Visualising immersive futures

photo of person wearing 3d glasses with colourful background

The 3DXLab is a multi-disciplinary research lab that harnesses the power of cutting-edge immersive technologies to do visualisation research from a design-centred perspective. We explore the challenges of visual narratives and develop novel ways to navigate complexity and facilitate understanding using 3D computer animation, data visualisation and virtual reality (VR) immersive design.

The 3DXLab has evolved from the award-winning 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab (3DVAL) and the Expanded Perception & Interaction Centre (EPICentre), based at the UNSW Sydney Paddington campus.

The mission of 3DXLab is to unite artists, designers, and technologists in crafting innovative immersive worlds. By leveraging world-class research and cutting-edge technologies, creative techniques from VFX, animation, and video games, we strive to create extraordinary digital experiences. Our ultimate goal is to harness the potential of the digital realm for the advancement of the physical world.

Scientia Associate Professor John McGhee, 3DXLab Director

Photo of John McGhee in front of colourful background Photo of John McGhee in front of colourful background

Key research interests

  • Arts-led 3D Visualisation
  • Immersive Storytelling
  • Reality Capture

Our expertise

Our research explores the application of media-based creative practice, technical innovation and democratising immersive platforms to new 3D data visualisation challenges. Areas of research include 3D virtual world design, VR education, simulation, training, biomedical communication, visual effects (VFX), 3D computer animation and serious video game design.

We also undertake visualisation research in the fields of art, design, science, medicine and engineering. We use cutting-edge computing and 3D immersive and screen-based technologies to render data visible and enable scientists to simulate complex medical and health problems. This provides both researchers and the public with a powerful way of understanding the experience of others.


A system that has a 7-metre diameter, 340-degree panoramic projection, 33 speakers in a surround audio system, and a screen resolution of 120 million pixels in 3D, which is three times higher than its nearest equivalent.

Newly established cutting edge research and production space for live performance capture and photogrammetry. Over 20 high resolution, high framerate iO volumetric cameras, capture and reconstruct performers in full animated 3D video for purposes including training and simulation, research, cultural heritage and preservation, and entertaiment.

State-of-the-art 3D computer animation and real-time XR digital content creation/evaluation sandpit featuring a collection of the latest consumer and enterprise-level headsets with advanced tracking technology, seamlessly merging the digital and physical worlds.

Collaborative studio workspaces for digital content development and testing. Spaces are equipped with high-end workstations and industry-leading software and are designed to foster innovation and communication. 

Our dedicated server room contains high performance computing hardware. These computers are formed into clusters which provide:

  • realtime rendering for Immersive Cylinder
  • GPU and CPU based VFX rendering
  • machine learning and AI capabilites

Latest projects

A collaborative project with an internationally significant commercial partner. This project involved building educational VR environments for agricultural industry training and outreach. Initial pilot projects demonstrated the viability of the collaboration, and the project is now scaling for global impact. Involved designers, artists, engineer’s and agronomists collaborating to build an immersive virtual reality environment that educated stakeholders about the challenges and potential of new agricultural technologies.

Building VR environments for Science Communication and visualisation research. Working with world-class cross-disciplinary collaborators from across top Australian universities, this project used our team’s visualisation expertise to not only greatly increase the impact of this scientific research but also defined a new microbiological aesthetic and built new pathways for science discovery. The project was both locally and internationally recognised and awarded as an industry-leading project that pioneered approaches to microbiological visualisation. 

The Visual microscope is a fully interactive and ultra-high resolution navigation tool that has been developed to browse and analyse gene expression levels from human cancer cells. The tool uses high-performance visualization and computer graphics technology to enable genome scientists to observe the evolution of regulatory elements across time rather than in static snapshots, this unprecedented dynamic view of datasets enabling new research insights. 

Our people

3DXLab Director

John's academic research work explores arts-led and design-led modes of visualising complex scientific and biomedical data. John's research investigates the application of creative practice, technical innovation and immersive platforms to new data visualisation challenges. Areas of research include 3D virtual world design, 3D computer animation, VFX, 3D biomedical visualisation & Animation and reflective practice.

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Senior Software Engineer

Conan is an ex-game programmer and educator with over 20 years’ experience developing and teaching real-time software engineering for computer graphics, simulation, and interaction, across various hardware platforms and modalities.

Senior Software Engineer

Rob is a computer engineer with extensive experience in immersive display systems, computer graphics and embedded systems. He has designed and created applications for VR, XR and immersive display rooms, as well as installing and maintaining these systems in galleries and museums around the world.

Post-doc Research Fellow

Having an extensive research background in biomedical science at the University of Melbourne and a longstanding interest in the visual arts, Andrew works as a postdoctoral research fellow and lead pre-rendered content developer at 3DXLab. Andrew specialises in developing creative solutions to complex visualisations in addition to carrying out roles in the lab’s interactive VR content development. 

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Facility Systems Officer

Peter has been working in IT support, networking, and systems administration for over 25 years. He has worked for a variety of government departments, education institutions and VFX studios.

Immersive UX Researcher

Dr Rebecca Green is a Visual Communication researcher and an experienced graphic designer, comic artist and illustrator.  Her research has demonstrated that different aesthetic styles can dramatically change the way viewers receive visual messages.

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Affiliated staff

Andrew is a senior lecturer in immersive design at UNSW. He has a background in art history and museums and his work focuses on applications of real-time immersive and reconstructive technologies to cultural heritage visualisation.

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Affiliated staff

Grant Stevens, Deputy Head of School (Art) at UNSW Art & Design, is an artist and academic with expertise in contemporary art practice and theory. His teaching, research and practice focus on the relationships between photography, moving image, and digital media.

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Affiliated staff

Luc Betbeder-Matibet is a nationally recognised subject matter expert in eResearch, Research Data Management practice and shared computational infrastructure services for researchers. He has held director-level roles for 15 years in higher-ed ICT and eResearch. Luc is the Director Research Technology Services at UNSW, a shared services function that he established which is responsible for Research Computing and Research Data. He is Vice-President of AeRo(Australia's eResearch Organisation and eResearch Australasian peak Annual Conference), an Adjunct in UNSW Faculty of Medicine Centre for Big Data and has been a Visiting Scientist with the Visual Analytics Team in CSIRO Data61. Recently Luc has been working with colleagues to regularly count how much Research Data there is in Australia.

Affiliated staff

Teresa’s research focuses on information processing and narrative sensemaking in immersive environments. Her research takes a neuroscientific and phenomenological approach which starts with the user’s perception and sensemaking and leads back into narrative composition and story. 

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Postgraduate research students

PhD Candidate

Benjamin’s work examines the tacit ‘know-how’ knowledge of expert Virtual Reality environment designers and builders. He uses close examination of his own practice making VR worlds in conjunction with interviews with other virtual environment experts to reveal insights about the blend of explicit and tacit knowledge that underpins the expertise of VR environment designers.

PhD Candidate

Sarah’s work explores digital tactility and the relationship between physical and digital making processes, exploring how the nature of the medium impacts the forms of the creations. Using techniques such as 3d printing, hand-extruding, digital scanning and immersive VR, her work explores where these processes catch or break down, revealing the underlying structures.

PhD Candidate

Jane is doing a practice-based PhD to explore ways of embodying sensory experiences of the more-than-human world using a speculative design approach assisted by MR. 

PhD Candidate

SJ is a Nehiyaw and Eastern European multidisciplinary artist and Board-certified medical illustrator. Her PhD work looks at implementing generative art techniques in molecular animation while combining Indigenous ways of knowing and western scientific practice. 

PhD Candidate

Melody Owen is an ecologically minded conceptual multi-disciplinary artist and writer from Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. Represented by Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, she holds an MFA in Electronic Integrated Arts, and an MA in Environmental Arts and Humanities. Her practice includes collage, curation, video, installation, and virtual worlds. Her current research is focused on exploring the philosophical field of zoosemiotics through virtual installations of 3D representations of bird song sound waveforms in social, creative, virtual worlds.

She has exhibited at the Portland Art Museum, Nine Gallery, PDX Gallery, the Art Gym, Reed College, and other locations and festivals in Portland, the United States, and internationally. She designed a 30-foot chandelier, modeled after the sound waveforms of endangered birdsong for the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland. She has participated in artist residencies in Paris, Quebec, Iceland, Switzerland, California, and her home state of Oregon. 

Contact us

For further information about potential partnerships and new research opportunities, please reach out to us on the email below.

Location & contact

UNSW School of Art & Design
Block C, ground floor
Cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd

E: 3DXLab@unsw.edu.au