Feb 29th – Jarrett Smith and Greg Hermanovic / Touch Designer artists

Founding members of Derivative, Greg Hermanovic and Jarrett Smith will present the latest generation of TouchDesigner.

Jarrett Smith is the Product Architect of TouchDesigner, and also leads Derivative on its involvement in productions for Walt Disney Imagineering, Prada, Plastikman, and support for local production companies Obscura Digital, V2 ( Amon Tobin), Leviathan etc.
Greg Hermanovic has been meddling in 3D animation since 1974. He is co-founder of Derivative, the creators of TouchDesigner and Side Effects Software, makers of Houdini, where he received two Scientific and Engineering Awards from the Academy of Motion Pictures Sciences and Arts for the advancement of procedural visual effects tools in the film industry.

TouchDesigner 077 is a visual development platform that equips you with the tools you need to create stunning realtime projects and rich user experiences. Whether you’re creating interactive media systems, architectural projections, live music visuals, or simply rapid-prototyping your latest creative impulse, TouchDesigner provides you with an exploratory, visual, and fun way to work.

TouchDesigner 077 is the most complete realtime visualization software available on the market today equipping users with the tools needed to create stunning realtime projects and rich user experiences. Whether you’re creating interactive media systems, architectural or environmental projections, live music visuals, or simply experimenting with video and film, TouchDesigner provides you with an exploratory, visual, and fun way to work.

This talk will illustrate how TouchDesigner’s procedural visual programming environment facilitates the prototyping and creation of interactive systems from DIY to large-scale deployments sighting examples including Walt Disney Imagineering, Herzog & de Meuron, Prada, MIT Media Lab, the Guggenheim, Plastikman 2010 (Richie Hawtin), Amon Tobin’s ISAM, Raster Noton, Rush, the Rockheim museum and many more

See http://www.derivative.ca/Blog/ for project details.


32 comments on “Feb 29th – Jarrett Smith and Greg Hermanovic / Touch Designer artists

  1. I had never heard of this software before, so it was very interesting to be introduced to a new program.

    I always used to wonder when I was younger how the Finding Nemo attraction worked at California Adventure. Now I know a little bit of how it works!

    It is really interesting that the software is being used so broadly in art. I think it’s use as lighting for theater was very unique and pretty out of the box. I like how it actually is bridging all sorts of types of art. The bicycle installation fits nicely into the modern art spectrum, but just having the projections it’s combining sculpture, flat images, animation, and technology. I think it’d be interesting to see how many different types of art will intertwine as more and more people experiment with the software.

    I am most interested in seeing it used to make large group interactive games. For example (It might all ready be done but), I’m imagining a laser tag game where motion sensors target you and an interesting moving image is being generated every time you step or touch something.

    I hope there is a workshop sometime while I’m still here. I think it’d be really fun to see what could be made and then trying out the results.

  2. Touch designer is fascinating software that offers a wealth of opportunity to do some interesting things. I was particularly drawn into the live animated character work and interactions they were doing. Seeing the the quality of the renders and how well it would interact with the audience was exciting. It’s unfortunate that it seemed like the ability to do that was far too technical to discuss in detail or offer to the public. However, I would certainly like the ability to be able to run real-time animated characters on shows or live broadcasts, even webcasts. That’s kind of always been a fantasy of mine. Maybe in a few years, the hurdles will come down enough so that it’s an option for us regular folks.

    I was also interested in the idea of making more immersion cinema. I’d be very curious to see what I could do by building a narrative film that took advantage of multiple projectors on different surfaces. If I have some time, I’d like to start experimenting in a small way before I leave USC. Cool stuff gentlemen. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Miguel Jiron says:

    This was a very interesting glimpse into the future of installation-based film work from the very people who have made this possible. Such a barrage of wide-ranging work, all pushing the envelope in pioneering new forms of interactive cinema! The work was impressive enough shown through video recordings, I can only imagine how they would work as they are intended; as live experiences. I think this touches on what makes their work exciting and more relevant than ever. The live experience, in the midst of smart phones, skype, facebook, and further virtual experiences, is more special than ever I think. To have this technology further push into the physical, transitory nature of a concert, or installation based gallery, or even sports, is at once counterintuitive and really exciting. Touch Designer is one of the few tools that seems to be actively courting artists and making itself as user friendly as possible. The implications of this could be more far ranging than theme parks, and this seminar was a very cool window into this future.

  4. Yang Liu says:

    The lecture was very aspiring. It blew my mind when I saw what the touchdesigner can do with live performance. It also offers a huge amount of possibilities in creating non-narrative projects. I also saw how much the animation artists could do to collaborate with professionals in other fields, such as musicians and set designers.
    I was also impressed by how simple the control is in the software, and it’s node based and has a very clear and friendly interface. I really enjoyed seeing how fast the real-time render is, especially with combination between 3D geometries and video footages. It is perfectly designed for live performance and I can not imagine how bright the future is for this software. And it is amazing to hear that it’s free for educational version!

  5. Cecilia De Jesus says:

    This was a great seminar to see how far people have been pushing the impressive program Touch Designer. It was amazing to see all the different avenues and applications the program can be used for. This program is definitely an amazing tool for all creative people. I would love to see people with really traditional skills (drawing or otherwise) combine their talent and skills with Touch.

    I also think it’s great how they are encouraging students to try this program in short workshops. The work that those students created in a week or two was really impressive. The fact that such programming and advanced techniques can be achieved so quickly and easily is crazy. The demonstration at the end was refreshing because we finally got to see what the program looked and acted like. It looks fairly approachable, though I’ve never dealt with node-based programs. I hope we do get to have the Touch workshop and look forward to trying it out.

  6. Ruthie Williams says:

    Touch Designer is such an amazing program. These kind of innovations make it such an exciting time to be involved with animation and interactive media. The applications for Touch seem so diverse and they are developing it so quickly that I don’t know if I would be able to ever find the limits of what can be done. I am looking forward to the more intuitive user interface that Derivative is working on, but the current interface didn’t appear too scary after seeing the demo at the end of the presentation.

    What is being done with Touch for DJ sets and dramatic staging was what I found the most exciting and inspiring. Wouldn’t it be such a cool opportunity to design an animated world for a play like Hamlet with it’s ghost character or a visually rich and imaginative opera like The Magic Flute? With the realtime interactive qualities of Touch, you can program responses to the actors’ movements (wow!), or even audience reactions like clapping and standing ovations to become part of the set in some way…I am sure the UCLA theater department is creating some beautiful and inventive stuff with this team.

    I am fortunate that the generations before me have put so much into building these fantastic tools and making them fast and increasingly easier to use.

  7. Lisa Chung says:

    I am in awe of Touch Designer’s capability and compatibility to work in so many different levels of immersive and interactive space, from monumental projections like the Dubai project to smaller scale ones like the bike piece. These projects alone demonstrate the power of Touch Designer and the many avenues an artist can take. I myself along with a few classmates are already considering using the program to assist with our interactive thesis projects. The demo given in class illustrated how relatively easy it can be. I personally can’t wait for the workshop!

    Also, I remember seeing “Talking with Crush” at California Adventure 4 years ago and leaving with so many questions. I settled with the possibility that there were premade animations and someone behind the screen was activating them as they saw fit. I am so glad Derivative cleared that up. I find it incredible that a puppeteer was triggering the whole performance and that the 3D model of Crush was conforming to his/her action. The idea is old news but to me it’s genius and still a really new concept for me. It’s great to hear that many similar projects were brought onto the Disney Cruise. I can only imagine the thousands of happy and intrigued faces.

    I was also really blown away by Amon Tobin’s piece. Real time music activating real time animation. It sounds like a dream for any musician and artist. I mentioned the program to several musicians I know and they were amazed and wanted to learn more.

    I do not know if the artist, J-Walt uses Touch Designer in his show Spontaneous Fantasia but it follows the same concept in that he creates real time animation with music. Read more about it here: http://www.spontaneousfantasia.com/

  8. Lauren Chew says:

    It’s amazing to see how art technology has evolved over the decade. I was blown away by the power of the TouchDesigner077 tools. I am going to go ahead and say that this TouchDesigner may be a revolutionary platform…that will probably spark even more kinds of art technology that will evolve from it. I have never used this type of program before and once I heard it is possible to create applications without any coding, I am forever stunned. I’ve always been curious about how the interactive entertainment booths were made at the Disney theme parks, and now I finally got a first glance at how the technology was developed! The graphics that can be created from this program are impressive – I admire how versatile it can be for not only animation-related projects but also architecture and other various uses. I like how the developers of Derivative encourage us to try out the program and explore/experiment endlessly what we can make from it.

  9. Tristan Dyer says:

    Touch designer was pretty great, but I am not so sure what is so impressive about soundwaves driving graphics frequencies. My buddy’s Sega Saturn did that in 7th grade. Of course it wasn’t as polished as this and you had no control over those graphics but the idea goes back to the oscilloscope.
    What I did find impressive, however, was the fact that Touch Designer renders ambient occlusion and detailed lighting setups in real time. Why has Autodesk not stolen, or strong armed this technology? I don’t know, must be Canadian thing. But the real gem of the night was seeing the multi-projector surface mapping work that people are doing. Imagine a moving sculpture exhibit with projectors mapped to the work with simultaneous visuals.

  10. Today, the term experimental seems to be a “passe par tout” term to refer to things that don’t fall into the commercial way, but not necessarily the result of experimentation. This has been bugging my mind for a while because I’m very interested in what is needed to create original images.

    Touch designer seems to have something going on in this sense. Structuring images through flux diagrams and coding is very enticing. It’s kind of overwhelming right now because it is a new set of metaphors to take in. I’m excited about the possibilities that working with Touch may bring to my creative process, to literally think outside the box and start using physical space and objects like canvases.

    It’s going to take time because my mind is trying to grasp Maya right now…But the pay-off seems to be worth the effort.

  11. Ryan Gillis says:

    Touch Designer is amazing. That being said- I didn’t understand what was happening until the last half hour. We were being shown such a huge variety of projects, I was having a real hard time comprehending what ‘touch’ was.
    So I think that next time, they should open up the seminar with their demonstration of the software. Because when I saw Jarett organically writing programs and inputting data from sensors just by clicking buttons, I couldn’t believe it. I was bloooown awaay.
    The interface was simultaneously intimidating and natural feeling. It seems like there would be a pretty big learning curve, but the payoff worth it. I once programmed an arduino to activate a motor whenever people passed by, talking data from an infrared sensor. That took me a whole semester. I was so awful at programming, everyday was a strain.
    So I’m very grateful to have Touch Designed on my radar now, so I never have to work in Processing again.

  12. Einar Baldvin Arnason says:

    I felt a little lost during the beginning of the presentation but I soon caught on what was going on after the chaotic presentation settled in. I can see huge possibilities with this type of technology, particularly in terms of events and installations, particularly since it would free the artist from (some of) the technical difficulties usually encountered for projects of this kind. It is hard to present live events in the lecture format on 2-d video and the presentation I found a bit underwhelming, it may also be of course because I am primarily a filmmaker and my interest does not really fall into this type of work.

  13. Andrew Malek says:

    Being presented with Touch had a somewhat humbling effect on me. This is not to say that the software looks to difficult to learn, but rather being able to fully unwrap and master the full potential of Touch could take a lifetime. As opposed to working with film where the creator is limited by the mechanism and medium the new digital arena is without limits and touch is a perfect example of this development.

    There were clips in the presentation, like the basketball court, where it appeared that Touch is inching closer to Star Trek’s Holodeck. In addition the fact that touch is a real-time application means that one can play a movie as a performance. These two attributes of Touch are both deep rabbit holes that have incredible potential and I can’t wait to get my hands on it and see what it possible.

  14. Liffany Chen says:

    It’s interesting to think that just 10 years ago Flash was still relatively basic. And now I’m finding out that TouchDesigner doesn’t even require coding?! Crazy!
    I had no idea it was behind so much! Raves, concerts–totally live visual music. I haven’ t been to Disneyland since I was 4, but when I decide to go in the future, I’ll be able to say that I know that TouchDesigner is responsible for the content at the interactive media booths.

    I’ve never used this product, and I’ve only just heard about it last week. But I would like to try it out. It appears to be a very diverse software that can be used for various project aspects. But I think I might be just playing around with the software; nothing serious can be really expected since visual music isn’t particularly in my field of interest.

  15. Joseph Yeh says:

    “Whoa!” was my reaction. The work presented by Jarrett and Greg is the epitome of beautiful art style. I feel like this type of work could be implemented beautifully in all types of films. I love the galactic colors and comic landscapes. I often hear that story is king, but these wonderful architectural projections and live music visuals spell the power of great visuals.
    I feel that the future of animation lies in this type of work- ones that take advantage of modern technology and visuals of today.

  16. megatoe says:

    I would have to say this presentation is my favorite so far. I was extremely impressed by the projection work that is done in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at Dubai, the Sydney Opera House, and other parts around the world. Jarrett Smith and Greg Hermanovic truly presented a way to incorporate animation into the physical world, which brings animation to a whole new level. These animations opens a lot of opportunities and branches across a variety of industries, such as fashion, concerts, opera, gaming, and even theme park attractions.

    I also appreciate Jarrett and Greg’s demonstration on the use of Touch Designer. Although it looks very different from other software that I have used before, but I would be thrilled to have a chance to learn it. I would love to try projecting my animation in an interesting space, accompanied by sound and music. Look forward to meeting with them again in the Touch Designer workshop soon!

  17. Emily Chung says:

    It is the best seminar so far. The whole animation were so beautiful and interesting! I love the colors and design. Also I like the idea that animation can actually interact with people.
    This type of technology will be really popullar in the future.I hope we can have this type of the class in USC. Looking forward to the Touch Designer workshop, too!

  18. Chen Huang says:

    It is so interesting that the co founder of Houdini ,Greg Hermanovic came to our seminar as a guest. I actually attended the usc Houdini workshop in my first semester here. And I am so surprised that they managed to use their creativity to use animation to interact with people. It definitely refreshed my understanding. I now keep asking myself, what the future will be like.

    The most beneficial I have got from it is the different kinds of art styles they used to develop the software. It gives me a lot of ideas about how art can be applied in different materials.

  19. Matthew Steidl says:

    It was a privilege to get to hear from the software developers themselves; I don’t recall getting that kind of perspective since the inventor of Photoshop, John Knoll, came to class to talk about his work. Although our studies of animation are not limited merely to learning software, we do owe these guys a lot for creating tools to help us do our work better.

    I think the building projections were among their most beautiful work, particularly the mosque in Dubai. It would have been wonderful to experience one of their interactive installations fisthand, but as other people have mentioned, even the videos were able to convey a lot of their energy. These guys are definitely passionate about what they do, and are helping to spread appreciation of animation to new and interesting places (like yachts!).

  20. Nesli Erten says:

    I always have a bit of difficulty writing these blogs when the speakers presenting blow me so much out of the water I don’t know what to do with myself. Afterward, no sentence seems good enough. Derivative Visual Experiences made possible through programs like Houdini and Touch have expanded the world of animation to new territories and proportions that I didn’t know existed. I’m thoroughly taken back by the possibilities there are in using these program. I can’t wait to embark on projects using these new technologies as soon as I can. I hope the workshop with Touch materializes. Thank you for exposing us to these opportunities, it is greatly appreciated.

  21. Eric Tortora Pato says:

    Sorry for my delays and missing the class after this. The work, programs and ideas that these guys all presented were astounding. The modular system mixed with live response is inspired. However I think the most intriguing direction is for the the integration of touch and motion control interfaces into the active manipulation of these programs. Things like the iPad, kinect, other motion and touch controls seem like they could be immeasurably well suited to effects and reactive creation. Part of why I say this is seeing and experiencing first hand how well suited they are to music, in particular to modern recreations of the same kind of node based synths that inspired these programs
    In the first place. I can’t wait to see there application and integration with what, in the end, is visual synthesis.

  22. Louis Morton says:

    This presentation made me realize that the 2015 future of Back to the Future 2 is already here. Jarrett Smith did an great job of presenting the bountiful possibilities of the Touch Design software. The presentation was a bit dense and maybe slightly overwhelming, which is a sign that Mr. Smith and Co. have already done a lot with this software. In the midst of all the flashy CG and monster size electronic music shows, my favorite application of the software was actually in the Shanghai class. It was great to see the interactivity of the software used in subtle and everyday ways. I’m also glad that a piece by Norman McLaren was screened early on. Sometimes I can’t really get into abstract CG work, but seeing this piece helped put things in perspective. I wonder how McLaren would use this software today. I’d love to see his minimal abstract work presented in an interactive setting. The interface seemed intuitive enough to me that I can see this bridging the gap between software and artist. I can’t wait to see what is created using Touch in the future!

  23. Amy Lee Ketchum says:

    I was amazed at the possibilities offered by this software. It sounds like a cool way to bridge fine art installation and animation. It seems like a technology that can either be used towards really minimal ends and also quite elaborate applications. I really hope that there is a USC workshop!

  24. Javier B says:

    Touch Designer is an amazing program that is changing film ,entertainment, art. Its changing the way we watch and inactive with media. The evaluation the tool in the only a decade is quite amazing. The most interesting parts of the of the presentation for myself the interactive part of it. The Disney interactive media ride of Finding Nemo , surfing turtle animation and interaction with the audiences is a new front that has not been tap to its fullest extent.

  25. TouchDesigner looks like a very interesting and powerful program. I do not think it is a program that I will ever need for the kinds of projects I work on, but it was very cool to see nonetheless. I got the sense that we really only saw a very small fragment of the full range of uses of the program in class.
    When they gave their demonstration of how to use the program, trying to show how easy it was to do something simple, I was lost and confused very quickly. It did not seem very easy to use to me. But then, I have absolutely no experience in node based programs. Perhaps if I was more well versed in that kind of software their presentation would have made more sense to me.

  26. Brandon Lake says:

    TouchDesigner is an amazing program. Allowing for customization with a digital format that would originally only be available to those of a strong programming background. Once being a computer science major and eventually growing to hate it, the prospect of minimal code with a satisfactory output sounds like a dream come true and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Jarrett and Greg provided a great introduction to the program and the possibilities of it all. I was happy to have attended the class.

  27. Lanzhu Jian says:

    This totally blow my mind. I wish I could do something with the information and the skill they provide us and used in my own film. I love this way this art work turns out, I love the art interactive with music and real life. It’s the whole new experience to me and looking forward to have workshops in USC. It will really cool if we can do something with it.

  28. Simo Liu says:

    It is still unbelievable for me to think that technology and arts can be combined perfectly. I’m very curious to think how to realize them. The interactive media arts I always think it not only need the beauty of the arts, the creation of idea and also the realization of technology. Each point is very important. And it is really hard I think to combine them perfectly. These works showed in seminar is amazing. Each of them was with different styles and different ways to interactive with people. The traditional art form is just let people to watch or see. But this kind of form make people have interaction with it and the effect that interaction produced also become the part of the art. That is amazing, creative and random. I wish to take some classes about interactive media to learn more about that.

  29. Linda Jules says:

    touch designer = amazingness. I was very glad to see a great interactive program featured in our class. I do think that maybe next time we can skip the small tutorial, because it cause a lot of confusion. Instead, just seeing more great examples of how the software has been used in the past is enough to make for a great presentation!

  30. Di Gu says:

    Touch designer is amazing. This is one of my most impressive seminars this semester. The interactive media’s development give animation varies possibilities.
    Animation won’t only restrict on films, or commercials anymore. It can be widely used in many fresh ways. I am looking forward to watch this kind of performance at the scene.

  31. Laura Cechanowicz says:

    This has been one of my favorite presentations, especially since I would love to work with Touch Designer. Jarrett and Greg were dynamic presenters who effectively conveyed their enthusiasm about their powerful and unique product. I think the thing that really sets Touch apart from many other software engines is that it is designed specifically for artists, and it makes building complex systems seem like a breeze when you can create them visually. I do agree with Linda that for beginners it may be best to see examples of the work people can create in Touch. Somehow in the setting of a large classroom it was not as easy to understand how the system works with a quick tutorial.

    I have since had the pleasure of working with Jarrett and Ben in a Touch Designer workshop, and within two days I was able to quickly learn how to use Touch to create a wide range of creative projects. We also built a system that utilizes the Kinect in about one hour (with Ben’s help!) This experience helped solidify Touch in my mind as a powerful tool for creative production. I’m looking forward to using it and learning more about it in the future, and I hope we will have a workshop at USC sometime soon!

  32. LaMar Ford says:

    My question is why did I not have this when my friends and I worked on rear screen projections? This unique program is great for instillation. It would have been perfect for my friends’ work on the theatrical play “Dead City”. What I notice about the program is people who are familiar with programs like Nuke and After Effects can create sophisticated displays. With programs like this interactive media is becoming more accessible and easier to create content.

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