Learning TouchDesigner

This article is a work in progress, but serves as a log and journal as the author explores the TouchDesigner software and framework.  This author began learning TouchDesigner in the Fall of 2019.

TouchDesigner is a node-based visual programming language for real-time interactive multimedia content, developed by the Toronto-based company Derivative

Resources & Links

https://derivative.ca – Download the free version of TD and find many resources to get started.

https://alltd.org – single largest collection of TouchDesinger tutorials assembled, organized, and tagged by subject matter.

https://matthewragan.com/teaching-resources/touchdesigner – Find basic tutorials and high-level articles about TD concepts as well as Mathew Ragan’s real wold course materials for his Yale workshops and Arizona State University course AME 394.

https://interactiveimmersive.io/touchdesigner-tutorialElburz Sorkhabi’s TouchDesigner tutorial series teaches you all the basics of how to use TouchDesigner, and is designed to give complete beginners the best possible start.


Beginner Course

Bileam Tschepe explains all the basic of TD in a tutorial series made for complete beginners.

Quick Start Guide.

Absolutely a must learn tutorial. TD is complex enough, this tutorial will provide the basics of finding everything and building patches.

Linking Abelton.

Send data back and forth between Abelton Live and TouchDesigner.

Simple VHS like Animations

Bileam Tschepe explains how to create very simple and retro looking animations.

Lopping Noise Part 1
Simon Alexander-Adams’ beginner level TouchDesigner tutorial explores a method for looping noise for the purpose of creating looping animations.

Lopping Noise Part 2
Simon Alexander-Adams’ beginner level TouchDesigner tutorial uses 1D looping noise for the purpose of creating infinite tunnel zooms that start and stop in the same spot.

Noise Displacement
Simon Alexander-Adams’ beginner level TouchDesigner tutorial covers using the Noise TOP to generate vertex displacement effects within the Phong MAT.

Instancing Geometry
Simon Alexander-Adams’ tutorial on instancing with the Geometry COMP, a technique that lets you copy one piece of geometry many times in an efficient way.

Variable Line Width
Simon Alexander-Adams’ tutorial on how to create your own Woody & Steina Vasulka “Scan Processor Studies” without the need to find and use a Rutt-Era Scan Processor.

Animating Camera Movement
Bileam Tschepe’s tutorial that uses the animation COMP to create camera movements on a sphere and grid with a height map.

Creating and Aurora Audio Spectrum

Bileam Tschepe’s tutorial on how to achieve a glitchy, wavy audio spectrum animation using instancing, feedback and displace effects.

Audio Reactive Sliced Type.
Bruno Imbrizi made a great tutorial on animating text. It’s one of the few to tutorials I’ve found that explains text Tops and Table DAT’s and the TouchDesiner audioAnalysis pallet item as well as using triggers to advance animations.

TouchDesigner  Engraved Lines [1 / 2]

Bruno Imbrizi‘s tutorial on how to create a network that simulates just one of many effects the Rutt-Ettra Video synthesizer produced in the 1970’s.  In this tutorial video rasters are simulated with a grid chop that is uses colors and luniance values to offset the incoming media on a z-plane.

This is also a good introduction to touchDesiners’s GLHS MAT’s and scripting. Be sure to follow up with part 2 to add additional interactivity with controls such as buttons and sliders.

Inspired by Rutt Etra | TouchDesigner

Mathew Ragan does a good job of deconstructing and recreating the Rutt-Etra Video Synthesizer in a TouchDesiner network patch that you can build and use to render out video. In short :
“This particular technique is perhaps most well known to us because of the Rutt Etra Video Synthesizer. This video synth was an attempt to begin manipulating video in same manner as sound was being manipulated in the 1970s, and was truly a ground breaking examination of our relationship to video – live video especially. One of the most famous elements of the Rutt Etra Synth was z displacement, the change in the depth of an image based on its luminance.”

Here’s a rendered out example:

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