Digital Worlds Institute

MA in Digital Arts & Sciences

Curriculum

DIG6751C: Protocols for Multimedia Interfaces (PMI)

The goal of this class is to learn about the protocols that control the interface components of devices such as computers, mobile phones, and multimedia players. There are no technical prerequisites for this course, and there is no requirement for prior knowledge on this field. A wide range of human-computer interaction components will be covered, from standard keyboard/mouse/joystick functions up to state-of-the-art touch screens and haptic devices. Students are exposed to the basic principles of interactive event handling and will acquire skills in coding touch screen interaction using contemporary platforms and environments including Android/iPhone, virtual world interaction using Linden Scripting Language, web-based interaction using Flash script, as well as standard interaction methods for computer applications.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand multimedia representations in digital devices.
  2. Learn visual scripting, to learn general coding concepts.
  3. Acquire scripting skills in Flash.
  4. Set up an Android device.
DIG6788C: Digital Production & Game Design (DPGD)

This course is a combination of lectures, project work, software tool usage, and exploration of advanced 2D & 3D game design and visualization solutions. The course focuses on the complex interdependence among various disciplines involved in the design of digital games and the need to develop and support the multidisciplinary groups that actually create the games. This includes conceptual design, interaction with other disciplines, art and programming, narrative and storytelling, game mechanics and production.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the complex interdependence among the multiple disciplines involved in digital production and game design.
  2. Develop and implement multidisciplinary strategies to support team-based game creation.
  3. Demonstrate fluency in the application of established game industry principles of design and production.
  4. Analyze and explain how game-related media technologies integrate new mobile, pervasive, and ubiquitous computing platforms into contemporary culture.
  5. Create compelling user experiences by applying basic cognitive psychology principles and interface metaphors.
  6. Effectively design, produce, and present original game assets.
DIG5555C: Digital Projection Design 1 (DPD1)

"Digital Projection Design" offers a hands-on approach to the design, planning, and execution of digital projections in a variety of performance spaces by using a combination of industry-standard and open source research software tools. Students configure and test a large set of media formats in a variety of display situations and venues. Students will present a multi-screen digital projection media project, a research process weblog, and collaborate with engineers and artists on live digital performances. Students will study “patches” created in several software environments and develop their own software interface. In the second project, students will customize, implement, and then deploy digital projections for an interactive live performance.

Multiple learning challenges arise from presenting a digital media project in a visualization environment. Students work as “projection designer” of a midterm presentation and then present it in a live show format. A second, more advanced, enhanced, and developed final project is presented in a similar fashion.  Students will become proficient with a variety of high end projectors and become adept with Pure Data, Gem, Isadora, VDMX, Max-Msp/Jitter, and incorporate cutting edge codecs, protocols, and devices to produce professional grade projection works.

DIG6027C: Interactive Storytelling (IST)

Interactive Storytelling develops a framework for integrating participation and storytelling as foundations of interactivity. Students will explore how story is incorporated into contemporary interactive platforms such as games and other digital media, like virtual worlds and social networks, which are becoming the most prevalent form of mobile communication, entertainment delivery, and community organization tools in the 21st century.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the difference between linear narrative and the 3D information matrix where interactive digital environments can be developed.
  2. Develop a framework to integrate an interactive storytelling project in a variety of platforms, from games to virtual worlds and social networks, from brainstorming to production and publishing to a target audience.
  3. Understand and use a variety of standard media tools, from graphic generation and image processing to 3D creation and post-production.
  4. Utilize a production methodology that includes storyboarding, project breakdown and time/resource management, from conception and design to post-production.
  5. Document their step-by-step process in a blog format, critically evaluating their own project as well as others, supporting their theories with practical examples.
  6. Learn the fundamentals of special effects technologies, such as tracking, matting, and animation, through hands-on exercises and how they can be applied in diverse multimodal interaction styles.
  7. Pitch a project for evaluation and critique and present their final production in front of a live audience.
DIG6028: Roots of Digital Culture (RDC)

The last decade has witnessed an explosive growth of digital media across all domains of contemporary world culture. "Roots of Digital Culture" is an introductory graduate course offering an interdisciplinary approach to the examination of the technological and cultural underpinnings that continue to shape current electronic media internationally (including video games, the Internet, computer-animated movies, and virtual reality.) The focus of this course is on the dizzying array of relationships that constitute digital culture – international social and cultural practices, ethnic and gender identity, legal structures, and emerging technological forms – in both economically-developing and economically-developed societies.

In this course, students are exposed to a wide variety of contemporary and historic media theories, practices, artifacts, and cultural movements. Students’ investigations and written analyses will serve to heighten their critical and analytical skills across traditional and electronic media and encourage further examination of media artifacts in the 21st century world. Readings will range in focus from social media’s role in the 2011 “Arab spring” protests to the digital remix practices of Japanese youth to the way video games impact the civic engagement of American youth. 

Classroom interaction includes both real-time and pre-rendered media and requires students to participate fully in the development of individual and team projects and reports. Projects will allow each student to explore individuated perspectives and interests in the emerging digital culture of the 21st century. Research results will be presented in both written and digital media formats.

DIG6050C: Entertainment Technology (ET)

"Entertainment Technology" explores both traditional and contemporary technologies and techniques for designing and producing compelling entertainment artifacts, ranging from cinema and television to online and emergent interactive formats. Students are expected to collaborate in the creation of a major class project, as well as undertake an individual project tailored to each student’s particular research interests.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain in detail a process for creating an entertainment project (from initial concept to technical design to project promotion).
  2. Analyze and critique both historical and contemporary entertainment artifacts in terms of production design and value, metaphor and narrative.
  3. Create an integrated project breakdown and schedule, including pre-production, production and post-production phases.
  4. Speak knowledgeably about both the traditional and contemporary technologies used in the convergent fields of film, television, theatrical and media-enhanced performance, sound and lighting and entertainment project development.
  5. Describe both their individual accomplishment and collaborative contributions in terms of at least one major ET project undertaken during the semester.
  6. Present both an initial project proposal and a final semester project realization in a compelling and professional manner.
DIG6125C: Digital Design and Visualization (DDV)

DDV is a hands-on, project-based class where students will design and conduct research in a poly-modal immersive theater environment. This course introduces students to principles of analysis and synthesis, utilizing computational mediums to explore the intersection of art and science as informational structures. Students will explore advanced visualization techniques and test industry software tools for their specific projects and production assignments in a large-scale media environment.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in the use of 2D and 3D software as computer-mediated visualization tools.
  2. Effectively utilize advanced visualization techniques and industry-standard tools for multi-scale content creation.
  3. Effectively utilize an iterative problem-solving process to analyze the needs of the end user or target audience.
  4. Demonstrate fluency in the use of computational mediums as informational structures at the intersection of art and science.
  5. Create and deploy immersive visual environments that effectively communicate complex and dynamic processes.
DIG6126C: Interaction Design (IXD)

"Interaction Design" blends theoretical and practical perspectives in the areas of visualization and interactivity into several focused projects using interactivity for entertainment and industry purposes. The hands-on and guided practice centers on technology systems including software, hardware, mobile devices, robotics, and other interfaces with which the system defines and/or responds to the user’s behavior.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify how increasingly complex technologies are integrated into products, services, and events.
  2. Define how digital or physical artifacts behave in response to user-centric interaction.
  3. Describe, test, and evaluate the usability and sustainability of user interfaces.
  4. Apply iterative cycles of research, testing, and development based on the understanding of user needs, goals, and experiences.
  5. Develop solutions and processes to common or known interface problems.
  6. Build and test rapid prototypes for look, feel, and usability.
  7. Utilize client-based concept development to develop the strategy, information architecture, human-computer interaction and interface design.
  8. Demonstrate competency in information architecture, human-computer interaction, and interface design.
DIG6256C: Audio Design for Digital Production (ADP)

This course provides students with a technical understanding for the acoustic and psychoacoustic parameters of sound.Students will learn how to capture, store, process, and retrieve audio in both analog and digital domains. In-class tutorials and techniques taught will include the creation of numerous sound based projects for use with visual media and data for information systems. Students will learn to record, edit, process, and mix sound for a variety of 2D media, 3D animation, and video games with industry-standard production tools. Students will complete a substantive midterm project and a cumulative final project to demonstrate their mastery of the aesthetic and technical parameters of audio design.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Configure various operating systems for professional sound design.
  2. Synthesize audio samples and signal processing effects purely from code.
  3. Operate professional audio systems.
  4. Mix digital audio for a variety of delivery mechanisms including multi-channel formats.
  5. Create and implement a comprehensive audio design for public performance.
DIG6358C: Applied 3D Modeling (3DAM)

3D asset production skills are essential for artists working in communications, film, interaction design, game, industrial design, and architecture industries. This course instructs students in the best industry standard practices and pipelines for creating 3D assets, with a special concentration in producing content for interactive media.

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Create 3D assets using Polygonal and NURBs surface modeling techniques that accurately represent real world objects.
  2. Produce Navigable 3D environments from concept to completion (Model, Texture, Shade, Light).
  3. Create expressive 3D characters from concept to completion (Model, Texture, Rig, Skin, Animate).
  4. Understand the 3D graphics pipeline (both pre and real-time rendered) and how it affects best practices for efficient and well-crafted 3D assets.
  5. Build and test particle systems and other dynamic atmospheric assets.
  6. Render production quality stills and video.
  7. Execute appropriate practices and pipelines for integrating 3D assets into real-time engines.
DIG6556C: Digital Projection Design 2 (DPD2)

In this course, students design and execute a complete digital projection design using advanced production techniques presented during the class. Students also prepare the design for presentation during a live event. This class requires attendance at all design, production, and technological meetings related to the event.  As a lead projection designer, the student learns to create, design, and implement a software interface for the performance using Isadora, an industry-standard software package. Students design cue-able multiscreen projections based on fixed production, design, and performance deadlines. Students will also document their design process in an extensive portfolio and process evaluation in the form of a research blog.

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply advanced theories and techniques in a digital projection design.
  2. Program interactive digital projections using Isadora.
  3. Work in a full production pipeline with hard deadlines and deliverables.
  4. Synchronize digital media across multiple performance systems.
DIG6589C: Digital Portfolio (DPO)

This course provides students with technical and design skills for the creation of a digital portfolio with interactive media suitable for distribution, including DVD and a portfolio website. It also covers techniques for using and linking social media. Students use software tools for conversion, arranging, processing, and presenting media while learning fundamentals of visual design and working with industry-standard authoring software programs.  Additional projects include a time-based media slideshow with original visual and audio content as well as media materials for inclusion in professional resumes.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Create an online portfolio website.
  2. Convert and format existing media assets for portfolio inclusion.
  3. Construct a media rich slideshow.
  4. Create a comprehensive portfolio DVD with professional authoring software.
  5. Link a variety of online social media resources.
DIG6719: Videogame Theory & Analysis (VTA)

This course surveys the emerging interdisciplinary field of videogame studies, exploring their position as both designed artifacts and socio-cultural texts. Students play, analyze, and read and write about videogames as they learn to examine contemporary and historical scholarship on the medium. Particular attention will be focused on video games as socially-situated semiotic spaces that exist in dialogue with their broader society. Assignments will include readings on videogame theory and the completion of a contemporary videogame chosen in consultation with the instructor.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Answer in detail the analytic-theoretic questions: “What is a game?” and “What is play?”
  2. Identify and explain the major conceptual components that constitute a game.
  3. Articulate the major theories and debates in the field of game studies.
  4. Analyze and understand the different genres of videogames.
  5. Conduct in-depth analysis of videogames as semiotic artifacts and designed experiences.
DIG6744C: Movement, Media and Machines (MMM)

This course explores existing and emergent relationships between human movement, interactive, and post-produced media and various electro-mechanical and digital machines. Texts, techniques, and presentations from the spectrum of movement-based inquiry provide an interdisciplinary forum for transdisciplinary investigation.

In this course, students will explore and define methods for the capture, representation, translation, and coexistence of human movement in physical and virtual worlds. Through a series of experiments, inquiries, designs, and integrated productions and performances, the dynamic and emergent potential of physical and virtual movement and motion will be discovered, documented and disseminated.

DIG6840C: Interdisciplinary Research Seminar (IRS)

The IRS explores the use of Interactive Digital Media (IDM) and Virtual World Environments (VWEs) as venues for the rapid-prototyping of ideas, inventions, and interactions. Students will investigate the history of Interactive Digital Media, from their roots in cinema and television to their current state. This course explores the use of emergent real-time virtual environments and Interactive Digital Media. This is a hands-on, project-based class where participants will have opportunities to design and conduct research studies in an interdisciplinary manner by integrating a variety of knowledge bases and points of view.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply augmented reality and viral communications techniques to the utilization of digital social networks and Virtual World Environments (VWE).
  2. Create 2D and 3D content to support the design and prototyping of ideas, inventions and interactions utilizing Interactive Digital Media (IDM) and/or VWE.
  3. Trace and explain the history and development of IDM.
  4. Analyze and address the implications of IDM and VWE in human social interaction and public performance.
  5. Prepare and present compelling research projects in an Interactive Digital Media environment.
DIG6850C: Digital Arts & Sciences Convergence (DASC)

"Digital Arts and Sciences Convergence" offers a unique approach to the examination of the technological and cultural underpinnings that continue to shape current electronic media including video games, the Internet, computer-animated movies, and virtual reality. During the class, students produce, explore, and modify examples of concepts covered in class using a large variety of software tools, 3D environments, videoconferencing, VWEs, social networking sites, and shared computing spaces. Students prepare assessments of cultural trends while experimenting with state-of-the-art production and research tools.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate fluency with concepts and techniques related to 3D in digital media.
  2. Communicate ideas in a virtual world environment.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency with digital audio concepts in contemporary culture.
  4. Become fluent in the cultural significance of tele-presence.
  5. Explain the historical and contemporary elements of digital culture.
  6. Create and present a final project with hypertext transfer protocol.
DIG6950C: Digital Performance Production (DPP)

Students enrolled in "Digital Performance Production" will design, create, and produce digital production projects with criteria that mirror professional levels of contemporary digital media presentation and performance for a wide variety of entertainment purposes. Students are instructed and trained with industry-standard digital media practice and tools to construct, organize, and execute performances. This course trains students for realistic, technical requirements of digital production, focusing on the practical production and delivery of digital performance.

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Design a scalable digital performance.
  2. Manage a digital production team of engineers and artists.
  3. Produce, stream and document a digital production.
  4. Direct a live digital production.
DIG6971: Research for Thesis (RMT)

Needs info

DIG6973: Capstone Project in Lieu of Thesis (PLT)

DIG 6973 covers the submission of an original project based upon extended study of a topic within the field of digital arts & sciences (DAS). As such, it is a course for students interested in completing a project in lieu of writing a thesis for the Master of Arts degree. All MA in DAS students are required to complete research for a final thesis or project, which is considered to be the capstone of the Digital Arts & Sciences (DAS) program. As a graduate program based upon the confluence of technology and creativity, it is expected that many MA in DAS students would opt for a final media project.

To successfully achieve completion of a project in lieu of thesis, a student should:

  1. Select a project committee that consists of at least two full-time graduate faculty, both from the Digital Worlds Institute.
  2. Choose a topic or scope of work for their project, and submit a project proposal to their project committee.
  3. Call two meetings during the semester in order to provide research project reports to her/his committee.
  4. Successfully defend her/his project at the end of the semester in which she/he completes her/his 6th credit hour of Research for Project in Lieu of Thesis.

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