OCC’s Immersive Media Program returns to campus with upgraded equipment

OCC student Nick Luciani tries out the OCC Film Department’s Infinadeck Experience Platform

Orange Coast College’s Immersive Media Program is returning for spring semester 2022 with five classes that offer extensive training in virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR), immersive game design, performance capture and coding basics. 

The program began at OCC in fall 2019, and due to the pandemic, transferred to remote learning during the halfway mark of its second semester. 

Film A220: Introduction to VR will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Mondays and includes 360 spatial audio along with a headset. Both elements are required to properly work the technology that creates VR.  

“It only takes about 10 or 15 minutes once you’re in there and you’re used to it,” VR Professor and Film Production Specialist Scott Broberg said. “You completely forget where your body really is.”

Virtual Reality was brought to life at OCC after Broberg pitched the idea in 2016 to Lisa Knuppel, Dean of Career and Technical Education at the school. The Film Department had been awarded a grant from the Career Education Office at the time, which made way for new technology funds. 

“She was really into it, and was able to raise about $250,000 at the beginning, which we’ve doubled since then,” Broberg said. “Between 2017 and 2019 was really when we were building the program, and passed the curriculum.”

Every class will be held on campus this spring besides Film A226: Coding Basics for Immersive Media Applications, a course that covers the basics of gaming and entertainment computer programming.  

“[The class] goes over the computer coding languages of C Sharp and C++, some of the specialized languages needed to interface with iPads and iPhones to do AR,” Broberg said.

The program’s lower capacity class, Film A222: Intro to Performance Capture, involves animating characters by using a motion capture suit and takes place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

“Not very many community colleges have that,” Broberg said. 

Film A223: Immersive Video Game Development 1 will be held on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 10:20 p.m. The class uses Unity, a free software package that runs animated films along with games that are two- dimensional, three-dimensional and normal. 

“It’s really great for students because they can learn that and download it for free at home, and continue learning on their own,” Broberg said. “It’s such a powerful thing to learn.”

No prerequisite classes are required of students to enter the Immersive Media Program, besides from those seeking to register for Immersive Media Development Lab 1. 

“That’s for when students have gone through all of our classes, and they just pick a project to do the whole semester,” Broberg said. “And hopefully at the end they’ve got a workable VR game.”

The Immersive Media Program allows students to access over half a million dollars’ worth of state of the art equipment between VR headsets, gaming PC’s and the film department’s newest addition: the Infinadeck Experience Platform

OCC student Nick Luciani tries out the OCC Film Department’s Infinadeck Experience Platform

 

“They allowed us to be a beta tester in the very beginning, and so when they first rolled off, we got the second one,” Broberg said. 

According to Broberg, OCC was the first school in the world to purchase the Infinadeck, which is a 360 treadmill that allows users to walk or run in any direction. While physically remaining in a small space, the Infinadeck lets users move infinitely within any virtual reality simulation or game. 

While OCC’s program was coming to fruition, Broberg attended the same VR conferences as the builder of Chapman’s Immersive Media Program. 

“They were able to offer their classes sooner than us, but they had nowhere near the lab and equipment that we did,” Broberg said. “When I told them we had an Infinadeck their jaws dropped.”

The user of the Infinadeck wears a velcro belt while a tracker monitors their movement. Once the tracker is calibrated, the movement of the user can be seen as a black dot moving inside of a circle on the screen of the connected computer. 

“There’s giant belts, along with smaller belts that go in the opposite direction,” Immersive Media Instructor David Hartman said. “The whole deck is trying to always push you back into the center.” 

According to Broberg, there's about 50 Infinadecks in existence. The technologically advanced treadmill is used to develop training in industries such as healthcare, military, engineering and architecture.

For those interested in signing up for a class in OCC’s Immersive Media Program, spring of 2022 registration began Oct. 25 and information regarding appointments along with instructions can be found on OCC’s registration page

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