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Autonomous – Live reactive visuals at SXSW23

The brief’s ambition was to create procedurally-generated visual content. This content was to be driven by the wide variety of music being performed live on stage each day at SXSW. The customised application, developed by RenderHeads, needed to run autonomously throughout each set, dealing with dramatically different styles of music. These ranged from classical piano to vocally-led arrangements and beat-driven styles, over the course of the three days of the festival.


Each artist interacted with the content via a depth camera, which allowed for a physical injection into the generated scene, resulting in bespoke messaging across each act.

Artists included Tyson, Low Island, Brooke Combe, Warmduscher, Dex DJ, and Classical for the Now.



Technical Details

  • ‘RenderNode’ object tracking
    • 1 x RealSense depth camera
  • ‘RenderScape’ content generation engine
    • Optimised GPU-based fluid simulation
    • Polygon and volumetric collison
    • Support for millions of particles
    • Customised Unity rendering pipeline for instanced and procedural shadowed particles
    • Particles rendered as various primitive types or custom geometry
    • Depth of field, soft-shadowing, ambient occlusion, temporal anti-aliasing, long exposure, bloom, lens distortion, chromatic aberration and HDR support
  • Custom audio spectrum analysis and beat detection tailored to a wide range of genres
  • ‘RenderDog’ app management and crash mitigation


  • 2LK + RenderHeads – Creative Agency
  • RenderHeads – Software Development
  • RenderHeads + 2LK – Artwork –
  • RenderHeads – Technical Direction
  • Production Park – Production