Simple Systems for Live Performance: A TouchDesigner Primer – On-demand

Level: Intermediate

Whether at a concert or in a music video, visual effects can do so much to enhance the listener/viewer’s experience and create a lasting impression. This workshop aims to demonstrate how, using TouchDesigner, one can convert MIDI and acoustic audio signal into dynamic visual performances.

Session Learning Outcomes

By the end of these sessions a successful student will be able to:


  • Design and implement generative visual effects which evolve over time

  • Map out a show control system with high-level hooks for updating state in production

  • Create simple audio +/ MIDI signal workflows


  • Persisting/loading custom presets with Python + JSON

  • Map a visualization onto any performance environment, whether physical or digital

Session Study Topics


  • How to build custom UIs with widgets in TouchDesigner

  • Encapsulating new and existing VFX patches in reusable components

  • Basic MIDI input with TouchDesigner


  • Programming advanced actions with Python in TouchDesigner

  • Making custom MIDI mappings which plug into a global control system

  • Outputting anywhere: projection mapping, NDI streaming, DMX / lighting fixtures


  • A computer and internet connection

  • A free (or higher) license of TouchDesigner

  • A text editor for programming, such as Sublime Text 3 (recommended)


  • Webcam and/or microphone

  • A text editor for programming, such as Sublime Text 3 (recommended)

  • Virtual audio routing software (e.g VB Cable on Windows, Soundflower / Loopback Audio on Mac) you can use to send audio to TouchDesigner directly from other software on your computer, such as Spotify

About the workshop leader 

Ben Benjamin is a programmer and performer based in Los Angeles. He is obsessed with the intersection of media, culture, and technology.