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TouchDesigner Workflow Speed Boosts

TouchDesigner is a unique platform because there are so many ways to do any one thing. Not only that but there are tons of hotkeys for TouchDesigner and other tricks-of-the-trade that developers learn along the way. Most of these are shared between friends and colleagues and can sometimes pass under the radar even though they can save you multiple clicks and tons of time in your workflow. I thought a great post would be to share some of the great and easy ones I’ve learned along the way.

Fast Null Creation

Creating null operators is a necessity in the pro workflow. Every time you’ve finished a series of operators that create a feature or finish a specific type of processing, you should make a null. This could be a Null TOP, Null CHOP, Null SOP, DAT, etc etc. All of the Nulls! When folks normally create a null, they go through these steps:

  • Double click on background
  • Select the operator family
  • Type null or scan across the list till you find it visually
  • Click on it or hit enter
  • Drop it into the network
  • Wire it up

That’s a surprising amount of steps and look something like this:

That probably feels normal to most of us…but there is a faster way. We can use a keyboard shortcut Alt + N to create the null in 3 easy steps! They are as follows:

  • Click on the operator you want a null after
  • Hit Alt + N on the keyboard (lowercase n)
  • Hit Enter on the keyboard

That’s it!!! It looks like this:

This is a fantastic trick that I suggest everyone put into their muscle memory!

Faster Operator Creation + Wiring

Building on the last speed boost, this speed boost has 2 parts that . Just like we mentioned above with creating nulls, making operators and wiring them up can be difficult. Most people do something like this:

  • Double click on the background
  • Click on the operator family they want
  • Visually scroll through all the operators
  • Click on the one you want
  • Click on the background to drop it in
  • Wire it up

This can take more than a few seconds to do. The first part of this speed boost is that if you right click on the output connector of an operator, it will automatically open up the operator creation dialogue on the correct family of operators, and once you click on an operator and drop it into the network, it is automatically wired up. This looks like this:

This will already save you a ton of time in the long run. An added trick on top of this is that you can type the name of the operator you want to create when the operator creation dialogue is open then hit enter to have it made. This way you only need 1 right click, a quick type, and then hitting enter. This looks like this:

When you consider that we’re constantly making operators these two tricks combined can save you a ton of time and get your work done faster.

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Running Scripts Faster

This one is very obvious, but it even took me years before I caught on to it! Running scripts inside of Text DATs is a common thing you’re going to do in your career. To do this, normally you:

  • Right click on the Text DAT
  • Scroll down the list of options
  • Click “Run Script…”

This normally looks like this:

A much faster way to do this is to just click on the Text DAT and hit Control + R (lowercase r) to run the Text DAT! This is a great one because it’s easy to commit to muscle memory and saves a ton of time. In the same amount of time it takes me to click through the menu, I could run this script 5 or 10 times:

This is a great one that I use every day especially on projects with larger state machines being built or projects with lots of logic scripts.

Wrap up

These tricks may seem simple but I guarantee that if you commit to using them you will find your working speed will increase by an order of magnitude and you will be wondering why you spent so long clicking around the UI and visually scrolling through lists when you could have used these hotkeys and tricks to speed everything up. Enjoy!