The Interactive & Immersive HQ

Is TouchDesigner Hard to Learn? TouchDesigner Beginner Dos and Don’ts

TouchDesigner Beginner Dos and Don’ts

With all the new macOS TouchDesigner beginners, I made a list of some dos and don’ts that every TouchDesigner user should know. They cover things from quick network tips, forum etiquette, to hardware recommendations.

TouchDesigner Beginner Tutorial Series

If you’re a TouchDesigner Beginner, check out our TouchDesigner Tutorial Series!

We teach you all the basics of how to use TouchDesigner, including mouse controls, hotkeys, parameters, the operator families, and more.

Do – Use the TouchDesigner forums

TouchDesigner has a community built around sharing. Everyone learned somehow from someone and it wasn’t easy. Many of the users give back to the community by creating tutorials, videos, example files, and being available on the forums. So if you’re getting started and not understanding something, don’t hesitate to ask question. The one thing you should definitely do is try to provide an example file of your problem. Forum posts can go unanswered if they’re vague that don’t show any of your process or trials in solving the problem.

Don’t – Use many Window COMPs

Users with many displays tend to make many Window COMPs. Making a single Window COMP that spans all your displays is faster to draw and better practice. You can read more about it here.

Do – Learn Python basics to use in TouchDesigner

Python was introduced in TouchDesigner 088 and it was a game changer. I think there’s a misconception that you need to be a Python guru to use it in TouchDesigner, but actually you just need a basic understanding of data types, syntax structure, functions, and a light sprinkle of classes. All in all, you could get more Python then you’ll ever use by doing a 10-hour Python course. This will more or less give you full scriptable control over all TouchDesigner. I first started by doing the Codeacademy Python course. I’m sure there are many, but its free and interactive. Just be careful because it’s in Python 2 and TouchDesigner uses Python 3. The only thing you’ll have an issue with in these tutorials are that in Python 2 ”’print”’ statements don’t use (), ie:

Python 2 – print “something”
Python 3 – print(“something”)

If you’re interested in learning Python in TouchDesigner, you can read more here.

We’ve also got a handy Python Cheat Sheet for TouchDesigner Developers.

Don’t – Mix different outputs on the same GPU

Tearing is a hell of a thing and can be a show stopper. We always recommend nVidia Quadro cards because they offer tear-free and stutter-free guarantee  outputs. This guarantee is based around not mixing outputs. If you don’t have the budget for a Quardo card, you may be able to get away with gaming cards like nVidia GeForce cards, but you should keep all the outputs on the graphics card identical. This means try to avoid hooking up 1x LED wall, 1x Projector, and 1x TV all to the same GPU. This means that if you connect 3x Projectors, that they’re also identical projector models. This can be hard to avoid sometimes, but it’s the main way to avoid tearing, which is my least favourite thing on Earth. More information on tearing available here.

Do – Use nVidia Quadro cards

I can’t speak  highly enough of our experiences using nVidia Quadro cards. They’re solid, reliable, powerful, have great drivers, and more than anything offer great support. When you pay the extra money for nVidia Quadro, you get the support of nVidia, which can be invaluable in the field. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been on-site and had hardware act strange. In all those times I’ve been able to reach out to nVidia Quadro support and receive guidance on how to best troubleshoot the situation. Support is worth the cost alone for me.

Get Our 7 Core TouchDesigner Templates, FREE

We’re making our 7 core project file templates available – for free.

These templates shed light into the most useful and sometimes obtuse features of TouchDesigner.

They’re designed to be immediately applicable for the complete TouchDesigner beginner, while also providing inspiration for the advanced user.

Don’t – Ignore bugs

I’m as guilty as anyone for reporting bugs. Sometimes you’re working and you encounter strange behaviour in TouchDesigner and you do whatever you can to finish your job in the moment. The problem here is that the next time you try to do something similar, you’ll encounter the bug again. If you have a reproducible bug, post a project file to the Bugs section of the forum. If it’s a bit of strange behaviour that isn’t easy to reproduce, still post something! Derivative or other users may be able to help track down the specific issue so that it can be fixed in the future.

Do – Update your graphics driver

The question I’ve answered most on the forum are about new users having trouble starting TouchDesigner for the first time. The issue is almost always outdated drivers provided by computer manufacturers. The fix is easy:

  1. Go to nVidia/AMD’s website
  2. Find your model of graphics card
  3. Download the latest driver
  4. Install it

It’s the software equal to jiggling the cable, always try it first.

TouchDesigner Dos and Don’t Round up

Hopefully these dos and don’ts help you get started with TouchDesigner. If you have your own list of dos and dont’s, post them in the comments below for other TouchDesigner beginners.