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Introduction to photogrammetry in journalism: Capturing your world in 3D

June 27-July 24, 2022

Welcome to the Knight Center's new MOOC, "Introduction to photogrammetry: Capturing your world in 3D," organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. During this four-week massive open online course, which will be held from June 27-July 24, 2022, students will learn how useful photogrammetry is for capturing three-dimensional digital replicas of landscapes, structures, and objects for three-dimensional immersive journalism and forms of storytelling. Watch the video below and read on for more details, including instructions on how to register.

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Registering in the platform is easy. Please follow these steps:

  1. Create an account in the Journalism Courses system. Even if you’ve taken a course with us before, you may need to create a new account. Check to see if your previous username and password work before creating a new account.
  2. Wait for a confirmation in your email indicating that your account has been created. If you do not receive this, please check your spam folder.
  3. Log into the platform, scroll down until you see the course listings, and click on the Introduction to Photogrammetry in Journalism: Capturing Your World in 3D course.
  4. A button will appear. Click “Enroll” to enroll yourself in the course. You will be able to access the course from the “My Courses” menu at the top of the page.
  5. You will receive an email confirming your enrollment.

Please add the email addresses journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu and filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu  to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

For the next four weeks, you will learn…

  • What photogrammetry is and how the process works
  • When to use photogrammetry to complement your journalistic work
  • How to do basic photogrammetry capture and processing
  • How to do basic publishing of photogrammetric 3D models
  • Two-dimensional applications of photogrammetry

Upon completion of this course you will be able to add photogrammetry to your digital journalism toolbox and possess introductory-level knowledge of the photogrammetric process to put toward your own projects.

Introduction Module: Welcome to the course

This module provides a video introduction to the course, outlining the topics covered in the four modules. After watching the video, please explore the rest of the introductory materials, including the syllabus, information about optional tools, and recommended readings.

This module will cover:

  • An introduction to how the photogrammetry capture process works through two use cases
  • An introduction to how photogrammetry is used for augmented reality storytelling
  • An introduction to the mapping potential of drones and photogrammetry

Module 1: Introducing photogrammetry (June 27 - July 3, 2022)

The photogrammetry process dates back to 1849, and was originally used for map making. Today it’s still used for making maps, as well as many other types of two-dimensional and three-dimensional visuals. In this module we will explore how photogrammetry works, and see examples of how it is used in journalism and other industries.

This module will cover:

  • The origins of photogrammetry
  • A high level overview of the photogrammetry process from start to finish
  • Inspiring journalistic use cases for photogrammetry
  • Inspiring use cases of photogrammetry from other industries

Q&A with guest speaker Chad Davis, chief innovation officer From Nebraska Public Media in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Module 2: Strategizing: When and how to tell stories with photogrammetry (July 4 - 10, 2022)

Like any tool, photogrammetry is great at performing some tasks and bad at others. In this module we will focus on the storytelling strengths of photogrammetry, and how they can best serve you and your storytelling needs.

This module will cover:

  • Photogrammetry for immersive media and two-dimensional media
  • Using photogrammetry for environmental and spatial storytelling
  • Using photogrammetry for structural and object-based photogrammetry

Q&A with guest speaker Alexey Furman, freelance photojournalist, game designer, creative producer, and photogrammetry photographer.

Module 3: Introduction to photogrammetry capture (July 11 - 17, 2022)

There is no better way to learn a new tool than to use it yourself. In this module we will cover some of the practical do’s and don’ts of photogrammetry capture with hand-held cameras and drones, including guided exercises using the Polycam app. We will also explore LiDAR technologies, and look at sources that use pre-existing photogrammetry and LiDAR data.

This module will cover:

  • Planning and executing a handheld camera (or smartphone) photogrammetry shoot
  • Planning and executing a drone-based photogrammetry shoot
  • Open source datasets, crowd sourced data sets, and collaborative projects
  • An introduction to LiDAR technologies and open source LiDAR datasets

Optional: Students can use a two-week free trial of Polycam during this module.

Q&A with guest speaker Heather Richards-Risetto, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Module 4: Introduction to photogrammetry processing and publishing photogrammetric content (July 18 - 24, 2022)

In this final module we will go through the processing stage of photogrammetry, and see how the photogrammetric content we’ve made can be quickly shared with audiences. We will also step back and consider how photogrammetry is a foundational process and tool within the broader context of emerging 3D technologies and platforms.

This module will cover:

  • Photogrammetry processing tools
  • Basic content delivery and distribution
  • Looking to the future: volumetric video, the metaverse etc.

Q&A with guest speaker Faine Greenwood, UAS consultant and senior spatial data scientist at MassDOT's Drone Pilot Program.

Ben Kreimer

Ben Kreimer is a creative technologist working on enduring journalistic and communications applications for drones, 360° video, photogrammetric 3D reconstructions, spatial audio, volumetric video, and other emerging and emerged media technologies. Through global collaborations with journalists, scholars, students, artists, mission-driven organizations, and businesses, he focuses on democratizing access to hardware and software tools, including the use of open-source platforms and low-cost hacks and materials.

As BuzzFeed Open Lab Beta Fellow in 2015, he designed open-source 3D printed 360° camera kits for reporters and co-produced many of BuzzFeed's early 360° videos. The first received over 6 million views. Ben has consulted on multiple National Science Foundation funded projects, and done interdisciplinary work with Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the Ford Foundation, USC Annenberg, the University of Nebraska’s Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, Georgia Tech’s School of Building Construction, The Times of India, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade innovationXchange, CCTV Africa, African Wildlife Foundation, Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project, Drone Journalism Lab, and other international organizations.

Ben has presented his work globally at conferences, including Media Party Africa and the Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin, and universities, including Daystar University (Nairobi), the University of Hyderabad, NYU, Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. He has given media and technology workshops at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, University of Oregon, NBOstorylab in Kenya, and Electric South’s AR/VR Lab in Cape Town and elsewhere. He is a 2019 Forbes 30-Under-30 honoree for his contributions to the media industry.

National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, the Washington Post, and other global media outlets have covered his work.

Digital journalists, newsroom leaders, photographers, data journalists, immersive media makers, drone operators, and technologically curious storytellers.

No tools or applications are required.

Optional Tools

During modules three and four, an Android or iOS smartphone, or a digital camera and computer, will allow you to follow along and try some of the suggested photogrammetry capture and processing exercises.

We will provide a demonstration dataset so you can try the processing step without capturing your own images.

We will use the mobile app and browser-based photogrammetry capture and processing service called Polycam for these exercises (but not required). Users create an account that provides access to Polycam’s web browser service and mobile app, making the platform accessible across most devices.

First of all, note that this is an asynchronous course. That means there are no live events scheduled at specific times. You can log in to the course and complete activities throughout the week at your own pace, at the times and on the days that are most convenient for you.
Despite its asynchronous nature, there are still structures in place for the duration of the course.
The material is organized into four weekly modules. Each module will be taught by Ben Kreimer, an independent creative technologist specializing in finding enduring journalistic and storytelling applications for photogrammetry and other emerging technologies. Ben will cover a different topic each week through videos, presentations, readings and discussion forums. There will be a quiz each week to test the knowledge you've gained through the course materials. The weekly quizzes, and weekly participation in the discussion forums, are the basic requirements for earning a certificate of participation at the end of the course.
This course is very flexible, and if you are behind with the materials, you have the entire length of the course to complete them. We do recommend you complete each of the following before the end of each week so you don’t fall behind:

  • Video lectures
  • Readings and handouts/exercises
  • Participation in the discussion forums

Quizzes covering concepts from video lectures and/or readings

A certificate of completion is available for those who meet all of the course requirements, and pay online an administrative fee of $30 (thirty U.S. dollars), using a credit card.

There's no form to apply for the certificate of completion. At the end of the course, the Knight Center team will verify all students and all activities required to qualify for the certificate of completion.

After verifying that students have met the course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message to your email confirming that you have met the requirements and are eligible for the certificate. In this message, we'll also send you instructions on how to pay the administrative fee.

After paying the fee, it will take between three to five business days for you to receive instructions via the course platform's messaging system to download a PDF copy of your certificate. The certificate is only available in PDF format.

To be eligible for a certificate of completion, students must:

  • Listen to the weekly video classes and read the weekly readings
  • Complete weekly quizzes with a minimum score of 70%. (You can retake the quizzes as many times as needed. Only the highest score will be recorded.)
  • Create OR reply to at least one discussion forum each week.

There are no formal credits of any kind associated with this certificate. The certificate is issued by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas only to certify participation in the online course.