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Experimental Capture

Computational & Expanded ███ography

Primary Author: Golan Levin, Carnegie Mellon University
Curricular Materials for CMU Course 60-461/60-761/16-461

This is an interdisciplinary course in experimental media practices that arise from using devices to "capture" the world. We will survey state-of-the-art techniques and emerging ideas, in the industry and in academia, to capture, model, and render objects, people, places and events. The course evaluation will be project-based, in which students will capture a wide variety of things, and develop projects around the data they collect. We will cover capture techniques including motion capture, video-based capture, panoramic and multispectral imaging, depth sensors, 3D scanners, hand and eye-gaze trackers; classic and contemporary representations of face and body pose and motion; and recent progress in animation, synthesis, classification, and rehabilitation on new forms of displays.

Learning Objectives

This course is concerned with the creation of systems to enable new ways of seeing.

This is an interdisciplinary course in experimental media practices that arise from using devices to "capture" the world. In particular, we are concerned with how we can understand and build representations of the world using devices that sense beyond the limits of human perception. In this course, we seek:

  • To explore the affordances of exotic, forgotten, and nascent image capture technologies in revealing unseen or alternative realities.
  • To explore the use of computation and other technological media in expanding our expressive vocabulary for representations of people, objects, environments, and events.
  • To question the practical and epistemological assumptions that underpin the project of capturing representations of reality with devices.

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

  • Recognize and identify the use of expanded capture techniques (such as photogrammetry, motion capture, multispectral imaging, binaural audio, stroboscopy, etc.) in popular and experimental media.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the scientific principles and/or engineering foundations underlying such techniques, in revealing phenomena beyond the limits of ordinary human perception.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the poetic and elucidative potentials of such techniques, and their application to the production of expressive and provocative new culture.
  • Command the practical use of one or more such techniques.

Course Logistics


This is a partial and mostly unordered list of some of the technologies and techniques we will discuss this semester.


Capturing Nouns (People, Places, and Things):

Capturing Phenomena in Time:


Editions, Credits & Acknowledgements

This syllabus contains many contributions from James George and Alexander Porter (of Scatter/Specular), Pablo Garcia, Jeffrey Hinkelman, Kyle McDonald, Matt Gray, Yaser Sheikh, Suzie Silver, Claire Hentschker, Nica Ross, and others.

Helpful Information

Other Documents and Resources

Remaining: a large landfill of as-yet unsorted links and resources.


A Curriculum for a Semester Course in Computational & Expanded ███ography






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