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Shadows and Surfaces:
PhD Practice Update 2009-2010
Designing the ShadowEngine for the iPad

Physics Shadow Test 001 Physics Shadow Test 002 Shadow Engine001 Kara Ipad Touch Photo Shadow Engine001 Lotte Figure

ShadowEngine001 on the iPad (a), (b) ShadowEngine v001 Physics animation tests (c), (d) multitouch on the Apple iPad


Abstract of Current Practical Project

ShadowEngine icon
ShadowEngine iPad Icon

The current chapter, Surfaces and Shadows, explores the interface between traditional shadow puppetry and emerging computer technologies, through historical, theoretical enquiry, case studies and practical experiments. The thesis as a whole will evaluate and test with users (puppeteers, audiences, animators and programmers) the expressive qualities of different modes of interactive digital puppetry. For this purpose, I am creating a new performance animation system and software. This chapter presents the design and testing of one first stage prototype application: the 'ShadowEngine' running on an multitouch portable device, the Apple iPad.

As a practice led project, the chapter presents an exegesis of the software design process for a prototype application called the 'ShadowEngine', that makes multi-touchable digital shadow theatre possible using physics based real-time animation and I indicate some preliminary design level insights and present potential approaches to project evaluation and testing. The animatable characters and objects are curiously expressive, and the analysis begins to refine the hermeneutic issues involved when operating and viewing complex multi-jointed characters in a physics-based 3D (pseudo 2D) environment.


The latest chapter is still in draft but is attached here. It contains an annotated bibliography. It will be finished by September.

Paper thumbnail Ian Grant, Shadows, Unpublished draft, June 2010. [PDF]

Annotated Bibliography

The chapter bibliography, including refereed work, books and material from a variety of sources. Note: Currently the annotations to the bibliography sit within the chapter, above. I will update this to include annotations by September.

Bib thumbnail Ian Grant, Annotated Bibliography, June 2010. [PDF]
Bib thumbnail Ian Grant, Full Bibliography, July 2010. [Bibtex File]

Full Thesis Table of Contents

Here is the current table of contents for the whole thesis. It is my intention to revisit this at the July 2010 seminar, with a supervision.

Cover thumbnail Ian Grant, Thesis: Expressivity and the Digital Puppet, Draft Table of Contents, June 2010. [PDF]

Current Thesis Abstract

The current thesis abstract, a piece in continuous revision.

Abstract thumbnail Ian Grant, Thesis Abstract: Expressivity and the Digital Puppet, Latest Abstract, June 2010. [PDF]


Jointed Karagiozis Shadow Puppet - Render (Not Real Time) Physics Shadow Test 001 Physics Shadow Test 003 Shadow Engine001 Horse Prodded Shadow Engine001 Kara Ipad Touch Photo Shadow Engine001 Lotte Figure Shadow Engine001 Lotte Figure Touched Shadow Engine001 On The Ipad Unity3D Interfaced With Joints Visualised

Prototype and Development Plan

The web prototype, below, is based on the iPad version, and plays back in a web browser if you have the Unity Web Player, available here. The web player is 'monotouch' only, as most systems only have a single mouse pointer.

The primary aim was to prove the basic concept: that the 3D models, with UV and texture maps, could work in an orthogonal openGL context, simulating the interactions of shadow puppets in a multitouch environment. There is a rationale behind each of the figures and they all make it to the screen through different design processes. Each character has different rigs. All objects 'rigidbody' and have differently physical properties (configurable joints, hinges, mass, spring and damping properties) - and clearly visual designs - and all these parameters that effect 'expressivity'.

It is very satisfying that the proof of concept application works. Playing can lead to 'operator emoting', performer flow and rich expressive moments. In terms of performance animation, the combination between direct control and physical simulation (and it has to be said 'accidental physics glitches') is a ripe area for further exploration. For example, in the Lotte Reininger female figure, the different tension properties and rotation limits of each arm (the right, floppy and dead, the other stiff and pert) - are set to radically contrast to illustrate that expressivity is in part an act of tuning and configuration. Actually, in the current prototype, the whole figure is relatively 'unconstrained'. The radical kinetic/visual variation a few settings can make cannot be underestimated.

Development Plan for this Current Phase of Work on Shadows

The prototype will be developed in the following ways:


Snapshot for movie [H264, 609x436, 16.2MB]

Timeline of PhD Progress and Plan (June 2010)

A current snapshot of the planning documents, inc. updated GANTT chart, can be found at the URLs.

PhD Progress and Plan

The project planning software I use (omniplan) generates reports on the progress I am making. Including stats / percentage about the completion of current planned work. Note that I am not totally using all the features of the software to track the hourage or resources of each task, just to provide an overview and visualisation of the work.

You can view the report(s) here:

Link: http://daisyrust.com/phd/phd_progress_AY0911/

PhD Progress - GANTT Chart

A direct link to the GANTT chart (Updated June 2010)

Link: http://daisyrust.com/phd/phd_progress_AY0911/dissertation%20planGantt.html

Poster Presentation

Download the poster presentation "Shadows and Surfaces: PhD Practice Update Designing the ShadowEngine for Multitouch Interaction" given at SMARTLab, UEL, July 2010 in the following formats:


Download the slides from the talk "Shadows and Surfaces: PhD Practice Update Designing the ShadowEngine for Multitouch Interaction" given at SMARTLab, UEL, July 2010 in the following formats:


This research is supported by:

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