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Matthew Ragan Teaches SDFs for TouchDesigner - 50% OFF Until April 6th!

TouchDesigner Project Architectures for Professionals - 50% OFF Until April 6th!

Screen showing a video tutorial titled "SDFs 101 in TouchDesigner" by Matthew Ragan, featuring coding and 3D visualization on software interfaces.

Signed Distance Fields (SDFs) have been around for a long time – but they’ve only just become accessible for normal TouchDesigner users.

Code editor on the left shows a fragment shader. On the right, a 3D visualization of points forming a sphere. A terminal and toolbars are at the bottom of the screen.

Previously, generating images and shapes in TouchDesigner, and making them interactive, required a lot of knowledge and hurdles. Users required extensive GLSL experience and knowledge of abstract mathematical concepts.

Anybody who’s tried to create something as simple as a box and found themselves building a sphere and placing limits across 3 axes knows this all too well.

But by using SDFs, all of this is gets much easier…

There are 3 primary reasons SDFs are so great for us:

  • SDFs transform how we create 3D geometry for interactive installations. Instead of meshes and polygons, we can now generate and manipulate 3D objects with calculations using SDFs. Visually simple shapes like 3D boxes with curved corners used to require several operators and would be computationally expensive to warp and change in real-time, but with SDFs this is now possible, scalable and done with ease.

  • Creating zones of interactivity within 3D volumes and data are trivial with SDFs. Working with LIDAR and depth sensors in physical spaces is considerably easier. Previously, pipelines to do this were computationally heavy, required a lot of CHOPs or Python, didn’t scale well and were difficult to visualize. Now, it’s extremely easy to create complex interaction zones in 3D where real-time point cloud data from sensors can be converted into easy-to-use triggers in your projects

  • Finally, creating content for LED volumes dramatically simplified. Without SDFs, many pipelines broke up LED volumes into render slices, which were computationally expensive, wouldn’t scale well, and were difficult to create content for. With SDFs, we work with volumes, and can take a 3D render, depth info, and create content inside of a volume that quantizes to your LED’s exact volume. The pros have been doing this for a long time – now you can do it, too.

In SDFs 101 in TouchDesigner, you’ll build SDF workflows with both GLSL code and in native TouchDesigner networks which can be used for cleaning up point clouds, generating 2D and 3D content, creating interactive triggers from 3D environment data, building content for volumetric LEDs, and so much more.

Computer screen displaying a 3D modeling software interface with a colorful 3D figure on the left and a wireframe version of the figure on the right.

SDFs 101 in TouchDesigner

A person with short dark hair and an earring, wearing a dark t-shirt, stands in front of a grid-patterned background with purple and green lighting.

In this course, instructor Matthew Ragan
covers the following concepts:

Introduction to SDFs and Basic Setup: Learn the foundational concepts of Signed Distance Fields (SDFs) and setting up basic SDFs in TouchDesigner with both GLSL and native node networks.

Drawing and Transforming Shapes in 2D and 3D with SDFs: Master the techniques of generating shapes like circles, boxes, and toruses and transforming them that are crucial for creating and manipulating both 2D and 3D graphics efficiently.

Creating and Combining Complex 3D Shapes: Explore advanced methods for creating and combining complex 3D shapes using SDFs, enabling the creation of intricate and detailed volumes and fields that can be adjusted quickly and efficiently on the GPU.

Point Transformations and Weight Fields: Understand how to use SDFs for creating point weight fields that allow you to apply different effects and transformations to specific parts of point clouds. This is a relatively new concept to TouchDesigner and will become a mainstay pipeline to understand with the new POPs family of operators.

Spatial Triggers: Set up spatial triggers in 3D space using SDFs to create interactive zones and triggers based on movement of real-time point clouds. This is especially useful for workflows using sensors like Kinects, Orbbecs, and Ousters that provide large point cloud volumes and can often be difficult to turn into actionable data.

Volumetric Content Creation with SDFs for LED volumes: Develop skills to create volumetric content using SDFs and convert native TouchDesigner renders into 3D volumes. This is a new critical skill that will unlock a world of possibilities for working with volumetric LEDs and sculptures, which can be difficult to create content for without the use of SDFs.

"The idea of using SDFs seemed too daunting until I took the SDFs 101 in TouchDesigner course. After finishing the course, I feel I have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of SDFs for Touch, and it's completely transformed my artistic practice"
A bearded man in dim light stands by a window, casting a shadow on his face, with trees visible through the glass panes in the background. The scene feels almost like an intricate design from TouchDesigner, blending organic and digital seamlessly.
Aristotle Roufanis
Creative Director @ Worksofar

By the time you’re finished SDFs 101 in TouchDesigner, you’ll have everything you need to start using SDFs to transform your TouchDesigner projects and revolutionize how you approach solving complex problems.

Computer screen displaying a 3D modeling software with various shapes and objects in yellow and black, overlaid with blue, red, and green outlines and grid lines.

And until Saturday, April 6th at Midnight, You can get “SDFs 101 in TouchDesigner for 50% off! ($97, regular $194)

As a bonus, you also get access to our two GLSL courses, FREE

So don’t wait – click below and get “SDFs 101 in TouchDesigner” today:

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