Introduction to Virtual Environments

Course Description

Virtual environments are objects and spaces created as models on a computer and brought to life using 3D computer graphics. The applications reach into a wide variety of fields such as computer games, television, design, virtual prototyping, training, various types of simulation, information visualization, communications, marketing etc. The fundamental techniques of virtual environments are presented, including virtual scene modeling, rendering, intersection testing, collision detection and interaction. More advanced technologies are introduced and explained: virtual and augmented reality networked virtual environments, virtual environments on mobile platforms. Applications of these technologies are discussed, aiming to stimulate students to think of the opportunities opened by them.

General Competencies

Students will gain knowledge and skills enabling them for practical implementation of models and applications of virtual environments, and for participation in projects involving virtual environment technologies.

Learning Outcomes

  1. define the concept of virtual environment
  2. define the concept of virtual scene and all its elements
  3. use 3D graphics tools and APIs
  4. model 3D objects
  5. apply knowledge in projects applying 3D virtual environments
  6. develop applications of virtual environments

Forms of Teaching

Laboratory Work

Four lab assignments: V1 Modelling - Maya V2 Scene graph - VRML V3 Principles of rendeirng - ray tracing V4 Basic API - OpenGL


Interactive 3D software is used to demonstrate key concept during certain lectures.

Grading Method

Continuous Assessment Exam
Type Threshold Percent of Grade Comment: Percent of Grade
Laboratory Exercises 0 % 25 % 0 % 25 %
Class participation 0 % 6 % 0 % 6 %
Mid Term Exam: Written 0 % 29 % 0 %
Final Exam: Written 0 % 40 %
Exam: Written 0 % 69 %

Week by Week Schedule

  1. Virtual environment: concept, definition, overview, classification of terms related to virtual environments.
  2. Overview of virtual environment applications: games, TV, design, virtual prototyping, training, simulation, information visualization, communications, marketing etc.
  3. Virtual environment modeling: virtual scene and its components, modeling of geometry.
  4. Virtual environment modeling: camera, lighting and material models.
  5. Organization of the virtual environment in a scene graph, basic geometry transformations in the scene, scene graph traversal.
  6. Rendering: ray tracing as example of a rendering method, typical rendering pipeline.
  7. Graphics hardware: architecture, use, memory needs.
  8. Languages and formats for virtual environments.
  9. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for virtual environments.
  10. Intersection tests and collision detection.
  11. Interaction in the virtual scene: selection and manipulation of objects, navigation, introducing navigation constraints.
  12. Networked virtual environments: concept, applications, fundamental techniques.
  13. Virtual environments on the WWW: displaying virtual environments on the WWW, data types and formats, networking requirements.
  14. Introduction to virtual reality, fundamental techniques and applications.
  15. Introduction to augmented reality, fundamental techniques and applications.

Study Programmes

Wireless Technologies -> Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (Module)

Information Processing -> Computing (Module)

Software Engineering and Information Systems -> Computing (Module)

Computer Engineering -> Computing (Module)

Computer Science -> Computing (Module)

Telecommunication and Informatics -> Computing (Module)



Igor S. Pandžić, Tomislav Pejša, Krešimir Matković, Hrvoje Benko, Aleksandra Čereković, Maja Matijašević; (2011.), Virtualna okruženja: Interaktivna 3D grafika i njene primjene, Element - Manualia Universitatis Studiorum Zagrabiensis
Tomas Akenine-Möller, Eric Haines, Naty Hoffman (2008.), Real-Time Rendering, A. K. Peters Ltd.
Mel Slater, Anthony Steed, Yiorgos Chrysanthou (2001.), Computer Graphics and Virtual Environments: From Realism to Real-Time, Addison-Wesley Pub Co

Grading System

L0 English Level
L1 e-Learning
30 Lecturers
0 Exercises
15 Laboratory exercises


90 Excellent
75 Very Good
65 Good
55 Acceptable