Working with UMBC's Imaging Research Center (IRC), animator Lynn Tomlinson and I have created an award-winning digital puppet app that uses an iPad as its controller. This digital crab is the result of years of designing a physically drawn, digitally animated character to perform for live audiences. "Kendra" has performed in theaters, classrooms, and festivals -- most notably at the outdoor production of Kendra's Bay at the 2016 Light City Baltimore international arts festival. We are continuing to devise new performances for both indoor and outdoor audiences.
Our digital puppet app also has significant applications in animation software development (with similarities to the beta-level software tool Adobe Character Animator), museum interactive displays, educational settings, and live performance. For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a digital puppet?
Digital Puppets are drawn characters (animated figures) performed live by puppeteers. Unlike traditional animation, digital puppets can interact spontaneously with characters on the stage or screen, and/or a live audience. Some of the most visible examples of digital puppets are the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio’s Sid the Science Kid characters, the surfer-dude turtle in Turtle Talk with Crush (a popular Disney World attraction), and the floating Magic Mirror from Shrek the Musical. Digital puppetry most often involves puppeteer/actors using motion capture suits and/or complex video-game-like controllers to make an image come to life.
You can read about digital puppetry's use in the film industry in my essay "Unholy Alliances and Harmonious Hybrids: New Fusions in Puppetry and Animation" in The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance.