By now, you’ve likely heard about the eye-popping, three-dimensional architectural live visuals for Amon Tobin’s immersively-transmedia tour ISAM LIVE. It’s clearly a new high water mark in live audiovisual experience.

So, how were the visuals done, and who did them? Derivative, the developers and visual collective behind the Touch Designer software that powered the show, have written up a detailed look at how the show works. Isabelle Rousset sends her article:

A Behind the Scenes Report on the Making of the Show Visuals and Delivery Systems

We’re in touch at CDM with Derivative and the folks who worked on the show, so here’s a unique opportunity: let us know what you want to know from them, whether technical detail or artistic inspiration, and we’ll take a selection of those reader questions to the artists directly. Fire away in comments.

In the meantime, here are some quick facts at a glance about the who, what, and why in the work:

The creators
V Squared Labs, North Hollywood CA
Director Vello Virkhaus (V Squared)
Designer and Programmer Peter Sistrom (V Squared)
Leviathan, Chicago + USA
Chief scientist Matt Daly (Leviathan)
Bryant Place (CPU / CyberPatrolUnit), Los Angeles

The tools

TouchDesigner runs the show, including projection mapping, media and effects, and integration with…
Microsoft Kinect
TouchOSC control from an iPad

One of the many reasons it’s cool – it’s four-dimensional.
Vello explains:

4D in mathematics is a very abstract concept in which this additional dimension is indistinguishable, yet acknowledged. This unknown to me relates to the pronounced visual effect the mapped structure of Tobin creates for the viewer. What is fascinating is that we give viewers an idea of what it might be like to see beyond 3D space, to see all points simultaneously for both the exterior and the virtual interior of the set. The combination of this mapped effect and Amon’s music produced some very intense emotional reactions from people after the MUTEK performance.

  • Seeing as this show incorporates some complex and stunning visual effects, does this imply that the entire set is choreographed? I guess I am wondering if every show will be essentially identical, or if even in this complexity there is room for live spontaneity. Even if every show is the same, I still plan on seeing at least one of them!

  • With all of the things that were achieved with this setup, what were some of the things that were tried and didn't end up working out…or things that could have been done differently?

    I'm also curious about projector calibration…was this a structured light kind of thing, or something like giving each projector a few control points in real space and then using those to adjust the entire model?

  • Smash Hat

    Those pics! Crikey :-O

  • Douglas

    What kind of projector was used? Also, what kind of material was used for the set? It all looks so amazing!

  • Do you foresee any extra dates or an extension to the tour?

  • I am a photographer/videographer who has been trying to cover Amon Tobin forever – while he tours in Europe I'm in the US and when he is in the US I'm literally in Europe for 3 months. Could I ever had a chance to photographer/video this instillation ever again?

  • >15% of the show is an improv VJ set.

    Could you comment on the improv set (and possibly post a video?) What type of interactivity did the improv set utilize?

    Also, what type PC (GPU, CPU, Ram) was required to drive Touch for this show?

    Lovely work, I liked hearing Amon's commentary on Soundcloud too!

  • Smash Hat

    OK Vello, could you elaborate on the 'intense emotional reactions' people have had seeing and hearing ISAM live, please. This includes people who've worked on it , too. I think I would actually cry, then melt with pleasure seeing and hearing all of that like that! 

  • Can you read music?

  • mudtalk

    hello!, amazing work guys. I was reading carefully the article from derivative webpage and basically I'm wondering about how to translate the z information, the depht of the estructure due to the distance of the projector to the surface, into the video creations you made in touchdesigner (I guess). 

    I' starting to learn touchdesigner and I really don't know yet if this software has a real advantge in video mapping compare to resolume and similars, or it just more powerful to connect a bunch of devices like kinect, ipad, etc

    greetings from Spain, and please come with the show!!!

  • Projector: Barco HD20

    CPU & System… vsquared proprietary.

    ON improv…. Its a visual JAM. VJ time 😉 So every show will have a unique component, around 20 minutes in length during Amon's DJ'ing

    On emotional.. see the show and let me know.

    Marlen, Yes.. I can read and play music.

  • Keith Rick

    What kind of media servers is your production using?

    Please find a way to add Florida to this amazing tour.

  • musick

    Really amzing stuff!

    Q: Are the music and visuals synced only over a timeline or is it also controlled by realtime controls? Is MIDI used for this or OSC protocol? How does Amon controls this from his booth?

  • Louis Chen

    Hello Vello :

    could you slightly explain the projection mapping system how it works , it combine with TouchOSC and some XML(I guess so),how it works and how it help with the touring setup duration.

    Nice work and very inspired.


  • I don't have any questions. I was at the Paris concert , and it was one of the most mindblowing audio/visual experiences i've ever seen. Kudos to Amon and all the people involved in creating this.

    PS: actually i have a (silly) question : Doesnt it get hot inside that tiny booth where Amon was stucked ?

  • Ian

    Hi, is any of the 3d content procedurally generated in real time? Or is 3d content all pre-rendered, and video filters/compositing are the only things that can be altered during the performance?

    See you in Denver!


  • Great Behind the Scenes thanks Peter!

  • I would love to get involved with something like this!