3D Virtual Environments πŸ¦ πŸ•‹πŸͺπŸ§¬ Syllabus, Spring 2021

Hunter College, CUNY
MEDP 36500 – 01 (5598), HN 1001F
Thursdays, 3:10 PM to 6:00 PM
01/29/2021 – 05/25/2021
Online – Synchronous

Professor Arlene Ducao, arlduc [at] mit.edu (temporary)
Office Hours: 5:00 – 5:30PM on Wednesdays AND 6:00 – 6:30 PM on Thursdays. I will share my office hours link via email.

This course combines practical instruction in 3D environment development with inquiry into the use of 3D data as a source for multidimensional environments. How do we conceptualize and represent multidimensional space? How can multidimensional data help us to build spatiotemporal environments for our digital projects? How can and why would we tell stories using data? What are the conceptual and spatiotemporal limits of using data? This class focuses on process, workflow, basic coding, and problem-solving skills that are valuable for many digital, multidimensional contexts.

Learning Goals

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Navigate a virtual 3D space interface
  • Create 3D geometry using basic primitive and editable poly tools
  • Create and manage basic surfaces and material properties
  • Create and manage 3D lights and cameras
  • Acquire and prepare real-world data to build 3D environments
  • Discuss basic narrative craft techniques
  • Understand 3D workflow for interactive development

General Session Agenda

  • 3:10 – 4:00: Announcements & Tech Topics
  • 4:00 – 4:50: Shareback / Breakout
  • 4:50 – 5:00: Break
  • 5:00 – 5:50: Presentation / Discussion 
  • 5:50 – 6:00: Assignment & Wrap-up

Assignment Deliverables

  • Weekly assignment: Be prepared to briefly, collaboratively discuss/teach a topic that interests you from the past week, for 2-5 minutes.
  • Project 1: Image of a simple 3D world
  • Project 2: 1-minute movie of a 3D world
  • Project 3: 2-minute movie of a data story
  • Project 4: Unity 3D environment scene
  • Project 5: Final project

Schedule

  1. Feb 4. Syllabus, Software, Intros, Q&As, Maya project and navigation.
  2. Feb 11. Getting your bearings
    • Tech: Basic modeling, lights, camera.Β 
    • Presentation/Discussion: Why Data?
  3. Feb 18. Project 1 (simple image) is due
    • Tech: More basics + RenderingΒ 
    • Presentation/Discussion: Aerospace and earth data
  4. Feb 25. World buildingΒ  Β 
    • Tech: Textures and keyframing
    • Presentation/Discussion: City data
  5. March 4. Project 2 (30-second movie) is due
    • Tech: Project 2 troubleshooting, MEL
    • Presentation/Discussion: Human and molecular data
  6. March 11. 1-on-1s & Breakouts. I’ll speak with each of you 1-on-1 while you work on your project. If you need or can provide help on the tech topic, you can pop into a separate breakout room. If you help another student and they verify that you significantly helped them, you get 1 pt of extra credit added to your overall grade.
  7. March 18. Project 3 (1-minute data movie) is due. We will critique in class.
  8. March 25. Maya wrap up.Β 
    • Tech: More MEL, Maya loose ends
    • Presentation/Discussion: Theories of visual information
      [April 1: SPRING BREAK]
  9. April 8
    • Tech: Unity Intro. Maya import
    • Presentation/Discussion: Data fusion and powers of ten
  10. April 15
    • Tech: Unity scene buildingΒ 
    • Presentation/Discussion: Four corner opposition in narrative structure
  11. April 22: Project 4 (Unity environment) is due. We will critique in class.
  12. April 29
    • Tech: Data in Unity, C#
    • Presentation/Discussion: Case study: Tectonic Plates [Subject to change]
  13. May 6
    • Tech: Unity loose endsΒ 
    • Presentation/Discussion: Case Study: VR eye tracking [Subject to change]
  14. May 13: 1-on-1s & Breakouts:Β  I’ll speak with each of you 1-on-1 while you work on your project. If you need or can provide help on the tech topic, you can pop into a separate breakout room. If you help another student and they verify that you significantly helped them, you get 1 pt of extra credit added to your overall grade.
  15. May 20: Project 5 is due. We will critique in class.

Participatory & Collaborative Learning

By enrolling in this course and entering the classroom, each student makes the tacit commitment to participate in the class. Active class participation involves more than mere physical presence. Students are expected to be actively involved in the class. They should take the initiative in discussion and projects, ask relevant questions, and contribute to the overall learning environment of the class. EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE! It is your responsibility:

  1. To prepare for class by having read assignments, written papers and/or prepared projects;
  2. To actively participate in class discussion and activities. Especially with technical topics, I expect students to help each other and will award extra credit when this occurs.
  3. To take notes on discussions, presentations, and activities conducted within the class; 
  4. To complete all course assignments, even if you are absent from a class meeting.   

Attendance and lateness

Excused absences (for religious holidays and/or documented work commitments) must be requested at least 1 class session in advance.

  • 1 unexcused absence incurs no penalty
  • 2 unexcused absences will lower your overall grade by 10% (e.g. 95% becomes 85%). I will refer you to F&M administrators to check that you’re doing okay.
  • 3 unexcused absences is grounds for automatic failure.

Submitting work

Work will be turned in before class by sharing a WeTransfer link with arlduc@mit.edu. You are responsible for testing your link in advance to make sure it works properly.

Late work

Projects 1, 2, 3, and 4 can be turned in up to one week after the due date. Grades will decrease by a full letter each week. Project 5 must be completed and turned in on time–no late work will be accepted.

Questions?

Please feel free to email me with questions. I will respond within 1 business day.

Grading Method and Scale

A [4.0; 96–100%]Work of exceptional quality, which often goes beyond the stated goals of the course
A- [3.7; 91 –95%]Work of very high quality
B+ [3.3; 86–90%]Work of high quality that indicates substantially higher than average abilities
B [3.0; 81–85%]Very good work that satisfies the goals of the course
B- [2.7; 76–80%]Good work
C+ [2.3; 71–75%]Above-average work
C [2.0; 66–70%]Average work that indicates an understanding of the course material; passable Satisfactory completion of a course is considered to be a grade of C or higher.
C- [1.7; 61–65%]Passing work but below good academic standing
D [1.0; 46–60%]Below-average work that indicates a student does not fully understand the assignments; Probation level though passing for credit
F [0.0; 0–45%]Failure, no credit

Resources


Required Tools

  • Maya and a 3-button mouse
  • Unity
  • Adobe CC
  • Text Editor. A decent list of Text Editors is on LifeWire.com, and I also BBEdit for Mac.
  • Terminal or another method to execute short scripts (we will discuss)

Books [will be updated through the semester]

We will read chapters from these books, and I will request them to be put on reserve at Hunter Library. Note that inclusion of the book on this list does not equal endorsement. Please read all materials critically!

Tutorials [will be updated through the semester]

More

Hunter College Policies

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a guiding principle of the Hunter College learning community because all students should have the opportunity to learn and perform on a level playing field. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, obtaining an unfair advantage, and falsifying records or documents (see examples) whether intentional or not.

Hunter College upholds the right to promote academic integrity on its campus as an educational institution of the City University of New York. The College has the responsibility to review all charges of academic dishonesty and implement sanctions, including, but not limited to, failing the course, official transcript notation, suspension or expulsion from the College when it has been determined that academic dishonesty did occur. Please click here to see a full list of disciplinary sanctions.

Accessibility 

In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical, and/or Learning) consult the Office of Accessibility to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistance, please email accessability@hunter.cuny.edu or call (212) 772-4857 / TTY (212) 650-3230. If you have registered with the Office of Accessibility, please let me know at the start of the term.

Hunter College Policy on Sexual Misconduct

In compliance with the CUNY Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Hunter College reaffirms the prohibition of any sexual misconduct, which includes sexual violence, sexual harassment, and gender-based harassment, retaliation against students, employees, or visitors, as well as certain intimate relationships. Students who have experienced any form of sexual violence on or off campus (including CUNY-sponsored trips and events) are entitled to the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights for Hunter College. Sexual Violence: Students are strongly encouraged to immediately report the incident by calling 911, contacting NYPD Special Victims Division Hotline (646-610-7272) or their local police precinct or contacting the College’s Public Safety Office (212-772-4444). All Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct: Students are also encouraged to contact the College’s Title IX Campus Coordinator, Dean John Rose (jtrose@hunter.cuny.edu or 212-650-3262) or Colleen Barry (colleen.barry@hunter.cuny.edu or 212-772-4534) and seek complimentary services through the Counseling and Wellness Services Office, Hunter East 1123. CUNY Policy on Sexual Misconduct. Link: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/diversityandcompliance/repository/files/cuny-policy-on-sexual-misconduct.pdf

Counseling and Wellness Services:

Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS) is another campus resource and service center for all matriculated students that is operating remotely for counseling services at no cost to all Hunter students. You can make an appointment at: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/studentservices/counseling-and-wellness.