Computer graphics, online course

    In MIT, computer graphics are 3D algorithms, in some textbooks this is a collection of descriptions of popular graphic editors, in movies - special effects, on television - screen design. All this is exciting and curious, but what is computer graphics?

    At different times, I had occasion to work with animation, and with three-dimensional graphics, and with printing, and with the web, and with video, and in very different forms. For twenty years, one way or another, I did something like that and I do not regret it. And all these twenty years I didn’t get out of my head just one phrase from the lyceum’s supervisor, where in the mid-90s I studied this very computer graphics:
    Of course, you can master the tools, you will own the programs. Then you will be among those few who can do it now, but soon real professionals will master computer technology, and you will have a hard time with them. Therefore, do not forget to get a real profession, and all these Photoshop and 3DS are just your tools, your competitive advantage today.
    But there was one more circumstance, which was clearly not discussed: at some point, I realized that computer graphics "by profession" is also biology, physics, and even chemistry. And, of course, math. In this post, I will talk about the three-week open online course on the basics of computer graphics , which began very recently - March 9, and try to explain who it is made for, why, why, and how knowledge of computer graphics helps in life.

    Teaching experience

    The problem for novice IT specialists is that they have a very wonderful profession. It spoils and corrupts. No need for patience, because the result is fast. In the field of computer graphics, the situation is similar, therefore, there are Enikeyschiki - people who are good at poking buttons on programs, but don’t understand what’s going on, and if they chose the best way. To a certain level, this is acceptable, but the professional ceiling for such specialists is very low.

    My teaching of computer graphics began with a semester high school course for 50 students, with leisurely and thoughtful coursework, and then ... they applied “destructive compression” - the course became 8 weeks, a written exam without any coursework and under 200 people per stream. It's time to completely rethink the courses that I teach at the institute. And here it turned out to be very opportune to move towards MOOCs (massive open online courses, MOOC): I really wanted to change the format of training, especially in lectures, and automate the verification of works, preferably without prejudice to their depth.

    Indeed, regular lectures look a little strange in a streaming audience. Remember how you tried to make out the formula on the board from the back rows? But it has already been erased. Video lectures brought comfort and visibility. With practical tasks, everything is not so simple, but also not bad. Massive online courses are another small revolution in our century that significantly changes part of our lives - the way we gain knowledge. Not only at school or university, but throughout life.

    Course content

    The main task of the introductory online course is not so much to learn something new, how to collect an integral picture from the knowledge that everyone already has , and in this picture to see those details that could go unnoticed before. Therefore, those who already use computer graphics tools will be able to refresh the very basics, sometimes even from the school curriculum. Whoever did not come across this field at all will be able to obtain good fundamental knowledge in order to continue studying individual tools and programs that are put into practice.

    The first week is not dedicated to computer or graphics at all. And to physics and biology, and a little about how it is transferred to computer color models.

    Second weekalready talks about the basics of graphics, in relation to computers. This will be most useful to those who have not done anything before and are not interested. Then there will be work with raster, vector graphics and video "manually." That is, completely by hand - we will process photos and videos from the command line, we will draw something vector in a text editor. And, believe me, this is sometimes necessary in life. You have the freedom to choose tools, because not everything is convenient to do, for example, in Photoshop. And not always appropriate.

    The third week will be dedicated to image compression. Here, those who have studied coding and digital signal processing will see familiar topics, but without complicated mathematics. The main task is to understand how it works.

    The course does not imply immersion in mathematics and programming. It’s good if you are familiar with the school course in mathematics and computer science, and also understand that there are binary and hexadecimal calculus systems.

    Advanced Online Course

    The 8-week course in computer graphics mentioned above I teach at the HSE MIEM NRU HSE every September and October. Therefore, in September, the introductory online course will be launched again, and MIEM students and everyone will be studying at the same time.

    Immediately after him, in October 2015, an in-depth 4-week online course, which is still under development, will follow - on specific applications of computer graphics. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to consider all possible applications in it, but we will have time to delve into some. For example, there will be a section about video, perhaps three-dimensional graphics and printing will come in. The “scientific” computer graphics will not enter - this is a completely separate world, worthy of an independent course.

    The second course will begin with a review of iron, moreover, from rarities to the present day. What for? Here's a simple question: why does the TV show in pixels, the image is transmitted in macroblocks, and the video encoding for transmission is measured in lines and half frames (fields)? This is hard to understand for anyone who knows only digital LCD flat panel displays. It turns out that spawn television had more in common with a typewriter than with modern formats and hardware. And understanding how it works helps you choose the right video encoding options.

    TL; DR

    • For three weeks, starting March 9, 2015, an online computer graphics course will be held, where you can first recall school physics and biology, then overcome color spaces, learn different types of graphics and basic concepts in it, master the work with console and video editors and graphics, practice with vector graphics and animations in SVG. In conclusion, get acquainted with image compression. Closer acquaintances - in the second part of the course.
    • The fourth week will be in order to pass tests and complete tasks from previous weeks.
    • This course is unlikely to be of interest to those who expect an immersion in mathematics and programming. It is for those who wanted to understand computer graphics, but were afraid of teachers who begin to pour in mathematical formulas and make them immediately program something.
    • The course will not talk about Photoshop, Corel Draw and other popular editors. There are other applied courses for this, and they are easy to find on the Internet. There will be some practice in console editors, this skill can be useful. For example, if you need to automatically process pictures or videos on your site.
    • On September 1, this online course will be launched again, students of the MIEM NRU HSE will study at it, immediately after it an in-depth online course will be launched to continue this one.

    Questions in conclusion

    1. Why is the sky blue? However, this can be seen from the picture at the top of the post.
    2. Is the fence transparent?
    3. How do we see? And how do we perceive what we saw?
    4. Where is the beginning of the color wheel, and how to divide it?
    5. What is the difference between the palettes of photographers, printers and artists?
    6. What is the most common color space?
    7. How do dots per inch differ between printers, scanners and monitors?
    8. What is redundancy in images?

    The text was prepared by Denis Korolev , a teacher of the online course "Computer Graphics: Fundamentals . "

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