mod Production's ACO VIRTUAL are short-listed for interactive awards; "Wrapping the World with Light" a panel with Jarrett Smith, Derivative co-founder, artist Sougwen Chun and Leviathan's Chad Hutson will discuss the technology and practice of projection mapping; workshop Live Visuals: Intro to Projection Mapping with Todd Moyer and Mat Hale offers a practical on mapping; and Lustix' kinetic projection-mapped sculpture Fractoid 2.2 will be exhibited in the SXSW Eco Light Garden. If you're attending the festival be sure to say hello!
Todd Moyer'sILLOOMINATE, a laser/ video-mapped installation wins "Best in Show" at Create:Fixate and Interactive Bulb Slideshow Installation from Glasspiel Creative makes scrolling through history tactile and fun. Brilliant projects - literally and figuratively, enjoy!
Week06 certainly brings a sampling of projects showcasing the community's great diversity and range:
WhiteVOID's 65 meter Paper Wave for Citroën is fanned and moved by the same Kinetic Lights system as controlled the amazing GRID installation.
ForNokia Fashion Week New York Parkerism Video Labs creates a playful interactive stage installation to showcase the work of fashion designer Mary Benson and musician Kilo Kish.
Licht.Pfad strikes again with Soundreactive LIGHT Installation @ MONASTERIO operated by thier LJying system.
Feb.13.14 TouchDown at the Super Bowl with Eye Vapor and V Squared Labs
TouchDesigner made a significant showing at Super Bowl XLVIII last week, instrumental in the making of at least four different events that we know of. There are a couple we're not free to promote yet but in the interim here is some fine work from Eye Vapor and V Squared Labs. Enjoy, stay tuned for updates!
UI for Eye Vapor's Cue Player includes traditional cuelist functionality with realtime procedural overlay effects (e.g. snow), as well as fulldome video playback, live video, and mixing via a fader board. The operator sees a small version of the high resolution fisheye hemisphere that gets split and sent to each projector.
Jan.31.14 Week04 | Matthew Biederman's Serial Mutations (z-axis)
We caught up this week with the accomplished trans-disciplinary artist Matthew Biederman who participated in our MUTEK 2012 workshop and has since adroitly incorporated TouchDesigner into his performative and exhibited works. We talk with Matthew about how he has been using TouchDesigner in two very interesting pieces that contemplate if not challenge the experience of perception: his most recent installation Serial Mutations (z-axis) and the performance piece Physical (RTv3), 2013.
Week 02 brings all sorts of excitement with three works that while very different from one another, share a certain visual 'roundness' that is difficult not to notice...
maotik and Fraction's Obe, a brand new interactive installation at Montreal's SAT is announced; and Solaris is a beautiful new visual exploration by Bartek Szlachcic a designer just learning TouchDesigner. gen.er.a.trix, a real-time audiovisual performance from Ali Phi appears on Vimeo leaving us moved and speechless. Enjoy!
Jan.14.14 The Australian Chamber Orchestra goes Virtual with Mod Productions
ACO VIRTUAL is a ground-breaking, world-first interactive experience that enables new audiences to get up-close and personal to the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), to appreciate the sounds intimately, to perform a live-mix and to even play along with the musicians.
Produced by Sydney-based Mod Productions in collaboration with the ACO, ACO VIRTUAL invites audiences to step inside a 360-degree cinematic experience of a performance where fifteen ACO musicians appear as projections around the space, their respective sound heard from the direction of their image.
A companion touch-screen app on a tablet in the centre of the space enables the audience to "spotlight sound and visuals" to highlight a musician, a section of instruments or their own mix of players. Visitors can also choose to display or hide the musical score overlay for each musician. A free mobile app extends the experience with visuals and data about each musician, their instruments, the music and composers and even tracks of the featured music.
For the first weekly update of 2014 we could think of no better way to begin the year than with something created for a New Year's Eve party.
Licht.Pfad's brilliant Moving Light Performance at Arma17 in Moscow presented us with that opportunity and even more as we could not resist featuring some of the other performance interface tools created by Licht.Pfad's Stanislav Glasov. Enjoy and a very Happy New Year to you all!
Week 52 marks the closing of 2013 which has proven to be a dynamic and formidable year steadily punctuated with milestones and achievements from you, our brilliant community! We leave you with this overview from the last 7 days and look forward to 52 brand new weeks in 2014. Happy New Year to all!
Projection Advertising's Nissan Leaf InstallationLet's go for a drive with Projection Advertising's new car simulator... Richard Burns tells us: "TouchDesigner was used to bring data in from the car via serial, then we had our own car controller component...and a collision detection system we built." The project is featured in the January Issue of Computer Arts Magazine, transcript and images here.
Patrick Lechner's qua4The latest real-time generative audio-visual composition from Patrik Lechner qua4 premiered in Vienna at the Velak Gala earlier this month. qua4 consists of a sequence of recorded realtime TouchDesigner works, edited in TouchDesigner with more realtime "stuff" added over top. The remarkable audio tracks are also realtime improvisations cut together.
Dec.23.13 TouchDesigner in New Zealand with Oliver Ellmers and Puck Murphy
This week we were very pleased to learn of 2 new TouchDesigner projects produced by individuals collaborating from opposite sides of New Zealand's North Island. We spoke with Oliver Ellmers, a contractor at Storybox and Puck Murphy who works independently as well as at Perceptual Engineering (whose fine work we will be featuring next year) about their collaboration on The Contact Energy Pedal for Prizes Installation. The second project, Ukaipo - O Tatou Whakapapa is an interactive touchscreen built in TouchDesigner for the Hawkes's Bay MTG produced by Storybox. We hope you enjoy, and to other NZders reading this both Oliver and Puck urge you to get in touch!
Oliver Ellmers: I first found TouchDesigner a little over a year ago while studying interactive design papers at Victoria University's School of Design. Since then, I have pretty much been using it for all audio visual or interactive jobs or projects that come my way. Quite often I find TouchDesigner useful for non-real time compositing and post production applications when working with animation and video, to add that little bit of extra spark to elements - whether it be taking advantage of its real time GLSL prototyping post effects or taking advantage of the Operators for quickly drafting compositing techniques.
Puck Murphy: I discovered Touchdesigner shortly after taking 'The Time Machine' for spin in 2011 (at that point I had been using MaxMSP for the data wrangling / triggering etc.) Coming from about 15 years of VFX and compositing, primarily using Autodesk's FLAME, TouchDesigner's nodal work flow was instantly understandable and i got to the 'jamming' part of the learning curve really fast. The first full project I rolled out on TouchDesigner was 'An Interactive Earth', with Jon Baxter at Perceptual Engineering, since then there's been a steady flow of ideas, opportunities and projects that have opened now that I/we have TouchDesigner in the tool belt. It has been great to find a program that can handle constant changes in the design brief right up the last minute while still loading up and doing the same thing today as it did yesterday. With the help of an awesome support team I've been able to say 'Yes' to any challenge that comes up! Loving the possibilities for the future...
Week in review featuring developing and newly-published work from the community:
Plastikman at the Guggenheim: "James Turrell isn't the only artist who can make the Guggenheim glow." says the New York Times. This newly-released video gives an intimate view into Richie Hawtin and team's production of a new Plastikman show for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum last month. Enjoy!
Digital Immersion: Ever wonder about the traces we leave behind, especially the ones we can't see? As part of his BFA thesis show at Clemson University, Nate Newsome offers a very convincingly visualized interactive piece that considers the digital remnants of our interactions with technology.
Reverse Osmosis is Glasspiel Creative's interactive installation video-mapped sculpture controlled by a Leap Motion sensor. The generative audio and the visual programming was created with TouchDesigner and the sculpture made by Paolo Garau using parts of abandoned cars. The interactive installation was created for the exhibition This Is Rome -two days of art, music and installations attended by over 10,000 people. See also: Interactive Design
Here is our weekly update of new and developing work from the community featuring:
- Leviathan showcases its innovative Ghost Box experiment.
- WhiteVOID's GRID at takes center stage at Fête des Lumières in Lyon this weekend.
- The M Machine's Andy talks about the groups live visual set-up and how TouchDesigner was used.
- Richard De Souza shares his visulas for the Stereosonic tour and other TouchDesigner work.
A big week with two TouchDesigner projects covered by The Creators Project: THE VOID from the collective TUNDRA (also at Fast Company and CDM), and Fractoid 2.1 a collaborative sculpture by artists Gabriel Pulecio and Michael Russek. Also: Sila Sveta reveals their BMW X5 Moscow Launch trailer, we finally get a peek at Obscura Digital's Flying on Water an Interactive Projections & Educational Exhibit for the oldest international sailing yacht match race and a new movie for the 360° immersive dome performance DROMOS surfaces reigniting all sorts of interest.
There's an authenticity to Patrik Lechner's generative audio-visual compositions that is deeply and persistently gripping. With each work published over the last couple of years Patrik has had us increasingly intrigued by his processes, methodology and influences. Some weeks ago we posed a few opening questions of Patrik who responded in generous detail starting with the declaration: "I'm in love with TouchDesigner!"
Attributing a central principle based on iteration and improvisation to his work Patrik expresses a strong aversion to linear editing tools (which for him places what is lively in an aesthetic in danger of being deadened). He goes on to describe a very dynamic practice that requires (a) first building modular tools to create the work - without getting indefinitely lost in tool-building and (b) producing work that is as unrehearsed as possible, procedurally. The work speaks for itself but what Patrik shares below adds volumes to the conversation and satisfies much of our curiosity. Interesting and strongly recommended reading for all of our users, we think you'll appreciate!
start here: experimental electronic music > freedom in improvisation > synthesize anything you can imagine > confronting self with self > understand what you're doing > generate everything
I'm 27 years old and actually come from experimental electronic music. I started making music when I was 16 because I saw some kind of freedom in art, and especially in improvisation. At that time I was playing around with an electric guitar, but I soon discovered electronic music, which to me, seemed to mean total independence and freedom of expression because you could simply synthesize anything you can imagine.
Sitting in front of fruity loops I soon got frustrated and dove into Reaktor, into pure data and finally Max MSP. Since that time I am waking up with Max (I programmed an alarm clock to play random mp3s) and go to sleep with it. For me as a musician this seemed to be the perfect environment. Also from that time on I decided to nearly exclusively work with synthetic sounds that I made myself. I nearly never use samples that I or somebody else recorded with a microphone. The idea simply is to confront myself with myself and as few other aesthetic influences as possible while working on something, and try to really work from the ground up, trying to always understand what I'm actually doing. That may sound stupid and I'm not saying it's great, it's just how I work and I learned a lot by doing it that way. I guess that is the reason why I only generate geometry inside TouchDesigner and don't use any pre-rendered material. I find it simply more interesting to work in this procedural way than to model something in every detail.
We created a fully integrated, personalized visual system built from the ground up, including projection mapping on geometrically faceted bar, programmed user-interactive LED wall, an interface that pulls in real-time Twitter and Instagram feeds, that users can control interactively. The whole system is situated within a functional and modular interior design. VolvoxLabs [VVOX]
We spoke to VVOX Co-founder, Kamil Nawratil about a new media project involving lumens, data, physical architecture and some seriously agile thinking recently produced by the team for client Digital Dumbo, a collective of startup and local businesses based in Brooklyn's DUMBO district. We wrote about the Brooklyn-based VVOX not so long ago when Kamil's graduate work at the School of Visual Arts—SVA, in New York The Perception of Consequence (which included masterful constructions both virtual and physical) caused quite a stir. We weren't the only ones to find relevance in the team's latest achievement and to think it even precedent-setting. In a world or connected people, places, and things where work, play, and colaborating in 'blended', data-enhanced environments are vital to productivity, VVOX's interpretation of what that space can be is well-considered and adroitly implemented. Peter Kirn at CDM puts it well in his article Not Just Mapping, Reshaping: VVOX on Projection for Personalizing Architecture, Space:
"Light on its own can be a powerful medium for transforming a space. When that light is formed into an image, the customization is as fluid as pixels on a display. So, there’s a reason we hear terms like “responsive architecture” or even “interactive architecture.” We may see environments become as changing as the computer before our eyes. The question is, how, exactly?"
Oct.15.13 Moment Factory's Mastery of Temporary Play Space
Montreal-born-and-based studio Moment Factory is a prolific producer of innovative new media events, shows and installations the world over. Luminaries in the field, they are a multifaceted company whose work invariably enriches urban spaces and culture, often shaping our expectations of future experience.
Part of what makes Moment Factory so successful is that they encourage staff to work with whatever tools they find best-suited for a particular project. It's a noteworthy and remarkably open approach to running a studio that lowers barriers, encourages cross-pollination and of course, promotes creativity and productivity.
How to Destroy Angels, Tour 2013 (All images courtesy of Moment Factory)
"We were following TouchDesigner's development for a long time and were convinced of the power and creativity of the tool at a MUTEK workshop in 2012. In parallel, the X-Agora software team was working with Derivative on the possibility of sharing video textures between software applications in real-time. This opened up a world of possibilities for Moment Factory's interactive designers and developers. The tool, once used only for prototyping purposes, is now the obvious choice for generative content production on most of our projects around the world. Some renowned features by the team are the modular, in-depth control over performance, 2D/3D/OpenGL tools and advanced scripting possibilities. TouchDesigner has proven its potentials."
Marc-André Baril, Interactive director
Four recent Moment Factory projects put TouchDesigner to rigorous use: Trent Reznor's first tour of How To Destroy Angels as well as a second massive visual show for NIN's festival tours, the interactive installation Mégaphone in Montreal and last but not least, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) a remarkable example of integrating immersive multimedia in public space and the largest system of its kind in any airport in the Americas. We're thrilled to be involved and very excited to share this spectacular and far-reaching work with our readers. Enjoy!
Oct.01.13 Bot & Dolly's Magic Box and the Great Escape
Bot & Dolly is a design and engineering studio specializing in automation, robotics and filmmaking. Central to their craft are sophisticated industrial robots, unshackled from the factory floor, set free on the likes of movie sets to manipulate lights, actors, cameras and set pieces with the most precise, coordinated and complex motions that are also infinitely repeatable. The magic in their world unfolds in real time where an unprecedented level of precision and predictability allows virtuality and physicality to meet and synchronize perfectly on a live set. As can be imagined there's enormous value in any one of these things and combined the possibilities are quite staggering. To the point, it's not surprising that Bot & Dolly's motion-control system IRIS (used here) was used extensively in the filming of Alfonso Cuarón's upcoming thriller Gravity. More on that later.
We've seen this team do some pretty fantastic work - many 'firsts' - where TouchDesigner has been involved but released today, Box, a live performance film where for the first time ever robots, actors and 3D projection mapping perform in sync on a live set transcends what we've seen to date. In short, it's revolutionary. With this latest proof of concept, two years in the making, Bot & Dolly have taken the old adage of thinking out of the box about as far as you can go by getting rid of the box altogether.
Aug.12.13 Front Pictures and the FULLDOME Experience
Front Pictures, a studio founded in Kiev, Ukraine in 2003 has been perfecting Fulldome environments with TouchDesigner to create some very convincing immersive experiences. The studio's work was recently brought to our attention by digital artist Andrey Yamkovoy who is also a TouchDesigner specialist at Front Pictures. The team of sixteen led by Yuri Kostenko (Head of Studio) and Vitaly Slyusarenko (Technical Director) are driven by a love for high-tech creativity which has led them to specialize in developing "next media solutions" which includes programming, interactive design, video production, and hardware engineering.
May.23.13 The Multi-sensory, Data-driven World of Lukasz Furman
Inter Audio Mapo Akcjonizm / Inter Audio Map Act
i.a.m.a is a sensory multimedia installation. It associates multiple virtual areas controlled by tools and behaviors, both real and interactive. It is a mix of the virtual and the real, a quasi-holographic simulation that is mapped, animated and cinematographically rendered in real time. The installation gives you the ability to control but also has its own independent characteristics resulting in a curvature of reality and psychedelic states. The room is completely filled with the image and the projection itself becomes something more than what is actually shown to the audience. Additionally, the area out of sight is also being filled out. The recipient unknowingly introduces interactions in each and every move. This involves the position of the controller (ipad), independent sliders (TouchOSC application) and recipient’s own position in the xyz axes (Kinect).
Intermedia: Using or involving several media simultaneously; multimedia. Origin: 1960's (Dictionary.com)
An Intermedia student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Lukasz has been using TouchDesigner for just under a year and in that time has created an intriguing and investigative body of work. Much of this work is based on taking data from almost everything around him (to which Lukasz admits being 'addicted') and then using this data to build experiments using TouchDesigner. Virtuality and reality factor heavily in these experiments as does creating circumstances that actively illicit participation from interactors (vs. viewers).
Lukasz tells us he believes TouchDesigner to be the best tool for Intermedia students where the subject of transforming data is central to the spirit of Intermedia itself. He says "there are many tools you are supposed to know in our program but TouchDesigner puts that all together in one and gives you an extra gate to go outside with your imagination. I can call it 'extra tool'."
Dinner by Candlelight Logic
What Lukasz likes most about TouchDesigner is the option to "rebuild reality inside a computer and after that to be able to rewrite it again." If this or any of the above statements need clarification we believe the following conversation with Lukasz alongside his TouchDesigner explorations will make clear. Enjoy!
May.22.13 AdCubes: Pop-Up Video-Mapping from Projection Advertising
Projection Advertising's AdCubes is an easy-to-setup video-mapping installation based on a stacked box structure. The cubes can display various forms of video such as a pre-rendered content, audio reactive scenes and social media elements such as tweets.
The ideaology behind the installation is to create a no-fuss approach to mapping for corporate parties and conferences whilst maintaining the same levels of control one would expect to see within a live show. The control panel system contains all of the tools needed to run this from calibration of the projection through to moderating incoming tweets in realtime and is designed to be used by the less tech-savvy with calibration taking no more than ten minutes even for a first time user.
Projection Advertising is a UK-based studio who specialize in projection solutions. They offer a comprehensive range of services and products including large-format building projections, interactive floors, touchscreen tables and an "exclusive sound-reactive video-mapped projection installation that can incorporate live Twitter and photo feeds" called AdCubes which is built in TouchDesigner. We were very excited when a couple of months ago Richard Burns (TouchDesigner specialist and the maker of our tutorial videos) joined the Projection Advertising team.
What follows is a recent dialogue with the Projection Advertising crew about how they have been using TouchDesigner for product development.
May.17.13 Volvox Lab's Dynamical Systems and the Perception of Consequence
"Perception of Consequence" is an installation by Kamil Nawratil that places a custom-fabricated wave-like structure within the space as a 3D surface for the stereoscopic projection of fluid form animations (pictured above). Surround-sound and control-activated fans strategically placed around the installation coupled to the movement of virtual cameras control wind direction and intensity working to immerse the viewer in the system. TouchDesigner is used as the playback platform for sound, stereoscopic imagery and to sync and control physical environment elements via Arduino. "It is like the central executive processor, similar to the part of the system like the human brain that controls, plans and coordinates all other parts." Kamil adds.
The project represents the consequence and constraints of motion set by the rules of physics. Two fluid-evolving forms are placed in a reversible entropic system and simulated to resemble evolving human states and emotions. The system itself evolves from organic form into chaos while its cyclical nature guides it towards rebirth.
Starts here: "I'm a MFA Computer Art student at the School of Visual Arts NYC. We are looking for a TouchDesigner teacher for an Independent Study program for the fall 2012 semester. Can you recommend someone?" was our initial email introduction to Kamil Nawratil, art director at VolvoxLabs.
The request was intriguing and as luck would have it, Alex Czetwertynski (a Houdini and TouchDesigner artist specializing in content creation and technical design) was in the process of relocating to New York from LA and keen to teach TouchDesigner. Kamil and fellow student Rodrigo had been inspired by Amon Tobin's ISAM and were curious about its workings. In the caliber of ISAM's visual control they saw a future for their own projection and visual projects. A little research led them to organizing for Barry Threw of Obscura Digital to give a talk at SVA about his work with TouchDesigner. "After that we were hooked and convinced to secure the 4 month independent study." says Kamil "The rest is all love!"
Reality shifts: Following the SVA program, VolvoxLabs quickly and fluently integrated TouchDesigner into a number of projects. Then a couple of weeks ago Kamil's Perception of Consequence came into the world and it was one of these rare moments that felt like reality was knocked fractionally off its axis. It is a visceral work that succeeds in channelling and manipulating primal forces inherent to natural systems - like entropy and chaos - through orchestrated technologies and elements designed to draw viewers into active participation in a physical, multi-sensorial experience.
Kamil describes: This piece puts forth the question of how we perceive the world around us. It is an attempt to realize the connection between systems like that of nature and humans, using frameworks such as Jungian and Freudian analysis and the law of thermodynamics. The vision is to integrate the viewer into the environment and toy with the balance between organic and artificial, chaos and equilibrium. The result I hope, is technology that touches upon something innately human.
What impresses me most about TouchDesigner is the seamless role that it plays in this piece by coordinating all aspects of playback and control over the environment and sound. I am able to create a more overwhelming and immersive experience for the viewer by wirelessly controlling fans placed strategically around the installation. An animation curve synced with the virtual world is assigned to each fan. Connection with Arduino and servos was also a breeze using the serial node. I am also super happy with the control over the stereoscopic projection. TouchDesigner allows me to readjust the convergence and color in real-time. All these features significantly eliminate going back and forth between multiple packages.
This project was developed in completion for Kamil's MFA graduate degree at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and the installation will be on view at the SVA gallery in NYC between May 18 - June 1
April.17.13 TOUCHDESIGNER WORKSHOP VIDEOS at RESONATE 2013
The 3 days in Belgrade that are the Resonate Festival are perhaps the most intensely packed and compressed segments of time imaginable. They seem in the moment to flash by in an epic and chaotic blast of inspiration and then to linger for days, weeks and it now seems likely, months after-the-fact as its implications are processed and absorbed.
For those who are not familiar with this relatively new festival, Resonate's mission statement is "Bringing together artists to drive a forward-looking debate on the position of technology in art and culture" and that the festival is a "platform for networking, information, knowledge sharing and education. It brings together distinguished, world class artists with an opportunity of participating in a forward-looking debate on the position of technology in art and culture."
Impressively Resonate does exactly this and more, providing a rich medium for quite possibly the most nascent and fertile ideas, ruminations and combinations thereof from innovators and practitioners in fields that are often borderline emergent themselves.
And all of this takes place in many languages in an environment completely lacking in artifice, conservatism and/or corporate over/undertones. It is a dynamic, open, generous, celebratory and absolutely cacophonic 3 days of learning and in many ways, of shedding and un-learning. As Greg J. Smith so aptly puts it in the program's introduction, Resonate is "The Best Kind of Noise". It would be nice come to think of it, if there was a "Resonate Filter" to apply to one's work throughout the year - perhaps this is it.
So, we felt enormously fortunate and excited to be here, participating at the invitation of Filip Visnjic, Resonate's co-founder and curator, a veritable tour-de-force who is also in practice architect, new media technologist, editor-in-chief at CreativeApplications.net, lecturer...
The opportunity also, to meet in person people from the community we'd only known virtually and many others who we did not know at all was hugely exciting. The atmosphere as can be imagined was intensely buzzing and also highly conducive to exploring, working and learning. Like every single person in attendance, we made the most of it!
From Derivative, Markus Heckmann, Greg Hermanovic and Isabelle Rousset were joined by Obscura Digital's Barry Threw and Dmitry Napolnov of Sila Sveta who graciously brought their considerable expertise to the workshop we delivered the first day of the festival. Denis Akopov - also of Sila Sveta - was on hand providing support and assistance taking some candid photos of the on-goings as well.
The Magic Cube | Interactive and Generative Installation
(Video | Sound |Light)
The magic cube is a graphic monolith made from a mysterious scattering and glowing matter. Placed around it are 28 bicycles connected to the core, the graphic engine.The speed and the stamina of the 28 riders produce a data stream with a unique pattern that generate the graphic, animation and sound layers in real-time. It's just a 3 minutes ride to reach the level of pure energy, "white matter"!
Each bicycle supplies a digitized signal that is streamed to the main application. Everything is done with TouchDesigner: graphics, animation, particle and physics, shading GLSL, rendering, programming, light control (DMX), sound modulation (a bridge with Ableton Live).
The main challenge was to render a generative and 360° seamless graphic texture. Each bike's data flow is processed individually and as a group to modulate a different generator thus creating different levels of graphics that are set according the main timeline.
A sequence of 240s drives the rise of the energy until the climax at which point the cube becomes pure energy, lighting up the statue of Louis XIV and a burst of fireworks rewards our riders.
The visual elements have been designed to fit the optical properties of the Magic Cube: light scattering, mapping, resolution, glowing....
Concept / Set Designer : Gilbert Moity
Graphic design and programming : Xavier Gruchet (Pixelux Studio)
Sound Design : Ben Vedren
The Magic Cube is an engaging and impressive achievement from Xavier Gruchet of Pixelux Studio which was produced by putting TouchDesigner to extensive and inventive use. We had quite a few questions for Xavier who was kind enough to take the time to give us a detailed account of how the Magic Cube was made. Very inspiring work, read on!
"Eon Surf", 2012
Christopher Henry Gallery, Sept-Oct. 2012
Dimensions: 22.5' x 14' x 12'
Foam, Wood, Video Projection
"As Dev's second solo exhibition with Christopher Henry Gallery the work continues to build on a visual language rooted in ideal geometries, and a prismatic interplay of light and pattern. The cascading faceted surface carries an implied motion, rolling away from the spectator with meditative ease. This energy potential is given breath by luminescent washes which crash, ebb and flow with internal symmetry.
While best understood directly and perceptually, Dev's work presents an infinitely reproducible formal structure and lucid logic that can be known universally without empirical knowledge. Light and projection become representative of perceptual knowledge by directly invoking temporal optical phenomenon, but a pure idealized form remains intact. It is this interplay that reproduces the sublime conflict in the viewer, who must choose to ride this crest uncertainly and find exhilaration in the balance."
Untitled (Eon Surf), 2012
Dev Harlan took the time on a flight to Bangkok this week to tell us a bit about the making of the spectacular Eon Surf, his most recent and also his largest work to date.
Feb.26.13 Keeping in Real Time with PETER METTLER and MIXXA
There's a short sequence near the end of Canadian/Swiss filmmaker Peter Mettler’s new documentary feature film The End of Time that received significant media attention even before the film had its North American premiere at TIFF in September. The sequence which has also been called a “synapse-fryer” (Scope) was described by the Hollywood Reporter as a “sustained experiment in pure audio-visual abstraction, a dazzling montage of symmetrical shapes and overlapping patterns set to pulsing electronic music.”. The 8 minutes of film in question is created with Mixxa, the massively flexible HD video mixing tool built entirely in TouchDesigner by Derivative founder Greg Hermanovic.
The End of Time Trailer
Segment, The End of Time Mixxa Sequence
Since 2002 Peter has gravitated towards mixing images to electronic music in live settings, exploring ways to perfect their performance by working with various combinations of tape, video mixers and playback machines. Then 5 years ago at a party where they were both mixing visuals Peter met Greg. Sharing the same passion for the craft and it’s actualization they hit it off immediately with Peter quickly becoming the most ambitious and prolific user, and in a sense, co-developer of Mixxa. The rest, as they say, is history.
This article includes an interview with Peter who kindly made the time to speak with us the day before The End of Time’s TIFF premiere. Following Peter’s interview is another with Greg who sheds insight into the design, evolution and raison d'être of Mixxa, in the process also recounting the developments and advancements in technology that have brought us to this point in time and tools. Together, what Peter and Greg disclose traces a substantial part of the history of Vjing and tells the compelling story of what drives the desire to mix images to music LIVE.