TouchDesigner is a software product from Derivative (Toronto and Los Angeles) which is used to build interactive 3D and 2D applications. It is "procedural", "node-based", real-time and is considered a visual programming language. It is designed to give its users enormous flexibility in building applications without needing to program in a conventional way.
Derivative was founded in 2000 by Greg Hermanovic, Rob Bairos and Jarrett Smith.
TouchDesigner's deep roots are in the PRISMS software product developed at Omnibus Computer Graphics in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York in 1984 to 1987. When Omnibus collapsed due to higher than anticipated costs of purchasing and maintaining its competitors, coupled with an even higher level of expectations instilled in its shareholders, PRISMS was purchased from the Omnibus liquidators by Kim Davidson and Greg Hermanovic, forming the inception of Side Effects.
Side Effects developed and licensed PRISMS to end-users for 11 years until 1998, and PRISMS was used in over 200 feature films, culminating in its first Academy Award in 1998. Meanwhile Houdini emerged in 1995 as Side Effects Software's next-generation product, serving the visual effects market to this day. In 2002, Side Effects Software received its second Academy Award for the innovations within Houdini, with another 300+ features films made with Houdini to date.
Greg Hermanovic spun-off Derivative in 2000, starting from the then-current Houdini 4.1. Derivative embarked on a mission to make a real-time 2D and 3D interactive animation product, suitable for authoring any form of interactive art/media/visualization.
Derivative's first generation of its product TouchDesigner spanned from TouchDesigner 007 to 017 during 2002 to 2007.
Then in 2008 Derivative released its next-gen TouchDesigner 077 in beta form, which was a rewrite of its previous incarnations, incorporating fully procedural OpenGL compositing and effects, a new user interface and more.
TouchDesigner Architecture - Principles
Procedural - an always-alive system that keeps on generating itself, even as it's being modified, as opposed to programming which requires you to compile in order to see your changes.
Visual - employs the massive power and latest capabilities of graphics cards to show to the user a visualization of the output of each node (operator) in realtime - every node has a live data viewer.
Object-Oriented? Depends what you mean! Gladly, TouchDesigner is not strictly OO, which is better for experimenting and prototyping.
Operator nodes - Highly functional, not too granular so you can build large applications with a fraction of the nodes.
Visual programming language - visually rich and informative user interface for authoring.
Scalable - Designed for both simple projects and enormous real-time projects involving many displays and computers - Some projects are 100,000+ nodes.
Abolishes the separation of authoring and performing - you can alter the application while it is running.
lightweight scripting - just what's needed, the procedural operators do most of the work.
Derivative is led by Greg Hermanovic (Founder, President, CTO), Rob Bairos (Head of R&D) and Jarrett Smith (Product Architect).
Greg Hermanovic is also co-founder and current partner of Side Effects Software, where he was CEO and Director of Strategic Technology until 2000. A physicist and engineer, in 2003 he received a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Sciences and Arts for the pioneering of procedural modeling in the film industry with Houdini.
In 1998 he received a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy for the pioneering of procedural modeling in the film industry with PRISMS. Greg's 20-year background in special effects and animation software started as head of R&D at Omnibus Computer Graphics, preceeded by 6 years in aerospace (Space Shuttle robot arm and various flight simulators).