Interactive Spacial Media Design

Instructors: Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Kraus / The Node Institute, Dr. Sabine Zierold / Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Media Architecture is characterized by the overlap of physical structures and more or less virtual media and information layers that complement each other. Just as much as a physical structure needs to take the laws of physics, materials and environmental conditions into account, the interactive media engines need to be carefully designed and skillfully engineered to achieve a smooth, functional and inspiring experience for the users. The use of realtime engines like VVVV, TouchDesigner, OpenFrameworks or Unity demands - just like Architecture – an approach that oscillates between design and engineering. In a three day, intense workshop, the participants will learn to use the visual programming environment TouchDesigner, a software known to be on the forefront of hybrid media installations that incorporate sensors, 3D realtime rendering, lighting, data bases, lasers, audio and robotics into holistic experiences. Being more of a programming language then a design software it is essential to convey a basic understanding that enables the students to move on with their own ideas. Further more it is important to give students guidelines what can be achieved with limited experience and technical as well as budgetary constrains to avoid frustrations and impossible designs at a later stage. To that end the workshop includes two more days at later stages in the project, in which consultations about the students design projects empower them to define a realistic approach that doesn't compromise the original idea, yet can be implemented within the constrains of the project.

In this intense weekend workshop, students will receive an introduction into visual programming with TouchDesigner. Beginning with a general overview of the applications TouchDesigner is being used for, explaining benefits and risks, the workshop continues to establish basic techniques of interactive design and programming strategies in TouchDesigner. This includes working with 2D textures generators, expands into procedural modeling as well as optimization of assets like 3D models, media files and data structures. Further more students will understand how to connect external input like live camera feeds, sensors, audio and data sources to their content engines as well as control the outer world through actuators and more specifically control protocols like OSC, MIDI, DMX/Artnet, Serial and Ambisonics. Techniques like projection and LED mapping, geometry instancing and channel wrangling are put into context and shown as nothing but parts of an overall approach that can be extended once understood. Technical information is always related to design challenges. Best practices from real world productions are established as a framework in which creative freedom can flourish while avoiding traps along the individual pathway.

When the students have worked out tangible design ideas, they consult with the instructors to discuss further proceedings.
The aim is to create awareness for potential inconsistencies, misunderstandings and threats in their approach and thus guarantee a smooth design process with a realistic horizon.  In a final consultation, leading up to the production process, the instructors makes sure that each project can be achieved. They fills in knowledge gaps and safeguards the quality and stability of the final results in coordination with the students and the project supervisors.

This workshop supports the participants of the "Media Architecture Biennale 2020 #FuturesImplied" project 
condcted by Jun. Prof. Reinhard König at Bauhaus- University Weimar