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  Dec.06.16 TouchDesigner Community Highlights Fall 2016

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A sampling of work from our talented TouchDesigner community this fall. Featured here: Light Notes' Vodafone: Interactive TouchBoard, Mart Mai's ///, Ultravioletto's Immersioni, Modular from Vincent Houze and team, Patrik Lechner's du schimmelst ja, Anton Grabovskiy's TouchDesigner Shop and Indae Hwang's Rectangular Shapes and Particles. Such range, so inspired - enjoy!

 

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  Oct.19.16 DEEP DREAM ACT ll | NONE & ANDREW QUINN

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Art collective NONE premiered their multimedia installation 'Deep Dream Act II' at the VII edition of DigitaLife, an Italian exhibition dedicated to digital-art. The visual content produced by Andrew Quinn using TouchDesigner.

The work bears the name of a mathematical algorithm discovered inadvertently by Google. The mathematical algorhythm proceeds by visual associations, capturing images and videos from Google’s database, a neural network that interprets reality through a shared and constantly evolving archive of images.

Deep Dream Act II is the second part of a research project, which aims to place the human being within the data stream that they themselves produce and share. The viewer "travels" in a continuous stream of data within an n-dimensional 'hypercube' composed of 150 square meters of mirrors in which one completely loses all reference to space-time. The visual and noise bombardment that the system generates inside the hypercube is thus a reflection of our virtual affairs.

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  Oct.06.16 WONDERS OF NATURE | GASOMETER OBERHAUSEN

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Photo Credit: Gasometer Oberhausen
Photo Credit: Gasometer Oberhausen
Photo Credit: Michael Rasche
Photo Credit: Michael Rasche
Photo Credit: Gasometer Oberhausen

"Wonders of Nature" is a current exhibition at the spectacular Gasometer Oberhausen where the highlight of the show is our blue planet itself 'brought to life'. Suspended in the lofty 100-meter high air space of the Gasometer the 20 metre globe floats as animated, high-resolution satellite images (8-10 K) are seamlessly projected onto its surface. Visitors are thus able to experience from a perspective usually reserved for astronauts in space, the fascinating phenomena of the changing atmosphere, the alternation of night and day and the changing seasons on the planet we call home.

The video above provides a glimpse into the process that enabled the team to construct this stunning representation (making it look easy of course!) and below we unpack some of the more granular details of the 'making of' with Intermediate Engineering's Nicholas Braren.

Conceived in partnership with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and curated by Prof. Peter Pachnicke, Wonders of Nature runs till December 30, 2016 - experience it if you can.

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  Sep.07.16 Design Meets Surf Culture | Ericeira World Surfing Reserve

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“The centre's chief objective is to present and explain the reserve and its main attributes: the 7 waves and their characteristics, the biosphere, the meteorological composition, the flora and fauna and the facilities. The detailed visualisation of data about the natural characteristics and surf conditions of the area is made possible by the close interweaving of design and technology. Via an innovative interactive video-mapping system combined with customized apps the visitors can explore this information in an accessible way. This is a milestone in terms of the transmission of complex geographical, meteorological and oceanographic data in surf reserves." Ericeira – World Surfing Reserve

AN INTERACTIVE INTERPRETATION CENTRE MEETING SURFERS’ NEEDS

With seven of the world's most venerated waves crashing upon its shores surfing is a huge deal in Portugal, impacting both local culture and tourism. While it is far more typical for hardcore surfing enthusiasts to keep their coveted waves under the radar, the local authorities have had a different approach, in the past posting official tourist signs to guide visitors to all the famous waves in the area.

The first of its kind in Europe, the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve Interpretation Center represents the epitome of that trend, and while it might be frustrating to some it is also remarkably well conceived and executed by a team of researchers, planners, programmers and designers.

We spoke to Rui Gato (Technical and Creative Director) and David Negrão (3D and Interactive Designer) of ALTA_International Creative Alliance about their outstanding contribution to the project using TouchDesigner for video-mapping of the scaled model, realtime generation of the data visualization, and the multitouch UI that controls and allows users to navigate the content of the Interpretation Centre. Exceptional work, enjoy!

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  Aug.30.16 Fit The Culture | An Interactive Portal

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It is always exciting and inspiring to see how TouchDesigner is being used by students in schools - sometimes for the first time - as a creative tool and to experiment and solve problems.

Art project Fit the Culture is an interactive portal between Russian and Austrian culture created by a joint student team MOSGRA from British Higher School of Design in Moscow and FH Joanneum in Graz. The installation took place simultaneously in both cities from 17th to 21st of May inviting visitors to hop on a journey through 'stereotypical' cultural environments. Visitors were dared to look beyond the cliches of the unfamiliar culture and find emotional connections in the most entrenched touristic icons.

Fit the Culture is the first collaboration between these two geographically remote design classes made up of 10 students from Austria and 4 from Russia under the supervision of tutors.

We spoke with Tanya Samarakovskaya and Olga Kazmina about the project and their teams' experience of working with TouchDesigner.


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  Aug.18.16 Infinity, Hyper Thread & Origins | The Lab at Panorama NYC

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The inaugural Panorama Festival was held this summer proclaiming itself as a "modern-day World's Fair of music, art, culture and technology, showcasing future-forward creativity beyond the confines of the average music festival experience." Headliners included music stars Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem but featured as well was a showing of innovative digital interactive installations created by NYC artists.

Housed in a 70-foot video dome that also functioned as a fully immersive 360-degree VR theatre, The Lab (designed and curated by META.is, sponsored by HP and presented by The Verge) created a space where experiential technologists were given equal billing to their musical counterparts - and as some even put in "stole the show".

Of the seven interactive installations three were designed and produced by NYC TouchDesigner artists: VolvoxLabs produced Origins, projection-mapped visuals spanning the entire dome's facade, Gabriel Pulecio installed Infinity Wall, a very trippy mirror and LED infinity experience, and Dave & Gabe provided silk cocoon, user-driven sonic experiences with Hyper Thread.

The work is tremendous and we could not be prouder or more impressed by these three teams. We found a few minutes to debrief (which was not easy as they don't sit still) and share with the community a little more background on these installations. Enjoy!

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  Aug.10.16 TouchDesigner Community Highlights Summer 2016

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A quick round-up of diverse and spectacular new work from the TouchDesigner community this summer. Featured here: Obscura Digital's Salesforce Video Wall, Reaction-Diffusion from Nobutaka Kitahara, My Whale (inner revision),TUNDRA, Ericeira - World Surfing Reserve from Experimentadesign, Fit the Culture from joint student team MOSGRA from British Higher School of Design in Moscow and FH Joanneum in Graz; and Behind Closed Eyes from Peter Walker. Enjoy!

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  May.26.16 ThoughtForms | Visualize and 3D Print Your Thoughts

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What would be the consequences of our most intimate feelings and memories becoming accessible by technology? Hold that thought…

THOUGHTFORMS is a collaboration between sensiLab and Monash Art, Design & Architecture

Project artists: Kellyann Geurts (PhD candidate) & Dr Indae Hwang
PhD supervisor: Mark Guglielmetti
Specialised support in 3D printing: Elliott Wilson, sensiLab

Category: Art & Design, Research, Wearables



As a participant what will I be doing?
In this project, you will wear an EEG brain sensor device that measures tiny electrical changes in your brainwaves. Using specialised software, this data is translated into abstract 3D forms. You will concentrate on building your own personalised thought-form, which can be 3D printed and taken home with you.

The recording will take approximately 5 minutes; your 3D thought-form will take between 15 – 20 minutes to print.

How did the project come about?
This collaborative project is based on Kellyann's PhD research: Imagining Thought in Digital Space. Kellyann and Indae are working together to realise the research project into 3D form.

This research project follows a long history of "picturing" thoughts in both art and science. From the late 19th century, photographic plates and film aimed to capture "vital sources" (thoughts, mental energy and dreams). In 1924 the first EEG machines recorded brainwaves and from this time, in scientific labs around the world today, neuroimaging techniques accurately measure, and even predict thought. Outside the labs, the recent trend of consumer wireless EEG devices now makes it possible to record impressions of our brain/mind responses to everyday stimulus, in a variety of domestic settings.


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  May.24.16 LIGHTfaktor's Atolla Chandelier for Top Golf

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Photo credit (all photos): Topher Adam Photography


This decorative chandelier located in the lobby stairwell of Top Golf Flagship in Las Vegas, NV at the MGM Grand, consist of 26 suspended LED Rings (white light LED's) with 17 strands of RGB LED pixel hanging through the LED rings. The fixture is over 32 feet tall and is meant to provide more than just ambient lighting, as its equipped with 5 motion sensing sonar cameras and a direct audio feed, making it capable of interactive motion and audio effects. The fixture and system was designed by Wes Lane and fabricated by his team at LIGHTfaktor. TouchDesigner programming and sensor integration was handled by team member Daniel Schafer.

 

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  Apr.07.16 Square Root of Sin | Student Exhibition | MARS Center

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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.

Tutors Yan Kalnberzin and Evgeny Afonin

 

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  Apr.05.16 Mapping The Cave | Secret Mapping Experiment

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The Cave

everything is a secret now.
secret locations
secret lights 
secret ideas 

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...


No idea who these guys are
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  Mar.16.16 The Future of Music | Making of a 360 Film

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"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…

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  Dec.03.15 Christopher Bauder's Mesmerizing Kinetic Lights System Soars

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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.

 
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  Sep.21.15 An Interactive Sonic Play-Space in a Maze of Netting

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"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.

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  Aug.26.15 Exhibit Item/Awakening

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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!

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  Aug.19.15 Maotik's Light Bearers: 2,500 Fireflies Animate and Delight

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"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."

ŠAdrien Williams
ŠAdrien Williams

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.

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  Feb.24.15 Vincent Houzé on Rapid-Prototyping and Working in Real Time

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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.

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  Feb.16.15 Luminosity - Keith Lostracco's TouchDesigner Media Server

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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.

Over to Keith.

Luminosity Main Interface

 

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