Company Post

AdCubes: Pop-Up Video-Mapping from PixelArtworks

PixelArtworks AdCubes is an easy-to-setup video-mapping installation based on a stacked box structure. The cubes can display various forms of video such as a pre-rendered content, audio reactive scenes and social media elements such as tweets.

The ideaology behind the installation is to create a no-fuss approach to mapping for corporate parties and conferences whilst maintaining the same levels of control one would expect to see within a live show. The control panel system contains all of the tools needed to run this from calibration of the projection through to moderating incoming tweets in realtime and is designed to be used by the less tech-savvy with calibration taking no more than ten minutes even for a first time user.

PixelArtworks is a UK-based studio who specialize in projection solutions. They offer a comprehensive range of services and products including large-format building projections, interactive floors, touchscreen tables and an "exclusive sound-reactive video-mapped projection installation that can incorporate live Twitter and photo feeds" called AdCubes which is built in TouchDesigner. We were very excited when a couple of months ago Richard Burns (TouchDesigner specialist and the maker of our tutorial videos) joined the  team.

What follows is a recent dialogue with the PixelArtworks crew about how they have been using TouchDesigner for product development.

Derivative: How did TouchDesigner come to be adopted at PixelArtworks?

PA: PixelArtworks began working with TouchDesigner when our interactive developer Kumpa started working with it. Kumpa's background in Houdini had made him aware of the work Derivative was doing 3 years ago and since then we've been using TouchDesigner more and more. Last November things stepped up dramatically as Richard Burns arrived and brought along knowledge in other areas than 3D such as web programming.

D: How do you use TouchDesigner in your pipeline?

PA: Our Cinema4D and After Effects specialists produce the majority of the creative content alongside our TouchDesigner and Web team who work with the content provided to embed social media aspects and interactive applications. Our creative pipeline has recently become dependent upon TouchDesigner for both interactive applications and our projection mapping systems.

D: Can you detail a bit the making of AdCube and MediaWall?

PA: We have developed as part of our product line-up AdCubes, MediaWall and more recently MIMO (Model In, Movie Out), which is a simple mapping tool developed for our production team to easily map pre-rendered projection shows. We haven't yet adopted Python as our primary language; currently we generally use a webserver which then talks to TouchDesigner via OSC and ties our external components into our applications, a method brought forward from 077.

We are fairly confident we will be moving towards Python very soon with the arrival of the WebSocket DAT in 088. We may actually sway in the other direction and stick with Javascript and Node.JS for our data-driven applications as the foundation is then there to create web applications that tie into our projects with minimum hassle. It's very beneficial to have the flexibility to work with the tools we have experience with and then simply communicate back and forth between the applications.

D: What motivations came into play in the development of AdCubes and what are its core strengths?

PA: AdCubes is not so much about pushing the boundaries of what we can do but rather creating a refined product that is easy to use for somebody with no programming experience. The Cubes only take ten minutes to map, and can be easily customised with clients' own content. We have designed an easy-to-use, intuitive interface that enables our production team to efficiently set them up at an event, where install times are often tight. The Control Panel Component alongside the Render Pick CHOP in TouchDesigner has played a pivotal role in taking what is normally a very technically difficult task and simplifying it for general use.

D: Has TouchDesigner influenced any other product development?

PA: The amount of work we do with TouchDesigner has since increased to a point where it is now integral to our entire workflow. During the past month we've built MIMO to provide a solution for projection mapping complex buildings and sets. MIMO is a 3D projection mapping tool much like Camschnappr which imports an image sequence, warps the content and then renders out a movie file. This system helps us maintain our old, tried and tested workflow whilst bringing in better, more efficient mapping solutions.

Thank-you very much PixelArtworks and we look forward to the next!