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The Evolution of RayTK: A Revolutionary Tool for Artists and Developers

At Immerse Studio, we are constantly pushing the boundaries of technology to create innovative solutions for artists and developers alike. One of our standout achievements is RayTK, a groundbreaking software program designed by our lead engineer and CTO, Tekt (Tommy Etkin). In this blog post, we’ll delve into the inspiration behind RayTK, its evolution, and the exciting promising future it holds.

The Inspiration Behind RayTK

RayTK was born out of Tekt's desire to democratize the creation of graphics and video, particularly for those without an extensive coding background. As a programming engineer with a passion for visual arts, Tekt saw the potential in developing a tool that could bridge the gap between complex coding techniques and artistic creativity.

"In essence, RayTK is a set of tools for generating 3D sets and environments," Tekt explains. "Traditionally, creating such intricate graphics required a lot of coding. My goal was to give artists access to this technology from a different angle, without them needing a deep background in programming."

The idea for RayTK took root at the beginning of the pandemic. Tekt, like many others, found himself with extra time and a desire to tackle new challenges. Admittedly, while initially intimidated by the process, he immersed himself in tutorials and began experimenting with early designs. It quickly became clear that generating visual art purely by typing out code was not only cumbersome but also inaccessible to many artists.

Building and Rebuilding

Tekt’s breakthrough came when he discovered Patrik Lechner's Touch Designer tool ‘TDRaymarchToolkit’, which allowed for a more intuitive workflow of "wiring things together" as opposed to writing extensive lines of code. This method served as the inspiration and foundation for the initial development of RayTK, enabling Tekt to make small but significant improvements. By mid-2020, he decided to completely rebuild the tool from the ground up, focusing on usability and functionality.  And there, RayTK was born, its name paying homage to its predecessor.

As RayTK evolved, so did interest from the community. Artists and developers began reaching out to Tekt, intrigued by the work he was producing, which prompted him to release RayTK to the public.  However, Tekt quickly realized that for RayTK to truly have value, most users needed guidance on how to utilize its features effectively.

"Initially, I just released the tool to everyone without much guidance, but only a few people could figure out how to use it," Tekt recalls. "That’s when I decided to create tutorials—over 70 at this point—to help people get the most out of RayTK."

Growing the Community

Tekt's dedication to education has been instrumental in RayTK's success. By learning how to explain concepts clearly and scripting tutorials, he has made advanced graphical techniques accessible to a wider audience. He now offers early access to new features through his Patreon account and continues to provide support to those who reach out with questions, particularly within the vibrant VJ community.

"Most of the people who reach out are VJs," Tekt notes. "They tend to start finding cool video clips to play at concerts and eventually get the urge to create their own content."

Expanding Horizons

RayTK's utility has extended beyond its initial scope, and has become a choice tool for VJs during live performances. Traditional 3D modeling tools, like Blender and Cinema 4D, while powerful, are not always ideal for live settings due to their pre-rendered nature. RayTK, on the other hand, allows for real-time adjustments based on artist vision and audience response, thereby enabling more interaction and engagement with a crowd.

Another one of the most exciting developments with RayTK has been its application in architectural lighting installations through volumetric point sampling with LED panels. By leveraging RayTK, one can create mesmerizing 3D images and videos that can be experienced in real-time, akin to a holograph. This innovative use of RayTK has enabled Immerse Studio to remain at the cutting edge of architectural lighting, collaborating with building developers on various long-term LED projects. A standout example is a collaboration with Narduli Studio at the Oklahoma City Convention Center, where volumetric LED programming showcased RayTK’s potential to transform spaces into dynamic 3D environments.

The Future of RayTK

Looking ahead, Tekt is excited about the future possibilities for RayTK. Its scope has already expanded beyond its original purpose, with developers and artists exploring innovative applications in new settings.

"Seeing RayTK used in ways I hadn’t originally planned for has been a mutual learning experience," Tekt shares. "I get to see what works and what doesn’t in different settings, such as large live shows. Much of the development now is driven by what people need and what they are trying to do."

RayTK stands as a testament to our commitment at Immerse Studio to foster innovation and creativity. By continually adapting to the needs of our community and exploring new applications, we are excited to see how RayTK will evolve and inspire the next generation of digital artists and immersive event spaces.

To see the latest RayTK art and keep up with new features, follow Tekt on Instagram, or subscribe to his Patreon for early access to new features.


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