Bootlegger is a revolutionary new tool for shooting live event videos using mobile phones. Musicians and fans can connect using Bootlegger to produce high-quality multi-camera concert fi­lms. Bootlegger acts as director and producer, coordinating camera operators, suggesting shots and collecting footage. During the gig, the Bootlegger app allocates shots according to where you are in the venue. Fans at the front might be asked to grab closeups while those at the back are given wide shots. For consistency, example compositions are shown as overlays on the screen.
To keep things interesting, Bootlegger suggests different shots and compositions guaranteeing great coverage. Operators are automatically set to ‘go live’ by the app and warned if another phone can’t get a shot, meaning no gaps. After the show Bootlegger uploads videos to the cloud automatically and securely, enabling musicians to keep control of their live content. Any number of phones can be used for a single event. Shows can be private, with an invited team or made public so any audience member with a smartphone can participate.

  • Bootlegger is part of a project exploring the democratization of music production: musicians are using digital tools to take control of their recording and distribution.
  • Bootlegger enables music fans and musicians to collaborate seamlessly, providing a forum where everyone’s creative input can be judged on its own terms.
  • Bootlegger teaches film-making conventions to non-expert users: we are exploring whether the resulting videos are more persuasive, more engaging and more powerful as a promotional tool.


reflectableThe ReflecTable is a digital learning environment that explores how design games and video-led reflection might be combined to bridge the gap between the theoretical and practical components of design education. The concept seeks to leverage the qualities of exploratory design games and video to inspire design students to critically reflect upon the relationship between their evolving design practices and the theories and techniques they are taught in lectures, by allowing them to capture, review and reflect upon short videos of a design game.

So far, we have conducted nine studies of the ReflecTable with both design students and interaction designers. The findings of these studies suggest that the ReflecTable has the potential to support design students in understanding how the theoretical concepts (vocabulary) and methods (procedures) relate to different design situations and their own evolving design practices. Further studies are ongoing that seek to further validate the concept.

The ReflecTable project is a collaboration with Patrick Olivier, Thomas Hjermitslev (Aarhus University) and Ole Iversen (Aarhus University).

Find out more about the ReflecTable project here.


pentimentoRepentir is an augmented reality iPhone app that allows gallery visitors to reveal hidden layers of a painting. Using the app, you can take a photo of an area of a painting to browse previous versions of that area of the painting, which the artist captured over the course of its creation.

The aim of the project is to explore notions of authenticity and originality, by exposing the skillful, complex and prolonged creative process of the contemporary realist painter Nathan Walsh to gallery visitors who would otherwise only see his finished paintings.

Repentir is being developed as part of the EPSRC Digital Originals Project, in collaboration with Jo Briggs (Northumbria University), Nathan Walsh (Artist), Mark Blythe (Northumbria University) and Patrick Olivier.

Find out more about this project and how to download the app here.

Making 3D Printed Objects Interactive

m3dThis project explores approach that allows designers and others to quickly and easily make 3D printed objects interactive, without the need for hardware or software expertise and with little modification to an object’s physical design.

With our approach, a designer simply attaches or embeds small three-axis wireless accelerometer modules into the moving parts of a 3D printed object. A simple graphical user interface is then used to configure the system to interpret the movements of these accelerometers as if they were common physical controls such as buttons or dials. The designer can then associate events generated by these controls with a range of interactive behaviour, including web browser and media player control.

The Making 3D Printed Objects Interactive Project is a collaboration with Thomas Nappey, Peter Wright, Patrick Olivier and Steve Hodges (Microsoft Research, Cambridge).

Find out more about this project here

Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool

This project investigated the appropriation of a Facebook page by a group of residents as site for discussion and where a campaign to save a derelict outdoor swimming pool developed. Through in-depth analysis of Facebook data, the project explores the relationship between cultural memories, cultural expression and everyday politics and how interactions through the Facebook page challenge traditional ways for conceiving politics and the political.


Crivellaro, C., Comber, R., Bowers, J., Wright, P., Olivier, P., “A Pool of Dreams : Facebook, Politics and the Emergence of a Social Movement”, Proceeding of CHI ’14

Digital Portraits


Digital portraits is a workshop process developed to explore the presentation of self using digital media. Participants are given portrait packs with inspiration tokens to generate ideas on the things that are valuable in their lives, including objects, places, people and sensory experiences. Participants then take part in workshops to create short video portraits using collage, photography, sound, music and words. Workshops were initially developed with an international women’s centre in the UK for women experiencing domestic violence to explore experiences that were important as they were moving on and re-building their lives. Short videos were made as a way of both imagining and expressing how individuals wanted their lives to be in the future and both shared in groups and taken home to discuss with family members.


Photo-parshiya: Digital photo-album


Parshiya is an ancient word that means to be part of a group, family, community, or collective. The photo-parshiya is a digital photo-album designed to support the sharing of cultural heritage in an international women’s centre in the UK. It can be held like a book and is portable or can be docked as a double touch screen tablet display on a bespoke crafted wooden base. Learners who come to the centre have made individually designed necklaces that reflect aspects of their identities. These necklaces are networked with the tablet displays to create personalized photo-collections and have been used to accompany workshops exploring women’s heritage and migration stories. In using the photo-parshiya, many women have described how this has supported greater feelings of pride, confidence and curiosity in using digital technology to share their cultural heritage with others.


On The Precipice

This Creative Exchange project explored how situating digital fabrication within a souvenir-making activity can enrich audience experiences of cultural events and engage visitors in discussion and reflection upon their experiences. Giving the visitor the possibility to reflect on their experience also enabled the arts organisation to gather valuable insight into their audiences’ experience allowing them to better understand the experience they are providing.

BigM-for web2

In conversation with our partner organisations, ISIS Arts and Chris Newell (University of Hull), we developed a series of fabrication activities that offered visitors the opportunity to create their own personalised souvenirs based on their experience of the Big M, an inflatable, mobile exhibition venue housing a touring programme of immersive film installations titled On The Precipice. 


This project was AHRC funded through The Creative Exchange and was developed in collaboration with ISIS Arts and Chris Newell from the University of Hull. For further information please visit the Creative Exchange website.

Panopticon: A Parallel Video Overview System


Panopticon is a video surrogate system that displays multiple sub-sequences in parallel to present a rapid overview of the entire sequence to the user. A novel, precisely animated arrangement slides thumbnails to provide a consistent spatiotemporal layout while allowing any sub-sequence of the original video to be watched without interruption.

A variety of user evaluations have demonstrated Panopticon’s advantage over traditional video players when finding events of interest in surveillance videos (Jackson et al., 2013) and in lecture videos (Nicholson et al., 2014). Currently, Panopticon is being trialled as a possible interface for better supporting the crowdsourcing of surveillance videos and for identifying events of interest from headmounted videos.

A demo of the Panopticon system can be viewed here.


Nicholson, J., Huber, M., Jackson, D., & Olivier, P. (2014). Panopticon as an eLearning Support Search Tool. In Proceedings of CHI 2014. (*Best of CHI Award: Best Paper*)

Jackson, D., Nicholson, J., Stoeckigt, G., Wrobel, R., Thieme, A., & Olivier, P. (2013). Panopticon: A Parallel Video Overview System. In Proceedings of UIST 2013.


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Digital voting is used in a variety of contexts from politics to mundane everyday decisions. One of the motivations underlying many group decision-making systems is the promotion of participation, yet there is little research that explores how features of digital voting systems can be designed to facilitate this, other than providing multiple voting channels. The shift from conventional voting methods to digital ones gives us the opportunity to re-envision voting as a social tool that better serves democracy.

Ballotshare is an online voting system designed to provoke participation through exploration of the design space of voting. To explore what makes people participate in decision making, ballots are configurable within the system, with features such as negative voting, vote weighting, commenting etc. These features and the design space are derived from an analysis of democratic systems and technologies.

You can visit and use the BallotShare app here: