"VR works because reality is virtual"

Larry Stark

438/553 Creating a VR Art Project

In this course students are encouraged to create imaginative and compelling interactive graphic and audio environments for Media Study's immersive virtual reality system. The system has a projection-based, 3-D stereo VR display with one large screen, and a tracking system and "wand," with joystick and programmable buttons, to create the interface between the user and the virtual environment (VE). Immersive VR puts the user inside the virtual world with the virtual objects rather than outside, viewing the world on a monitor and manipulating an avatar of herself. This course is designed for students with experience in interactive work, graphics programming and/or 3D modeling. Creating responsive VR requires a wide-variety of skills and students are encouraged to gather into collaborative teams.

The course introduces students to Ygdrasil, a high-level VR authoring toolkit and Performer a graphics library. The Ygdrasil system has been specifically designed for large scale art projects. Successful projects have been built with this framework and are currently on exhibit at the Ars Electronica Center in Austria and the Foundation for the Hellenic World in Greece.  Ygdrasil handles a number of activities common to VR environments, such as assembling 3D models into a world, collision detection, navigation, and detecting events and passing messages in response to them. Those without programming experience can use a textfile to build VR worlds using their own models and a variety of modules designed to provide interactivity and assign behaviors to objects. Programmers can extend the system, building their own customized modules as this production demands.  Ygdrasil is a networked system, so at both the development and exhibition stages,  participants can enter the virtual environment from remote locations.

This semester we there will be two formal experimental projects and then we will focus on creating interactive characters in the virtual environment and networked virtual environments, with a view to demonstrating this work at the SPIE:Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality conference in January 2005. We will be collaborating with Jesse Fabian's modeling class, so that members of this class can focus on creating the behavior and interactivity in environments rather than on the details of modeling.

Prerequisites are DMS 420 Programming Graphics II or equivalent, or experience with 3D modeling packages.

Understanding Virtual Reality, William Sherman and Alan Craig, Morgan Kaufman 2003, ISBN 1-55860-353-0

Instructor: Josephine Anstey, jranstey@buffalo.edu

Office Hours: 
Monday 9:30-10:30, 3:00-4:00

Where and When
CFA 265/66, W 2:00 5:50

Assignments: 3 projects: see syllabus for details

Attendance: If you are sick or unable to attend a class, email me before the class. More than 3 absences without explanation will impact your grade.

First Project 20%, Second Project 20%, Attendance and Participation 20%, Final Project 40%
Plagiarism will result in a failing grade for that assignment or project.

General Information

This course outline may be taken as a guideline only.  It is subject to revision and may include digressions and student driven subject matter.