Turning Digital Dreams into Virtual Reality


Many of the interactive media students’ projects were featured in a compendium reel titled Sizzle, which was one of four original videos shown in the museum’s giant screen theatre.

About 160 interactive media majors filled the Peoria Riverfront Museum on May 3 to display their class projects. According to James Ferolo, professor and chair of the Department of Interactive Media (IM), Routing: An Interactive Media Experience was “the latest incarnation of our year-end show, which gives all our students an opportunity to showcase what they’ve created over the past two terms.”

Upon entering the main lobby, attendees encountered the Wave Wall, a 13-foot-tall wooden structure with 50 Phillips hue light bulbs that change color with different programming. The two wall experiences were Light Rider, featuring a skateboard-like platform riders used to manipulate light on the wall, and Color Wave, which employed cameras to capture and mimic people’s clothing colors.

The lobby also housed several exploration activities. Individuals could act out scenes in front of a green screen then watch as students edited and finalized the video. Two hands-on programming opportunities allowed guests to try creating and publishing their own video games and establishing custom controls to navigate Sphero balls around an obstacle course.

The museum’s seven-story digital theatre ran a series of original 4K productions (meaning they have a horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels) on a loop. The videos ranged from a short narrative on the “Bradley Drone System” and senior interviews to discussions by IM faculty members and a compendium reel of student work.

Tapenga Keef-Bruce tries the Wave Wall’s Light Rider application with guidance from Kendall Coleman ’14. The user’s movements are fed into the gameplay through a mobile device containing a gyroscope on the bottom of the skateboard-like platform.

For the portfolio show, freshmen through seniors presented their projects on more than 120 Apple computers, enabling attendees to explore the games, animations, Web-based applications, and mobile apps with their creators.

Although every IM faculty member was involved with Routing, five were colloquium presenters, discussing trends and research in digital media. Ferolo covered mobile learning, and Dr. Ed Lamoureux, professor in the IM and communication departments, spoke about IM-related privacy and intellectual property issues. Dr. Monica McGill, assistant professor of game design, talked about Dapper, a game designed to help improve the outcomes of patients with type 2 diabetes. Matt Nelson, assistant professor of Web and application design, examined the user experience and its relationship to data visualization, while Scott Cavanah, instructor of animation and visual effects, presented advances in 4K and higher resolution imagery.

Dr. Jeffrey Huberman, dean of the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, commented, “When you walk around this room and see the creative work, it’s almost overwhelming considering it’s one of the top-rated programs in game design in the country, and it’s one of the top-rated programs in animation and visual effects in the Midwest.” As he noted, Animation Career Review ranked Bradley as the #18 and #83 animation program and the #4 and #44 game design program in the Midwest and U.S., respectively.

— C.M.