Brendan Dawes
The Aesthetics of Form and Code

That Was The Week That Was — 1st March 2020

Notch is something I've been meaning to get into, ever since my friend Marc Theile mentioned it to me last year. As a fan of node based interfaces, it had me intrigued, and seemed a good addition to my work in Houdini, only Notch brought with it real-time rendering, so I would be able to use it in a live context. When a possibility presented itself earlier this month for a new commission, I thought this could be the work I could use it on — a live data driven installation.

After purchasing a Windows laptop with a nice fast GPU, and getting a licence courtesy of Bent from Notch, I found myself heading down to London to attend a Notch fundamentals workshop to get a crash course in what it can do.

The day was good, though I personally preferred the afternoon session as the morning stuff was things I had already familiarised myself with. We didn't really touch on any procedural things which is where my interest lies, but still it was good to a good overview of the tool.

I have to say I find the interface rather laboured. Why isn't the node selection palette a pop-up or overlay like it is in Houdini or Touch Designer? Seems really clunky. And why is the arrow for things connected to the root flowing the wrong way? Really weird. Whilst Notch is very powerful, it does seem some of the elements have a long way to go. For instance you can't create a subnet to stop the Node Graph getting cluttered. I'd also love to rearrange the interface to suit my workflow. Seems strange to me that the Node Graph is this tiny slit window down the bottom. Anyway, I guess it's something you get used to the more you use it.

Turns out the project I was hoping to use Notch for has been postponed for the time being.

Choosing to travel down the night before, I ended up with the obligatory room service burger, before reading this great conversation with Richard D James, aka Aphex Twin and Tatsuya Takahashi, then disappearing down a rabbit hole of 440hz conspiracy theories. What I love about Mr. James is obvious love of his craft and all things sonic, really getting into the geeky details.

Getting back from London, I carried on with my next client project — a new commission for Trend Micro. Parts of the composition were working, whilst others just didn't gel together. I stepped away from it for a day, and then by the end of the week things had started to come together. Now it was making my heart beat a little faster.