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Immersive Cinema

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Course Description

In this exploratory workshop, students will use a variety of tools (Audio recorders/ 360 cameras/Photogrammetry/Volumetric Capture/XR/Unity Programming) to tell immersive, interactive, and spatial stories. The aim of the projects will be to find less “visible” or neglected histories and bring these lesser-known stories of the past into the present – including but not limited to Stanford’s relationship to Indigenous communities, the formation of the Program in African and Afro-American Studies, the founding of Casa Zapata in 1972, the story behind the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden. 

Students will use the conceptual framework of documentary media to inform their work, while also pushing toward new artistic languages and experimenting in the still-emerging form of XR storytelling. Over the course of the Arts Intensive, students will work in teams to create a series of short immersive pieces with an emphasis on experimentation. The course is time intensive: requiring some nights and weekends dedicated to production.

Example assignments:

  • Immersive Spatial Audio – “Sonic History of Place” – Choose a place on campus with a less “visible” or neglected history. With a mix of archival sound recordings, sound effects/foley, and newly recorded sounds, create an interactive audio texture that evokes and tells the history of that place via sound textures only. (note: use of a narrator summarizing (parts of) the story is not allowed.)
  • Augmented Installation – “Make history visible” –  Choose a place on campus with a less “visible” or neglected history. Using Unity programming or Adobe Aero, 3D objects, VR Painting, and sound elements, create an interactive virtual installation that evokes the history of that place on campus.

This course fulfills the Creative Expression (CE) requirement.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Jamie Meltzer

Associate Professor of Art and Art History

Jamie Meltzer

Jamie Meltzer's documentary films have been broadcast nationally on PBS and have screened at numerous film festivals worldwide. His most recent documentary short Huntsville Station premiered at the 2020 Berlinale and played at SXSW. True Conviction, broadcast on PBS in April 2018, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was awarded a Special Jury Mention in the Best Documentary Category, the film received grants from the Sundance Institute and the MacArthur Foundation. Previous films include: Informant (2012), about a revolutionary activist turned FBI informant, Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story (Independent Lens, 2003), about the shadowy world of song-poems, Welcome to Nollywood (PBS Broadcast, 2007), an investigation into the wildly successful Nigerian movie industry, and La Caminata (2009), a short film about a small town in Mexico that runs a simulated border crossing as a tourist attraction. Meltzer teaches and is the Program Director of the M.F.A. Program in Documentary Film at Stanford University.

Barna Szász

Barna Szasz

Barna Szász is a Budapest-born XR storyteller and documentary filmmaker. He moved to the U.S. in 2017 on a Fulbright and graduated in Stanford University’s MFA Documentary Film program in 2019.

His documentary work was acquired by PBS’s POV Shorts, The Guardian, Staff Picked at Vimeo, screened at DOC NYC, DOK Leipzig, CPH:DOX, Big Sky, and other festivals. Pushing the language of spatial storytelling, Barna’s currently working on two interactive AR documentaries: as a 2021 CPH:LAB fellow he’s producing Kvöldvaka, a multi-sensory AR documentary that aims to redefine our relationship with nature, in the era of climate change. As an East Doc Interactive lab member, he’s developing If These Streets Could Talk, an immersive time travel experience to Budapest’s 1944 Jewish Ghetto.

Before moving to the U.S., Barna earned a BA at the University of Film and Theatre Arts, Budapest. Then he worked as video journalist and later as Head of Video at, the country’s equivalent of The New York Times. As a lecturer he’s taught Video Journalism at MOME Budapest, and XR at Stanford University, California.


  1.  Instructor Jamie Meltzer leads students in Expanded Cinema: Experiments in Virtual Reality.
  2. A student from Expanded Cinema capturing sound samples at Pescadero Beach. 
  3. Students and AIPAs from Expanded Cinema filming and recording at Pescadero Beach.