SIAT - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Framing effects: The impact of framing on copresence in virtual theatre

Date created: 
2017-01-19
Abstract: 

Virtual theatre (enacted dramatic narrative performed live online) is an emerging form of theatrical mediation. One of the biggest challenges faced by this growing media practice is the management of audience experience. This thesis attempts to address the uncertainty around virtual theatre audiences by focusing on the framing of performances that take place in virtual worlds. Strategic approaches to framing and audience preparation are suggested based on literature-based research, case studies and experimental approaches to understanding the role of context and information to audience experience. The core research of the thesis involves a mixed-methods approach to understanding the impact of framing on virtual theatre. The first phase is theoretical, using existing theories of framing drawn from many disciplines in order to create analytical framework to establish the functional features of audience preparation. This framework is then used to analyse the audience preparation strategies of three Vancouver-based live art companies using both interviews and document analysis. Finally, framing strategies from both stage theatre and commercial cinema are used to create framing conditions that are tested using a controlled experiment on a virtual theatre production. The research findings are the basis of a series of recommendations for theatrical events presented in various media. The consequences for virtual theatre are emphasised in an attempt to expand the scope of this emerging form of theatrical expression.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Exploring the Design of a Tangible System Supported for Learning to Read and Spell in At-Risk and EFL Children

Author: 
Abstract: 

Tangible User Interfaces (TUIs) have been suggested to have the potential to support learning for children. While several tangible reading systems have been developed for children, no systems have been designed that explicitly target early reading acquisition of English at the level of phonological awareness (i.e., the ability to manipulate sounds in speech) and the alphabetic principle (i.e., a set of rules that explain how graphemes are associated with phonemes) that are important for children with or at-risk for dyslexia (i.e., a specific difficulty in language acquisition skills) and children who learn English as a foreign language (EFL). By grounding on the theories of reading and reading instructions for dyslexia and EFL, best multisensory training practices, and existing research on TUIs that support learning to read for children, I worked as a design lead to present a tangible reading system called PhonoBlocks that uses embedded dynamic colour cues and 3D tangible letters to support children learning the alphabetic principle in English.In my dissertation, I explore the use of PhonoBlocks through two mixed-methods case studies—one with eight at-risk monolingual English-speaking children in Canada and the other with 10 Mandarin-speaking children who learn English as a foreign language in China. My findings show that both groups of children achieved significant learning gains after PhonoBlocks instruction and the at-risk children also maintained their progress one month later after post-test. The results also point to design features of our system that enabled behaviours that are correlated with learning. I also compare similarities and differences between the results of the two studies, identifying the common and unique behaviours for the two groups of children. I conclude by suggesting a set of recommendations and guidelines for designing the tangible reading systems for both at-risk and EFL children.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alissa N. Antle
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Transcoding place through digital media

Date created: 
2016-12-16
Abstract: 

Over the past decade, non-profit organizations have used alternate reality games (ARG) to raise awareness on the risks of climate change. This new form of content creation leverages the mass adoption of mobility and real-time access to social networks, tools and resources that have previously been unavailable to technologists, designers, and artists who produce ARGs. This dissertation explores how advances in Human Computer Interaction can be applied to the design of these ARGs. Focusing on the narrative structure, this multiple case study asks, what are the considerations alternate reality game designers have (if any), when designing the games, they make? The validity and utility of this research is presented through three cases: Future Coast (2014) explores the future of climate change, supported by the National Science Foundation; The Disaster Resilience Journal (2014) catalogued forty-two days of journal entries emphasising emergency preparedness, supported by the European Commission’s Department for Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection; and Techno Medicine Wheel (2009) teaches aboriginal values as living history, supported by The Aboriginal Media Lab in Cyber Space. Within each case I analyze two units of data 1) the designers’ interviews and 2) the game’s trajectory. Previous research on mixed reality experiences (Benford et al. 2011) focused primarily on the trajectory of plot points through the duration of the game. This study contributes a unique focus, addressing characteristics such as plot points that engage fans in and out of collective problem solving activities. The study also includes a clear description of the benefits of working under the guiding influence of a non-profit organizations. Finally, this study provides methodological strategies to collect and analyze ARG design, post-mortem. Thus, findings provide certain substantial characteristics that demonstrate how the practices of designers are transcoding place through their creative use of digital media.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dr. Ron Wakkary
Dr. Carman Neustaedter
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Shiro - A language to represent alternatives

Date created: 
2016-12-21
Abstract: 

When people solve problems they explore a variety of potential solutions. Parametric systems have been added to the interaction models of design tools to make it easier to change a design. Just as a cell is changed in a spreadsheet, when a parameter is changed all parts of the design that depend on that parameter update. While tools with parametric systems are powerful, users are limited to single state solutions and are forced to use workarounds like using layers and file naming conventions. These improvisations are caused by tools whose user interface and document models only support a single state. Single-state document models are only designed to represent a single artifact. In this work, I describe Shiro, a declarative, dataflow language for expressing alternatives in parametric systems. It provides a multi-state document model for parametric systems. To make this possible, I introduce the concept of subjunctive nodes, nodes that contain options. Options allow users to vary property values and computations. I demonstrate Shiro with a variety of examples from the designs of design and data analysis. Finally, I discuss what I learned while designing and implementing the language and provide a set of recommendations for future research.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Chris Shaw
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Effectiveness of mobile virtual reality as a means for pain distraction

Date created: 
2016-12-06
Abstract: 

Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) has been shown to work as a non-pharmacological analgesic by enabling cognitive distraction in acute pain patients, including burn patients, dental patients, and chemotherapy patients. However, little research literature exists on the effectiveness of VR for chronic pain patients who suffer from longer-term pain. This thesis aims at contributing to this research gap regarding VR and chronic pain by examining the viability of Cardboard VR– a Mobile VR device. We have conducted two research studies to understand the effectiveness of Cardboard VR in the management of pain. First, we studied how Cardboard affords immersion and its underlying factors compared to a high-end traditional head-mounted display (HMD) – the Oculus Rift DK2, and, the results showed a lot of promise because the difference between the two HMDs was not significant. Next, we conducted a randomized crossover study in a clinical setting with thirty chronic pain patients to understand Cardboard’s effectiveness in pain distraction. We asked the patients to play a VR game on both Cardboard and Oculus Rift. The study results showed that Cardboard VR, coupled with a smartphone, is capable of reducing the patients’ perceived pain intensity significantly compared to the control (pre-VR) condition. However, despite the early findings from the previous studies, Oculus Rift was found to be considerably more effective with pain patients than both the Cardboard and the control condition. The results of this study encourage future research inquiries of Mobile VR in the management of chronic pain. Mobile VR, because of its affordability and ease of use, shows the potential to become an effective tool for pain management for the patients.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Diane Gromala
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Focal Point: Analyzing the Shift Of Focus When Prototyping

Date created: 
2016-12-02
Abstract: 

Prototypes are at the core of many interaction design projects. They not only allow designers to formally evaluate their design, but also to explore their project's design space, generate ideas, and discover new design opportunities. This requires the designer to engage in a reflective conversation with her prototypes - closely listening for feedback, combining ideas, and discovering new qualities. This thesis analyzes the prototypes developed for an outdoor light installation, the Urban Data Posts, in order to gain a better understanding of the interplay between designer and prototype. Using a framework to track intentionality and unintentionality in prototypes, this thesis aims to understand how individual prototypes informed the design process and the final design of the Urban Data Posts project. This will provide a better understanding of what prototypes do and exemplify what impact unintentionality in prototypes can have in design. The main contribution of this research is the Focus Framework, which captures intentional as well as unintentional design aspects in a prototype.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

A Computational Framework for Expressive, Personality-based, Non-verbal Behaviour for Affective 3D Character Agents

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-12-13
Abstract: 

Badler defined virtual humanoid characters as computer models of humans that can be used in several applications such as training and entertainment. For the humanoid characters to be credible and human-like, they must exhibit realistic and consistent nonverbal behavior. It is this consistency that ultimately instills in human users a sense that the characters have distinct personalities. Despite this importance, relatively little work has so far been done on the consistency of a 3D character’s behaviour during interaction with human users and their environments. Current 3D virtual character systems lack the ability to maintain the consistency of their behaviour during real-time interaction which can lead to users’ frustration and resentment.This thesis presents the design, implementation, and evaluation of a system named “RealAct” that controls the non-verbal behaviour of virtual characters. To make the virtual characters behave in a believable and consistent manner, the system controls non-verbal behavior such as gaze, facial expression, gesture and posture to give the impression of a specific personality type. The design and development of different modules of the RealAct system, e.g. for controlling the behaviour and generating emotion, is directly modelled from existing behavioural and computational literature. In addition to these core modules, the RealAct system contains a library of modules that are specifically geared toward real-time behavior control needs such as sensory inputs, scheduling of behaviour, and controlling the attention of the character.To evaluate and validate different aspects of the RealAct system, four experimental studies using both passive video-based and presential real-time paradigms were performed. The results of these experiments show that the amount of extraversion and emotional-stability that participants attributed to virtual characters depended on a combination of facial expression, gaze and posture and gestures that they exhibited. In summary, it was shown that the RealAct is effective in conveying the impression of the personality of virtual characters to users. It is hoped that the RealAct system provides a promising framework to guide the modelling of personality in virtual characters and how to create specific characters.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steve DiPaola
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

‘Ah Ha’ Moments: Novice Choreographers Using Defamiliarization in Digital Choreographic Technologies

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-19
Abstract: 

Choreography is a complex compositional and embodied creative process that often relies on ‘co-imagining’ between choreographer and dancer, and more recently between choreographer and technology as a strategy in generating new movement ideas. Adding technology into the choreographic process is a unique challenge because choreographers generate, augment and assess movement through and on their bodies. Technology has historically been used as a tool to augment creative opportunities in choreographic process;; often these varied choreographic support tools are designed to function as a ‘blank slate’ for choreography. However, these choreographic tools do not necessarily contribute to the design of creative ideas, instead functioning on low levels mainly as notebooks, annotation tools and idiosyncratic empty canvases. My research investigates the experience of novice choreographer’s ‘ah ha’ moments in their creative process by addressing a gap that exists within current digital choreographic creativity support tools. This gap is the ability to co-imagine novel movement choices between choreographer and technological support system. ‘Ah ha’ moments refer to moments in creative choreographic process that present new insight, understanding or choices and that bridge connections for a choreographer, contributing to a new awareness that results in novel movement material, or novel approaches to structuring movement: reflection of an iterative process. Collaboration is often recognized as a key element in compositional process between choreographers and dancers, and is recently described as a process of ‘Co-Imagination’ by performance theorist Andre Lepecki. Co-Imagination is the process of imagining the creative possibilities interactively together, yet with unequal creative control. While this is a common practice in contemporary choreography, the choreographic strategies of back-and-forth interactions (with mutual participation) is seldom considered and is under researched as a creativity tool for choreography. In the research presented in this thesis, I have explored the concept of applying generative algorithms in the creation of movement catalysts that can propose novel choices to the choreographer. I have designed, implemented and evaluated these generative choreographic procedures (which I have titled ‘Cochoreo’) to the existing choreographic support tool ‘idanceForms’ (idF). Novice choreographers were asked to design short choreographies using idF over a week. Data was collected through observation and focus group discussions and analyzed through grounded-theory inspired thematic methods. The contribution of this work situates the design and practice of interactive choreographic systems within creativity theory to explore future design of iterative and provocative technology for supporting movement, creativity and co-imagination.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

A Methodology for the Computational Evaluation of Style Imitation Algorithms

Date created: 
2016-12-05
Abstract: 

We investigate Musical Metacreation algorithms by applying Music Information Retrieval techniques for comparing the output of three off-line, corpus-based style imitation algorithms. The first is Variable Order Markov Chains, a statistical model; second is the Factor Oracle, a pattern matcher; and third, MusiCOG, a novel graphical model based on perceptual processes. Our focus is on discovering which musical biases are introduced by the algorithms, that is, the characteristics of the output which are shaped directly by the formalism of the algorithms and not by the corpus itself. We describe META-MELO, a system that implements the three algorithms, along with a methodology for the quantitative analysis of algorithm output, when trained on a corpus of melodies in symbolic form. Results show that the algorithms’ output are indeed different, although none of them encompass completely the full feature-set belonging to the style of the corpus. We conclude that this methodology is promising for aiding in the informed application and development of generative algorithms for music composition problems.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Philippe Pasquier
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Interacting with Design Alternatives

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-05-26
Abstract: 

Many designers tend to work with multiple, simultaneously-available design alternatives. The evidence for this fact can be found in many different domains of design, such as architectural, product, industrial and mechanical design, but also in drawing, painting, sculpting, and fine arts in general. Numerous empirical studies, likewise, report instances of designers developing, and then simultaneously working with multiple design solutions in parallel. The need for alternatives-enabled work can be further confirmed by instances of expert opinion, as well as explained by theoretical accounts based on first perceptual principles, such as those governing the human visual system, or human perception in general. Yet, despite the available evidence confirming the importance of multi-state work, most contemporary computational tools, including computer-aided design (CAD) tools, their important sub-variant (parametric CAD, or pCAD tools), as well as other types of computational tools, are steeply immersed in the single-state paradigm, whereby the user can work with, and modify, just a single computational model at a time. Consequently, since the overwhelming majority of users nowadays still employ single-state tools, they necessarily have to recur to various ad hoc methods when engaging in multi-state work, in order to circumvent the limitations inherent to single-state tools. However, such workaround methods are inefficient, and error-prone. The aim of this work is to address the aforementioned shortcoming of single-state computational tools, while focusing on pCAD tools. The thesis of this work, accordingly, is that ``alternatives-enabled (i.e. multi-state) pCAD tools, designed in concordance with the interaction design guidelines and principles presented in this dissertation, support designing''. I break down my thesis statement further into the following three main research questions, each addressing one separate aspect of the statement: (1) What are the essential system features of novel multi-state pCAD tools that can support design work? (2) What are the design guidelines and principles for building and evaluating multi-state pCAD tools? and (3) What methodological approach can be followed that can help system designers build multi-state pCAD tools? In order to support my thesis, I first conceptualize (or design, develop) the class of multi-state pCAD tools, by first employing both (1) various pre-design methods (such as literature review, and probing of the ``design space'' of feasible interaction designs), as well as (2) by employing various research-through-design methods characterized by the development of numerous models, interactive research prototypes, and design artifacts in general. All these activities provide evidence about the effectiveness of specific, individual features of multi-state pCAD tools. The two main research methods that I use include (a) an expert study whereby six experts voice their opinion on the CAMBRIA 1 prototype and its features, and (b) a cognitive analysis which provides scores of the CAMBRIA 2 prototype evaluated along a number of ``cognitive dimensions''. The experience that I acquire by performing pre-design and research-through-design activities allows me to synthesize high-level bodies of knowledge such as design guidelines and principles, as well as to describe the method that I followed in order to conceptualize multi-state pCAD tools. These, in turn, answer postulated research questions, and thus support the thesis.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Halil Erhan
Robert Woodbury
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.