Multimedia Programming Using Max/MSP and TouchDesigner
By Patrik Lechner
Publisher: Packt Publishing
Final Release Date: November 2014
Pages: 404

Max 6 and TouchDesigner are both high-level visual programming languages based on the metaphor of connecting computational objects with patch cords. This guide will teach you how to design and build high-quality audio-visual systems in Max 6 and TouchDesigner, giving you competence in both designing and using these real-time systems. In the first few chapters, you will learn the basics of designing tools to generate audio-visual experiences through easy-to-follow instructions aimed at beginners and intermediate. Then, we combine tools such as Gen, Jitter, and TouchDesigner to work along with Max 6 to create 2D and 3D visualizations, this book provides you with tutorials based on creating generative art synchronized to audio. By the end of the book, you will be able to design and structure highly interactive, real-time systems.

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Excellent Introductory Resource

By laco

from Ireland

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    Comments about oreilly Multimedia Programming Using Max/MSP and TouchDesigner:

    The practice of creative coding has steadily increased in popularity over the past number of years. The tools of the trade consist a number of programming environments that are focused specifically on creating digital artworks. Development platforms such as Cycling '74's Max, Processing, vvvv, openframeworks, Cinder and Derivative's TouchDesigner are popular amongst digital media artists who wish to build their own tools, or want to introduce generative techniques or interactivity into their works.

    And while there exist a large number of book titles available for users of Processing (covering various topics and skill levels), the literature available for Max, and especially TouchDesigner, is relatively sparse. For Max there is 'Electronic Music and Sound design Vol. 1 & 2' (Alessandro Cipriano, Maurizio Giri) and 'Max/MSP/Jitter for Music: A Practical Guide To Developing Interactive Music Systems for Education and More' (V.J. Manzo). In comparison to these, this title covers a larger breadth of topics, but doesn't delve quite as deep into any particular area. And similar to those aforementioned titles the opening chapters of this book concern themselves with introducing the reader to the practicalities of working within the Max patching environment. This is one of the best introductions to patching within Max I have come across, covering useful topics such as patch organisation, timing and debugging. I can only imagine how useful reading through these chapters would have been to me when I was first starting out in Max, as the content provided goes a long way in clarifying a lot of the peculiarities of the environment.

    As mentioned above this title covers a wider range of topics than comparable titles. For instance if you are purely interested in DSP for creating your own custom synthesisers and effects within Max then 'Electronic Sound Design Vol. 1 & 2' would probably be a better choice, being that those titles are entirely focused on synthesis and sound design. Although that is not to say that 'Multimedia Programming with Max/MSP and TouchDesigner' is lacking content in the aforementioned area. In fact it contains three robust chapters that deal primarily with DSP. Of particular interest here are excellent sections covering granular sampling, reverberation, convolution and FFT. Additionally there is an entire chapter dedicated to working in Gen (Max's low-level patching environment that enables the creation of "*very efficient external-like objects that can be reused and exported to other kinds of code such as GLSL and C++*). This chapter is especially useful considering that documentation available for Gen is *currently* very sparse.

    Staying within the Max realm there are also basic introductory chapters on both Jitter and Max for Live. Although as stated these are merely introductory chapters (for generating visuals the book mostly concerns itself with TouchDesigner), the section on Max for Live is an excellent starting point for users who are familiar with Max and want to begin building dedicated Max for Live devices.

    The rest of the book is focused on creating visuals with TouchDesigner, as well as short sections that document how to communicate data between Max and TouchDesigner, and how to connect these environments to external devices for interactivity. As a complete beginner with TouchDesigner I found these chapters to be incredibly useful, helping me to dive right in and produce results almost from the offset.

    Overall this title is a very effective introduction to both Max and TouchDesigner. And although there is more of a focus on Max (having more chapters dedicated to it), those such as myself who have no experience with TouchDesigner will find the sections dealing with that environment to be extremely useful. Additionally for Max users just starting out I would thoroughly recommend this book, as it offers an excellent overview of the environment. In addition, there are numerous points throughout where external literature and resources are mentioned, again reinforcing the position of this title as an excellent introductory asset. This in fact ties in with the entire ethos of the book which is focused on outfitting the end user with a working knowledge of the program(s), rather than providing a series of example patches to re-create verbatim. And in this regard I believe the title achieves its goal, as it greatly encourages user experimentation.

    My only (slight) complaint is that the section on Jitter is rather limited. Although this is understandable given the decision to instead focus on TouchDesigner for visuals, it would have been nice to have an expanded section on Jitter (particularly in relation to using OpenGL). Again this is only a minor complaint, and is simply being mentioned due to the overall quality of the title.

    (Review copy provided by publisher.)

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