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Puppet Showtime

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If you enjoyed Fly a Kite, which I covered back in October, I'm sure you'll be equally charmed by Chinese Shadow Play. Developed by the same creative team, Chinese Shadow Play is another artful, interactive demonstration of what's now possible with HTML5, and what's possible with a powerful browser such as Internet Explorer 9. A two-thousand-year-old art form, shadow play tells stories by manipulating puppets with free-moving parts (such as body, head, arms, and legs) against an illuminated background. On the Chinese Shadow Play site, you marshal your puppets, not into a story, but into a dance and then a formation. You're initially presented with one puppet; you then add as many more as you wish, either in batches or one at a time. Each puppet will dance or skate or wheel around the canvas, swinging its arms and facing back and forth, until the whole group is arranged into the shape you've selected -- an arrow, a star, an I, an E, a "9," or random continuous loop. (The E is actually the classic Internet Explorer logo.)

The most fun aspect of the site, though, is that you may directly interact with any puppet on the canvas. Click and hold on it, then drag your mouse around the screen. The puppet's flipping and flopping and gliding and rotating will seem almost lifelike, because the underlying code is a sophisticated model of real-world physics.

Kids may enjoy the novelty of being a puppet master, but adults may want to do a little benchmarking as well. As you add more puppets and as you interact with them, you may monitor your browser's performance using the site's "frames per second" meter. The underlying code will attempt to animate your puppets 60 times per second; the meter shows how many of those changes your browser can actually handle. So you can measure for yourself how Internet Explorer 9, with its hardware acceleration and new scripting engine, stacks up against other browsers, and how your hardware stacks up against your friends'. And that's one story this shadow play tells really well.

This story, "Puppet Showtime" was originally published by BrandPost.

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