3D Mapping Under Control, Literally / by Stephen Bontly

Ok so I have picked up on production in the past days. Since really diving into TouchDesigner, I cannot seem to stop. I feel like something is about to happen. Now it is time to take my work into the next level. Over the past few days I have been developing a controller for monitoring 3D mapped objects and their animations. A basic VJ controller if you'd like to call it that.

This project consisted of using camschnappr on 2 projectors and implementing both pre-made visuals with C4D and Ae, and real time visuals with TouchDesigner. The object was a simple cube (see below video), but its simplicity reflects only to the project time-frame. I have not reached the point to start creative production on my sculptures.

What interested me was the interface. I am still quite new at creating custom buttons and sliders, however I do understand very well what is needed to create the right interactions with each presentation. Within  the controller, I created 3 viewing screens to understand what is being projected; an individual monitor for both styles of visuals and the overall output of combined layers. Below the preview monitors I have an interactive feature that allows for real-time manipulation of the visuals. It starts with a cross-fader between the imported media and custom animations, also including a speed control and rotation transformation. I added an extra strobe feature for the 3rd layer that I am starting to implement into the rest of the control panel. Next to the 4 sliders there is a larger slider that is the video content selector. This chooses files from the computer that will be projected onto the surface. Finally I have added a frames per second monitor to make sure that I'm not running too slow when performing.

The next addition to the right is under construction at the moment, however it is operational. I want to be able to quickly create presets and have access to them when needed. This is for multiple reasons during prototyping and the final product in performances and installations. The control panel makes use of creating dictionaries that are stored and then referenced when needed. What I am thinking about is when to use them, why and how. There will be overall presets needed for the entire composition, such as brightness, hue, saturation, contrast, etc., but I am finding similarities in this concept with Resoulme's preset creator for effects. Over time I think that my software will start to become the same.

This preset controller has basic titles but can be adapted for any parameter. At this point I am creating easier manipulation within my parameters.  The importance of having presets cannot be forgotten because of its contribution to queue's for performances. Having these immediate changes gives the technician total control of the experience. What is interesting to think about is that data manipulation isn't just contained in the digital world anymore. Creating presets for micro controllers will be another fun game!

Even though this project is fully operational there is plenty of work to do to make it performance ready. Pre-loading visuals will eliminate the glitching when transitioning between footage. Adding a 3rd layer for masking, or extra effects  as well as setting up cross-faders between each layer will add more depth to the final output. Reset buttons for transform features will preserve continuity. Music and micro-controller inputs will create an interactive design feature giving the project a life of its own. And most importantly, adding a MIDI mapped interface will let me step out of the computer and work with a physical interface. Another consideration is the aesthetics of the interface. This will come with time. 

All of these additions do not even include the custom visuals and stage design that must be produced as well. A strict workflow exists between modeling, texture mapping and animation translation that will dramatically slow down my production speed, but the tools created by TouchDesigner make the end result really powerful. Time to create a team!

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Stay Tuned World.