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My Learning Journey 04 - Now we're in 3d!!!

Continuing on in my learning with "Absolute Beginner TouchDesigner | From Zero to Hero" by AcrylicCode on youtube, I did not expect us to be jumping to 3d objects so soon, but I'm very excited to so. Most of the operators relating to 3D objects are SOPs, and a new category called COMPS. COMPS seems like it covers a lot of miscellaneous tasks, but a particularly important COMP is the Base COMP, which allows me to break my projects down into sort of sub-compositions.

By creating a base COMP and naming it on the top viewer, I can then double click it and jump into a subspace where I can build my own network. In the TOP operators, there's an Input and Output operator that are particularly useful here; I can bring in outside inputs using the input node an incorporate them into by subnetowrk, and the output operator lets be combine the entire network and take a final visual to bring into the top network. This workspace, I found, is essential when working with 3D objects. I'll usually be using a base to manipuate the 3d object, then output the render.

Here are some of the primitive shapes I can play with:

  • box - a 3d cube
  • rectangle - this is a 3d rectangle which I believe I can manipulate the length, width, and height seperately.
  • sphere - the funnest shape! Why this is called its correct name but a cube is called "box" I'll never understand.
  • superquad - this is an interesting shape. It has the sort of resemblance to a spinning top, and the parameters allow me to adjust its fatness/roundness, or how sharp the two points and circular edge is.
  • merge - merge is sort of the 3d version of the Composite TOP, allowing me to combine two 3d objects into the same space. it doesn't actually blend their shapes, however.

Having been a long time enjoyer of blender, this is a very unusual way for me to work with 3d objects. It's going to take some getting used to. I am curious how amenable touch designer is to something with bones or flexibility? Anyway, here's a couple of modifiers. All of these can interact with CHOPs to create fun movement and shape warping.

  • noise - creates surface noise on a 3d object
  • twist - twists the 3d object around an axis

During this part of the video, the instructor showed demonstrated some interesting options for creating operators using keystrokes. She held down TAB, then SHIFT, and double clicked on an operator in the palette to create two of the same operator on the workspace. This has hinted to me that there are shift key combinations which would allow me to navigate the palette a little more quickly, something I was really hoping for. I will have to play around with it to see what I can discover later.

Converting 3d spaces to video - in order to output a visual that Touchdesigner can use, I have to render the 3d scene I've created. In order to do that I need a Camera COMP, a Light COMP, and a Geometry COMP. As a user of blender, I already have an understanding of what these special objects do and how they create a 3d scene, so I'm relieved that this part wasn't too confusing to me. Finally, I need to use a Render SOP. The render SOP will take all of the information from these three nodes and output it to a video which I can use as a visual. An important note about rendering and resolution -- This was not explained in the tutorial video, but my final compositions would always look warped when they used 3d scenes. The issue was that my render node did not match the resolution of the other TOP nodes I was working with. This took me a little while but I figured it out!


The sixth assignment was an absolute breeze compared to understanding CHOPS in my opinion, but I'm only halfway through the 2 hour tutorial. I'm sure there are more challenging things to come!