Help Needed: Difficult Things to Learn for Beginners

We’ve started this new beginners forum as a place where newcomers to TouchDesigner can talk about any issues they’re struggling with as they start using the program. For now, we’re limited to our small (but slowly expanding) beta-group: some of whom have a large amount of Touch knowledge, some who are still exploring all TouchDesigner has to offer. We want to try and help those first-time explorers out by putting together a section in our wiki specifically for them. Also, we don’t want to overwhelm anyone joining the Touch community so we’re going to limit ourselves to ~30 things for now and trying to keep the individual articles short (1-2 pages max). Hopefully, it will be like the Reader’s Digest of TouchDesigner.

What we need to know now is simple: What are those things you wished you had known when you started using TouchDesigner? What are the things you still wish someone would show you to do cause you know it must be there somewhere but you just can find it? We’ve come up with a short list of ideas, but we need more. Please post any ideas you have in response to this sticky and over the next few weeks and months, we’ll start adding articles to the Derivative wiki so that the information is available for our new users. (And if you want, you can always add the wiki article yourselves! :smiley: )

Here are some suggestions we’ve come up with:

  • Getting Components from a palette
  • Rendering the simplest scene
  • How nodes connect together
  • Exporting from CHOPs to Parameters
  • To and From DATs
  • For what do I use different views?
  • Inputs and outputs of components
  • How to use a Value Ladder
  • Getting Media into TouchDesigner
  • Navigating in a Network
  • What’s an Expression?
  • Making a Motion Curve with Channel Editor
  • What is a Clone?

Table DATs - how to use them, what are they good for would be my biggest request

all those suggestions sound good. i’m keen to know more about attaching chops to parameters. i have always found video tutorials to be the best way to learn, personally (the lynda site has good examples of this). so just watching you make stuff in touch that addresses the areas you have itemized would be ideal. if it were for example, possible to conceptualize a project that used all these features, perhaps in separate 10-15 min clips, that would be the most useful learning tool i can imagine. i’m currently editing and annotating a project that jarrett did with me that took this approach, though i don’t think we necessarily set out the create the sessions with as clear of an agenda as you have. in our case, jarrett was actually generously helping me with a project, and we just ‘camtasiaed’ it all. in any case, i should have them ready and then i think they’ll go up the wiki soon. i hope they will provide a resource for other beginners, and may be they can serve as a model for other tutorials. honestly, if pro’s like you were just to tape your noodlings in touch (ideally narrating whatr you’re doing in there), i, for one, would watch them religiously.

The COPY SOP - we need a better explanation of how to pass parameters to and from it.

there’s so mucch can be done with it that is not obvious form the documentation so far.

I wish also there was a way to make this process more in keeping with the logic of the rest of the interface in touch.


some might have missed this explanation of panels etc. …

Actually, someone at derivative should copy and paste appropriate parts to the empty help pages for

Panel CHOP

Button Component


How about:
1) Building a simple character and setting up simple control rig
Nothing nuts, just simple modeling with pulling a few points around, and maybe shape animate it, or Lattice, or single IK chain.

  1. Video in

  2. audio file load

  3. Movie file as texture

  4. program the VCR :wink:

I’ve put up the first version of this page: … chDesigner

Feedback is appreciated :smiley:

Here’s my list of beginner to maybe intermediate topics . . .

  • TOP overview. Some examples of common things to do, TOPs to CHOPs, when to have multiple renders vs. trying to fit everything into one.

  • I’ll second the Copy SOP . . . lot’s of fun stuff can be done with it, as well as it can so quickly lead to poor performance. Some discussion of Copy vs. Sweep.

  • SOPs to CHOPs and back. Some examples of SopTo, Channel, Event

  • Optimization and building efficient networks. Some basics on rendering flow and common things that cause poor performance, understanding and using the performance monitor. I know this is mostly covered in existing docs and some threads I’ve seen on the forum, be nice to gather into one tutorial.

  • Clones. What are they, when and why to use them . . . something I don’t know yet.

  • Same as Jim, building a simple character.

  • Modeling basics.

  • Basics of hooking up MIDI controllers.

  • Pointers to relevant Houdini tutorials and books, I’ve found them very useful.

  • As many example synths as possible, that is the single best way to learn Touch. Ideally create 15-20 examples scenes that cover the begginer topics.

  • More tutorial videos would be great, as Nodus suggests just recording a session while an experienced Touch head noodles around would be very helpful.

Well, new users want pretty pictures, fast. So with TOPs that should be fairly easy to figure out by playing, but when it comes to modeling and especially texturing/shading/lightning a scene, it can quickly become “frustrating”. So I think some SOP/uv/texture/render articles and examples would be a good idea. The geo can be fairly simple (but more complex than a box and a sphere (maybe 3d fonts would be good)), but the texturing, shading and lightning should be stunning . After-all having SOPs is one of touch’s greatest advantages over other 3D authoring environments.

A Vote to Achim.

I am a newcomer to TD community.
Greg triggered me again when he last visit Tokyo to support Richie (Plastikman.)
For instance, please take a look at this. Enjoy! :laughing:

In the last weekend I had a little struggle to setup TD077 FTE environment on both iMac(late2009) for me and MacBook(late2008, alumi) for my son, like this:

  1. Backing up user data and environment of Mac OS environment using TimeMachine.
  2. Backing up user data and environment of Win7 and delete partition of exisiting bootcamp + Win7 environment to save memory (4GB available on both Mac.)
  3. Recreating Mac OS partition and recovered the whole original environment using TimeMachine.
  4. Assigning a new partition for bootcamp + WinXP.
  5. Restoring user data and MS Office etc… on Win XP with the latest sp3 patches. (very time consuming)
  6. Downloading TD077 FTE latest build and requesting key. (no key were sent per email so I had to logged on to Derivative web site and had to push it to send key per email.)
  7. Tetsu (who posted some art pieces in this BBS) gave me a few pieces of .toe files. I copied it on desktop and double click them, but nothing happened. This was because Japanese Windows/Mac OS use two bytes characters which TD077 FTE does not support. I copied them under c: directory and, finally, it worked fine on the low end built-in GeForce video card with 256MB main memory shared, which apparently falls short the minimum requirements described in this BBS.
  8. After that, I had to solved many more small issues such as copying my iTunes libraries to WinXP environment, hooking up Apple genuine bluetooth mouse, hooking up USB type 3G wireless network adaptor, VPN setup to my office network etc … for both XP/Mac OS environments.

I had a strong drive to get my own TD077 FTE environments, so I planned and did the time-consuming procedures but I assume newcomers would say good bye in the 6 - 7th steps, or, just read minimum requirement of hardware resources and would never come back again.

I assume preparations before starting up TD077 FTE is very time-consuming and requires a bit technical backgrounds so I guess Derivative should take some notes on:

  1. An affordable choice of specific target machine configuration from time to time for new comers (I suppose they should be college students.)
    For the target users I strongly recommend MacBook Alumi, MacBook Pro, New MacBook Air(11-13") for 2011.
    It’s rumored that Sandy Bridge would be built-in for those affordable MacBook line-ups instead of GeForece, so I do hope Derivative to study OpenGL compatibilities of the new architecture by borrowing prototype from Intel and/or Apple.

The beauty of Apple is to support box, drivers, OS (incl. Windows) and related

input/output gadgets (ie. iPhone/iPad) in consistency.

Over 90% of target users of TD might use Mac/iPad as MIDI sequencer and

authoring platforms with Max/MSP and KORG iELECTRIBE/iMS-20 etc…

so I do hope Derivative should get one Apple and be prepared for. at least,

WinXP/7 on both bootcamp and VMWare fusion together with Sandy Bridge

for 2011. ideally, a port to Mac OS X would be the best but I guess it is not

realistic with the current resources.

  1. Write quick start-up guide with a specific target machines for beginners in details.
  2. Add more 5 min. Vimeo Tutorials with sample .toe/.tox files. (Visuals are better than scripting in the first place.) They should not be fake ones.
  3. With the limitation of resources at Derivative, I do hope ya’ll, TD advanced evangelists and enthusiasts, to post a bunch of cool & small art pieces (cos it must be running on low-end GeForce) for students togetherwith 5 min. Vimeo Tutorials with it and encourage beginners to play with for fun. This would accelerate rapid increase of the number of “critical mass (registered users).” They would carry their MacBook + TD077 FTE with small art pieces at a small party and VJ events and would rapidly let the rest of the world know the unbeatable authoring and playing tools on words-of-mouth basis.
  4. A half of the “mass” group want to be more creative in a few weeks.
    Then, Derivative encourage them to begin with “drag & drop” things, say,
  1. Live video in (using built-in cam)
  2. Audio file load
  3. Image/movie file load as texture on a simple polygons/primitive
  4. Interactivity using mouse gesture + audio file
    etc … be more 2D focused with minimum 3D in order not to scare beginners.

A vote to Achim, again.

I guess 10% out of the half of “mass” group would like to step up procedural 3D to become a big guy like Richie, then, give them pre-set 3D animation template (.toe/.tox) and encourage to hook it up with motion control device like iPhone/Touch OSC preset.

I recall, in mid-1980s, when Namco and SEGA bought a bunch of Prisms for production of Ridge-racer on a 3D focused arcade game box, we made a fake “how to make Ridge Racer” demo/tutorials for new comers.
1)Draw a spline curve
2)Copy cross section of highway along the spline curve
3)Skin it to create procedural 3D highway model
4)Place a cube primitive and add motion along the spline curve
5)After motion editing set, replace the cube with a realistic racing car model import from a 3D model libraries (we did not force customer to learn procedurism to create car/character.)
6)Fine tune a spline curve in 1). and everything changed in harmony with the beauty of procedurism.

We need a story like this to attract and tutor beginners.

Thank you for reading.

@kakamakura, yokuso!
wow, what a wonderful video of Greg with hair!

yes I agree that making touch accessible to lower-end machines would be great. however, I think it is Derivative’s attitude of no-compromise that makes the software what it is now and their aiming at high-end machines. Gaming machines have brought workstation-quality graphics down to ‘affordable’ (if only by highly obsessed people willing to give up food etc.).

It would be great for touch to at least run without crashing on some lower end machines though because sometimes I just want to sit and design control panels and try out simple ideas that don’t really need the full power of the GPU /CPU.

double-byte characters are something that would open touch up to Japanese artists more. There is some discussion on this viewtopic.php?f=17&t=692&p=8325 so it’s just a matter of more people wanting it to persuade Derivative to move it up their giant to-do list.

I think that more beginners will come to touch from a ‘motion graphics’ angle and want more control over text and examples to get them started.

How about start up with a several cool pieces of 5 min. hands-on with Vimeo, sample files and narration (= written out script) page by page.

Ideally, beginners (incl. me and my son) want to learn TD077 FTE specific glossary (terminology?) with “fun” with the cool art pieces on the hands-on process.
Russ’ 5 min Vimeo tutorials are not the best but “better.”

Ask Greg for further advice.

In the past decade, the attitude was surely “right.”
Greg started Derivative with as a few men company with Rob Bairos and steadily growing 10 - 12 people companies with terrific “hard-core” user base. I was very happy to hear this from Greg in this recent visit.

Nowadays, $1,000 MacBook w/GeForce is far faster than $50,000 PersonalIRIS in early 1980s like you show on my YouTube channel.
A iPhone is also faster than arcade box in 1980s on which RidgeRacer was running.
In short, the difference of $5,000 high-end monster box and $1,000 of MacBook is almost nothing.

In other words, to get “critical mass (roughly 90 - 95% of the group is a common people like me” involved with TD community is one of the most important factors for both Derivative and Early adaptors like y’all for the coming decade to grow faster and bigger.

In my history with Greg in 1980s-1990s, we both enjoyed good (fair? so-so?, whatever) sales in a several leading-edge industries like Namco/SEGA.
SESI, then, enjoyed the same things in Hollywood.
We did not forget to offer schools a big discount for a set of SGI/Prisms/Houdini in order to supply animators to the industries. Like Softbank, in the launch period, give iPhone 3G/iPad 3G for free with 2 years commitment. (ie. Prisms/Houdini was positioned as our important future revenue sources and SGI was “worthless and substantially free” in my marketing focus.
But I recall we somewhat misunderstand something.
“High-end” or “leading-edge” tool and digital content is “double-edged sword”, especially, in Japan. It is too much costly in terms of support for software vendors, as well as end users.
Thus, big investments suffered those big industries in 1980s-1990s and was merged by the Bad Money.
As you see here, our unique subcultures influencing Western countries are based on hundreds of years of “Wabi-Sabi” aesthetics in its nature.

From a commercialism point of view, “Bad money drives out good” like we saw with Microsoft, Autodesk (3DS Max) and motiondive(?).

Bad money always buy arms and pillages food as you see in communiist China and U.S. in the recent decades.
Similar things happens in software/web service industries in the past two decades.

I’ve never seen your artworks yet, but I guess it’s good for you, in you specific case.
In general, we, common people is looking foward “a super man” or “a super star” from a few % from a “critical mass” as in the case with art scene and entertainment industries to grow healthy hierarchy structures of user community.

At least, Greg is carefully watching to grow this “mass” for the coming decade with over 20 yrs. of marketing/technical experiences since he launced SESI with Kim Davidson.

I think this is a universal (ie. not specific to Japan) RFE from the rest of the world, but priority should be to fix TD077Pro for the on-going high-end users due to the limitation of resources, I guess.

Once, we Japanese thought alphabet was “cool” but we realize that Japanese characters are cool, cooler, coolest, too, like ya’ll see in most Western countries.

ImageSearch TouchDesigner Tutorial … Search_Vid
…inspires me new installation style and VJs events to be happened in the near future in Tokyo and all over the world (common people like us get frustrated with the stupid government parties and too many stupid and flassy politicians) to cast strong political messages without a fear of copyright protection.

My small personal anxiety is that Microsoft fonts is not cool with which TD is running…

100% agree with that.

I also agree with Achim that example files are a great asset to learning. Video tutorials do have an advantage, but you can place notes into nodes to help users understand what is happening.

As I step back into Touch. I’m looking forward to finding Designer files to play with. Excited to see that the Touch Player is back!

im not having nay luck finding any tutorial on suimple audio analysis of audio in…

to make any audio reactive piece you should be able to at least pull out some frequency bands easily… lets say mid low and high from a typical music performance…

is there a simple toe set up that does this…

im inspired by the mutek alvo performance and rasternation ars performances these seem to be doing something similar…

any links to vid tuts im missing?

the audio spectrum vid in tutorials is missing?
actually its not missing just not loading in chrome on mac or on win7…


Take a look at this e-book: … urces.html

All our video tutorials are here: … :Tutorials

And a tutorial based in audio analysis is here: … veform_Vid

This tutorial is on the advanced side, but there is an accompanying .tox file (use latest build 17760) and lots of great tips in there. Hopefully you find it helpful!


Thanks for the tips on tutorial links and tox file… i was very dissapointed to be offed to buy a ebook by a forum member… your post restores my faith…

come on man :unamused: