Alumni

The CDE and our industrial partners have funded over 100 studentships on our Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Digital Entertainment Programme.

The EngD programme provides outstanding candidates with an intensive training and research programme. Our Research Engineers (REs) work with academic experts in Computer Vision, Computer Graphics, HCI, and AI, as well as industry experts in companies and organisations in the digital entertainment sector.  

We are extremely proud that 45 REs have now graduated and the alumni network is growing.

Graduates from this programme have the technical, business and personal development competancies, knowledge and experience needed to work in both academic and industrial research and understand the benefits and mechanisms for collaboration between them. Over half (59%) now have careers in industry, 36% work are in academia or both.

This is a credit to their hard work and determination during the four year EngD process.  

2017
Valentin Miu
Valentin Miu
Supervisor
Dr Oleg Fryazinov
Chris Smith & Mark Gerhard

The aims were to port existing desktop computer-oriented computer vision techniques to smartphones, by lowering the computational requirements, or by developing alternative methods. This research contributed to the creation of various beauty-related smartphone and web apps using Unity, as well as TensorFlow Lite and TensorFlowJS for the machine learning components. The projects included a novel 6DoF machine learning system for smartphone object tracking, an improved wrinkle and facial blemish detection algorithm and implementation in Unity, as well as research on neural architecture search for facial feature segmentation, and makeup style transfer with generative adversarial networks.

Why did you choose the EngD with CDE?: I had a significant interest in the more technical aspects of computer graphics. Since all my other options for a doctorate were physics, the CDE EngD option stood out to me when I discovered it.

Placement: The target of the placement company changed from AR games to beauty applications early during the placement. This led to much implementation work to achieve parity with other augmented reality and computer vision-based beauty apps, which may have limited novelty of research. From the placement, I learned how to use machine learning frameworks like PyTorch and TensorFlow, how to optimize for smartphones with TensorFlow Lite, and how to program for the Unity game engine. Given the requirements of my current job, learning Unity has been most useful.

How are you feeling now you have defended your thesis and completed the EngD? Completing the EngD has allowed me to move on to headset-based augmented reality, which I find more interesting and less limited than smartphone-based augmented reality.

I am currently working at the Austrian Institute of Technology doing augmented reality research engineering. I want to learn Unreal Engine and virtual production out of personal interest.

Potential Impact of your research: The benefit to the placement company, from creation of some machine learning models and work on implementation.

Download Valentin’sResearch Profile

View Valentin’s Research Outputs

2017
Thomas Williams
Thomas Williams
Supervisors
Dr Elies Dekoninck,
Dr Simon Jones,
Dr Christof Lutteroth
Dr Hazel Boyd

My research project explored the use of augmented reality (AR) as a task prompting tool to support people living with dementia to complete tasks at home. Dementia affects more than 850,000 people in the UK, a figure that continues to rise year on year. People living with dementia often have difficulties completing everyday tasks, leading to a reliance on family or professional carers. However, assistive technology, such as task prompting tools, can support people living with dementia to maintain their independence and live at home for longer. AR is an increasingly prevalent technology and has been used as a task prompting tool in industrial settings to support complex maintenance and assembly tasks. The use of AR for task assistance has also been identified as a promising area for development in domestic settings. Despite this, relatively little was known about the efficacy of augmentations for everyday tasks.

In order to develop a holistic understanding of the use of AR in a domestic setting, I chose to involve multiple stakeholders in my project, including: health professionals; a general adult population; older adults without cognitive impairment; and, people living with dementia and their family carers. The project consisted of four key studies:

  1. In-person interviews with professionals with experience of working with people living with dementia.
  2. A lab experiment with older adults to compare four AR visual prompting techniques to prompt five basic actions found in many everyday tasks.
  3. Co-design of AR prompts in a kitchen context, and their evaluation with a general adult population using an online survey.
  4. Online interviews with people living with dementia and their family carers to explore the results of the previous three studies and how AR could be beneficial from the point of view of people with lived experience of dementia.

The overall findings show that AR as a tool to support task prompting of domestic tasks was received positively by the participants of my studies. A combination of text, audio, and a ghosthand image demonstrating the action to carry out could be most beneficial for people with dementia, but AR prompts should be easily customisable to cater for different abilities, preferences, and personalities. Furthermore, early introduction of AR will be key for uptake when the technology has been developed further.

Why did you chose the EngD with CDE?

I wanted to use my technical problem solving skills to help others, and the EngD felt like a qualification that would enable me to do just that. Having said that, I did not know what project I would end up pursuing, but am very pleased that my EngD journey led me to the field of HCI and dementia.

Placement:

The team at Designability were wonderful colleagues and mentors. I enjoyed working with creative and passionate people, and felt welcomed from the get go. The company went through a lot of change during my time there, and of course the pandemic was unprecedented for everyone, but I always felt supported and enabled to complete my EngD research.

How are you feeling now you defended your thesis and completed the EngD?

I am immensely proud to have completed the project and defended my thesis. I even enjoyed my viva! I owe it to the people supporting me who encouraged me to persevere when decisions and life became difficult and I feel incredibly grateful to have had such an understanding and supportive supervisory team.

What are your plans for the future?

Over the course of my EngD journey, I realised that I enjoy working with people and have a desire to help individuals more directly. I was lucky enough to meet occupational therapists who inspired me to pursue a career in occupational therapy. I am keeping an open mind, but may decide to pursue an academic research career and I am interested in filling the space between technology development and occupational therapy.

The potential impact of your research:

My work provides support for the use of AR as a task prompting tool for people living with dementia and for AR task prompting in domestic settings in general, adding to the growing basis of research in these areas. The general findings about how AR prompts should look for domestic task prompting will be useful for developers of AR prompting for people with and without dementia. My original contribution is the development of AR prompts for domestic tasks that have been evaluated with multiple stakeholders both with and without cognitive impairment. My project could be continued by future students to further explore the practical implications of using AR to support people living with dementia at home.

Download Thomas’ Research Profile

 

2016
Catherine Taylor
Catherine Taylor

Research

Deformable Objects for Virtual Environments

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I chose the EngD with the CDE as it allowed me to work on novel academic research as well as learn how to carry out research in an industrial environment. The CDE also offered the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse range of individuals and present my work at conferences all over the world.

My research focused on tracking non-rigid objects for virtual environments with the goal of creating novel, immersive interactions for VR and AR. I designed several neural network-based approaches for predicting the pose and shape of deformable objects from RGB images. I also created a new dataset containing hand-object interaction sequences.

Where did you complete your placement?

My placement was with the experiential art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast. This is a creatively led company, so I enjoyed learning about how VR and AR can be used to design exciting art exhibitions and tell stories. I also learned about the faster pace of research in the industry as compared to academia. I got the opportunity to take part in several Innovate UK projects as well as see the company grow and the importance of research increase.

How are you feeling now you have defended your thesis?

I was very relieved when I passed my viva! The EngD was challenging so I felt proud to see 4 years of work come together.

What are your plans for the future?

I have now started a job as an Image Analysis Research Engineer at Canon Medical Research Europe. I am working on researching and writing software for analysing medical images.

Potential Impact of your research:

Throughout my EngD, deformable objects have become a key focus of MLF’s research, and my EngD has help informed the direction of that research. With the continuing popularity of VR and AR, there are many applications which could be enhanced by using object of hand-object tracking as a means of interaction. For example, games, art exhibitions and training environments.

Current Employment/Job Title

Image Analysis Research Engineer at Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd.

View Catherine’s Research Outputs

2015
Tom Matko
Tom Matko

Research

Computational Fluid Dynamics Modelling of Dissolved Oxygen in Oxidation Ditches.

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I wanted to do the EngD so I could focus entirely on industrial related research. I had previously worked in industry and done research in fluid simulation (water and built environment) and in computer animation. The EngD allowed me to spend my first year on a computer animation project on the fluid simulation of animal swimming. Thereafter all my time was spent on the main fluid simulation project that relates to wastewater engineering.

Where did you complete your placement?

During my doctorate I did a placement in Wessex Water’s offices in Bath. The benefits included modelling and taking measurements from operational wastewater treatment plants. The project studies the effect of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and bubble size distribution (BSD) on dissolved oxygen in one of Wessex Water’s wastewater treatment plants. In my case I was fortunate I was able to use the facilities of Bournemouth University and the University of Bath.

Thesis: –Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Modelling of Dissolved Oxygen in Oxidation Ditches

Current Employment/Job Title

Principal CFD Modeller at Jacobs

View Tom’s Research Outputs

2015
Joanna Tarko
Joanna Tarko

Research

Graphics Insertions into Real Video for Market Research

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Often, when asked, people can’t explain why they bought a specific product. The aim of market research is to design research methods that help to explain why the decision was made. In a perfect scenario, study participants would be placed in a real, but fully-controlled shopping environment; however, in practice, such environments are very expensive or even impossible to build. Virtual reality (VR) environments, in turn, are fully controllable and immersive, but they lack realism.

My project is on combining video camera footage with computer-generated elements to create sufficiently realistic (or plausible) but still controlled environments for market research. The computer graphics elements can range from texture replacement (as on the screen of a mobile phone) through to complete three-dimensional models of buildings (such as a petrol station). More commonly, billboards, posters and individual product items comprise the graphics models. After working with standard cameras, I focused on 360° cameras (cameras that capture everything around them in every direction), which are rapidly gaining in popularity, and may provide a good replacement for VR content in terms of immersion.’‹

Where did you complete your placement?

My placement was with DC-avtiv. Dc-activ combine insight, design and tech to help brands Win At Retail by digitising commercial capability across 6 pillars. Underpinning these capabilities is impactxp, a unique ecosystem of services designed around our client’s commercial priorities.

Current Employment/Job Title

R&D Engineer at Ncam Technologies Ltd

View Joanna’s Research Outputs

2015
Simone Barbieri
Simone Barbieri

Research

Unified Animation Pipeline for 2D and 3D Content

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

As this project is part of an Engineering Doctorate, together with the contribution to knowledge, it needs to provide impact in the industry. Not only the research must be beneficial to the companies that contributed to the project, but it also has to push the industry forward. The impact is achieved in particular with the unified animation pipeline. This, in fact, provides an important advantage during the production of animation. The real-time rendering provided by the pipeline, thanks to the employment of a game engine, offers significant economic and time-saving, allowing the filmmakers to preview the scenes they’re working on instantly and very close to the final product in terms of visual quality.

The research consists of two main parts. The first one is the generation of 3D characters and animations from existing 2D drawings. The second is a unified animation pipeline for animation production and videogames.

Where did you complete your placement?

My research project has been carried out in cooperation with two companies: Thud Media and Cloth Cat Animation. Cloth Cat produces animated series, both 2D and 3D, while Thud Media deals with interactive experiences, such as videogames, applications, and websites.

My experience with both companies has been very positive. I had never worked in the animation industry before, so the experience brought me to a better understanding of how exactly this industry operates.

Moreover, I’m satisfied with how the project evolved over time. Started to employ 2D characters in VR, the project ended up in the generation of 3D characters from drawings and state-of-the-art pipeline for animation production, which is now in testing and will be employed next year.

The companies I worked with during the EngD have been very invested in the project, so, as they plan to keep developing it, I will continue working with them! I really enjoyed working on this project, so I’m glad I can keep working on it.

Current Employment/Job Title

Research Engineer at Thud Media

View Simone’s Research Outputs

2015
Javier DeHesa
Javier DeHesa

Research

A Novel Neural Network Architecture with Applications to 3D Animation and Interaction in Virtual Reality

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

In 2014, after I had finished my undergrad studies and an MSc, I considered moving ontoa PhD. However, I was not attracted by the kind of topics I could work on at my university, so I set out to look for other options. I literally learned about the CDE, and what an EngD is, from the website FindAPhD. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for me, not only because of the theme of digital entertainment, but an EngD also seemed more aligned with my interest, since I was actually a bit worried about staying away from the industry for too long if I started a PhD. I applied, but unfortunately, it was too late, and there were no places available anymore. I gave up on the academic career path, and starting working as a software engineer for a company in Germany. After ten months, I received an email asking me whether I would still consider an interview to start an EngD with the CDE, I said yes.

It was not easy for me, though, to make that final decision. Even though I was very interested in academic research, I have always been keen on working in the industry too, and going back to being a student when I was already established in a well-paying job required some thought. However, I am glad I made that decision, and I am now very happy with the way my EngD resulted and my current position.

Outline of research:

We investigated different applications of neural networks to the field of digital entertainment, specifically 3D character animation and interaction in VR environments. We considered a sword fighting VR scenario, where a player has to fight against a virtual character using a VR controller to drive their sword. Our research focused on the generation of realistic reactions to the actions of the player, such as identifying incoming attacks and correctly blocking the strike. To this end, we designed an interaction framework comprised of three pieces: a gesture detection neural network model, which recognises the strikes in the player input; a behaviour planning module, which decides how to react to the detected input based on some rules and parameters; and an animation synthesis neural network model, which generates the actual pose for the character based on the desired behaviour. Using motion capture data to train our models, it was possible to achieve highly realistic results with minimal involvement of animators in the process.

The animation synthesis model we developed for this work, which we dubbed “Grid-Functioned Neural Network”, is a contribution of our research on its own. This neural network model uses a grid of expert parameterisations to subdivide the space of the problem, making it easier to learn local patterns in the data. We studied its application to several synthetic regression problems, showing its advantage over conventional neural networks, and also compared to a state-of-the-art architecture in a different animation scenario, where it showed advantages in terms of stability and computational performance.

Where did you complete your placement?

My placement was with the video games studio Ninja Theory, in Cambridge. While I know any other partner company would have been excellent too, I consider myself really lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with them. I was not the first EngD student that Ninja Theory had taken in, so they were well aware of how things worked with the CDE, and what they might expect from me. The team was very welcoming and supportive, I never found myself being pressured to take in work unrelated to my research, and whenever I needed assistance with some tool, participants for a study or just general advice, I could count on it. Even though I was not, technically, an employee, I was always treated as one, and included in all company activities and events. On the more practical side, Ninja Theory was a really privileged place to develop my research, as they have their own motion capture facilities, and virtually any other hardware or equipment I could possibly need. They also have a very talented staff, and my supervisor, Andrew Vidler, was really involved in my research and provided very useful technical advice. After I finished my EngD, Ninja Theory offered me a permanent position as a research engineer in their R&D team, which allowed me to continue developing some of the work I had been doing, and exploring new research topics.

How are you feeling now you have defended your thesis?

Finishing the EngD really feels like having a massive weight off your back. I am happy that I did it, but it is, without a doubt, a huge challenge, and there have been many difficult moments along the way. There was more than one occasion where I really thought I would not be able to finish it and I should just drop it, and I might just have done that if it was not for the solid support I got from my supervisory team, as well as my friends and family. Looking back, a lot of the doubts and hurdles that were troubling me do not seem so bad anymore. I think it is important to remind yourself to keep a broad perspective and realistic expectations, and to be kind to yourself. Failure, barriers and doubts are all things that are expected to happen during a doctorate, and they do not make you any less deserving of the title’”rather the opposite.

What are your plans for the future?

After finishing my EngD, I started working as a research engineer for my placement company, Ninja Theory. I have not barred myself from doing more academic research in the future, but at the moment I am focusing on a career in the industry. The knowledge and skills I acquired during my doctorate are now a big part of my professional background and an important item in my resume, and I am confident they will be a huge help towards achieving my goals in the future.

What is the Potential Impact of your research?

The ultimate goal of my research was to empower and facilitate the work of video game developers. It builds on a recent trend of using data-driven methods to lighten the less creative task involved in the process of building interactive virtual worlds. In this case, we looked in particular at the problems of recognising the actions of a player in VR and generating reactive animations in real-time. In a conventional setup, this would involve a significant amount of work analysing player input data and editing and assembling large amounts of animation data to this end. Our system uses machine learning to automate the most tedious parts of this process, while allowing developers to design precise behaviours that make use of the trained models. The animation synthesis models we proposed is a significant step in this direction, as it addresses aspects that are critical to video game development, like stability and computational performance. As video games continue growing in complexity, this kind of technique will take a more significant role in the industry, and become a standard tool in the development process.

Current Employment/Job Title

Ninja Theory / Research Engineer

View Javier’s Research Outputs

2015
Lazaros Michailidis
Lazaros Michailidis

Research

Exploiting physiological changes during the flow experience for assessing virtual-reality game design

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I genuinely found the idea of an EngD to fully align with my goals. My goal was to bring academic research standards to the study of video games, but having had little to no formal training in the latter, a placement within PlayStation was the missing piece. Carrying out research in my beloved field, whilst also gaining experience from industry experts did not require second thoughts: Sign me up!

The research aimed to measure the flow experience in virtual reality video games with a strong focus on player characteristics rather than solely the game’s design as conventionally practiced in existing research. To this end, we recorded the players’ physiological responses to game levels designed to induce three mental states, i.e., flow, anxiety, and boredom, whilst keeping the game’s difficulty commensurate with each mental state. The physiological measures used were electrooculography, heart-rate variability, and electroencephalography (EEG). We showed that game design practices are not always consistent with the player’s experience. More specifically, we found that the players’ personality, as expressed through the Big Five dimensions, explained a significant portion of the flow experience across the three design levels. In addition, we were among the first to investigate the reduction of a medium-resolution EEG to a minimal subset for commercialization purposes. Evidently, electrophysiological activity converged to six scalp sensors, indicating an overlap between our game design and the player-reported experience of flow.

Where did you complete your placement?

Overall, I’ve had a very positive experience at PlayStation as a student, though I did struggle with the academia-industry divide during my first year. Companies operate on different schedules and deadlines, and I was more acquainted with the comfort of the academic world. Hence, my time management took a hit causing a ripple effect that endured for a long while. Nevertheless, environments with diverse thought and skillsets can only be beneficial to a new starter. I also enjoyed benefits exclusive to Sony employees, such as activities and off-site trips, which enriched my experience and made me feel part of the company.

Now that I have defended mythesis I feel extremely relieved. Defending your work is not exclusive to an EngD. I think that defending your work in your professional life can be far more intimidating. I definitely succumbed to stress, even though I knew I was not alone. The viva itself was not as dreadful as I’d originally made it out to be and I’ve got the examiners and the chair to thank for that. There are so many interesting things to explore and investigate, this was only the beginning!

I have become a permanent employee at PlayStation and I really enjoy my time here. I wouldn’t know how far in the future my plans could change, but I’m definitely happy to be where I am. Truly appreciative of the opportunity this program has given me.

Current Employment/Job Title

Sony Interactive Entertainment / Research and Development Engineer

View Lazaros’ Research Outputs

2015
Ifigeneia Mavridou
Ifigeneia Mavridou

Research

Emotion in Virtual Reality (VR)- Thesis title: Affective State Recognition in Virtual Reality

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

The EngD with CDE was a unique opportunity to conduct focused interdisciplinary research on a novel area (emotion detection for immersive technologies)that pushed the boundaries of science, and it allowed me to collaborate closely with a high-tech company which otherwise wouldn’t be possible. The centre supported my development as a young researcher, guided my progress with a well-balanced supervisory team, and offered me the tools I needed for my academic and personal development. Combining pure academic research with applied R&D experience in the industry was and is the biggest benefit for young PhD candidates.

Outline of research:

The aim of this EngD research project is to identify how affective states are elicited in VR and how they can be efficiently measured, without constraining the movement and decreasing the sense of presence in the virtual world. Through a three-years long collaboration with Emteq labs Ltd, a wearable technology company, we assisted in the development of a novel multimodal affect detection system, comprising a mask with biometric sensors that can be integrated within Virtual Reality headsets. This sensor mask combined dry electromyographic sensors, heart-pulse measures and movement detection sensors, specifically tailored towards the requirements of VR. In the thesis, we described the architecture of the system, the research studies that enabled this development, and the future challenges. The studies conducted, validated the reliability of our proposed system, including the VR stimuli design, data measures, and processing pipeline. This work could inform future studies in the field of AC in VR and assist in the development of novel applications and healthcare interventions.

Successfully defending my thesis (or my ‘baby’ as you may hear me saying) was a big milestone for me. I feel very grateful to my supervisory team who motivated me to complete the write-up during the covid-19 lockdown time. I feel there is so much more work to be done in the next years. I’m now working at emteq labs as Lead Affect Engineer and I run research consultancy projects while continuing my research and supporting new EngD students. The EngD work written in my thesis was only the beginning!

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed by placement at emteq labs.

Pursuing an EngD is not a simple process. It requires focus, high motivation, good communication skills, urgency, and an urge to push the boundaries of science. I learned how to not only design and conduct research, but to take risks, to challenge my own knowledge, to ask the right questions, and to look further in the future on the applications and impact of the work. I also learned how to collaborate well with both academic and industrial partners, to adapt the way I’m thinking and sharing my vision. Further to this, I had hands-on experience with stakeholders and external collaborators, as well as with successful grant applications. My experience led me to conduct one of the biggest biometric studies in VR at the Science Museum in London, and later on to manage my own team.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m now fully employed by the company that provided me with the 3-year long placement, and I’m leading my own team on affect research. I’m confident that my work is enabling me to pursue both professional paths, either in the industry or the academia. I’m considering taking a small break from academic research and then pursuing a post-doc later on potentially. My aim is to build multiple collaborations with industrial and academic partners and showcase the value of the affect detecting technology for immersive technologies I have been working on during my EngD.

What is the potential impact of your research?

In the short term, recognising the emotional state of the user could not only assist in the enhancement of human-computer interaction or the avatar-to-avatar interaction in VR, but could also be used as additional input, enabling interaction with content and adaptive control. Consequently, physiological metrics could be very useful for a plethora of applications in extended realities whose market size is expected to explode in the next few years. Additionally, from a market research and retail point of view, understanding if the user felt pleasantly or unpleasantly within an experience could provide useful insights on the content’s impact and likeability by the user.

For me, the biggest impact is in the development of health-care and well-being interventions, where such technologies could assist therapists and patients on measuring and improving their mental health.

Current Employment/Job Title

emteq labs / Lead Affect Scientist

View Ifigeneia’s Research Outputs

2014
Asha Ward
Asha Ward

 

Research

Music Technology for Users with Complex Needs

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

The EngD offered the chance to gain an academic foundation as well as to develop research within an industry based setting. The framework that the CDE provided offered both the support and the resources to be able to carry out the research I undertook effectively.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at the Three Ways School in Bath which is a special educational needs school for children and young people aged 4-18. Working with the school carried on a relationship that started when I was doing my degree and saw me working with an industrial mentor to create new music-making technology that could really be adapted to the context it was being used within. The flexibility that the research allowed meant that I also got to work with several other research sites which then fed back into the final research outputs. It was a great experience to be able to work with so many dedicated practitioners and professionals and feed this through into creating technology that helped people to access music-making.

The impact of my research has always been centered around using technology to give access to the experience of music-making to those that would otherwise encounter barriers to music-making. The impact of my research will hopefully grow as the tools that were created from it and the insight that was gained is repurposed and carried forward by others. The tools that were created will be being used in the settings that they were developed in and are open for future development.

I am currently working as a Research Fellow in Digital Storytelling methodologies for supporting the transitions of autistic children, at Southampton University.

(Previous: West Howe Community Enterprises as skills and activities coordinator)

Current Employment/Job Title

Research Fellow in Digital Storytelling methodologies – Southampton University

View Asha’s Research Outputs

2014
Ieva Kazlauskaite
Ieva Kazlauskaite

Research

Compositional Uncertainty in Models of Alignment

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

This program offered an opportunity for me to gain experience in both academia and industry and allowed me to put my background in Mathematics to good use.

Impact:

My project was inspired by a real industrial problem within my host company.

The project investigated the use of machine learning techniques to improve the interactrive animation of game characters based on motion capture data.

Learning from sequential data is challenging as data might be sampled at different and uneven rates, sequences might be collected out of phase, etc.Consider the following scenarios: humans performing a task may take more or less time to complete parts of it, climate patterns are often cyclic though particular events take place at slightly different times in the year, the mental ability of children varies depending on their age, neuronal spike waveforms contain temporal jitter, replicated scientific experiments often vary in timing.However, most sample statistics, e.g.mean and variance, are designed to capture variation in amplitude rather than phase/timing. This leads to increased sample variance, blurred fundamental data structures and an inflated number of principal components needed to describe the data. Therefore, the data needs to be aligned in order for dependencies such as these to be recovered. This is a non-trivial task that is often performed as a pre-processing stage to modelling.’‹Further difficulties arise when the the dataset contains observations from several distinct sequences. Consider, for example, a set of motion capture experiments that include tasks such as running, jumping and sitting down. Data for each of these three types of sequence can be aligned to themselves but a global alignment between them may not exist.

In this project we analysed the aforementionedscenariosusingprobabilistic non-parametric approaches.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at Electronic Arts. During my time there I got an opportunity to take part in multiple different projects in graphics, physics and AI. My main focus over the final two years was on probabilistic modelling of time series with applications to analysis and synthesis of motion capture data.

What Next?

I’m currently doing a postdoc in the Civil Engineering department at Cambridge with Prof Mark Girolami. I don’t have a well-defined research direction yet, but I expect it to be a continuation of some of my previous work with more of an emphasis on theory.

Current Employment/Job Title

Postdoc in the Civil Engineering department at Cambridge

View Ieva’s Research Outputs

 

2014
Mark Moseley
Mark Moseley

Research

The Development of Assistive Technology to Reveal Knowledge of Physical World Concepts in Young People Who Have Profound Motor Impairments

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I was a member of the Bournemouth University based EU funded SHIVA project team whilst working at Victoria Education Centre (VEC) as an Assistive Technologist. SHIVA introduced me to the world of applied research and led to my applying for the EngD. The EngD is particularly well suited to this type of research and enabled real-world problems relating to my field of work to be tackled.

Where did you complete your placement?

I had worked at Victoria Education Centre as an Assistive Technologist for 8 years, and so it seemed logical and beneficial that my research take place there. During my research I created Assistive Technology (AT) accessible digital assessments and an eye gaze controlled robotic arm with hand-based haptic feedback. These were used with two pupil participants at VEC, with the aim of identifying and extending their knowledge of the physical world. Their disabilities meant that they were unable to speak and had little reliable movement of most of their limbs, and so lacked opportunities to interact with and learn about the physical world. The AT system helped to provide such opportunities.

Further information about Livability Victoria Education Centre can be found on their website: https://www.victoria.poole.sch.uk/

Current Employment/Job Title

Assistive Technologist at both VEC and Langside School. Research Assistant at Bournemouth University.

View Mark’s Research Outputs

2014
Garoe Dorta Perez
Garoe Dorta Perez

Research

Learning models for intelligent photo editing

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

It is difficult to make the decision of whether to purse an academic career or work in industry. The EngD provided an opportunity to explore both. Moreover, the program included generous funding that allowed me to explore interesting research ideas and attend a number of conferences.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at Anthropics Technology Ltd. This company provides intelligent photographic editing tools, with a focus on human face manipulation. This means that research in machine learning models is at the heart of the company. Thus making it the ideal place for an EngD placement.

Current Employment/Job Title

View Garoe’s Research Outputs

2013
Anamaria Ciucanu
Anamaria Ciucanu

Research

E-StopMotion: Reconstructing and Enhancing 3D Animation of Stop Motion Characters by Reverse Engineering Plasticine Deformation

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I wanted some time to explore the computer animation field, without the immediate stress common in industry.

Also, I felt the need to solve real problems that the industry faces at the moment.

Where did you complete your placement?

Formerly working with Fat Pebble

Stop Motion Animation is the traditional craft of giving life to handmade models.The unique look and feel of this art form is hard to reproduce with 3D computer generated techniques.This is due to the unexpected details that appear from frame to frame and to the sometimes choppy appearance of the character movement.The artist’s task can be overwhelming as he has to reshape a character into hundreds of poses to obtain just a few seconds of animation.The results of the animation are usually applied in 2D mediums like films or platform games.Character features that took a lot of effort to create thus remain unseen.

We explored a novel system that allows the creation of 3D stop motion-like animations from 3D character shapes reconstructed from multi-view images.Given two or more reconstructed shapes from key frames, our method uses a combination of virtual clay deformation,non-rigid registration and as-rigid-as-possible interpolation to generate plausible in-between shapes.This significantly reduces the artist’s workload since much fewer poses are required.The reconstructed and interpolated shapes with complete 3D geometry can be manipulated even further through deformation techniques. The resulting shapes can then be used as animated characters in games or fused with 2D animation frames for enhanced stop motion films.

https://vimeo.com/289971097

Video accompanying the publication:
Anamaria Ciucanu, Naval Bhandari, Xiaokun Wu, Shridhar Ravikumar, Yong-Liang Yang, Darren Cosker. 2018. E-StopMotion: Digitizing Stop Motion for Enhanced Animation and Games. In MIG 18: Motion, Interaction and Games (MIG 18), November 8-10, 2018, Limassol, Cyprus. ACM, New York, USA, 11 pages.

Thesis:E-StopMotion: Reconstructing and Enhancing 3D Animation of Stop Motion Characters by Reverse Engineering Plasticine Deformation

Anamaria’s Research Profile

Current Employment/Job Title

Lecturer in Computer Animation / Manchester Metropolitan University

 

2013
Elena Marimon Munoz
Elena Marimon Munoz

Research

Digital Radiography: Image Acquisition and Scattering Reduction in X-ray imaging

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

An EngD program allows you to work in a research project while offering you an insight and experience in industry. This was a perfect solution for me, as I wanted to continue my studies but wasn’t sure about pursuing a career in academia. The CDE programme allowed me to work in a very interesting funded project and provided me with the experience, tools and skills needed to work in both industry and academia.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at Dexela Ltd (Varex Imaging, former PerkinElmer). Varex Imaging is a X-ray imaging solution provider that covers medical to industrial applications. My project explored the image acquisition and image processing areas of digital radiography, by seeking the improvement in the design of a new family of Varex Imaging CMOS X-ray detectors and by developing a method to reduce the scatter contribution in mammography examinations using image post-processing techniques.

Thesis:Digital radiography: image acquisition and scattering reduction in x-ray imaging

Current Employment/Job Title

Physicist at Unitive Design and Analysis (previous experience: Detector Physicist, Varex Imaging Corporation (6 years))

2013
Fabio Turchet
Fabio Turchet

Research

New VFX Technologies

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

My research project focuses on the simulation of muskuloskeletal systems for the visual effect industry. Movies often features creatures
and digital doubles that have to look real and part of this realism comes from an anatomically correct deformation of soft tissues and skin.

Challenges in the area are represented by the complexity of the many interacting muscles present in the body that have to be simulated numerically and efficiently with methods that take into account collisions, material anisotropy, non-linearity and artistic control.

The Centre for Digital Entertainment enabled me to work on the research in an industrial setting.

Where did you complete your placement?

The Moving Picture Company (MPC)

Thesis:Physics-based modelling, simulation, placement and learning for musculo-skeletal animations

Current Employment/Job Title

3D Graphics Programmer, Crisalix (previous experience: Research Engineer, Prime Focus World (1y), Research Engineer, MPC (3y))

View Fabio’s Research Outputs

2013
Daniela De Angeli
Daniela De Angeli

Research

Museums in the Digital Age: Understanding Visitors’ Behaviour with Real and Virtual Content

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I applied for the EngD in Games because I am deeply passionate about exploring new technologies for informal education. I would like to design innovative digital games that both educate and entertain people within institutions of informal education, such as museums and cultural organisations. While formal education is often conservative, informal learning can be experimental and innovative.I was interested in studying the effects of digital games on young players, focusing on their learning process.

Where did you complete your placement?

During her doctorate at the Centre for Digital Entertainment, Daniela explored how authenticity and entertainment can coexist in contemporary museums through game creation and game play. She is currently investigating the use of games to stimulate dialogue and social reflection in difficult heritage sites.

Thesis:The Gameful Museum: Authenticity and Entertainment in the Digital Age

Current Employment/Job Title

Research Associate at University of Bath (previous experience: Research, National Trust (5y))

View Daniela’s Research Outputs

2013
Richard Jones
Richard Jones

Research

New VFX Technologies

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

Double Negative

Richard worked alongside VFX studio Double Negative to develop improvements to the liquid simulation toolset for creating turbulent liquid and whitewater effects for feature film visual effects. The current toolset for liquid simulation is built around the creation of simple single-phase liquid motion, such as ocean waves and simple splashes, but struggles to capture the often more exciting mixed air-liquid phenomena of very turbulent fluid splashes and sprays. Therefore the creation of turbulent effects relies very heavily on artistic input and having the experience and intuition to use existing tools in unorthodox ways. By incorporating more physical models for turbulent fluid phenomena into the existing liquid simulation toolset, his project aims to develop techniques to greater capture realistic turbulent fluid effects and allow faster turnover of the highly detailed liquid effects required for feature film.

Thesis:Droplets, splashes and sprays: highly detailed liquids in visual effects production

Current Employment/Job Title

R&D Programmer – Double Negative (previous experience: Research Engineer, Prime Focus World (1y), Research Engineer, Double Negative (4y))

View Richard’s Research Outputs

2013
Adam Boulton
Adam Boulton

Research

Generating Engagement With Video Games Through Frustration And Hindrance

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

After finishing my undergraduate studies, I was both interested in further study and working in digital media in some capacity. The EngD course gave me the perfect opportunity to chase both at the same time.

Research Outline: It is commonly stated in interaction research that user frustration is a negative aspect of Human-Computer Interaction. Frustration is commonly positioned as a detrimentto user engagement and as something to be eliminated or minimised wherever possible. For practitioners within the games industry, however, frustration is frequently seen as a key part of an engaging video game experience. My research aimed to explore this divide, determine if frustration can indeed increase engagement, and formulate recommendations for developers who wish to harness the positive effects where found.

Potential Impact of your research: Hopefully, providing clear evidence that frustration is not always a negative aspect of interaction in games, my research will give others cause to investigate if these findings hold true in other types of HCI, particularly gamified applications. Additionally, the recommendations made in my thesis will hopefully prove helpful to those building games – including myself!

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at PaperSeven.  My placement gave me a great avenue to bounce ideas for my research around with the very people whom my research was meant to benefit, and provided unique avenues to use their output as a testbed for my own research. It also provided me with the experience I needed to continue working within the industry after my EngD.

What are your plans for the future? Through the connections formed on my EngD I’ve been working full-time as Technical Designer in the games industry for a few years now, starting with my placement company before moving on to Hangar 13 games and most recently Wushu Studios. It’s a field that suits me perfectly with a mix of technical and theoretical know-how required.

Current Employment/Job Title

Senior Technical Designer at Wushu Studios

View Adam’s Research Outputs

2013
Rahul (Ray) Dey
Rahul (Ray) Dey

Research

Procedural Generation of Features for Volumetric Terrains using a Rule-Based Approach Dataset

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I was already working with Sony and was looking for a way to combine my industrial experience with academia. CDE was the perfect way to do this.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement with Sony Interactive Entertainment.

My research focuses on using real time voxelization algorithms and procedurally creating content in voxel spaces. Creating content using voxels is more intuitive than polygon modelling and possesses a number of other advantages. This research intends to provide novel methods for real time voxelization and subsequently editing them using procedural generation techniques. These methods will also be adapted for next generation consoles and take advantage of the features that they expose.

Current Employment/Job Title

Senior Software Engineer at V-Nova Ltd.

View Ray’s Research Outputs

2013
Zack Lyons
Zack Lyons

Research

Virtual Therapy for Aqcuired Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Here Zack explains why he chose the EngD within CDE.

Virtual Therapy – A Story-Driven and Interactive Virtual Environment for Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation

An estimated 350,000 people are affected in the UK each year by an acquired brain injury (ABI). When such injuries affect frontal lobe areas, a person can start to exhibit challenging behaviours that preclude community integration. Even seemingly basic everyday tasks, such as buying a bus ticket or searching for a shop, can be profoundly difficult and highlight significant behavioural obstacles to overcome. A crucial concern for clinicians is therefore to assess such obstacles by witnessing how well people with an ABI manage apparently routine tasks.

Our research has generated an immersive and interactive virtual environment that places people with ABIs into a realistic community setting. The environment challenges their ability to organise tasks, think creatively about solutions, and seek answers through social interactions. By delivering tasks that mirror the demands of the real world, clinicians may be able to better predict how people will behave in the community and train them to overcome these difficulties.

Where did you complete your placement?

Zack’s placement was completed with Designability,a national charity that enables disabled people to live with greater independence. Using human-centred design to create products with and for disabled people to improve and enrich their lives, giving them greater choice every day.

Current Employment/Job Title

Director of Studies, Department of Computer Science, University of Bath

View Zack’s Research Outputs

2012
Alex Gouvatsos
Alex Gouvatsos

Research

3D Storyboarding for Modern Animation

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Being a part of the CDE has been an incredible journey. I met amazing people, travelled to amazing places and learnt how to be a successful independent researcher. Having experienced my viva, I feel like I have a more complete understanding of what a doctorate (at least an engineering one) is about. I feel relieved and happy and ready for my next challenge.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at Hibbert Ralph Animation. I plan to keep applying the skills the CDE and Hibbert Ralph Animation empowered me with, while working on impressive films that I love. I never planned to do a PhD, but when I saw what the EngD offered I immediately applied. With its strong industrial ties, the CDE allowed me to join the industry I loved and carry out research directly within a company.

My research mostly focused around 3D animation pipelines. More specifically, I’m interested in creating an efficient bridge between traditional 2D elements of the animation pipeline such as storyboard drawings and the 3D elements that come later. Apart from developing new algorithms, this also includes understanding what information can be used to make artists more efficient throughout.

I am now working for Double Negative as an R&D Software Developer.

Current Employment/Job Title

Double Negative, R&D Software Developer (previous experience: R&D, Hibbert Ralph Animation (5y))

View Alex’s Research Outputs

2012
Sean Soraghan
Sean Soraghan

Research

A Perceptually Motivated Approach to Timbre Representation and Visualisation

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Current software interfaces for digital music production facilitate the design and manipulation of widely varying musical timbres. However, their interfaces are often complex and technical, presenting a cognitive barrier to some users. This research project aims at developing a perception-based approach to interface design by exploiting synaesthesic correlations between vision and hearing.

An EngD offers a great combination of self-motivated academic research and industry-led practical experience. With the CDE there is a wealth of opportunity, with courses available from two excellent universities, as well as many world-renowned industry contacts.

Where did you complete your placement?

My placement during the EngD was at ROLI. ROLI are a design-led technology company based in Dalston, London. Founded in 2009 by Roland Lamb, they make hardware and software products and services designed to increase the bandwidth of interaction between people and technology.

I recently joined Audiokinetic in Montreal, Canada, as a software engineer. Looking ahead, the main aim is to continue making fun and/or useful interactive things.

Thesis:A perceptually motivated approach to timbre representation and visualisation

Current Employment/Job Title

AudioKinetic / Software Engineer (previous experience: Research Engineer & R&D Software Engineer Contractor, ROLI (4y))

View Sean’s Research Outputs

2012
Andreea Bizdideanu
Andreea Bizdideanu

Research

Strategies for reconstructing and reusing light transport paths in dynamic environments.

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I discovered my passion for light transport simulation during my employment at PERCRO, a laboratory of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, when I came across articles like ‘A shading model for atmospheric scattering considering luminous intensity distribution of light sources’, ‘Display of the earth taking into account atmospheric scattering’ and ‘A layered, heterogeneous reflectance model for acquiring and rendering human skin’. As a computer scientist I was simply fascinated to observe the extent to which the behaviour of light could be simulated on a computer. I had to learn more about light and the simulation of its behaviour and that meant, beyond any doubt, pursuing a doctorate.

Finding the Centre for Digital Entertainment was a great joy for me as realistic image synthesis was one of the major research topics stated in the call for applications. Moreover, being fully funded entailed no other concerns than those related strictly to my research. Indeed, the generous grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council supported both my studies and the deepening of my knowledge about cultures. It was truly extraordinary to partake, as a student, in events such as world-renowned conferences and attend expert discussions around the globe. Equally precious was to immerse myself in the English culture and use my travels to learn more about other cultures around the world.

Like Saint-Exupéry advised, I shall use the experiences acquired throughout my doctorate like a scenery, without complaining of my foundation, without regretting the difficulties or what I have conquered, for today is born out of my entire past.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement with Optis, a software development company with considerable experience in the field of optical simulation. I discovered Optis at SIGGRAPH 2013 Exhibition and it represented an extraordinary opportunity to shape and conduct my research.

The focus of my research was on developing an apparatus of path manipulation strategies that extends bidirectional path tracing to reuse light transport paths in the temporal domain. Despite being one of the most robust state-of-the-art light transport algorithms, bidirectional path tracing was designed for static scenes and thus it discards the generated paths immediately after the evaluation of their contributions. Limiting the lifespan of paths to a generation-evaluation cycle imposes a static use of paths and of sampling techniques. The path manipulation algorithm harnesses the potential of the sampling techniques to supplant the static manipulation of paths with a generation-evaluation-reuse cycle. An intra-subpath connectivity strategy was devised to reconnect the segregated chains of the subpaths invalidated by the geometric transformations of the scene. Successful intra-subpath connections generate subpaths in multiple pieces by reusing subpath chains from prior frames. Subpaths are reconstructed generically, regardless of the subpath or scene dynamism type and without the need for predefined animation paths. By reconstructing and reusing subpaths, the path manipulation algorithm obviates the regeneration of the entire path collection, reduces the computational load of the original algorithm and supports scene dynamism.

Thesis:Path manipulation strategies for rendering dynamic environments

Current Employment/Job Title

Rendering Researcher at Weta Digital NZ

https://www.wetafx.co.nz/

2012
Charlotte Hoare
Charlotte Hoare

Research

Exploring synchronous second screen experiences to television

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

BBC R&D

Charlotte was embedded within the user experience group at BBC R&D in Salford. Charlotte’s research focused on multi-screen experiences in the living room, specifically looking at the implications for the user. This involves prototyping multi-screen experiences, developing methodologies to evaluate them, and ultimately providing recommendations for designers of future interactive living rooms.

Thesis:The Companion Experience: A Thesis from the Study of the Evolving Home Television Experience

Current Employment/Job Title

Software Engineering Team Lead, BBC

2012
Matthew Thompson
Matthew Thompson

Research

Building abstratable story components with institutions and tropes

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

Sysemia

Computer games and virtual reality environments offer new experiences in interactive entertainment. However, the stories in these new media remain the same: linear and scripted, unaffected by the decisions a player makes. I was looking into ways to create stories that react to a player’s actions, in order to create infinitely replayable games and interactive experiences.

Thesis:Building Abstractable Story Components with Institutions and Tropes

Current Employment/Job Title

Lecturer, Bath Spa University

View Matthew’s Research Outputs

2012
Kwamina Edum-Fotwe
Kwamina Edum-Fotwe

Research

Procedural Reconstruction of Architectural Parametric Models from Airborne and Ground Laser Scans

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

Cityscape

Recovery of Sparse Architectural Models from Aerial and Ground-Based LiDAR (Point-Clouds) for use in Interactive Visualisation and Simulation. The focus of my project was the efficient recovery of sparse architectural models from aerial and ground-based LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scans. The key objective is to be able to turn unstructured point-clouds into clean, lightweight 3D models for use in Interactive Visualisation and Simulation. The research relies heavily on Computer Graphics, Image Processing and Data-Driven Procedural Modelling.

Thesis:Procedural Reconstruction of Architectural Parametric Models from Airborne and Ground Laser Scans

View Kwamina’s Research Outputs

 

2012
Alistair Barber
Alistair Barber

Research

Modern Approaches to Camera Tracking Within the Visual Effects Pipeline

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I chose to do an EngD with the CDE whilst working on my MSc in Computer Vision. I was keen to see how work in this field could be applied to solve real-world problems, and I’ve always been interested in film production and computer graphics- so the CDE offered an ideal opportunity.I knew that I wanted to continue my academic career and research, so it was great to be able to do this and also get practical experience in an incredibly exciting industry.

Where did you complete your placement?

I’ve had an amazing 4-and-a-bit years with the CDE and Double Negative. It’s been a great privilege not only to develop exciting new ideas and techniques with leading academics, but also to be able to put them into practice with Double Negative on Hollywood blockbusters as they were beingproduced! My work looked at the process of Camera Tracking, which is a huge area of research within the computer vision community, but for various reasons is a fairly labour-intensive and time-consuming process in VFX production. We took a look at the overall pipeline and gathered statistics on the impact thatdifferent types of footage have on the time taken to produce a VFX shot. We also looked at how new types of hardware could be used on set to measure camera movement, anddeveloped new computer vision techniques to handle footage that contained large amounts of motion blur.

Thesis:Modern Approaches to Camera Tracking Within the Visual Effects Pipeline

Current Employment/Job Title

Software Engineer – Computer Vision & Visual Effects, Mill Film (previous experience: Research Engineer, Double Negative (4y), Software Engineer, The Foundry (2y))

http://www.alastairbarber.com/

View Alistair’s Research Outputs

2012
Dhana Frerichs
Dhana Frerichs

Research

Computer Graphics Simulation of Organic and Inorganic Optical and Morphological Appearance Changes

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

After completing my undergraduate degree, I was interested in pursuing a doctorate. However, I wasn’t sure about the idea of spending so much time in academia without getting any experience in industry. An EngD is a good way to bridge that gap; you are still a student, but you can pick up real world skills and experience working at a company in a professional workplace. It makes the transition back to reality after finishing the EngD that much easier. For myself, the idea of working in the video game industry was an exciting prospect. Funding security was also a factor for me. Being able to focus on study and research without having to worry about ongoing funding applications is very helpful.’‹

I am relieved to have finished at last. Finally being done and holding the book in my hands gave me an appreciation for how much work I had put in. At the same time I am sorry to be moving on from the CDE. The CDE has been a great community to be a part of for the last few years and the team has always been very supportive. There has been a great camaraderie among the students; I’ve made some good friends, met interesting people and learned a lot.

Where did you complete your placement?

For my EngD placement I was working with the video game developer Ninja Theory.

Thesis:Computer graphics simulation of organic and inorganic optical and morphological appearance changes

Current Employment/Job Title

Senior Research Engineer, Ninja Theory

View Dhana’s Research Outputs

2012
Hashim Yaqub
Hashim Yaqub

Research

Reducing simulator sickness while maintaining presence in first-person head-mounted VR applications

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

My research involves evaluating the effectiveness of consumer off-the-shelf HMDs in Virtual Maritime Training.

Where did you complete your placement?

I am based at BMT Defence Services, Bath, with a department who specialises in developing training solutions for naval platforms. My work involves using new consumer VR technologies like the Oculus Rift in training scenario’s which include platform familiarisation, maintenance, and emergency procedures. Currently my projects are extending to having multiple users interacting with each other in the same environment via these devices.

Thesis:Reducing Head Mounted Display VR Sickness Through Dynamic Field of View Constriction

Current Employment/Job Title

Unity 3D Developer, BMT Defence Services

2012
Daniel Finnegan
Daniel Finnegan

Research

Compensating for Distance Compression in Virtual Audiovisual Environments

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

At the time I applied, the EngD seemed like a great introduction to research. I wasn’t sure if academia was for me, but the EngD allowed me to engage in research while advancing my practical software engineering skills. Over time, my interests changed a little, and I leaned more towards research and academia.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement with Somethin’ Else Sound Directions in London under the supervision of Mr Rob McHardy, Prof. Eamonn O’Neill and Dr. Michael Proulx.

I’m looking forward to continuing my research into spatial audio engineering as well as human centred studies focused on perception in VR.

I am currently working as Assistant Professor, Cardiff University / Prifysgol Caerdydd. I am also Co-director Echo Games, a community interest company developing games and interactive experiences for museums.

Thesis:Compensating for Distance Compression in Virtual Audiovisual Environments

Current Employment/Job Title

Assistant Professor, Cardiff University / Prifysgol Caerdydd (previous experience: Research Engineer, Somethin’ else (3y), Research Associate, CAMERA, University of Bath (2y))

View Daniel’s Research Outputs

2012
Phil Wilkinson
Phil Wilkinson
Supervisor
Dr Mark Readman

Research

Exploring Expectations of Technology in Education

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I chose it over the standard PhD route because I specifically wanted to work with external stakeholders (particularly those interested in education) as part of my research. Doing research that was immediately impactful and informed by the contextual realities and best practices of educators was important to me.

The impact of my research so far has been on the communities of educators, parents, and teachers I have already worked with as they are much more confident and adept in their use of technology. From a broader perspective, my hope is to change the way we talk about technology in educational settings, especially with regard to parents and the unhelpful negative assumptions surrounding their digital capabilities.

I am now a full-time academic, leading my own degree progamme but continuing to work with external partners on the research I started as part of my work with the CDE.

Where did you complete your placement?

My research was concerned with expectations and attitudes toward education.Expectations of technology are not universal, but there is a prevalent solutionist perspective that provides a simplistic account of technology. The critical issue that l be explored is the way in which underlying ideological values inform constructions of what does, or does not, constitute legitimate educational practices with technology. This has a detrimental impact on children, their parents’ and educators’. This research was presented as a portfolio of work that involved collaboration with multiple external partners including a digital marketing agency, local councils, educational institutions, and international technology providers.

The placement experiences I had were invaluable. Each contributed to my own personal development in several ways but also contributed to the overall value and societal impact of my research. Having worked with multiple external partners I am in a better position to collaborate with external stakeholders in the future, as I can understand and undertake research that has value from multiple perspectives.

Current Employment/Job Title

Full Time Academic – Bournemouth University – Faculty of Media and Communication

View Phil’s Research Outputs

2012
Oliver Gingrich
Oliver Gingrich

Research

Evoking Presence on Pepper’s Ghost Displays

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

The combination of a top tier corporate industry network and academic excellence at one of the UK’s foremost centres for media, entertainment and postproduction as well as the close relationship with the NCCA, the National Centre for Computer Animation, made the Centre for Digital Entertainment the obvious choice for an industry oriented engineering doctorate. My research focuses on conceptions of presence in virtual environments, specifically in the context of Pepper’s ghost, a Victorian parlour illusion that has been frequently employed as a virtual reality interface. Analysing this concept across three conceptual pillars, I created three practical applications in the field of Media Art. My research investigates the effect of external factors on presence, seeking to optimise the impact of virtual representations on Pepper’s ghost displays. Working within a creative and academic environment of like-minded researchers broadened my horizon enormously. Coming from a purely artistic and creative background with an MA in Fine Arts, my technical knowledge improved throughout my curriculum from absolute novice, to reasonably skilled. I am now in a position to program, and design, create technical diagrams and to approach creative challenges from an academic-analytical as much as from a conceptual-technical angle. My national and international network has massively profited from the activity. At the same time, my artistic standing with Analema Group has gained wide visibility with shows at key venues such as the Roundhouse or Union Chapel. As a centre of worldwide excellence between industry and academia, the CDE is unique as international hub for knowledge creation in providing skills, expertise, and academic support. With its unparalleled support for personal and academic development, the CDE opens doors for creative engagement, facilitating professional discourse between industry experts and academia. Combining technical know-how with a network of the UK’s foremost media professionals, the Centre for Digital Entertainment can be regarded as the country’s top graduate institution for media expertise.

Where did you complete your placement?

MDH Hologram, formerly Musion Systems, is international market leader in holographic projection. As hub in an international network of distributors, London is the centre for operations and content creation. As Art Director, I oversee a team of people, assuring quality control and impact. My corporate environment allowed me gain insight into production processes that would not have been accessible to me, my academic standing substantially influenced my industrial practise. Being able to engage with fundamental factors of my practise analytically enriched and deepened my understanding, leading to optimisations in key areas such as immersive sound, interaction design and visual optimisations. At the same time, my standing within the company improved during this period: Our team valued my sincere interest in core-elements of our corporate practise. My promotion to art director was a direct outcome of my active engagement with production processes fuelled by academic research at the Centre for Digital Entertainment.

Thesis:Evoking presence through creative practice on Pepper’s ghost displays

Current Employment/Job Title

Postdoctoral Research for Media & Arts Practice – NCCA Bournemouth University (previous experience: Artist / Producer, Analema Group (8y), Creative Director MDH Hologram (10y))

View Oliver’s Research Outputs

2012
Milto Miltiadou
Milto Miltiadou

Research

Efficient Accumulation Analysis and Visualisation of Full-Waveform LiDAR data in a Volumetric Representation with Applications to Forestry

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

After completing my masters degree, I had a great interest in working for Research and Development in the industry. For that reason, I considered the EngD as a great opportunity. It does not only help you quickly advance your research and technical skills but at the same time you are getting the experience of working within the industry. Additionally, the qualification enhance your prospects for a quick career advancement.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my main placement at the NERC Airborne Research Facility (ARF) of Plymouth Marine Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Michael Grant. During my placement, I was introduced into the amazing world of Remote Sensing and the probability of using computer graphics and machine learning for tackling environmental issues and consequently benefiting mankind. NERC ARF gave me the opportunity to work with state-of-art data (full-waveform LiDAR data) alongside great researchers and my short placement to Interpine Group Ltd in New Zealand helped me understand the importance of advancing this technology for monitoring forests.

Thesis:Efficient Accumulation, Analysis and Visualisation of Full-Waveform LiDAR in a Volumetric Representation with Applications to Forestry

Current Employment/Job Title

Researcher, computer scientist and full-waveform LiDAR analyst, Cyprus University of Technology (previous experience: Research Engineer, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (4y))

View Milto’s Research Outputs

2011
Lisa Haskel
Lisa Haskel

Research

Participatory Design and Free and Open Source Software in the Not for Profit Sector ‘“the Hublink Project

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

It has been a fantastic privilege to be a CDE Research Engineer. For me, it has been an opportunity to bring together my practical and academic interests, and work on a long-term project with real-world impact.

It has not always been easy to balance the competing requirements of academic work and practice-based research and writing up at the end felt like a very long haul. But being a Research Engineer is a fantastic route to a doctorate in which you have to grow as a person, as a practitioner and as an academic. The staff, supervisors and fellow students have been a great support.

Attending workshops and conferences internationally has expanded and developed my work enormously. I have had the opportunity to present papers and travel to workshops as far afield as Windhoek in Namibia, as well as closer to home in Belgium, Denmark and Ireland, all supported by CDE.

My own experience has left me fully in support of practice-based and industry-based doctoral study, despite its challenges. I look forward to taking my research further, but will miss the support of CDE and I’m hoping I can give back to the programme as much as I can, and keep in touch with stuff and students.

Where did you complete your placement?

My placement was at Arts Catalyist – London

My Research was in Participatory Design, focussing on the the benefits that using Free and Open Source software in Participatory Design projects can offer to grassroots organisations. As part of my research, I developed and still support a case management information system for a consortium of voluntary sector organisations in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets who offer advice and advocacy services in the community. While a Research Engineer at CDE, I presented a case-study at the bi-annual Participatory Design Conference, and as part of my public engagement activities, I helped run a ‘Code Club’ in a Lambeth primary school.

Since graduating from CDE I have worked as a Senior Developer for NDP studio, and I am now delighted to be passing on my skills and experience as a Senior Lecturer, in the brand new Computer Science Department at theUniversity of Roehampton.

Thesis:Participatory design and free and open source software in the not for profit sector ‘“ the Hublink Project

Current Employment/Job Title

Senior Lecturer, Computer Science,School of Arts,University of Roehampton

 

2011
Ralph Potter
Ralph Potter

Research

Programming models for heterogeneous systems with application to computer graphics

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

Codeplay

SYCL/C++ combination and HSA based ray tracing.

Thesis:Programming Models for Heterogeneous Systems with Application to Computer Graphics

Current Employment/Job Title

Lead Khronos Standards Engineer at Samsung Electronics (previous experience: Research Engineer, Codeplay (2y))

2011
David Gillespie
David Gillespie

Research

User-appropriate viewer for high resolution interactive engagement with 3D digital cultural artefacts

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

National Museums Liverpool.

Three dimensional (3D) laser scanning has been adopted from the engineering and aeronautical industry and is an invaluable tool for the documentation of objects within museum collections (La Pensée, 2008). The datasets created via close range laser scanning are extremely accurate and the created 3D dataset allows for a more detailed analysis in comparison to other documentation technologies such as photography. The dataset can be used for a range of different applications including: documentation; archiving; surface monitoring; replication; gallery interactives; educational sessions; conservation and visualization. However, the novel nature of a 3D dataset is presenting a rather unique challenge with respect to its sharing and dissemination.

The research that is being undertaken at the National Museums Liverpool (NML): focuses on both the dissemination and sharing of high resolution 3D cultural heritage artefacts via the internet and WebGL but it is also undertaking the novel challenge of creating textures for these 3D artefacts. Colour information that can be captured for an artefact via a laser scanner or other techniques (i.e. photogrammetry) can be flawed; where they can contain visual artefacts and they may not capture a full visual representation of the original artefact. The research with NML will focus on the use of 3D texture synthesis instead of 2D textures. Attempting to resolve some of the issues surrounding computation and memory required for the synthesis of such textures.

Thesis:User-appropriate viewer for high resolution interactive engagement with 3D digital cultural artefacts

Current Employment/Job Title

Research Associate of Software Development, Manchester Metropolitan University (previous experience: Research Engineer, National Museums Liverpool (5y), R&D Software Developer, OpenShadow (2y))

View David’s Research Outputs

2010
Jake Hobbs
Jake Hobbs

Research

Audience Engagement & Monetisation of Creative Content in Digital Environments: A creative SME Perspective

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

The CDE offers a fantastic opportunity to carry out academic research in an industrial setting, all the while providing a great network of support that enable you as a researcher and practitioner to grow professionally.

Being part of the CDE gave me the opportunity to work on live projects and in turn access to a great support network within the broader cohort of students. Since completing my research in 2010 I have been working full time with WÖNKY, where I head up the company’s digital output.

Where did you complete your placement?

My research encompasses a practice-led project undertaken over a four-year period at a small creative animation studio exploring the experiences of creative SMEs in delivering original content in highly competitive digital environments. With a theoretical grounding in engagement this study explores the limitations facing creative SMEs in successfully delivering original content and the methods and practices that may help circumvent them.

I completed my placement at Wonky.

Since finishing the EngD I have been working as Head of Digital at WONKY and Online Editor for ‘Show me the Animation’. I will soon be moving on to a new role as I have recently accepted a Lecturing position within the Creative Computing Course at Bath Spa University.

Thesis:Audience engagement and monetisation of creative content in digital environments: a creative SME perspective

Current Employment/Job Title

Senior Lecturer – Creative Computing – Bath Spa University

View Jake’s Research Outputs

2010
David Greer
David Greer

Research

Physics-based Character Locomotion Control with Large Simulation Time Steps

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I had long been interested in working in the video games industry, but I was also interested in doing a doctorate, and couldn’t decide which option I wanted to pursue. When I found out about the CDE, it was the perfect solution for me.

I found my time with the CDE a wonderful challenge and hugely rewarding, and I would definitely recommend it.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at Natural Motion.

Physically simulated locomotion allows rich and varied interactions with environments and other characters. Previous academic work has produced effective control strategies, but typically uses very small simulation time steps with computational requirements which limit practicality for interactive applications. This research focuses on three major areas of work – trajectory optimization to provide physically valid motions suitable for tracking in simulation, a sampling-based approach to generate open loop control policies, and feedback control generated using evolutionary algorithms to correct for deviations from the ideal motion. Together, these three approaches allow successful control for a walking motion at 60 time steps per second, with control and simulation time of less than 1ms per time step, which means that the technique could plausibly be used within the demanding performance constraints of real time applications such as games. Accurate and computationally inexpensive prediction of controller stability was also demonstrated using machine learning, which will allow high level control strategies to be explored in future.

I am now working at Klarismo, a company which performs image analysis and segmentation on MRI data to determine quantitative information such as muscle and fat volumes.

Thesis:Physics-based character locomotion control with large simulation time steps

Current Employment/Job Title

Software Engineer at Amazon Game Services (previous experience: Research Engineer, NaturalMotion (5y), Software Engineer, Klarismo (1y))

View David’s Research Outputs

 

2010
Chris Lewin
Chris Lewin

Research

Constraint Based Simulation of Soft and Rigid Bodies

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at EA Games.

Rigid body physics has become a standard feature in modern videogames. However, very few things in the real world behave in a rigid way; even metal-framed buildings and vehicles will deform under enough force. My project centered around efficiently simulating soft body behaviour in ways that are appropriate for use in games.

The requirements of high performance and robustness tend to expose weaknesses in the standard implicit force-based methods; instead we have adopted a fast position-based approach to simulating the deformation of finite element meshes.

Thesis:Constraint based simulation of soft and rigid bodies

Current Employment/Job Title

Software Engineer at Improbable (previous experience: Research Engineer & Software Engineer, Electronic Arts (EA) (8y))

View Chris’ Research Outputs

 

2010
Tara Douglas
Tara Douglas

Research

Tales of the Tribes: Animation as a Tool for Indigenous Representation

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

I completed my research thesis ‘Tales of the Tribes: Animation as a Tool for Indigenous Representation’. You can read more about my project here.

I was lucky enough to visit Papua New Guinea during my EngD. Find out more about my experience within the CDE Blog.

Where did you complete your placement?

West Highland Animation and Adivasi Arts Trust

Thesis:Tales of the tribes: animation as a tool for indigenous representation

Current Employment/Job Title

Co-founder, Secretary, Film Maker and Artist at Adivasi Arts Trust, Post Doctoral Researcher at North Easternhill University, India

2010
Charalampos (Babis) Koniaris
Charalampos (Babis) Koniaris

Research

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Where did you complete your placement?

Texture mapping is a standard technique in computer graphics that is commonly used to map complex surface detail -in the form of images- to 3D models so that the latter appear more visually complex than they really are. A drawback is that when models animate, parts of them stretch or compress, and at those parts the mapped surface detail behaves like rubber due to distortion in the mapping introduced by the deformation. In this project, we develop methods to control this behaviour so that we can represent surface detail with heterogeneous elasticity characteristics that properly correspond to the portrayed materials.

My Placement was completed at Disney Research.

Thesis:Real-time Rendering of Complex, Heterogeneous Mesostructure on Deformable Surfaces

Current Employment/Job Title

Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University

2009
Lindsey Howell
Lindsey Howell

Research

Investigating how computational tools can improve the production process of stop-motion animation

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

The experience of working on industrial research and working towards academic goals helped to develop a number of skills:

  • I now have a deep understanding of the animation industry and of production processes. The opportunity to view professional work first-hand was invaluable.
  • I have learnt to understand academic papers and translate the content into working code.
  • My writing skills have improved enormously.
  • My project management skills have been developed with the management of complex research projects involving multiple parties.
  • My presentation skills have improved, with numerous presentations and to far larger audiences than I had ever presented to before.

Overall, I am much more confident in my abilities to rigorously research a project and I feel capable of discussing research projects in both academic and industrial environments. It has developed my ability to articulate my ideas clearly and to think on the spot.

I now have a much deeper understanding of the complexities of industry-university partnerships. It is a complicated balance and I feel well informed about the benefits and the challenges involved. I have learnt that conferences and meetings with like-minded people can really help and I found it important to engage with others.

Where did you complete your placement?

I completed my placement at Aardman Animations.

My research was about the development of technical tools for traditional stop-motion animation production. Technological methods must ensure that the traditional hand-crafted look is retained. My work involved researching and developing computational tools that could be used to make improvements to the production pipeline.

Aardman Animations was my host company. They create films, short-form animation, television series and commercials using both computer-generated and stop-motion animation. Their most famous characters are Wallace and Gromit and Morph. I was based in the commercials computer graphics department and my supervisor Philip Child is a Senior Technical Developer within that team. The main areas that I researched during my EngD were:

  • Solutions for rig removal in post-production.
  • Solutions for fixing set shift.

Solutions for simulating plasticine materials computationally

Thesis:Investigating how computational tools can improve the production process of stop-motion animation

Current Employment/Job Title

Senior Lecturer at the University of West England (previous experience: Researcher, Aardman Animations (4y))

2009
Steve Willey
Steve Willey

Research

Improving the Pipeline for Stereo Post-Production

Why did you choose the EngD / CDE?

Completing the EngD has been a huge challenge, but definitely aworthwhile’‹ one. Thanks to the CDE I have had the opportunity to research while gaining valuable experience in the industry of VFX for film and TV as well as the chance to attend conferences around the world. I have also had the chance to meet a lot of great people in academia and industry thanks to the crossover provided by the EngD

Where did you complete your placement?

Double Negative

There are many considerations that must go into making a 3D film that aren’t a problem with standard 2D ones. We investigate the problems of colour mismatch, vertical alignment, and disparity map generation while providing an in-depth study into the further requirements of a 3D film. In addition, we introduce several tools that integrate into the existing post-production pipeline in order to improve it’s capabilities when dealing with stereo images.

Thesis:Improving the Pipeline for Stereo Post-Production

Current Employment/Job Title

Back End Engineer at Thought Machine (previous experience: Researcher and R&D Programmer, Double Negative (8y), 2D Software Developer, Milk Visual Effects (1y))

© 2022 The Centre for Digital Entertainment (CDE). All rights reserved.