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

Computational & Expanded ███ography

Golan Levin, Carnegie Mellon University
Initially developed Fall 2015 for CMU Course 16-461/60-461/60-761.
Curriculum for a one-week workshop is here (July 2016).

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 hyperspectral 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. Please note that there are usage/materials fees associated with this course.

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


Learning Objectives

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 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, hyperspectral 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 list of some of the capture technologies and techniques we will discuss this semester. Some of these pages are still under construction.


Helpful Information

Other Documents and Resources

Remaining: a large landfill of as-yet unsorted links and resources, especially about RGBD capture.