48-559 / 53-559:  Reality Computing Studio II

Spring 2020  | Hunt Library, Studio B  | M-W 2:30pm – 4:20pm

Carnegie Mellon University, IDeATe

Joshua Bard (
Tom Corbett (

Course Website –


The term REALITY COMPUTING encompasses a constellation of technologies focused around capturing information from the real world (laser scanning, photogrammetry), working with spatial data (CAD, physical modeling, simulation), and using that data to interact with and influence the physical world (augmented / virtual reality, projection systems, 3d printing, robotics). Students in this course will work with students from the Low Relief architecture studio to apply these technologies to projects exploring the concept of architectural illusion.

In Reality Computing Studio II, students will:

  • Capture and generate digital recreations of real locations and objects through spatially computational methods such as photogrammetry and LIDAR. 
  • Refine digital assets and learn optimization methods for real-time rendering and inclusion in interactive virtual environments. 
  • Explore digital spaces.
  • Design and develop digital experiences with students from the Low Relief architecture studio to be deployed as physical exhibits in assigned locations.

This semester the studio will focus on the virtual representation of space in design, as it is captured digitally, and created both physically and digitally through methods such as 3D printing and real-time rendering. Students will receive instruction in the generation of these experiences through the development pipeline, including 3D capture technologies (photogrammetry, LiDAR), 3D modeling and texturing, utilizing game engines to add navigability and interactivity to experiences, and generating virtual reality and augmented reality experiences for headsets and mobile devices.  

Students will develop these projects in collaborative, cross-disciplinary teams, serving various roles on the team such as programmer, artist, design, producer, and more.

This is a 12 credit course, as it requires a significant amount of outside-of-class work with your team to produce positive results.   Please reserve the appropriate amount of time for your classwork and respect the schedules of your teammates.


This course will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30-4:20pm.   Course meetings will occur in Hunt Library, Studio B unless otherwise noted.

The schedule of lectures, workshops, and deliverables is subject to change according to project needs and team capabilities.  The execution of this work in the context of an education environment requires the development of requisite knowledge. The schedule will adjust as necessary to ensure the development of skills and knowledge as abilities of individuals and groups are demonstrated.


There are no required readings for this course. 


For this course it is expected that all interactions, including those with fellow students, should be treated as though this were a professional work environment.  While this course offers opportunities to experiment with designs and technologies – and to take larger risks than one might in an actual workplace – you are still expected to exhibit the conduct of a professional adult at all times.


Attendance is expected for all class sessions.  (Exception: If you are sick, stay home. Do not infect the rest of us.  Please send a note to myself and/or the TA to let us know that you will be out)  Excused absences will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you know you will be out of town or have a conflicting appointment, please let the instructors know ahead of time via e-mail.  It is your responsibility to communicate and coordinate this absence with your teammates.

Class Conduct

Be on time and ready when class begins.  Repeated late arrivals will be noted and your grade may be penalized. Make sure that you are awake, engaged, and participatory.  Be respectful of our guests, our staff, and each other.

When computers are in use during class time, they will be utilized for work – not entertainment or social media. Entertainment websites and social media will not be active. Headphones will only be used for the development of audio elements of the project, if any.

Please refrain from bringing food and beverages into the classroom.  Our classrooms contains a significant amount of electronic equipment, so as a precaution liquids are generally prohibited.  We share the IDeATe facilities with many departments, please keep them clean.


Project parameters and deliverables will be distributed at the beginning of each assignment.  If you have questions about the assignment or deadlines, please ask.

Students are expected to turn in their own work.  Do not cheat or plagiarize. Please review CMU’s policy on Academic Integrity (  Materials created by someone else (code, photographs, music, etc) should include proper permission and/or attribution. Use of code libraries can be approved on a case-by-case basis.

“LAST KNOWN GOOD” POLICY:   Deliverables are expected to function during our reviews.  Submitting or displaying broken or unplayable builds may result in a penalty or incomplete grade.  It is recommended that your team adopt and adhere to a process to regularly back-up your work during development.  A cornerstone of a solid back-up strategy is having a “last known good” policy in place, where a successful and playable build of your game is saved as a snapshot, independent of your ongoing development.  Using this policy ensures that you still have something to show in class in the event of something going catastrophically wrong with your current build (which happens way more often than you think).

Grading Policy

Students in the Reality Computing course will be graded individually for participation and as a group for team assignments.  Team assignments will be evaluated for both project (the quality of the final product) and process (the quality of effort, organization, and teamwork put forth by the team members).  All team members will receive the same project and process grades, except in cases where an individual’s effort is shown to have greatly mismatched that of the rest of the team.

Grades for this course are assigned based on the following table:

97%A+ExcellentExceeds expectations
87%B+GoodMeets expectations
77%C+SatisfactoryMeets requirements, but not expectations
67%D+UnsatisfactoryBelow requirements and expectations

Grading Rubric

A: Excellent Work 

reflects outstanding achievement in content and execution. Work far exceeds given requirements. Students in this category demonstrate: High self motivation, Independent thinking and expression, Use precedent as a catalyst, Highly disciplined, Willingness to take risks, High ability to focus, Systemic questioning, Self critique and editing, Highest qualities of representation.

B: Good Work 

reflects high achievement in content and execution. Work exceeds given requirements. Students in this category demonstrate: Some external motivation, Periodic independent thinking, Good discipline, Beginning to take risks, Good qualities of representation, Periods of focus, Closed-ended questioning, Open to suggested critique and editing.

C: Satisfactory Work 

fulfills given requirements. Students in this category demonstrate: External motivation, Cannot extend precedent, Low discipline, Conformity, Short periods of focus, Average qualities of representation, Limited questioning, Dependent on external critique and editing.

D: Poor Work 

is less than satisfactory. Work minimally or incompletely fulfills given requirements. Students in this category demonstrate: Lack of motivation, Ignore precedent, Lack discipline, Duplication, Few periods of focus, Low qualities of representation, Little questioning, Non-responsive to external critique and editing.


Project 110%10%20%
Project 210%10%20%
Project 320%20%40%

Late Work

Projects and Exercises are to be turned in at the beginning of class on their due date. Late work will not be accepted without instructor’s prior approval and written agreement as to revised due dates and grading policy. Upon approval, late work will be penalized by a reduction in score of 25% per day late. Failure to submit work for any single deadline is grounds for course failure at the discretion of the instructor.

Incomplete Work

Incomplete work will not be accepted without instructor’s prior approval and written agreement as to revised completion dates and applicable grading penalties.


Subject to Change

With the exception of the grade and attendance policies, parts of this syllabus including the course calendar are subject to change with advance notice either as a class handout or on the course web page, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Carnegie Mellon University Academic Policies

Please refer to the following web-link for policies regarding goals, rights and responsibilities of students at Carnegie Mellon University:

Carnegie Mellon University Student Code of Academic Integrity

Please refer to the following web-link for policies concerning plagiarism and authenticity in student work: at Carnegie Mellon University:


IDeATe Common Learning Goals

  • Demonstrate an appreciation for and ability to participate in critique of one’s own work and the work of others
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of reflection in learning and designing (begin to become a reflective practitioner)
  • Demonstrate an ability to articulate the story (visually, orally, verbally, aurally …) of one’s own work and one’s own learning
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the history, cultural context and social implications of these technologies and design methods
  • Demonstrate the ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment
  • Demonstrate technical and creative skills in reality computing

Information about IDeATe

Facilities: Most IDeATe facilities are located in Hunt Library. Lending, Physical Computing Lab, Media Lab, the laser cutters, 3D printers, woodshop, and CNC router are on the lower level. Some of the equipment requires special training which you will receive either in the class that requires it or in a micro course. If you are unsure of how to operate any of the equipment or are unsure how to use the equipment safely and effectively, please send email to

  • Safety: Report all fires and emergencies immediately to University Police at 412-268-2323.
  • Emergency response: University Police — 412-268-2323
  • Building maintenance: Facilities Management & Campus Services — 412-268-2910
  • IDeATe-related inquiries —

IDeATe Lending: Once you are enrolled in an IDeATe course, you will have access to IDeATe Lending. You will maintain your access through the rest of your time at Carnegie Mellon. You must present your CMU ID each time you borrow an item. You will also be able to purchase a limited number of consumable items (such as plywood and acrylic) for projects. Please visit for more detailed information on available resources, to review the IDeATe Lending Borrower Policy, and to find hours of operation.

Classroom and Lending access: If you are enrolled in an IDeATe class at least a week before the start of the course, you will have access to IDeATe Lending and (if applicable) have keycard access to the classroom door on the first day of class. If you add a course during the Add Period, you may need to wait a few business days to receive access while the lists are updated. If you add a course after the last day of the Add Period, email with your name, Andrew ID, and course number so we can add you to our systems.

IDeATe advising: If you have questions or need advice about IDeATe minors or courses, please get in touch with Kelly Delaney, the Assistant Director of IDeATe. Her office is in Hunt Library basement and her email is

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities 

If you have a disability and are registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to use their online system to notify me of your accommodations and discuss your needs with me as early in the semester as possible. I will work with you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at

Statement of Support for Student’s Health & Well-Being

Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

If you have questions about this or your coursework, please let me know. Thank you, and have a great semester.


Joshua Bard, Associate Professor, School of Architecture
Office: MMCH 310B
Office Hours: TBD

Tom Corbett, Special Faculty, Entertainment Technology Center
Offices: IDeATe Office (Hunt A5A), Entertainment Technology Center (PTC 3319)
Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays, (times and locations TBD)