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Seri Rama: Converting a Shadow Play Puppet to Street Fighter

ArticleinIEEE Computer Graphics and Applications 32(1):8-11 · January 2012with964 Reads
DOI: 10.1109/MCG.2012.25 · Source: DBLP
Shadow puppet plays, a traditional Malaysian theater art, is slowly losing its appeal to adolescents, who prefer computer games. To help reverse this decline, the authors incorporated the traditional Seri Rama character into the Street Fighter video game. Using modeling, texturing, and animation, they developed a 3D Seri Rama prototype. Users can control Seri Rama with a PlayStation game controller.
Dissemination of “Seri Rama” Shadow Play Puppet As a Cultural Heritage Through
Capcom’s Street Fighter IV
Dahlan Abd Ghani Creative Multimedia
Malaysian Institute Information
Technology (MIIT)
University Kuala Lumpur
1016 Menara Bandar Wawasan
+603 2175 4336
Traditional Malay theater arts such as wayang kulit
Kelantan or Shadow Play puppet Kelantan in Malaysia
remains one form of entertainment. Unfortunately, the
shadow play puppet has lost it touch and has slowly begun
to fade among society especially among teenagers in
Malaysia. Computer games such as PlayStation 3 or PS3
Street Fighter IV seem to captivate the imagination and
attention of contemporary teenagers since it was
introduced in 1987. The paper discusses the introduction
of Sri Rama’s character in Capcom Street Fighter IV’s
console which refers to PlayStation 3. This paper will
focus on a new character, Sri Rama wayang kulit or
shadow play puppet which was introduced among other
Street Fighter characters in a game console platform. This
research will look into the development of 3D Sri Rama
shadow play puppet through methodology prototype on
conceptual, characteristic, modeling, texturing and
animation. This paper also looks at playstation game
console function keys required in the PS3 environment.
Finally, a survey was carried out to provide feedback for
this concept. It is hoped that this research will create an
awareness and appreciation through gaming, especially
among the teenagers in an effort to preserve the wayang
kulit tradition.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
K.8 [Autodesk Animator]: 3D software Constructs and Features
modeling, rendering, texturing
General Terms
Documentation, Performance, Design, Experimentation,
Computer Software and Human Factors, ,
Malay theatre, Shadow Play puppet, PlayStation 3, Seri
Rama, Street Fighter IV, modeling, texturing, animation.
1.0 Introduction
Traditional Malay theatre arts has been developing
and flourishing in the rural in Peninsular Malaysia
predominantly in Kedah & Kelantan as wayang kulit or
shadow play puppet. [1]. The puppets for example Wayang
Kulit Siam are small, made from flat leather, specifically
from and highlighted beautifully with bright colors.[3]
The overall impression is the face conforms the ideal
beauty of malay culture. For example, the Seri Rama
character (refer picture 1.0), are based on the Hindu epic
of Ramayana & Mahabharata. The characters of the
wayang are given life by the deft manipulation and varied
vocalization of the puppeteer or better known as Dalang.
Unfortunately, Wayang Kulit Kelantan in Malaysia is
threatened with imminent extinction. Research in the late
1960’s confirmed the existence of more than 300 Dalangs
shadow puppeteers and narrators. [2]
Figure 1.0 Character of Seri Rama Puppet
Street Fighter also known in Japanese as (スススススススススス
Sutorīto Faitā?) is commonly abbreviated as SF. It is a
series of fighting games developed in Japan as a ‘video
game' which features competitive fighters from around the
world, each with his or her own unique fighting style,
fighting against each other. Computer games seem to
captivate the imagination and attention of contemporary
teenagers. students we worked with said stated that only
the energy, motivation, fun and exhilaration they enjoy are
from playing games on their consoles such as PlayStation
3 or XBOX 360.
Figure 2.0 Chinese shadow play: (a) computer-generated image,
(b) picture of puppets manipulating
Some efforts in digitalizing traditional shadow play
include development of a framework for traditional
shadow play shadow rendering of Chinese Shadow Play
by Tsai-Yen Li and Shu-Wei Hsu. Chinese shadow play, as
depicted in Figure 2.0(a), is one of the most ancient genres
of drama in China. It is a dramatic form which uses
lanterns to project shadows of silhouettes made of hard
paper and hide onto a white screen refer to figure 2.0(b)
The artistic effect of the play is produced through light,
screen, music, signing and puppet operated. Lotte
Reineger’s was the early pioneers using silhouette
animation which showed distinctive Wayang Kulit
influences from Indonesian and Chinese Wayang Kulit
2.0 Methodology
Even in this lavish 3-dimensional game world, the
fighting scene is placed on a single axis where the players
are always facing each other. This can be motivated in
several ways on the amount of possible actions allowed,
thus, making it more manageable when players can only
attack each other from the front or the back; it makes the
game easier to learn as well .The two-dimensional game
play dates back to early fighting games such as Street
Fighter (Capcom 1987) or Tekken 5 according to the
genre’s history.
Picture 3.0 Game Prototyping & Conceptual Design
Games are a fundamental part of human existence.
The concept of early prototyping (refer picture 3.0) is
essential to place Seri Rama character in between the line
of existing characters available on the Street Fighter game.
This conceptualization includes the game play and
character norms such as getting hurt, doubts about his
abilities, emotions, characters strength, avatar and many
more. In short, Seri Rama characters for this game will are
a real person with fears, doubts, and good sides, brave or
bad. Each character design needs a formal detail as
characters in Street Fighter II (Refer picture 3.0) come
from across the world such as Japan, Brazil, India and etc.
Picture 4.0 is an example of Ryu which appears as the
leading character in the game along with his best friend
Ken participating in the Street Fighter IV tournament.
This character until today remains as the protagonist in
Street Fighter. 4 Therefore, the character Seri Rama will
need to have the correct mood and design feasibilities as a
means to enhance the character’s appearance in Street
Fighter among other existing characters. Next, we look
into some main vital elements to develop a prototype
model of the Seri Rama puppet.
Picture 4.0 Street Fighter II Character Line Up
(image courtesy @Capcom 2010)
3.0 Character Traits
The main characters in Wayang Kulit are taken out
of the Ramayana and Mahabharata which includes gods,
royalty, ogres, mythical creatures and servants 5. Scholar
Angela Hobart argues that puppets “may appear only
fleetingly on the stage, so their contours must be precise
for the spectators to recognize them ( et al. Hobart 67).
For example, since Street Fighter was introduced in 1987,
characters such as Ryu & Ken, (refer to picture 4.0) are
well known or established among this game community. A
good character is one that is both believable and
memorable. Therefore, Seri Rama character design must
incorporate elements such as space, texture, color &
lighting which are essential in developing a strong
characterization of a warrior. His character as a
protagonist will establish a new identity in the Street
Fighter (SF) game as a part of an adaptation from Wayang
Kulit or shadow play puppet original characters.
Picture 5.0 Ryu & Ken Street Fighters favorite characters
(image courtesy @Capcom 2010)
4.0 3D Modeling, Texturing & Animation
4.0.1 3D Modeling
Figure 6.0 shows the Seri Rama 3D Model complex to
model due to complex engraving and craft
Thus, in developing a prototype model of a shadow play
puppet for Street Fighter game platform, we used software
called MAYA 3D animation as a tool to design the 3D
puppet. The existing methods output particularly
rendering, such as depth of field, shadow mapping ,
polygon shaders or any other rendering techniques are
rather slow and time consuming as adopted by shadows
add information to the image that helps to perceive the 3D
aspect of the scene in the Street Fighter game. Normal
traditional puppets are basically viewed on a flat surface or
2D surface. A 2D polygonal hash table replaces the whole
parts of the puppet geometry with single polygons for
quick intersection tests to a 2D model.
NURBS, polygons and subdivision surfaces
(or Subdues or SubD's) are most common in Maya or any
other 3D software package. This was used to model the
puppet Wayang Kulit character. To model a character
puppet in 3D accuracy of modeling and programming are
essential especially dealing with the amount of polygons
needed for the Street Fighter PlayStation. Polygons are a
widely use model due to its relative stability and
functionality. A polygon helps to visualize a bridge
between NURBS and SubDivs. NURBS that were used for
this puppet model basically included ready smooth
appearance in order for the character surface to appear
much smoother when applying texturing or color.
SubDivs or Subdivision resembles a combination of
both NURBS and polygons, but it is actually a smoothen
mesh. Ready-smooth function can be manipulated like
polygons, resulting in a model of many objects including
hands, faces, and other multi-topological constructions and
to animate it would be difficult. Example, for the Seri
Rama 3D character, it required many multi-topological
especially on joints, Inverse Kinematics or IK dealing with
bones or joints and rigging process which were quite
complicated in terms of moving or animating the
characters. NURBS accurately represent both standard
geometric objects like lines, circles, ellipses, spheres, and
objects, including free-form geometry example car bodies
and human bodies. The 3D Seri Rama character is quite
complex to model due to engraving and craft (refer figure
6.0) involving organic and non-organic shapes that are
applied to the character, thus requiring us to trace (vector)
and re-model in MAYA 3D software.
4.0.2 Lighting
Seri Rama’s 3D model puppet depicts the affects the
platform based on light source used in MAYA software.
We wanted to highlight a sphere placed between some
objects, and analyzed the effects of changing the intensity
of the light in the scene on the overall composition of
puppet scene. The concept of color lighting in 3D
environment was explored during the lighting setup. We
used White light which are commonly composed of all the
possible colours that exist. A ray of white light was used
for the colour effect and to counter black colour. Figure 7.0
shows when the light hits a white object, the same ray is
reflected. The 3D object puppet was viewed in black colour
mode, and when the object absorbed all the light, as the
colour was still in originally, and nothing was reflected. So
basically when we look at a totally black object, we are
able to view a black colour because no light is able to pass
through our eyes from that direction.
Figure 7.0 The 3D model of Seri Rama light source of
“direction” to form shadow
4.0.3 Texture
A texture map is applied (mapped) to the surface of a
shape or polygon. This process is a kind of applying
patterned paper texture to a plain white box. Texture
mapping had to be applied to all primitives such as
polygons, images and bitmap on the puppet model. We
used Adobe Photoshop software to design & edit the
texture from an original shadow play puppet with the
correct resolution in order to map it to the 3D model based
on UV.
Texture mapping is the technique used for rendering the
characters since different body parts are modeled as simple
two-dimensional (2D) polygon meshes and have a
predefined texture that can be mapped to these polygons as
the model animates. To animate the models, the system
uses key framing based on the model parameters which are
available in MAYA 3D software. Figure 8.0 demonstrate
the process of UV Mapping which transforms the texture
map onto the 3D object. In contrast to "X", "Y" and "Z",
the Cartesian Coordinates is applied. These are the
coordinates for the original 3D object for wayang puppetry
character in the modeling space as another set of
coordinates that has to describe the surface of the mesh by
identifying and applying it each with letter "U" and "V".
Figure 8.0 The application of a texture in the UV space related to
the effect in 3D.
To implement the texturing process onto the characters
surface model, functionality of coordinate U (horizontal)
and V (vertical) in 3D space are done by unwrapping the
3D model of Sri Rama and applying a texture template or
UV grid to the unwrapped map. This method will enable
the animator to preview the UV map applied to the 3D
puppet model for Street Fighter. Plus, GDK (Game
Development Kit) which comprises of a set of C++
wrapper classes for writing Windows games is used. It is
built on top of Microsoft Windows and DirectX technology
as well as integrated using C++ wrappers within model,
texture and game environment.
4.0.4 Animation
The character’s skeleton will consist of a series of
bones(joints) that are linked together and rotate in
relationship to each other. This will help to move the
skin(or envelope of Seri Rama character) that surrounds
him. The bones later need to be linked to the skin. The
first approach we used is build a complete skin, insert
bones and linked them using the concept of weighting the
character. The idea is to select Seri Rama points on the
surface of the skin and assign them a differing degree that
each part of the skin move coherent with the bone.
Example, skin of an puppet arm(Seri Rama) would move
within the upper and lower arm bones. If the bones are
inserted into the arms without any weighting and trying to
bend the arm, we experienced it and the outcome was the
arm had a rubber hose effect at the elbow. In Street
Fighter game, the same concept is applied for the
animation of the “Fighting” genre game. As an Asian
character, the Seri Rama puppet needed to be animated in
key frame technique. The attack and defense mode most
suitable with the characteristic of a warrior were the main
Some suggestions included the technique of Silat Martial
Arts or Silambam which is believed to be among one of the
most popular tradition martial arts in Asia. Silat is
synonym among the Malay community and Silambam is
prominent among the Indian community. Animations are
defined as a rapid display of a sequence of images of 2D or
3D artwork or model positions in order to create an
illusion of movement. The shadow play puppet
entertainment are base on screen projection consisting of
moving images or frame by frame shadow movement and
characters followed by music and the voice of the
puppeteer or better known as Tok Dalang. People in front
of the screen are mesmerized by the shadows playing upon
it; those on the periphery, however, are less susceptible to
the illusion. The puppet characters held by the puppeteer
moves around, in and out behind the screen in sync with
the music by team of orchestra. This is an indication
process known as animation. The artistic shadow play
accompanied with music and narrative through the deft
manipulation of the puppet master behind the screen
constantly mesmerize the audience [6]
5.0 Six Axis Controller & Functions
Playstation controllers or known as SixAxis are
obviously the most important complement for a game
console. The video game industry has been characterized
as a “hit” business. The hit games, also called “killer aps”
are so desirable that they induce consumers to spend
several hundred dollars on the game console and
accessories necessary to play them. It means that we have
human-computer interactions and that video games can be
seen as user interfaces.
The audio visual apparatus consist of an electronic
system with computing capabilities, input devices
(controllers, mouse, keyboard, etc.), and output devices
(screen, loudspeakers, etc.). Thus, all of it involves a
process which is known as interactivity. As Jasper Juul
notices, this is a major difference between video games and
their “non electronic precursors”: The main difference
between the computer game and its non electronic
precursors is that computer games add automation and
complexity they can uphold and calculate game rules on
their own, thereby allowing for richer game worlds; this
also lets them keep pace.”
Figure 9.0 The Six Axis Controller Function in PS3
The Six Axis functions keys (refer to picture 9.0) shows
the controller keys for a user to interact with the Street
Fighter Game. For the Seri Rama character, the circle &
square (no.14 &16) buttons will represent the kick and
punch function. Example, when a player holds the circle
(no.14) key and presses the UP (no.5) button twice, Seri
Rama would perform a “Combo Turning Kick”. The Seri
Rama character in Street Fighter might be given special
powers such as fire spewing from his leg while kicking, or
running and jumping backward with a strong storm like
current emanates from his body while battling with his
opponent. This could be done by turning the joystick’s
right controller key in the picture 9.0 (no.3) and pressing
the kick (no.14) simultaneously. This requires the game to
offer players a large number of meaningful options,
enough options that the player can express the nuances of
his personality through the choices he makes.
The character of Seri Rama in Street Fighter could also be
configured. Example, Seri Rama’s weapon, background of
fight, and power options can provide players with more
options to choose from. According to Mandana Sadigh
(2002), It's good to have a lot of options in your game
that players can configure. This way they can tune your
game in ways that suit them better than the shipped
6.0 Results
From the earlier discussion, it is evident that certain
elements of this framework can be identified in existing
studies and surveys given in the earlier discussion of the
multidimensional nature of game design and game play,
the focus development of the 3D prototype of Seri Rama’s
character which will be incorporated into the Street
Fighter game.
From the result of the evaluation, some useful and effective
feedbacks are obtained. Many of the respondents think that
the3D puppet modeling of Seri Rama is rather compatible
to the traditional ones and compatible in Street Fighter
game style. The crafting of the outline of the puppets has
properly shadowed the real puppet and the results were
equally divided. On the lighting effect, many respondents
showed their agreements and were fascinated by the
differences that can be made to the contrast and shadow
effects. This is due to one distinct similarity that can be
found between the theme for the traditional shadow play
and our concept of 3D modeling of shadow play. Some
respondents suggested further enhancement of the effects
using the fade in and fade out techniques. For example,
fade in technique is required when a puppet is about to
appear on the screen and fade out techniques is required
when it has to be disappeared. In addition, the respondents
are satisfied in witnessing the extra and special blurring
effects appropriate with Street Fighter game mode visual
Lastly, on the animation, most of the respondents have
rated an average review. The movements of the arms are
not so flexible. Several respondents also added that the 3D
model of Seri Rama arms could not swing freely in a cyclic
movement compare to the traditional puppet style. This
method is also applicable to other parts of the body of the
puppet, thus producing a better effect in expresitivity’ and
body languages. The difference is that in some movements
can be made at the same time such that the puppet could
swing the hand while running. However, in Malaysian
shadow play, for example Seri Rama upper part of the
body of the puppet always remains stagnant and most
traditional Wayang Kulit Kelantan characters have a
single articulated arm mainly for the main puppet figures
such as Seri Rama and Sita Dewi.
7.0 Conclusion
The significance from this study would surely prevent
the extinction of the shadow play puppet and Dalangs or
puppeteers. This approach is mainly more towards the
signs of awareness especially towards the younger
generation that shadow play puppet is still an influential
performing arts masterpiece heritage. Indirectly, this will
help to open more opportunities for businesses and
marketing plans including the tourism sector as more
visitors will visit Malaysia in future.
From this study, the idea of introducing the character of
Seri Rama in the world famous game Street Fighter could
have some positive impact towards the shadow play puppet
entertainment scene. The study of modeling, texturing and
animation including the Six Axis controller for Seri
Rama’s character to be introduced in Street Fighter game
play clearly indicates its possibility but further studies and
development are needed before it can be executed. Even
though Seri Rama’s character looks appeal in 3D
environment, the puppet’s origin must have techniques,
unpredictable movements, variable emotions and an
effective storyline to induce players around the world to
choose it.
I would like to thank my wife Norashikin Rosli, Fauzi
Naeim, Kim De Silva, my PHD supervisor Prof Dr Mohd
Sidin, and friends from University Malaya & University
Kuala Lumpur for helping me throughout this research.
1. Patricia Matusky, Malaysian Shadow Play & Music , The
Asian Centre, Penang,Malaysia,1997
2 Amin Sweeny, Malay Shadow Puppets, Shenval Press, London,
3 Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin, Traditional Malay Theatre,
Dewan Bahasa Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur, 2009
4. Street Fighter IV: Return of the World Warriors," Article :
GameInformer 178 (February 2008): 90.
5. Hobart, Angel. Dancing Shadows of Bali, Theatre and Myth.
New York: Methuen Inc.1987.
6. Heckbert, P., "Survey of Texture Mapping," Journal: IEEE
Computer Graphics and Applications , Vol. 6, No. 11, pp. 56-67,
Nov. 1986.
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