Projection, Lighting and Interactivity (PLAI)

multi-colored concert lighting
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The PLAI emphasis area within the Arts and Entertainment Technologies major converges lighting, projection, digital media, gaming technology and interactive systems to enable new performances and allow students to develop and design digital live experiences. PLAI equips students to utilize digital imagery, lighting, projection and creative coding to create engaging immersive and interactive live environments.

Common applications are found across a broad spectrum that includes themed entertainment, promotional events, e-sports, EDM, music concerts and architecture of public spaces. Students will learn methods for entertaining and communicating with audiences through established and emerging techniques such as 3-D projection mapping, motion tracking, generative imagery and interactive entertainment control systems. Students will also work collaboratively to produce dynamic visual displays for live events such as music concerts and sports events to provide them with experiential learning that prepares them for a successful career after graduating.


Examples of PLAI Courses

Ears, Eyes + Feet 2018

AET 329: Media Creation for Live Performance

Taught by Matthew Smith and Sven Ortel, this course offers an introduction to the production and integration of media into live performance environments. The focus is three-fold: creating original media, integrating original content into different performance genres including complementing scenery, lighting, and performers, and lastly how collaboration influences the previous steps.

Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Event Design from AET

AET 339: PLAI Production Lab

Taught by Matthew Smith, this course offers students the opportunity for hands-on learning of Projection Design and Engineering for live performance. Students learn the skills needed to implement various projection systems throughout multiple performance spaces. For example, in fall 2018, students designed projection for an event introducing the UT Men’s Basketball team.

student running a light board

AET 347: Projection Design

Taught by Sven Ortel, this class serves as an introduction to projection design in live performance. Exploration of important past and present practitioners through discussion, reading and research. Discusses the design workflow, methodology and consideration necessary to realize a projection design including possible projection system configurations, bespoke imagery, playback systems such as Qlab, Isadora and Watchout, as well as projector, lens and screen material options. Students realize their own design in our lab space.

blue, green and red concert lighting

AET 348: Concert and Event Lighting

Taught by Matthew Smith, this lecture / lab course is designed to teach students advanced lighting programming techniques utilized for concert and event design. Students worked with professionals at High End Systems lighting company and created lighting design in their professional studio, as well as in the PLAI program's generous lab space.

AET 360C: Entertainment Systems Design

AET 360C: Entertainment Systems Design

Taught by Matthew Smith, this course offers students the opportunity for hands-on learning of engineering and system designs for live events. Students learn the skills needed to implement various integrated projection and lighting systems throughout multiple performance scenarios. For example, in fall 2018, students designed projection for an event introducing the UT Men’s Basketball team.

AET 345: Designing Virtual Worlds

AET 345: Designing Virtual Worlds

Taught by Michael McKellar, this class investigates how to create narratives in the virtual space where the users can chose their own journey. The class utilizes the Unity game engine, Touchdesigner, 360 cameras and HMDs (for example Oculus Rift).


What can you do with your AET degree with an emphasis in Projection, Lighting and Interactivity?

  • Lighting programmer
  • Media programmer
  • Interactivity designer
  • Lighting designer
  • Media designer
  • Interactive systems developer
  • 3-D mapping specialist

Classes in the PLAI emphasis area

  • AET 360C: Entertainment System Design
  • AET 348: Event & Concert Lighting
  • AET 347: Projection Design
  • AET 339: Lighting Design Skills
  • AET 339: Digital Experience Design & Practice
  • AET 362C: Generated imagery and Visuals
  • AET 361C: Physical Computing
  • AET 363C: Visual Programming
  • AET 339: PLAI Studio
  • TD 388J: IM studio
  • AET 349: Responsive Environments
  • AET 339: Digital Fabrication
  • AET 339: PLAI Portfolio
  • AET 329: Media Creation for Live Perf
  • AET 325: Digital Production Art 2D
  • AET 326: Digital Production Art 3D
  • AET 344C: 3d Previsualization
  • AET 339: 2D Drafting for Lighting and Media
  • AET 345: Digital Worlds
  • AET 339: Production Lab (T&D, AET, HOGG)

Selected PLAI software:

  • Vectorworks
  • Light Converse
  • Disguise
  • Touchdesigner
  • Watchout
  • Resolume
  • Qlab
  • Unity
  • Adobe CC

Selected PLAI Hardware:

  • Disguise Media Server
  • Highend System whole hog lighting consoles
  • Highend Systems LED moving lights
  • Epson DLP projectors
  • HP Gaming laptops
  • 27” Apple iMacs