Wintermester ICAT / University Honors course

This Wintermester, Tanner and I co-taught a Honors College course hosted in the ICAT Cube and Perform studios.  The goal was for students to learn the ins and outs of these facilities and their systems, and to create projects that combine at least two of the following: motion capture, virtual reality, immersive projection, spatial audio.  They got to be the first folks to make use of our VR backpacks, which was really fun to see.  It was definitely a trial by fire for all our systems, putting everything to the test, but I’m glad to say that it seems like we built things robustly enough that everything held together.

The class was intense, with 4 hours of class-time per day, 5 days per week for two weeks.  The students were fantastic to work with.  They were very focused and eager, and I think they came away with a strong and novel experience.  Their final projects went way beyond our expectations, and we’re very proud of what they accomplished.  There 6 groups and 7 projects.

Haunted Halls

A virtual reality horror experience in the Oculus HMD with the VR backpack.  Walk through a haunted maze and be terrified by the spooky spatialized sounds and terrifying visualizations.

Wintermester 2017 – Haunted Halls Final Project
Wintermester 2017 – Haunted Halls Final Project

Crowning Achievement (a Pun)

Checkers in outerspace.  Using VR with the Oculus and backpack.  Multiplayer included.  Pick up checkers pieces with your hand and move them around the board.  Spatialized background music an added bonus.

Wintermester 2017 – Crowning Achievement Final Project
Wintermester 2017 – Crowning Achievement Final Project

PhoAsteroids

A game of asteroids, but with 360 immersive projection on the Cyclorama.  Hold a wand and point it at the screen to try to destroy the asteroids flying around.  The more you destroy, the faster they go.  Spatial audio tracks the asteroids as they fly around you, making a satisfying POP when you destroy an asteroid.

Wintermester 2017 – PhoAsteroids Final Project
Wintermester 2017 – PhoAsteroids Final Project

Michael Rhoades

An abstract fixed-media art composition, depicting a space of cylinders and mirrors.  Projected in stereoscopic on the Cyclorama, with spatial audio.  It’s quite an experience to see this metallic, glass world seem to come out of the screen in 3D.

Wintermester 2017 – Michael Rhoades Final Project
Wintermester 2017 – Michael Rhoades Final Project

Last Words

Where art, particles, typography, and 360 3D projection meet.  The depth of the stereoscopic projection they accomplished here was incredible, and it was really fun to see the first experiments in typography on the Cyclorama.  The spatial audio of music and sound clips to accompany the video was also very effective.

Wintermester 2017 – Last Words Final Project
Wintermester 2017 – Last Words Final Project

Peek A Boo

A short animation of a girl hiding in the Cube, peeking out from behind a curtain.  Sounds simple, maybe, until you find out that they accomplished this by using motion capture to record the animation, apply it to a prebuilt model, and then rendered in 360 3D for the Cyclorama.  With the spatial audio call and response with the girl, it puts you in the virtual space.

Wintermester 2017 – Peek A Boo Final Project
Wintermester 2017 – Peek A Boo Final Project

Lane Stadium

A recreation of what it’s like to enter Lane Stadium on gameday as a Hokie football player.  The spatial audio is the key component here; the students scraped together a series of audio clips they could find to reassemble the aural experience of coming down the tunnel and out onto the field, making great use of the sound system in the Cube.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like VT sports has gotten into the 360 video area yet, so the students used a video from another university instead, which looked amazing on the Cyclorama.  This would be great material for them to take to VT Sports to try to pitch for the opportunity to take a real recording.

Wintermester 2017 – Lane Stadium Final Project
Wintermester 2017 – Lane Stadium Final Project

Author: Zach Duer

Zach Duer is the Immersive Environment Specialist at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech. He facilitates faculty and student projects in ICAT facilities by developing interfaces and generating content. He is also an educator, artist, musician, and performer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *