Company Post

Licht.Pfad's Moving Light Performance

Stanislav Glasov came through with this, his words, "rough" (we don't find it so) video documentation in time for our review of Week01 2014. We could think of no more appropriate way to begin these weekly updates of new and developing work from the community than with a New Year's Eve party - Licht.Pfad's brilliant Moving Light Performance at Arma17, Moscow. Thank-you Stanislav for the quick response!

It should be mentioned up front that Stanislav and Margo Kudrina performed an 18hour set at the party which lasted a full 2.5 days! Bring in the new year!


Stanislav tells us: Our software, developed in Derivative's TouchDesigner 088 for LJing (VJing with Lights) gives us the ability for the fast setup and control of Moving Light ( Sharpy etc) in Real 3D Space. So we can load a 3D model of some location, set up the moving lights, calibrate them and program the generative sound reactive presets of light orientations in order to make a light VJing, based on music. At this party we controlled a total of 24 moving lights (Terbly and Martin), Blinders, Lamp arrays and smoke machines. 

As illustrated in the video some of the finely tuned and highly controllable capabilities of Licht.Pfad's LJing application controlled via a remarkably designed GUI include:

  • an animated geometry target where a predetermined target point is animated with expressions and some or all of the lights are focused on and following that point;
  • the variation square wave pattern where Stanislav created generative patterns based on different wave shapes (a square wave in the example shown here) which were added to augment the base light directions;
  • the beat-based sequencer with which up to 16 light positions and patterns can be set up and switched automatically based on the beat detector, each 4/8/16/32 and so on;
  • switch the dimmer on beat uses the same principe as the beat detector to switch the intensity of the lights;
  • and finally, precise targets in real 3D space enables the really precise positioning of lights. As the example in this video demonstrates the Ljs could effortlessly and tirelessly target the mirrors mounted on the wall to get the reflected rays down onto the dancefloor.

Altogether the very fine art and craft of LJing brought 18 hours of sound-reactive bounciness to the evening's revelry which without doubt was an admirable and forward-thinking way to bring in 2014.

Background / Perspective / Building Tools

Though relatively new to TouchDesigner, Stanislav is a veteran Houdini user and visual effects artist who was inspired by node architecture and then "fell in love" with Houdini's procedural paradigm. He transitioned into working as a VJ and producing electronic music 7 years ago and started working on video mapping productions with other Russian studios. Stanislav is very adept at builiding his own tools and a few months ago we talked with him about this practice in respect to his DMX Light Control System and the Auto VJ Machine. Below is some of that conversation.

Derivative: Stanislav, why do you build your own tools?

S: From the moment I started to Vjing I always gave heed to discrepancy between a light engineer`s and a VJ`s work. At that time I got the idea to produce my own tool to control all aspects of a visual show with maximal response to incoming sound. All the VJ software I had used before did not give me enough sound synchronization and little oportunity to program logic. Though TouchDesigner can have some small latency the results it produces are much more impressive.

Light Control System

S: The first time I worked with the Light Control System was for an installation at Arma17. In order to produce it I created the first version of my own AutoVJ System with integrated Light Control. After testing it at different events, for example at a concert for Red Snapper, I decided to rewrite the patch. The current Light Control System can be used as a standalone tool, but it also became part of my next tool the AutoVJ System.

D: Can you explain the basic idea of what you were trying to accomplish?

S: I wanted to create the tool to control an array of bulbs with maximal variability and for it to be responsive to sound. The installation also needed to work without sound input. In the current state of the installation it can control each count of DMX channels and it controls the light-array in 10 different modes. During the creation process I learned a lot of principles of UI programming in TouchDesigner and have been developing those ever since.

AutoVJ Machine

The movie below shows an installation produced with AutoVJ Machine v 0.2. The Auto VJ Machine mixes 6 Full HD streams based on beat and spectrum analyses of incoming music. It has a user interface for relatively inexperienced operators that provodes controls to all aspects of mapping.

D: What comes first Stanislav, the idea for the tool or the idea for the installation or project?

S: Actually, first comes the projects, after that I want to reuse the setup and start to build the tools.

The installation below was made for the Sensimo Festival Re:view Party @ Closer Club, Kiev. Here we controlled a big array of addressable LEDs using Artnet in the same way as you would using the software Madrix, but we used TouchDesigner instead - as a point of honour really- in order to achieve the integration between the LEDs and the video projection setup. We used an image library of Ukrainian Folk Art (because of terrible server power), switched by the beat detector.

D: What next?

S: I want to improve all my current tools in order to make them more modular and reusable on other installtions. I want to make the setup process more automatical as well as improve the GUI. I am also planning to move in the direction of kinematic installations. I have some ideas about the videomapping of kinematik objects and want learn to control the steppers (motors). Unfortunately it requires a lot money to do that research, so I'm waiting for next projects to take in this direction.

Stanislav currently lives and works in Berlin.

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