e-Dance@BL’s Growing Knowledge Exhibition

12 10 2010

Today sees the launch of the British Library’s major new exhibition on how digital tools are already transforming how we do research: Growing Knowledge: The Evolution of Research (12 October 2010 – 16 July 2011). [Media coverage]

We’re delighted to say that the e-Dance Project was selected as one of the examples, showcasing how close collaboration between technology researchers (originally developing Access Grid video-conferencing/collaboration tools, and Compendium hypermedia mapping, in an e-Science context) enables arts and humanities researchers, in this case Choreographic researchers/practitioners, to break new ground playing with time and space in their discipline.

Flickr set: e-Dance@BL photos

The e-Dance exhibit presents video material introducing the project, with examples of the technologies in action. Some of this is on the BLGK demos website,  an extract from an extended podcast playlist.

Browse the blog to learn more, and to download the Access Grid Scene Editor and Compendium e-Dance Edition.

This article sets out the academic rationale for e-Dance:

Bailey, H., Bachler, M., Buckingham Shum, S., Le Blanc, A., Popat, S., Rowley, A. and Turner, M. (2009). Dancing on the Grid: Using e-Science Tools to Extend Choreographic Research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 13 July 2009, Vol. 367, No. 1898, pp. 2793-2806. [PDF]

The Inner Sanctum

25 01 2011

Picture – 360 degree panoram of the inside of the British Library exhibition room with the e-Dance videos. Very clinical white, with lots of lighting points.

Once you have finished with the videos, interactive screens, touch-table exampes etc., it is quiet a nice place to read your emails.

e-Dance and VRE planned workshop / show-and-tell

31 10 2010

Well rain could not stop people flocking to the exhibition

… well it was very early.

There will be a show-and-tell at Manchester of local VRE (Virtual Research Environment) projects on 16th December 2010 as part of the SIGGRAPH Chapter series of talks and events.

e-Dance at an e-Infrastructure workshop

8 09 2010

During a pre-DRHA workshop the barriers for e-Sciencce take-up and other issues were discussed involving the experiences of the e-Dance project in connection to the national services including the AGSC (Access Grid Support Centre).

Information Aesthetics: Arts Paper Section at SIGGRAPH 2010

30 07 2010

Touching Space: Using Motion Capture and Stereo Projection to Create a ‘Virtual Haptics’ of Dance

Kim Vincs presented work withsimilarities, although quiet a lot of differences, to early eDance and CSAGE activities; specifically the morphologies piece.

The image above shows the space combining stereoscopic screen with MoCap – motion capture facilities; used in a combined balet performance – also creating a 3D wrist tracked and defined solid model.

“This project presents a vision of interactive dance performance that “touches” space with the intentionality and agency of kinematics, and suggests the possibility of new kinds of human-computer interfaces that emphasize touch as embodied, nuanced agency rather than as task-based gestures such as pointing or clicking.”

New projects include ‘Capturing Dance’, with a mathematics and biomechanist team to map movement signatures.

Compendium e-Dance edition released!

5 05 2010

Hurrah! All of the extensions that we added to Compendium during the e-Dance project have now been folded into the new Compendium 2.0 beta release, available free and open source via the Compendium Institute download page.

In addition to adding further controls over the aesthetic appearance of knowledge maps, and significant ‘under the bonnet work’ to make the software leaner and faster when working on collaborative projects over the internet, the key new feature is “Movie Maps”. From the release notes:

Movie Maps: You can bring videos directly into a new kind of Compendium view, called a “Movie Map.” With this you can add nodes and links on top of a movie, having these annotations appear and disappear wherever you want over the length of the video. You can even animate maps without a video, so that you can add movement to your maps.

As part of creating a visual language tuned to choreographic research and practice, there is also an e-Dance stencil, ie. a custom (and editable) palette of icons representing camera/stage setups and compositional structures. These can be dragged and dropped onto maps as part of the annotation process. Two examples are shown below:

The desire to create aesthetically pleasing look and feel customised to the user community led us to break out some of the key graphical elements in Compendium into set of Theme resources. These can now be downloaded and shared via the Theme web exchange. Compendium-eDance theme is illustrated below:

It is very satisfying to see the work from e-Dance released to the world, and towards the end of the project we’ll be talking with the choreography researchers to see how they are starting to play with it.

This constitutes the project deliverable of an application, able to run on any laptop, to enable portable video annotation. Many thanks to the Andrew Rowley in the Manchester team, whose world class expertise in Java and video codecs made it possible for Michelle here at Open U. to drop in code that handles many kinds of video format, and to choreography researchers Sita Popat (U. Leeds) and Helen Bailey (U. Bedfordshire) who gave us detailed design input and feedback as we worked through many iterations of the movie maps and e-Dance stencil. A great example of collaborative work.

Keynote at e-Science All Hands

8 12 2009

Helen Bailey gave the opening keynote at UK e-Science All Hands Meeting: “Assessing the impact of e-Science technologies on practice-led research in dance through the e-Dance project”

I don’t need to do any more than point to other blogs :-)


Scene Editor on Google Code

16 10 2009

We finaly made it ‘Open Source’!

The part of e-Dance which was developed to help create performances is now on Google Code:


There is a binary package for people to try out and developers are welcome to help completing the features and fixing the bugs. A user documentation is on the wiki. Comments welcome!

ESI Workshop – “Mapping or not Mapping Data”

11 10 2009

“Mapping Information with and without Geography: Approaches to Data Visualization and Structure in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences” EScience 2 day workshop: 30th sep – 1st oct 2009.

There were a series of informal discussions on camparing and debating the use of geospatially locating data (glyphs). Stuart Dunn gave a short presentation of imagery ideas that included eDance items.


The transposition of geography to be mapped or not is a recurring theme to the eDance project and fundamental to the Access Grid (video conferencing) ideology beneth it. An outcome was the issue of network graphs and related associated links – especially the interactive approach and use of large displays to gain a global perspective.

Wrap-up wiki: http://wiki.esi.ac.uk/Mapping_information_wrap_up

Choreographic video annotation

14 09 2009


This series of movies brings together Choreography researcher Sita Popat and e-Science researcher Simon Buckingham Shum, who demonstrate and discuss the adaptation of one of the project’s e-Science tools for Choreography, the Open University’s Compendium tool for mapping ideas and annotating media. Acknowledgements to Michelle Bachler (Open U.) and Andrew Rowley (U. Manchester) for expert software development, and webcast wizard Ben Hawkridge (Open U.) for helping us migrate the footage to Web. High-resolution versions of the screen recordings are linked to the relevant tracks.

The video-enabled version of Compendium will be going into alpha release this month with invited testers, for full release within a couple of months.

The academic context for this work is set out in a recent article:

Bailey, H., Bachler, M., Buckingham Shum, S., Le Blanc, A., Popat, S., Rowley, A. and Turner, M. (2009). Dancing on the Grid: Using e-Science Tools to Extend Choreographic Research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 13 July 2009, Vol. 367, No. 1898, pp. 2793-2806. [PDF]



The movie summaries are listed below… high resolution versions of the screen recordings are linked to the web versions for detailed viewing.

  1. Demo: Sita takes us through a demonstration which illustrates how Compendium can be used to annotate video footage as part of choreographic scholarship.
  2. Background: The e-Dance project conducted rapid application development through asynchronous collaboration between the partners, punctuated with intense day long workshops. At these, the choreographer would demonstrate how she used (or wished she could use) the Compendium e-science tool. The software developer would then code changes for feedback.
  3. Demo: Sita explains how and why she requested a feature to create Transition Points in video footage.
  4. Demo: Sita explains the value of placing images into key moments in a video, as supplementary material that she can use to support discourse in scholarship or teaching.
  5. Demo: Sita explains the value of being able to lay out an arbitrary number of videos on the canvas.
  6. Demo: Following the last clip, Sita discusses opportunistic and planned juxtaposition of video.
  7. Interview: Simon asks Sita to consider how hypermedia annotation tools such as this could scaffold students’ project work and reflection as they track and communicate their work.
  8. Demo: Sita works through an example of linking three interconnected video clips
  9. Demo: Following the last example, Sita shows how annotations in one context can co-exist in multiple other projects.
  10. Interview: Sita and Simon discuss to what extent a hypermedia tool such as this might shape practice, and reflect on other aspects of the project.

View the movies