I had the opportunity to design and teach an intensive AR workshop for Shih Chien University at their Kaoshiung campus. The workshop was only for 3.5 days, it was very challenging to cover everything AR in such a short time including hands-on activities.
After research, I decided to create a theme revolving around digital character design and using AR as a technology to bring the character to live. I spent most of the first day establishing a common understanding of immersive media technology with lectures and short demos. I was very glad that I prepared more than enough hands-on demos because my dramatic storytelling skills didn't seem to work well with a 40 people workshop in the beginning.
I learned about Stan Lee's passing after the first day of the workshop. A combination of grief, jet-lag, and impulsive creativity caused by milk tea and sandwiches at 3 am, I decided to switch things around. I changed the subject of the digital character design to superhero characters and their origin stories. Designing a superhero is slightly more complex than designing a regular character because a superhero usually requires two transformations in the course of the story instead of one. Since the students didn't know what's coming at them, it went surprisingly well with the lecture and the hands-on activity.
For the last day, the students designed their own VuMark and customized their character with existing 3D assets. I put together a complete Unity 3D project for the workshop, so all they need to do is to drop in their own marker and press play! VuMark took longer time than I expected. The VuMark scripts are buggy and passing all the criteria doesn't guarantee good tracking. Students really pushed the limit with fantastic designs, and I learned a lot by helping them in the process. But that "wow" sound when their character shows up on their marker was the greatest reward!
Overall I think it worked out. I had a blast running this workshop and again amazed by our art and design students in Taiwan. Thanks, Ruei for your hospitality. Kaohsiung is a wonderful city (even before the mayor election.) The HTC VR park is by far the biggest VR game space I have ever seen. Looking forward to visiting again (without jet-lag).
Kyle Li
Assistant Professor of Intermedia - Educator