Realtime Multimedia

Aim and Objectives

The aim of this unit of study is to provide students with the opportunity to explore the potential of developing real-time multimedia systems, both interactive and non-interactive, through the development of software. In particular, this unit of study will survey techniques available to the generative artist/designer to produce dynamic, realtime multimedia systems using code. To achieve the aim, the objectives of this unit of study are to:

  1. Examine the use of software development in the practices of artists and designing creating realtime multimedia experiences;
  2. Provide a set of advanced tools and libraries for programming realtime multimedia using code as a medium for expression; and,
  3. Support the implementation of realtime multimedia systems.

Theme: Dynamic Systems

The theme of this year’s exploration is the simulation of dynamic systems and natural phenomena and their potential to produce compelling and engaging realtime multimedia, both interactive and non-interactive. The following is a list of the topics that we will cover in this unit of study:

  1. Physical Simulations: e.g., particle systems, mass-spring systems
  2. Complex Systems: e.g., cellular automata
  3. Agent-Based Models: e.g., flocking, ant-based models
  4. Artificial Intelligence: e.g., neural networks
  5. Physical Interaction, e.g., Microsoft Kinect

Learning Outcomes

On the completion of this unit of study, students will be able to:

  1. Identify, analyse and critique the use of dynamic systems and simulations of natural phenomena in realtime multimedia;
  2. Implement simple demonstrations of a wide range of processes, making effective use of existing libraries where available; and,
  3. Research, design and implement a realtime multimedia system using one or more of dynamic systems or simulations of natural phenomena.

Prerequisites / Assumed Knowledge

This is a practical unit of study where students will be expected to program software throughout the semester as they explore the potential of developing realtime multimedia systems. It is assumed that students have some experience with programming, advanced programming topics will be introduced throughout the semester and students will be expected to use some of their study time outside of the lectures and labs to review any programming topics that they are unfamiliar with.


This unit of study will run for 13 weeks in Semester 2, 2011. Each week will consist of a 1 hour lecture, exploring a type of dynamic system appropriate to realtime multimedia, and a 2 hour lab, where students will develop dynamic systems based on the material covered in the lecture. Over the course of the semester students will be expected to research, design and implement a demonstration of a realtime multimedia system that makes use of a dynamic process.


  • Tutorials and participation (10%): This is a practical unit of study and students will be expected to produce a series of experimental sketches as part of their process. Students will also be expected to maintain a blog documenting their research and experimentation process.
  • Research presentation (45%): In week 4 students will present their research to date and the work they have done towards implementing a game or game-like multimedia experience using one or more dynamic processes.
  • Working demonstration (45%): In week 13 students will present their realtime multimedia system, providing a review of their design and experimentation process, and placing it in context with other works.

Lectures Topics

  1. Week 1: Introduction
  2. Week 2: Physical Simulation I: Particle Systems (slides|sketches)
  3. Week 2: Physical Simulations II: Mass-Spring Simulations (slides|sketches)
  4. Week 3: Physical Simulation III: Rigid Body and Fluid Simulations
  5. Week 3: Agent-Based Models: Braitenberg’s Vehicles, Flocking, Ants
  6. Week 4: Artificial Intelligence: Pathfinding, Neural Networks, Genetic Algorithms
  7. Week 4: Complex Systems / Growth Models: Strange Attractors, Fractals, Diffusion Limited Aggregation, Lindenmayer Systems, Cellular Automata
  8. Student Presentations: Students present research into the use of dynamic systems in realtime multimedia
  9. Week 9: Q&A Session / Project Lab
  10. Week 10: Q&A Session / Project Lab
  11. Week 11: Q&A Session / Project Lab
  12. Week 12: Q&A Session / Project Lab
  13. Week 13: Final Student Presentations

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