Southpaw’s Technology Advisory Council

Southpaw RUSH 2017

The appropriate use of technology in our work is of paramount importance to us, whether it is the spectacular use of fire in Faust, projection mapping in RUSH or responsive light in Speakeasy – the question in our minds all the time is how does it enhance the experience of the work for the performers, the participants and the audience.

We have appointed a team of experts who help us with everything, from how having an understanding of the principles of physics helps us create work to experimenting with virtual reality. We are very grateful for their assistance and counsel.

Professor John Girkin, Director, Biophysical Sciences Institute, Durham University

Following an undergraduate degree in Oxford and PhD at Southampton, John worked for Photon Control an Opto-Mechanical company based in Cambridge designing the world’s first commercial diode pumped Nd:YAG laser. John then spent seven years at Keeler Ltd researching and designing ophthalmic instrumentation including a diode laser for retinal photocoagulation. In 1996 John moved to the newly founded Institute of Photonics at Strathclyde University to form, and lead, the applications team. John was one of the founders of the Centre for Biophotonics and the theme leader for the Physics and Life Sciences theme within SUPA (the Scottish Physics Alliance). John moved to Durham in January 2009 as part of the Biophysical Sciences initiative and from August 2011 became Director of the BSI. John is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and was elected a Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2017.

Austen Atkinson, CEO, Lexicon

Austen is an author, producer, director, a script doctor in film and script editor for broadcast TV drama and animation. He has developed a raft of AI and VR – notably for Google and the Google Expeditions App platform, as project lead. He has created educational films, learning apps and interactives at Twig World, children’s drama for BBC Worldwide and factual programmes for BBC, History Channel, Discovery, Channel 4 and many more. Austen trained with the BBC to be a Creative Alchemist – specialising in taking linear storytelling and developing it for immersive experiences. He has been creative lead on projects in traditional linear, VR, AI and emerging technologies in B2B, Military/Government, Consumer, Entertainment and Education. Austen’s books have sold in 17 countries and been adapted for TV, notably Lost Worlds by Darlow-Smithson for Channel 4 and Discovery USA. Recognising the power of narratives, Austen has produced high profile full-lifecycle projects and programmes – often writing them himself – for renowned and iconic organisations such as the BBC, Sky, C4, C5, History Channel, Sunday Times, Virgin, Google and many others.

Lynne Hall, Professor of Computer Science, Sunderland University

Lynne is a Professor of Computer Science, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and of the British Computer Society. In 2017, Lynne was chair of the BCS Human Computer Interaction conference and is currently secretary of the BCS interactions group.  Research focuses on user experience design and evaluation, considering issues such as designing immersive experiences, exploring design for user trust, and evaluating the impact of technology enhanced learning. Lynne is actively engaged in knowledge exchange external engagement, working with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and organisations particularly in the creative, digital and IT sector. Recent projects with SMEs have involved online legal services development, energy brokerage systems and printwork productivity improvement.

Shaun Allan, Chief XR Officer, hedgehog lab

As Chief XR Officer, Shaun heads up the strategic development of the VR/AR/MR division at hedgehog lab, a global software consultancy that specialises in multi-platform software and connected device innovation. Prior to this, Shaun was the founder of Vector76, specialising in virtual and augmented reality development (Oculus, GearVR, HTCVive, Google Cardboard, Holo-lens), worked for Eutechnyx as a 3D Designer and even founded his own record label, Hardware Records, an underground independent dance label.