DMS 438/553: Virtual Reality 1
Fall 2003

Course Info

When: Tuesday 1:00 - 4:50 pm
Where: CFA 266

Instructor: Dave Pape
Office: CFA 287
Office hours: Tues 12-1, Wed 3-4


Course Description

This course is designed for students with graphics programming experience and/or experience with 3D modeling packages. Teams of modelers and programmers will collaborate to build immersive virtual reality art experiences over the course of 2 semesters. The course introduces students to Ygdrasil, a high-level VR authoring toolkit and Performer a graphics library. 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. Modellers will face the challenge of modeling for a real time environment. Prerequisites are graphics programming (DMS 424 or equivalent) and/or advanced experience with 3D modeling packages.


Understanding Virtual Reality, William Sherman, Alan Craig

Other books/websites that may be of interest:

Course Requirements

You are allowed up to two free absences; after that, each absence will cost you 2% of your overall grade.

The semester project may be an individual or team project; I will expect more from a large team than from an individual. All members of a team are to contribute significantly to the project. The project should be, as much as possible, the work of only the student or students involved; any code or content from outside sources should be clearly documented.
Graduate students (i.e. those registered in DMS 553) will also have to write a brief report on their project, to be turned in at the end of the semester.

In the second half of the semester, we will have student presentations. Each student in the class will give a 30 minute talk on some work in VR by an established artist or researcher. This can be about an artist's body of work (e.g. Brenda Laurel, Myron Krueger), a particular VR piece / application (e.g. WorldSkin, Mission Rehearsal Exercise, DisneyQuest's Aladdin), a paper from a conference or journal, or some other relevant topic.
The exact topic must be approved by me in advance (at least 2 weeks before the presentation).

The default course grading will be:
   91-100 = A, 85-90 = A-, 80-84 = B+, 75-79= B, 70-74 = B-,
   65-69 = C+, 60-64 = C, 55-59 = C-, 50-54 = D, 0-49 = F
The final cutoff points may be adjusted downward as appropriate.


Official fine print

Lab Fee

As of the Fall 2003 semester, all DMS production courses will now carry a lab fee of $100 per course.

Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability (physical, learning or psychological) which may make it difficult for you to carry out the course work as outlined, and/or requires accomodations such as recruiting note takers, readers, or extended time on exams and assignments, please contact the Office of Disability Services, 25 Capen Hall, 645-2608, and also your instructor during the first two weeks of class. ODS will provide you with information and will review appropriate arrangements for reasonable accomodations.


Plagiarism is literary theft and a betrayal of trust. The term is derived from the Latin word for kidnapper and refers to the act of signing one's own name to words, phrases, or ideas which are the literary property of another. Plagiarism comes in many forms, all to be avoided: outright copying, or paraphrase, or a mosaic or disguised use of words and phrases from an unacknowledged source. To avoid plagiarism, make it your habit to put quotation marks around words and phrases, or to isolate and indent longer passages, that you are using from someone else's writing. And be sure to cite the source, in a footnote or endnote, or within parentheses in your text. The penalties for plagiarism can be severe: from an F for the particular assignment, to an F for the course, to referral of the case to the Dean of Undergraduate Education for administrative judgment. If you are unsure about how to use and document sources, please consult with your instructor.


If you are planning a student production which involves using any prop which could be interpreted to be a weapon [toy gun, BB gun, knife, etc.] and you are planning to shoot on the UB campus or any other public place, you must obtain written permission from Campus Security or the equivalent authority before you shoot. If you do not, you will face serious problems including possible expulsion from the university.