Review of 'Multimedia Programming Using Max/MSP and TouchDesigner'

The preface of the book explains what it is about, and who benefit from it amazingly well.

This book is about the creation of multimedia content with a strong emphasis
on real-time generation of content. The two software packages, Max/MSP and TouchDesigner, are chosen as specialized tools to make the generation of audio
and video material as flexible and intuitive as possible.

Both software packages, Max/MSP and TouchDesigner, are well documented. Trying to replace this documentation of two fast-changing pieces of software would be inappropriate.
This book relies on you to consult this documentation, and therefore, the content of this book will go a lot further. While the initial chapters will address people who have never worked with the software, at the end of this book, very advanced topics will be covered. The idea is to not only provide a very profound basis to start with multimedia programming, but also to rely on the documentation and integrated help systems of the software packages, thereby covering as much material as possible.

If you end up reading this review on my website, you might be one of the people who did their best to learn Max/MSP/Jitter by reading all through (or most of) its built-in tutorials and realised they do not explain all. I'm just like that. If you're like me, this book is existing definitely for you.

When I read the 'What this book covers' description of 'Chapter 1, Getting Started with Max', I thought I could skip that chapter. But after reading the first 3 pages of the chapter, I understood I was wrong.

The owner of the book can download Max patcher examples, the coloured images of the book and from Packtpub website (the publishing platform).

The author is extremely helpful. In the beginning of 'Max Setup and Basics' chapter, he explains where the reader can help herself when stuck. He doesn't finish that just by saying 'Max has an good built-in help system', but he mentions about 'examples' folder as 'a slightly hidden help', and even provide a tip and a manner for posting a question on Cycling '74 forums. He even designates some other resources which can be useful to learn. The list includes Curtis Roads' 'Computer Music Tutorial', and I guess some of you can make your mind to trust the author by that fact.
Thanks to the book, I could get to know MaxToolBox, which is one of the most useful tools available for Max. The tool saves your time tremendously when patching. You can connect all the selected objects with the [shift + c] shortcut for example.
https://github.com/natcl/maxtoolbox

I'm now on page 71, and the book contains 383 pages (including such as index). This is quite a lot, but there's no unnecessary verbose sentence. Most of them are prices and easy to understand.

[Updated 08/02/15] OK, now I skipped some part and sneaked into the Gen chapter and the Jitter chapter. This is my first book which explains about the mysterious stuff around jit.gl.shader to a complete beginner. I've been seeking for such an explanation for a long time. Thanks the book, I finally understand why we have to even care about that 'shader' stuff.

[Updated 08/02/15] Now I finished the Max for Live chapter. That was very concise in a ideal way. The author designates where the reader can get useful information provided by Cycling '74 (the developer of Max), and he covers the aspect where Cycling '74 doesn't explain sufficiently. Well done! And I even peeped the TouchDesigner chapter as well although I didn't have any thought to start using TouchDesigner (because the book is so well written!). And actually, now I am interested in the software quite seriously by the following part of the chapter.

However, why don't we just stick with Jitter?
Jitter is great for many things, and certainly everything we see in the TD-related chapters can somehow also be done in Max/Jitter. However, some things would require us to write a good amount of OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) code while working solely inside Jitter and trying to achieve these same things. Max came from algorithmic composition and moved towards audio processing. TD, in contrast, genuinely comes from graphics. Naturally, it has some advantages over Max's Jitter, which I won't list here since software is an ever-changing development. Even still, there are other languages such as vvvv and Processing. Let's just say I personally think TD is the most intuitive one, without being less powerful; on the contrary, it
is very powerful. Also, besides its bare capabilities, TD encourages experimenting, artistic expression, and technical development in a nearly optimal balance.

Well, I'll start playing with Processing hard while waiting for TouchDesigner for Mac.

Some points where it could be improved

If you are a Mac user, some information like one about useful software, or about shortcuts can be slightly confusing, as the information tends to be designed for Windows users. Perhaps the author could add a disclaimer.

I found some typos but they responded quickly to my reports and the errors would be fixed soon hopefully. [Updated] Actually there are quite a few minor mistakes (e.g. shortcuts). They are not crucial, but it's becoming tough to report everything.

Maybe the TouchDesigner part could be separated as a different book for a marketing reason. I think I would not buy the book if I just see the title and no other information, as I would Google and find out that TouchDesiner is not for me because it doesn't work on Mac.

[Updated 08/02/15] OK, it's not actually something to be 'improved', but I think it's fair for Jitter enthusiasists to mention that author says the following in Gen chapter. 'Since this book proposes to use Max/MSP for audio and TouchDesigner for video generation, we will emphasize on the audio side of Gen here.' Still there is a whole chapter about Jitter, but not deep into the use of Gen with Jitter.

[Updated 08/02/15] Some of the naming of the example folders which you can download as compliment, are obscure to guess their content.

Conclusion

Even though the title says about TouchDesigner, this is also a very good book for complete beginners who are looking for a good starting book for Max (as it covers every aspect of Max), for beginners/improvers who found the official Max tutorials not informative enough, and for improvers who want to use Max more efficiently.


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