Overview: For my capstone project for my Digital Communications program at Humber College I created an interactive audio-visual performance called Pixel Groove Connections. Over the past year, I’ve grown a passion for creating visual art and animations using the software Touchdesigner. Touchdesigner is an incredibly powerful software that allows for so much more than just creating pretty colours and moving shapes (although that’s all I had really used it for). I originally wanted to create some sort of physical, live interactive event or installation for this project, but was unable to due to the ongoing pandemic and health and safety protocols. This was the first of a few challenges that I had to overcome while working on this project, but I soon realized that I could still create something I was passionate about by taking it to an online setting. I came up with the idea of an audio-visual performance, where I could stream a live set of my visuals to some music on Twitch. I wanted this to be a simulation of the feelings and emotions felt during an in-person rave/concert, and to use music and visuals to recreate those feelings that can’t be felt due to the pandemic. I thought this would be a good start for the livestream, but I really wanted to add a level of audience interactivity to it so that it could stand out from being just a regular livestream performance. This however deemed to be one of the greater challenges, as I had never done anything like this before. I knew it was possible though, and that there were resources out there, which gave me the confidence to go through with it. The stream ended up being pretty successful with 43 viewers at its peak. The interactive commands that I created for the audience to use we’re pretty good too, but definitely not perfect. I had a vision in mind for a specific way I wanted them to work, but unfortunately I couldn’t figure it out in time. Overall when considering it was my first time putting together a project like this, I’m pretty happy with the result.
Context and Challenges: As mentioned before, deciding how to alter my project from a physical installation was the first challenge. A classmate and I were both pretty set on doing something like that, so trying to think of a new idea was tough. However, since the beginning of the pandemic I had seen multiple artists of different mediums bring their talent to Twitch, YouTube Live, and Instagram Live. This provided me with inspiration to take my idea and try to convert into an online showcase, where I then thought of the audio-visual performance. My second biggest challenge was making the livestream interactive for the audience. I had seen Twitch streams before that utilized chat commands (Twitch plays pokemon), and knew that this was something feasible. However, I wanted to integrate the Twitch chat into my visuals software Touchdesigner, which proved to be quite the task. It involved many hours of watching Python tutorials, trying to find other examples of Twitch/Touchdesigner projects, and bothering professionals with questions about it. I wanted to create a command that would create a unique “blob” or shape that would represent each person in the stream, with them being able to change its size, colour etc. I unfortunately couldn’t create that, but was able to do something similar.
What I’ve Learned: Throughout the process of this project I’ve learned a lot more about working with Touchdesigner, and working on projects of larger scale. First is the Python/Twitch knowledge I got from the work on it, and the other is from working with audio in Touchdesigner. I had worked with audio before, but this time I was able to work with each instrument in each song which was new to me, but also exciting because it allowed for more freedom. As for the project itself, having deadlines for myself and also thinking about feasibility we’re the main takeaways for me. Having due dates for the drafts definitely helped me stay on track, and also changing and adapting my project idea to the current pandemic situation was something that I’ll always be thinking about for future projects that I do.