Getting Weird

VR and the Real World

Instructor: Jesse Fleming


Classroom: Broad 4220

Class hours: Tuesday Thursday 9am-11:50am with a ten minute break

Office hours: Thursdays after class Noon to 1pm.


Teaching Assistant: Eric Fanghanel


Office Hours: TBD

Course Description

So what is this reality thing anyway? And how does Virtual Reality help us know what we do and don’t perceiving as reality? In this course we’ll achieve an introduction to the production of 3D and 360 VR experience, as well as the theoretical, historical, and ethical implications of Virtual Reality. This will include rapid prototype of Avatars and world building, 360 Video, Out of Body Experiencing, Illusion on Embodiment, Eye tracking, Neuroplasticity, and “Techno-delic Spirituality”.

Class Structure

The class will be run like a hybridized lecture class meets creative lab. Student assignments will be prompts rather than descriptive assignments. The intension is that the lectures, technical workshops, and critique based discussions will inform the student to the degree that they may choose their own approach to developing a project. Students are welcome to integrate existing skill sets or investigate new ones to create their projects. Students are welcome to work in teams. You will be well informed of the current situations surrounding the prompts before given.

Expectations and grading structure

All projects are evaluated on how well they demonstrate an understanding of the material, as well as their originality and aesthetic qualities. Feedback will be primarily qualitative through discussion and numeric scores will also be given for all work. Participation means punctuality, focus, articulation of your ideas, and contribution to class discussions.

  • More than two unexcused absences will lower your final grade by one unit (i.e. an A will become an B). With each additional unexcused absence, the grade will drop an additional unit.
  • Late assignments may be accepted, but points will be deducted from the score.
  • Class starts at 9:00. If you are over 10 minutes late, you will receive a tardy. Three tardies is equivalent to one absence.
  • If there is an emergency and you will be late or absent from the class, please email us to discuss the situation.
  • No cellphone use in class. No checking personal e-mails, Facebook, IM, etc. during class.
  • Ask questions, make comments, contribute to discussions.
  • Learn from your peers; the class is a collaboration.
  • If you feel frustrated or you come across other problems, please communicate with me directly and quickly.

About critique

Critique is held with intention in our class. Our agreement is that we can speak about anything that comes from our experience and regard that as neutral. There is no art directing allowed. The goal is that we become very skilled at monitoring our internal experience as it arrises, and then are able to articulate that experience after we have witnessed it. The artist therefore benefits from hearing what their work elicited and we benefit from engaging in the work, deepening our practice of clarity and evaluation. Critique is thus meant as a symbiotic environment where all members grow together.

Sensing practices

Most if not all classes will begin with sensory exploration exercises. You are not obligated to participate but you are obligated to be in class and still for others. The exercises are meant to establish concentration, clarity, and equanimity with our sense experience so we may be more proficient artists and designers with a capacity and fortification for deep creation. In addition, the research on these types of mindfulness techniques seems to promote increased health, reduced stress and anxiety, and increased wellbeing. Bonus! But also within the context of Virtual Reality, these practices can be especially interesting as our senses not only inform the conception of who we are, but also our perception of what reality truly is. We want to promote and question these two factors throughout this class.

Additional Mindfulness resources

• UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) guided meditations

• I will also be teaching a drop in based mindfulness sessions Tuesdays after class in the Dean’s office conference room on the 8th floor. Feel free to invite others

Class Portfolio Website

Upload your works to the class drop folder and the class website as they are completed. Contact Eric for assistance. We will view your projects for critique off the website whenever possible.

PROJECTS / INVESTIGATIONS + FINAL: You are welcome to work in teams of up to three people on the final project yet teams will be judged by the scope of the project in reference to the potential of a group. A report of what each person contributed will also be necessary.

Investigation One: What can you do with 360 degree sound?

Investigation Two: What is it to build a living environment? Using either photogrammetry, tilt brush, 360 video, or a combination.

Investigation Three: What is embodiment? Consider and create either out of body experience (OBE), telepresence, redirected walking, Kinect, or biofeedback.

Final Project: “Building Presence” use all that we have covered to build your own experience of presence and an experience that is significant to you.

Mandatory departmental event:

What’s Next? Conversations with DMA Alumni DMA Career Development Event 20 April 2017, 5-7pm in the EDA

Class Schedule:

1Orientation/ VR History/ Opening LectureMindfulness and tutorial for spacial audio
production in Unity
2Assignment 1 due
Critique and discuss assignment
Technical workshop for project 2
3Technical workshop for project 2Class work day
4Assignment 2 due
Critique and discuss assignment
Critique and discuss assignment
5Technical workshop for project 3Class work day
6Assignment 3 due
Critique and discuss assignment
Critique and discuss assignment
/ Visiting guest
7Present concept for final projectPresent concept for final project
8Class work + feedback from Jesse and EricClass work + feedback from Jesse and Eric
9Final assignment due
Critique and discuss assignment
Final assignment due
Critique and discuss assignment