Adding Controllers for Interactive Design / by Stephen Bontly

The journey continues into the world of TouchDesigner. As I become more comfortable in the programming environment, my mind is starting to take control and I have less limitations. Fast prototyping definitely creates a closer connection to the interfaces I am producing. Within minutes I am creating sliders, knobs, color pickers, buttons, and a number of other sensors I can quantify. Both digital and analog tools allow me to custom build the user interface for whatever environment needed. If it ends up being controlled by a light tech, the audience interacting with the installation or me, giving a performance, each component can be designed to enhance the overall experience.  As an installation artist this become very important when dealing with different types of projects. Many conditions create different scenarios that you will need to cater to when designing the final product. 

This project was a little more than an overview of how DAT's, SOP's, CHOP's, and TOP's work together to create a final piece. Each operator family is vital to completing a project and I have color coded the above image for easier referencing. For this example, I have rendered a polygon sphere, with a controlled texture (pink), and has been manipulated by many others properties in parallel (yellow).  Lighting elements (purple) have been added to the scene giving the object depth and color, which can be manipulated by the control panel as well as the attached MIDI controller. It is relevant to note how lighting can play a major role in perception shifts for people, even through a digital interface.  Many tricks can be easily accomplished that can be highly entertaining.

The rotation is physically controlled through an Arduino Uno with photo-resistors (green). As hands block the light from the input of the resistor, It creates the rotation effect. Ultimately the users hands are hovering over the object and creating a simple movement control in open air space. It really begins to give a surreal feeling. Another analog input, a potentiometer, adds another physical connection to the experience by creating a denser object.  Working with electronics definitely keeps it interesting.

It was important to me to add multiple types of communication (red) methods within the project. Using both Serial and MIDI data allow for more flexible control to the final projection and really engage the artist with their audience during a live interactive performance. For example, behind the scenes I would be using the digital interface with a MIDI controller for queues and system monitoring, while custom interfaces would be built for the front-end interface, essentially entertainment. Before the final output, I created a feedback network to add more depth the the final result (blue).

The next step is to get this projected onto 3D objects. My next post will be on upgrading my projection methods into the 3D environment where Camschnappr can be applied to multiple projectors. Lets see where it will take me. Looking into the future, i will begin to play with DMX512 systems with Art-Net as well as custom LED lighting. Shift registers can get nasty! I can only dream of the day where a Kinect will come into play.

Stay Tuned World.