For starters, picture yourself drifting on the gentle waters of a calm, moonlit sea. Off to the left, a lighthouse flashes its circular warning over the waves. The moon sits low in the sky just to the right, its light splintering across the dark water as each swell passes. As you move your boat to the right, the moon slides quietly behind the clouds … now picture that that scene directly in your browser, integrated with 2D web page elements. Or, just take a look at it here. (psst, try this on Chrome or Firefox; it won’t work on Internet Explorer and might require a little set up for Safari. If this link or the ones below don’t work, then you might need to check your setup).
And if that doesn’t get you excited about interactive 3D graphics, take a look at some more eye candy from across the intertubes, like:
- Giant morphing fireball
- Ramshackle room by the sea with reflective floating magic
- Blowing bubbles in a park
"Every computer and every new smartphone comes equipped with a GPU (a graphics processing unit). This piece of hardware can rapidly display 3D objects and scenes rendered with realistic lighting and materials. Computer games are an obvious application, one that in fact has driven the widespread adoption of the GPU as a key component of any computer. In the past two years, it’s become possible to display and interact with 3D scenes directly in the browser, so now HTML pages can include fully 3D content, and these 3D objects can be combined with 2D web page elements as well as videos.
This course will focus on the basics of the theory and practice of interactive 3D computer graphics rendering. Along the way we'll learn about three.js and WebGL, which are used to display 3D objects in the browser. However, you'll also gain a more general foundation of knowledge as well: the focus of this course is on the principles of 3D rendering itself. Understanding the underlying theory means that these skills can be applied to many other fields, such as 3D program development for personal computers, mobile devices, and game consoles.
On a personal level, I’m excited to be a part of this class. I’m giving the lectures, but it’s wonderful to see technologies like WebGL and three.js being used for all kinds of great stuff. The ability to have a lesson or a demo about 3D computer graphics be just a mouse click away is something that we couldn’t have done a few years ago."
We are really pumped about launching this course on March 11th. So, if you haven't already, sign up here to take the class and keep an eye out for some exciting updates between now and the launch. (Hint, hint: during the course and at the end of it, we’re going to give you a fun opportunity to apply what you’ve learned and earn some bragging rights). So stay tuned, and in the meantime, comment with your favorite examples of interactive 3D graphics from around the web.