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April 26, 2013

Udacity Course for Interactive 3D Graphics with Eric Haines

Eric Haines is a veteran of computer graphics who recently partnered up with Udacity to provide, cs291, an on-line course that covers Interactive 3D Graphics. The course assumes some knowledge of programming, JavaScript in particular, and relies heavily on WebGL and Three.js to convey the main concepts. Quizzes and coding problem sets help bring topics from the whiteboard to the web based 3D environment.

If you are eager to learn more about 3D, and haven't been sheltered from JavaScript, the course is a decent introduction to the foundations of 3D programming. All topics covered apply universally to 3D software. The Matrix lessons are pesky, but without their theory no 3D coder can produce anything of interest or reasonable complexity. Matrices are the most difficult things you'll encounter in the class if you haven't done any linear algebra yet.

The delivery of the topic of matrices (as of 25 april 2013) is a little dry perhaps and I wouldn't be surprised if the class is refined a few times in the future. Maybe when we master the Vulcan mind-meld then matrix theory will be less painful to learn and teach. Until then it will take time and patience.

Expect to make mistakes and get frustrated. Luckily you can skip to the answers if you really get stuck -- but use this feature with restraint if you want to learn anything on a deeper level. You know.. delayed gratification and all that.