Table of Contents
T-723-VIEN, Virtual Environments, Spring 2012
- Instructor: Hannes Högni Vilhjálmsson
- Contact: Office in Venus floor 2, telephone 559-6323, and email hannes[ ]ru.is (open office hours)
- Theory Lectures: Tuesdays 13:10-14:45 (M108)
- Practical Lectures/Demos: Wednesdays 12:20-13:55 (M 108)
- Labs: Wednesdays 14:00-15:40 (M 108)
This is a comprehensive course in both the theory and practice of Virtual Environments (VEs). Virtual Environments are simulations that engage the senses of users through real-time 3D graphics, audio and interaction to create an experience of presence within an artificial world. VEs are used in a variety of settings, including training, education, health, online collaboration, scientific visualization and entertainment. Their use is becoming more and more pervasive as hardware gets more capable of simulating reality in real-time (including graphics, physics and intelligent behavior). As part of the theoretical overview, the course will introduce the history of VEs, what kind of problems VEs have proven to be best at addressing, what are their shown limitations, what models of human-computer interaction apply to VEs and how these models are evolving and pushing the state-of-the-art in interactivity. The technical portion of the course will lead students through the construction and population of VEs in a very hands-on manner, covering topics such as world representation, real-time graphics and simulation issues, networked environments, avatars and interactive characters, event scripting and AI control, special real-time visual and aural effects and intuitive user interfaces.
On completion of the course students should:
- Know what constitutes a virtual environment, why they have been created throughout history and how they are used today.
- Be able to think critically about virtual environments as a user interface and design effective environments.
- Understand how humans construct a mental image of their environment using visual cues and how this can be exploited.
- Know the difference between presence and immersion, and understand how these may be measured.
- Understand the principles of effective action in virtual environments, including concepts such as flow, implicit constraints, explicit constraints and contextual action.
- Be familiar with the roles of characters in virtual environments and the common ways to make them autonomous and to animate them.
- Know what an avatar is and understand the issues that relate to level of control.
- Be familiar with the several techniques for constructing visual realism in virtual environments.
- Be able to create an interactive virtual environment in a scripting language and use scene graphs, models, terrain, lights, texturing, collision detection, animation, heads-up-display, shaders and physics.
For many of the theoretical Tuesday sessions, students need to come particularily well prepared. They will need to study certain materials and be ready to participate in exercises or small group discussions during the class. Student contribution to these classes will count towards the participation grade.
|Material||Description||Be prepared by|
|PREP1||Exploration of several different 3D environments||Tue Jan 17|
|PREP2||What is “presence”, where do you experience it?||Tue Jan 24|
|PREP3||Characters and archetypes that you know||Tue Feb 7|
|PREP4||Being an Avatar Online||Tue Feb 14|
|PREP5||Interactive Art and Information, beyond reality||Tue Feb 28|
During the semester, students should complete two programming assignments and a final programming project. These are all group projects, but M.Sc. level students can at most be in 2 person groups. Students discuss final project ideas with instructor in week 05, present a proposal to the class in week 08, demonstrate the project in week 12 and turn in a report on the project in the last week. Everything that has to be turned in, should arrive no later than at 23:59 on the due date, or else incur 10% penalty for each additional day, including weekends and holidays.
|PROG1||First Programming Assignment||Weeks 1-4||Wed Jan 18||Sun Feb 5||10%|
|PROG2||Second Programming Assignment||Weeks 1-6||Wed Feb 8||Sun Feb 26||10%|
|FP-PROP||Presentation of Final Project Proposal||All||-||Wed Feb 29||5%|
|FP||Final Programming Project with Demo||All||-||Wed Mar 28||30%|
|FP-REP||Written Final Project Report||FP||-||Fri Mar 30||5%|
The course has a dedicated online forum where students can post questions, comments and useful information. Note that everyone should register, in their own name, on this forum before posting (simply go to the address below to register).
|Week||Prep||TUE: Theoretical Topic||WED: Practical Topic||WED: Lab Work||Due|
|01 (JAN 09-13)|| - Introduction|
- Illusion of Reality
|- Introduction to Python|
- Introduction to Panda 3D
|- Lab 1 Materials|
|02 (JAN 16-20)||PREP1|| - History of VEs|
- Current Applications of VEs
|- The Scene Graph|
- Demo 1 Files
|- Lab 2 Materials|
|03 (JAN 23-27)||PREP2||- Presence and Immersion||- Blender Export and UV Texturing|
- Intervals for Animation
- Demo 2 Files
|- Lab 3 Materials|
|04 (JAN 30-03)||- Action|
|- Task and Event Handling|
- Collision Detection
- Demo 3 Files
|- Lab 4 Materials||PROG1 (10%)|
|05 (FEB 06-10)||PREP3||- Actors and interaction|| - Actors|
- Finite State Machines
- Demo 4 Files
|- Lab 5 Materials|
|06 (FEB 13-17)||PREP4||- Avatars and levels of control||- Text and HUD|
- User Interface
- Demo 5 Files
|- Lab 6 Materials||FP-IDEA|
|07 (FEB 20-24)||- Persuasive and Serious Games|| - Visual Effects|
- Panda Shader Generator
- Demo 6 Files
|- Lab 7 Materials||PROG2 (10%)|
|08 (FEB 27-02)||PREP5||- Abstract Environments||- Creating Textures||- Students present FP-PROP||FP-PROP (5%)|
|09 (MAR 05-09)||- Character Animation|| - Animating using Blender [ BWiki ]|
- Demo 8 Files
|- Lab 8 Materials|
|10 (MAR 12-16)||- Online Virtual Worlds||- Advanced GUI Demo|| - Final Project Status|
- Work on Labs / Final Project
|11 (MAR 19-23)||PREP6||- Alternative input/output devices||- Work on Final Project||- Work on Final Project|
|12 (MAR 26-30)||- Review for Exam||- Students Present FP||FP(30%)/FP-REP(5%)|
Please note that there is a 70% attendance requirement for the theoretical topic / discussion classes on Tuesdays. You must pass this attendance limit in order to take the exam. Please inform the instructor if this is hard for you for some reason such as scheduling conflicts or sick leave.
|Part of Course||Total Weight|
|Programming Assignments (x2)||20%|
|Final Project Proposal||5%|
|Final Programming Project||30%|
|Final Project Report||5%|
|Discussion Prep and Lab Work||10%|
|Final Written Exam||30%|
There is no single textbook for the course. Reading and support materials will be handed out in class or posted on MySchool. These will mostly be in the form of research papers, software and online resources. The course is also to some extent inspired by the following books:
- Bergeron, B. “Developing Serious Games”, Charles River Media, Inc., 2006.
- Pimentel, K., Teixeira, K., “Virtual Reality: Through the new looking glass”, Windcrest Books, 1993.
- Slater, M., Steed, A., Chrysanthou, Y. “Computer Graphics and Virtual Environments”, Addison-Weseley, 2002.
- Stuart, R., “The Design of Virtual Environments”Barricade Books Inc., 2001.
- Laurel, B., “Computers as Theatre”, Addison-Wesley,1993
- Cooper, A., Reimann, R., “About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design”, Wiley
- Panda 3D (Includes Python 2.6 in “Panda3D-1.7.0\python”)
- Panda 3D Models
- Panda 3D Demos
- Python Language
- Python Editing
- Blender Modeling
- Shader Programming
- Other useful tools