Dr Marco Gillies

Staff details

Position Senior Lecturer / Director of Distance Learning
Department Computing
Email m.gillies (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7717 3378
Dr Marco Gillies

Marco Gillies is Academic Director of Distance Learning for Goldsmiths. His role involves developing and supporting new initiatives in online and distance learning. This includes short courses in a MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) format, working with partners such as Coursera and FutureLearn and also developing full online degrees. This work is in close collaboration with the University of London International Academy. He also does work to support blended and online learning on campus via our VLE, learn.gold.

Marco is a reader in Computing and a pioneer of interdisciplinary computing at Goldsmiths. He was one of the founders of the creative computing degree and has since been instrumental in developing several other interdisciplinary degrees including Digital Arts Computing and Games Programming. He is a co-founder of the Embodied Audio-Visual Interaction (EAVI) group and has previously been Director of Studies for Computing and Deputy Head of Department.

Marco’s research centres on how we can create technologies that work with embodied, tacit human knowledge. He has many years’ experience of research into how to generate non-verbal communication for animated virtual characters, particularly for social interaction in virtual reality. His approach focuses on the role actors and performers can play in creating autonomous characters.

He has also worked on other forms of immersive experience and embodied interaction, particularly applied to immersive theatre and performance. His recent research has been on human-centred machine learning in which humans guide machine learning algorithms interactively as a way of making use of tacit human knowledge in artificial intelligence systems.

Marco also has a keen interest in pedagogy and how technology can support teaching and learning, particularly for creative learning. He has taught on two global Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and was a Co-Investigator in the PRAISE project which created an online platform to support creative feedback for music learners. He also uses online technology innovatively in the courses he teaches.  He has had a number of funded research projects from funders including the EPSRC, NESTA and the European Commission. He is co-chair of the 2016 ACM SIGCHI Workshop on Human-Centred Machine Learning and co-chair of the 2017 Workshop on Movement Computing.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Computer Science, University of Cambridge (2001)
  • BA in Computer Science, University of Cambridge (1997)


Marco is currently not teaching on campus as he is focusing on distance learning.

In the past he has taught a number of modules on BSc Creative Computing (of which he was co-convenor for many years), a third year module on Advanced Graphics and Animation as well as modules on the MA/MFA Computational arts and the MSc Computer Games and Entertainment.

He has taught first year Introduction to Programming using Processing and C++ using Openframeworks in the second year as part of Principles and Applications of Programming. His approach treats programming as a creative discipline and encourages students to follow their own creative interests in the projects they do. He is also interested in the social aspects of programming and learning and how to use technology to enhance social learning.

He was one of the course leaders on Creative Programming for Digital Media and Mobile Apps one of the first English Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) on the Coursera platform. The first run of the course had over 100 000 enrolled students. More recently he has taught on a MOOC specialization called Responsive Web Development and Design and is currently developing a specialization on Virtual Reality with Xueni Pan.

Areas of supervision

  • Animated Virtual Characters
  • Virtual Reality
  • Full body and embodied interaction
  • Human-machine learning
  • Creative applications of machine learning
  • Technologies for immersive theatre and performance
  • Socially meaningful and alternative gaming


Book Section

Gillies, Marco and Kleinsmith, Andrea. 2014. Non-representational Interaction Design. In: Mark (J. M.) Bishop and Andrew Martin, eds. Contemporary Sensorimotor Theory. 15 Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp. 201-208. ISBN 978-3-319-05106-2

Giannachi, Gabriella; Gillies, Marco ; Kaye, Nick and Swapp, David. 2009. Mediating Performance Through Virtual Agents. In: Zsófia Ruttkay; Michael Kipp; Anton Nijholt and Hannes Högni Vilhjálmsson, eds. Intelligent Virtual Agents 2009. Amsterdam: Springer, pp. 439-445. ISBN 978-3-642-04379-6

Gillies, Marco ; Ballin, Daniel; Pan, Xueni and Dodgson, Neil. 2008. Semi-Autonomous Avatars: A New Direction for Expressive User Embodiment. In: Lola Cañamero and Ruth Aylett, eds. Animating Expressive Characters for Social Interaction. John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 235-255. ISBN 9789027252104

Zhang, Li; Gillies, Marco ; Barnden, J A; Hendley, R J; Lee, M G and Wallington, A W. 2007. Affect Detection and an Automated Improvisational AI Actor in E-drama. In: , ed. Special Issue on Artificial Intelligence for Human Computing. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence. (4451) Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 339-358.

Gillies, Marco ; Ballin, Daniel and Dodgson, Neil. 2003. Semi-Autonomous Avatars and Characters. In: Ruth Aylett and Lola Canamero, eds. Animating Expressive Characters for Social Interactions. John Benjamins.


Gibbs, Janet K. ; Gillies, Marco and Pan, Xueni . 2022. A Comparison of the Effects of Haptic and Visual Feedback on Presence in Virtual Reality. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 157, 102717. ISSN 1071-5819

Collingwoode-Williams, Tara ; O'Shea, Zoe ; Gillies, Marco and Pan, Xueni . 2021. The Impact of Self-Representation and Consistency in Collaborative Virtual Environments. Frontiers in Virtual Reality, 2, 648601. ISSN 2673-4192

Dewe, Hayley; Gottwald, Janna; Bird, Laura-Ashleigh; Brenton, Harry ; Gillies, Marco and Cowie, Dorothy . 2021. My virtual self: the role of movement in children's sense of embodiment. IEEE Transactions on Visualization & Computer Graphics, ISSN 1077-2626

Cole, Tom and Gillies, Marco . 2021. Thinking and Doing: Challenge, Agency, and the Eudaimonic Experience in Video Games. Games and Culture, 16(2), pp. 187-207. ISSN 1555-4120

Drewett, Olivia; Hann, Gayle; Gillies, Marco ; Sher, Carmel; Delacroix, Sylvie; Pan, Xueni ; Collingwoode-Williams, Tara and Fertleman, Caroline. 2019. A Discussion of the Use of Virtual Reality for Training Healthcare Practitioners to Recognize Child Protection Issues. Frontiers in Public Health, 7(255),

Gillies, Marco . 2019. Understanding the role of Interactive Machine Learning in Movement Interaction Design. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 26(1), 5. ISSN 1073-0516

Fiebrink, Rebecca and Gillies, Marco . 2018. Introduction to the Special Issue on Human-Centered Machine Learning. ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems, 8(2), ISSN 2160-6455

Albertini, Niccolò; Brogni, Andrea; Olivito, Riccardo; Taccola, Emanuele; Caramiaux, Baptiste and Gillies, Marco . 2017. Designing natural gesture interaction for archaeological data in immersive environments. Virtual Archaeology Review, 8(16), pp. 12-21.

Pan, Xueni ; Gillies, Marco and Slater, Mel. 2015. Virtual character personality influences participant attitudes and behavior – an interview with a virtual human character about her social anxiety. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 2, 1. ISSN 2296-9144

Zamborlin, Bruno ; Bevilacqua, Frédéric; Gillies, Marco and d'Inverno, Mark . 2014. Fluid gesture interaction design: applications of continuous recognition for the design of modern gestural interfaces. ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems, 3(4), 22. ISSN 2160-6455

Kleinsmith, Andrea and Gillies, Marco . 2013. Customizing by Doing for Responsive Video Game Characters. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 71(7-8), pp. 775-784. ISSN 1071-5819

Pan, Xueni ; Gillies, Marco ; Barker, Chris; Clark, David M. and Slater, Mel. 2012. Socially Anxious and Confident Men Interact with a Forward Virtual Woman: An Experimental Study. PLoS ONE, 7(4), e32931.

Gillies, Marco and Spanlang, Bernhard. 2010. Comparing and Evaluating Real Time Character Engines for Virtual Environments. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 19(2), pp. 95-117. ISSN 1054-7460

Gillies, Marco ; Pan, Xueni and Slater, Mel. 2010. Piavca: a framework for heterogeneous interactions with virtual characters. Virtual Reality, 14(4), pp. 221-228. ISSN 1359-4338

Gillies, Marco . 2009. Learning Finite State Machine Controllers from Motion Capture Data. IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, 1(1), pp. 63-72. ISSN 1943-068X

Zhang, Li; Gillies, Marco ; Dhaliwal, Kulwant; Gower, Amanda; Robertson, Dale and Crabtree, Barry. 2009. E-Drama: Facilitating Online Role-play using an AI Actor and Emotionally Expressive Characters. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 19(1), pp. 5-38. ISSN 1560-4292

Gillies, Marco ; Pan, Xueni ; Slater, Mel and Shawe-Taylor, John. 2008. Responsive Listening Behavior. Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds, 19(5), pp. 579-589. ISSN 1546-4261

Gillies, Marco ; Crabtree, I. Barry and Ballin, Daniel. 2004. Customisation and Context for Expressive Behaviour in the Broadband World. BT Technology Journal, 22(2), pp. 7-17. ISSN 1358-3948

Gillies, Marco and Dodgson, N.. 2004. Behaviourally rich actions for user-controlled characters. Computers & Graphics, 28(6), pp. 945-954.

Gillies, Marco and Dodgson, N.. 2002. Eye Movements and Attention for Behavioural Animation. Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation, 13(5), pp. 287-300. ISSN 1049-8907

Conference or Workshop Item

Hilton, Clarice ; Plant, Nicola ; Fiebrink, Rebecca ; Perry, Phoenix ; González Díaz, Carlos; Gibson, Ruth; Martelli, Bruno; Zbyszynski, Michael and Gillies, Marco . 2021. 'InteractML: Making machine learning accessible for creative practitioners working with movement interaction in immersive media'. In: VRST ’21: ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology. Osaka, Japan 8-10 December 2021.

Dobre, Georgiana Cristina ; Gillies, Marco ; Falk, Patrick; Ward, Jamie A ; Hamilton, Antonia F de C and Pan, Xueni . 2021. 'Direct Gaze Triggers Higher Frequency of Gaze Change: An Automatic Analysis of Dyads in Unstructured Conversation'. In: International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI ’21). Montréal, QC, Canada 18 - 22 October 2021.

Gillies, Marco . 2021. 'Learnable Computing'. In: ACM CHI '21: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts. Yokohama, Japan 8 – 13 May 2021.

Plant, Nicola ; Hilton, Clarice ; Gillies, Marco ; Fiebrink, Rebecca ; Perry, Phoenix ; González Díaz, Carlos; Gibson, Ruth; Martelli, Bruno and Zbyszynski, Michael . 2021. 'Interactive Machine Learning for Embodied Interaction Design: A Tool and Methodology'. In: Fifteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI ’21). Salzburg, Austria 14–17 February 2021.

Plant, Nicola ; Gibson, Ruth; Diaz, Carlos Gonzalez; Martelli, Bruno; Zbyszynski, Michael ; Fiebrink, Rebecca ; Gillies, Marco ; Hilton, Clarice and Perry, Phoenix . 2020. 'Movement Interaction Design for Immersive Media Using Interactive Machine Learning'. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Movement and Computing. Jersey City, NJ, United States 15 – 17 July 2020.

Gillies, Donald A and Gillies, Marco . 2020. 'Artificial Intelligence and Philosophy of Science from the 1990s to 2020'. In: Conference on the Philosophy of Science today: Seven perspectives (XXV Conference on Contemporary Philosophy and Methodology of Science). Ferrol, Spain 12-13th March 2020.

Gillies, Marco and Pan, Xueni . 2018. 'Virtual reality for social skills training'. In: VR/AR in Higher Education Conference 2018. Swansea, United Kingdom 12 September 2018.

Gillies, Marco . 2018. 'Creating Virtual Characters'. In: MOCO 2018 the 5th International Conference of Movement and Computing. Genova, Italy 28-30 June.

Gillies, Marco . 2016. 'What is Movement Interaction in Virtual Reality for?'. In: 3rd International Symposium On Movement & Computing. Thessaloniki, Greece.

Gillies, Marco . 2016. 'What is Movement Interaction in Virtual Reality for?'. In: MOCO 2016: 3rd International Symposium On Movement & Computing. Thessaloniki, Greece.

Gillies, Marco ; Fiebrink, Rebecca ; Tanaka, Atau ; Garcia, Jérémie ; Amershi, Saleema; Lee, Bongshin; Bevilacqua, Frédéric; Heloir, Alexis; Nunnari, Fabrizio; Mackay, Wendy; Kulesza, Todd; Caramiaux, Baptiste; d’Alessandro, Nicolas and Tilmanne, Joëlle. 2016. 'Human-Centered Machine Learning'. In: CHI '16 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. San Jose, United States 7 - 12 May 2016.

Donald, Nicky and Gillies, Marco . 2015. 'Novel Dramatic and Ludic Tensions Arising from Mixed Reality Performance as Exemplified in Better Than Life'. In: International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling. Copenhagen, Denmark.

Cole, Tom ; Cairns, Paul and Gillies, Marco . 2015. 'Emotional and Functional Challenge in Core and Avant-garde Games'. In: CHI Play 2015. London, United Kingdom.

Gillies, Marco ; Brenton, Harry ; Yee-King, Matthew ; Grimalt-Reynes, Andreu and d'Inverno, Mark . 2015. 'Sketches vs Skeletons: Video Annotation Can Capture What Motion Capture Cannot'. In: Proceedings of the 2Nd International Workshop on Movement and Computing. Vancouver, Canada.

Gillies, Marco ; Brenton, Harry and Kleinsmith, Andrea. 2015. 'Embodied Design of Full Bodied Interaction with virtual humans'. In: 2nd International Conference on Movement and Computing. Vancouver, Canada.

Gillies, Marco ; Kleinsmith, Andrea and Brenton, Harry . 2015. 'Applying the CASSM Framework to Improving End User Debugging of Interactive Machine Learning'. In: ACM Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI). Atlanta, United States.

Brenton, Harry ; Kleinsmith, Andrea and Gillies, Marco . 2014. 'Embodied Design of Dance Visualisations'. In: International Workshop on Movement and Computing. paris, France.

Mohd Mokhtar, Ezwan and Gillies, Marco . 2013. 'How I Animate: A Hand Gesture-Centric Technique'. In: EVA London 2013: Electronic Visualisation and the Arts. London, United Kingdom.

Gillies, Marco ; Zapata Gomez, Shakti and Zimmer, Sebastian. 2013. 'Suzie’s Dance: reliving dance through motion capture animation of photographs'. In: Electronic Visualisation and the Arts. London, United Kingdom.

Gillies, Marco ; Worgan, Max; Peppe, Hestia; Robinson, Will and Kov, Nina. 2011. 'Exploring Choreographers’ Conceptions of Motion Capture for Full Body Interaction'. In: The BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction. Newcastle, United Kingdom.

Gillies, Marco . 2010. 'Bodily Non-verbal Interaction with Virtual Characters'. In: Kansei Engineering and Emotion Research. Paris, France.

Gillies, Marco ; Zhang, Li and Barnden, J A. 2008. 'EMMA: an Automated Intelligent Actor in E-drama'. In: Proceedings of International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces. Canary Islands, Spain 13th - 16th Jan 2008.

Pan, Xueni ; Gillies, Marco and Slater, Mel. 2008. 'Male Bodily Responses during an Interaction with a Virtual Woman'. In: Intelligent Virtual Agents. Tokyo, Japan 2008.

Zhang, Li; Gillies, Marco ; Barnden, J A and Hendley, R J. 2007. 'An Improvisational AI Agent and Emotionally Expressive Characters'. In: Workshop on Narrative Learning Environments, Supplementary Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of Artificial Intelligence in Education. Los Angeles, United States July 9-13, 2007.

Zhang, Li; Gillies, Marco ; Roberson, D.; Oldroyd, Amanda and Barnden, J A. 2007. 'Emotionally Expressive Characters in E-drama'. In: In Proceedings of International Conference of Internet Technology and Secured Transactions. London, United Kingdom.

Dhaliwal, Kulwant; Gillies, Marco ; O’Connor, John; Oldroyd, Amanda; Robertson, Dale and Zhang, Li. 2007. 'eDrama: Facilitating online role-play using emotionally expressive avatars.'. In: The AISB Workshop on Language, Speech and Gesture for Expressive Characters. UNDEFINED 2007.

Pan, Xueni ; Gillies, Marco ; Sezgin, T M and Loscos, C. 2007. 'Expressing Complex Mental States Through Facial Expressions'. In: Second International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction. Lisbon, Portugal.

Gillies, Marco . 2006. 'Applying direct manipulation interfaces to customizing player character behaviour.'. In: International Conference on Entertainment Computing. UNDEFINED 2006.

Vinayagamoorthy, Vinoba; Gillies, Marco ; Steed, A.; Tanguy, E.; Pan, Xueni ; Loscos, C. and Slater, M.. 2006. 'Building Expression into Virtual Characters'. In: Eurographics Conference State of the Art Reports. Vienna, Austria 4-8 September, 2006.

Gillies, Marco ; Crabtree, I. Barry and Ballin, Daniel. 2006. 'Individuality and Contextual Variation of Character Behaviour for Interactive Narrative.'. In: AISB Workshop on Narrative AI and Games. UNDEFINED 2006.

Friedman, Doron and Gillies, Marco . 2005. 'Teaching Characters How to Use Body Language'. In: Intelligent Virtual Agents. Kos, Greece 12-14 September, 2005.

Gillies, Marco and Ballin, Daniel. 2004. 'Affective Interactions Between Expressive Characters'. In: Proceedings of the IEEE conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics. The Hague, Netherlands.

Gillies, Marco and Ballin, Daniel. 2004. 'Integrating autonomous behavior and user control for believable agents'. In: Third international joint conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems. Columbia University, New York 2004.

Gillies, Marco ; Crabtree, Barry and Ballin, Daniel. 2004. 'Expressive characters and a text chat interface'. In: AISB workshop on Language, Speech and Gesture for Expressive Characters. University of Leeds, UK March, 2004.

Ballin, Daniel; Gillies, Marco and Crabtree, Barry. 2004. 'A Framework For Interpersonal Attitude And Non-Verbal Communication In Improvisational Visual Media Production'. In: 1st European Conference on Visual Media Production (CVMP). IEE, London, UK 15-16 March 2004.

Gillies, Marco ; Ballin, Daniel and Csáji, Balázs Csanád. 2004. 'Efficient Clothing Fitting from Data.'. In: 12th International Conference in Central Europe on Computer Graphics, Visualization and Computer Vision (WSCG). Plzen, Czech Republic 2-6 February 2004.

Gillies, Marco and Ballin, Daniel. 2003. 'A Model of Interpersonal Attitude and Posture Generation'. In: Workshop on Intelligent Virtual Agents. UNDEFINED.

Gillies, Marco ; Ballin, Daniel and Dodgson, Neil. 2002. 'Integrating Internal Behavioural Models with External Expression'. In: PRICAI '02 International workshop on Lifelike Animated Agents: Tools, Affective Functions and Applications. Tokyo, Japan 2002.

Gillies, Marco ; Dodgson, Neil and Ballin, Daniel. 2002. 'Autonomous Secondary Gaze Behaviours'. In: AISB workshop on Animating Expressive Characters for Social Interactions. Imperial College, London 2002.

Gillies, Marco and Dodgson, Neil. 1999. 'Invariants and Affordances for Walking in a Cluttered Environment'. In: Second Workshop on Intelligent Virtual Agents. University of Salford 1999.

Gillies, Marco and Dodgson, Neil. 1999. 'Ball Catching: an example of psychologically-based behavioural animation'. In: Eurographics UK 17th annual conference. UK 1999.

Gillies, Marco and Dodgson, Neil. 1999. 'Psychologically-based Walking in a Cluttered Environment'. In: Eurographics `99 Short Papers and Demos. Milan, Italy 1999.


Mees, Annettte; Wright, Tim; Donald, Nicky ; Gillies, Marco ; Milne, Austin and Prime, Sian . 2015. Coney: Better Than Life. Project Report. NESTA, LONDON.

Gillies, Marco . 2001. Practical behavioural animation based on vision and attention. Technical Report. UCCL, Cambridge.


Gillies, Marco . 2014. Gestyour.


Devlin, Kate and Gillies, Marco . 2014. CO3355 Advanced graphics and animation subject guide. UCL, Goldsmtihs, University of London International Programme.

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