This Week & Dance Resources Index

 


An easy reference to dance resource pages

Audacity – Music Player and Editing Program
Blogging Ideas – Using a Private Blog for Keeping Creative Ideas and Inspiration
Camera and Video Tips & Tricks
Editing Music – Audacity Video Tutorial
Lighting Tutorial
Moving Objects with Choreography Design System
Particle Power to the People
Performance Director – Starting People Backstage
Smooth Dancer Tip for Choreography
Tools Tips & Tricks

Creating a Dance:

Definition Time!
Don’t Rush into Using All the Tools! Build a Strong Foundation
Dance Knowledge – a Sharing
Creating Choreography – My Flow
New Dancers Resource

Favorites Stores and Tools:

Animation Stores
Particles Stores
Boom Animation Organizer
Camera View Save/Setup HUD – 0L

Misc. Tips:

Sticky note holder and notes in sequences

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Inspiration, ideas, and get all these ideas out of my head for a bit!

having ideas

There are times where there are so many ideas swirling around in my head that I just can’t think or focus.  It’s like a huge pile of spaghetti in there and I’m afraid I’ll forget all the best ones.  Sometimes I’ll even wake up in the middle of the night, thoughts DEMANDING to be written.  It is after I’ve let them take their course, written them down, that I can finally settle again and sleep.

I’m also a list maker – I NEED lists.  They help me stay organized, they help me remember, but most importantly they reduce stress for me.  I KNOW what I need to focus on next, I know what steps I need to take to put together a dance.  I don’t have every little detail, but it’s like candles along the path lighting the way.

I’ve tried many different things, but my favorite is my private blog I use for my own brainstorming, my own thoughts, things I don’t want (or would scare) the outside world to know.  I have one main post where I keep links, and to do lists, and what not, then each dance I create, each workshop, has it’s own blog post that I just keep updating.  Words, pictures, video links, marketplace item links, all of it I can keep in one place for that dance.  A creative scrapbook.  Just for me.  Doesn’t have to be pretty but it’s an incredible resource so I can put all my ideas down when they come to me, then when I’m ready to work there they are.

I even have a post of my favorite stores to visit for all kinds of things, and a wishlist of items I like on Marketplace that I just don’t need right now but want, and don’t want to forget.  (Saves lindens too, because I’m not anxious to buy it right away “because I’ll forget and it’s soooo awesome!”)

I think it’s so very important to write down your ideas when inspiration hits – songs you want to make a dance to, thoughts, ideas, frustrations, absolutely anything.  It’s like a creativity diary, and when it’s time to make a dance or find create a new one you have all of this at your fingertips.

Soo….

I use WordPress for my private blog, free version.  There’s a simple setting to make it private so no one can access it without a log in and password.  There’s a little bit to get used to if you’ve never blogged before, but..

Make it yours!

Use it the way YOU want!  Sort it, organize it, lay it out in whatever way works best for YOU!  For some people, it may be an awesome thing, for others you might like to keep your ideas in a different way.  That’s ok too!  A private blog is a tool for your creativity – nothing more.  Always work, create, and be just the way you want to be.

I hope this may have given you new ideas, or inspired you in some way.

Dance to your own beat, always.

~ Eva

WordPress setting to make private:

setting

 

This is what mine looks like when I log in.  You can see some of the dances I’ve worked on or want to work on, my workshops, even a post for inspirational messages.  Some I didn’t assign a picture to yet, but if I hover over them it will tell me the name.

blog pictures

This is what my main planning page looks like (it keeps going!):

method to my madness
and this is one of my planning pages, or a piece of it with pictures, videos, links, lists, and rambling:

performance brainstorming

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One foot in front of the other…

Foundation.  We all know it, how important it is to have a strong foundation when building a house, getting married, or learning to ski.

When you ski for the very first time, do you go to the black diamond trails and say “how hard can this be?” or “everyone else is doing it!”   No!  Because with the best of luck you’d end up in the trees, worst of luck you’d ski right off a cliff because you didn’t have the basics under your belt!

I see this all the time.  A new choreographer rushes out to buy all the tools “everyone is using” and immediately wants to start creating a dance with the Performance Director.  Now, I love the Performance Director.  It is like the conductor of an orchestra bringing all the pieces together, but….  no matter how great the conductor is, if no one has learned to play the drums, flute, or violin, it’s going to be just like elementary school band where Jimmy just couldn’t keep the beat and Robin smacked her flute against Billy because she couldn’t get it to work!

I have seen a few new choreographers take to the tools like a duck to water and put together something good – but dance is sooo much more than the tools.  It is art, it is expression, it is creativity.  This comes from within, this comes from time and building a foundation, getting to know your animations, listening to music, and starting with the basics.

In my opinion, to create the best performances you need a strong foundation.  To gain a strong foundation you need to focus on the choreography FIRST, and focus on learning one tool at a time until you’ve mastered it.

TOOL 1:  SPOT ON SMOOTH DANCER (animation HUD)

Start here.  Collect animations, work on choreography.  Create a DANCE.  You CAN perform with only a Smooth Dancer HUD and a stay pad!  Some of my favorite dances recently created only use 1 or 2 moves!  That’s it!  Learn to record sequences, smooth out your transitions.  Smooth Dancer isn’t the only animation HUD, but it’s my favorite.  Twenty animations on a page, clean interface, ability to record sequences, and create timed and untimed sequences on the same notecard.

TOOL 2:  MOVER SYSTEM

You’re comfortable with beginning choreography, you have animations, you know how to select ones that fit to the music and are from a variety of makers, you’re still working on smooth transitions but not doing too bad.  You’re comfortable with the Smooth Dancer HUD.   NOW move onto a mover system.

There are several different ones available.  Choreography Designer is my preferred mover system for what I create now, BUT IT IS NOT THE ONLY ONE.  There is no need to get lost in waypoints, create a bazillion routes and rotations for your dancers.  Let your animations do most of the movement, and if needed, and a move or two using one of the mover systems available to get started.

What ones?  Klark Harvy offers classes on the DBC (dance ball controller), a free tool with an easy interface.  This is the easiest one to start with.  Club Image uses the SZI mover system, for example.  When you’re ready – learn the Spot On Choreography Design system but START SIMPLE!  You usually don’t need more than a few waypoints when you’re starting!  More than once I’ve heard muffled screams because a new choreographer jumped into the choreography designer system right out of the gate with complex ideas and were sobbing under a pile of triangles.

TOOL 3:  PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR

IF you choose to, and you’re comfortable with Smooth Dancer, choreography, creating sequences and the Choreography Design System THEN add the Performance Director to your tool library!  To use it effectively you truly must understand the first two tools!

I teach all three, I love all three, but it was an evolution as I built my foundation.  As Alice said, start from the beginning and keep going.  Put one foot in front of the other, build a strong foundation and focus on the joy, art, and creativity of a dance rather than the tools or the “extra” stuff.  Without choreography, there is no dance.  Begin there.

I am in no way an expert, “Master Choreographer”, or any of that.  (a term I detest and personally don’t believe in).  We are all learning, evolving, exploring new things.  Someone can create amazing dances, but be completely unfamiliar in how to choreograph a powerful dance for all men.  There are few hard and fast “rules” in my eyes when it comes to dance in SL, but there are two.  1.  NEVER EVER EVER EVER buy transfer only animations.  Copy, copy, copy versions – ALWAYS – when you can.  2.  Build a strong foundation, learn slowly, enjoy the ride.

Follow this, and dance in SL may be one of the most amazing adventures you experience.

~ Eva

I leave you with two videos for today, and a quote:

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique.  They are great because of their passion.”

“One foot in front of the other
Take one step then take another
Keep on walkin’, we’re headed in the right direction
Puttin’ one foot in front of the other
Little by little gets a whole lot further
Hittin’ our stride, one foot in front of the other

We’re takin’ it nice and slow
Safe and sound, covering ground
Steady as she goes”

 

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Definition Time!

One of the most amazing things about dance is there are always new things to learn and try.  During this adventure, you will come across many different terms – so let’s explore a few here, eh?   These are my definitions, as I know them, and subject to change as I also learn and grow.

Animation (general term) – An animation is a special type of item in Second Life, that when played will move various parts of the avatar.  This may be into a pose, into a dance, or into a movement such as walking.  Animations are created by animators using two main processes – stop motion animation or motion capture.  “Stop motion animation”, is recording one frame at a time of movement, generally using a pose mannequin shifted in small movements and recorded.  These frames are then spliced  together to create the flow of movement.

In motion capture animation, companies connect sensors to real life dancers.  While they dance, computers record their positioning and movements into data which can then be converted into smooth flowing animations.  Motion Capture animations (MoCap) animations, are generally much smoother and more realistic.

Dance Animation – An animation which reproduces dance movement when played.  This may be club dancing, lyrical, hip hop, headbanging, etc.  Animations may be very short – from 10 seconds, up to 1 minute.  Most dance animations will automatically repeat (loop) after they been played in their entirety, but not necessarily all.

Animation – an non-dance animation that moves an avatar in generally continual motion.  Example: walking/running, flips, standing/sitting with continuing changes of position, jump, land, emotions such as stomping around, etc.

Pose – An animation that moves an avatar into a still position.  Poses may be smooth or “snap” into place.  Poses that smoothly animate into place are generally more preferable to work with.  Poses are generally used for the start of a dance, for the finish, and also within the dance to add a brief pause or for focus to be shifted to another dancer.  They can also be used to link dance animations together.

Choreography – Choreography is the act of linking animations together to create an expressive dance, generally to music.  Example:  You have three animations – a spin, tap dancing, and a jump.  For the music, you will listen to the rhythm and transitions.  Generally you would play the animations ad you listen to the music and “feel” how they fit the song together.  In choreographing, you might start with the tapping, go into the jump, then play the spin.  You know have a single cohesive dance made up of parts that are put together so that they flow naturally with the music.  Don’t be afraid to consider all styles of animations for your dance!  Just because you’re choreographing a ballet dance doesn’t mean you have to use all ballet animations.  Change it up – it adds interest and makes the dance yours.  Please never ever ever create a dance from one pack of animations you bought at an animation store!  The creator is the choreographer in this case.  Use a variety – hunt around, be open minded!  I usually use between 20-45 animations for dances I create, sometimes just using little pieces.  Need more animations?  They are out there to find, and don’t forget MP can be a great place to get a “starter pack” of animations.  Consider buying a loaded dance hud (try it first if you can), or pull one from your inventory.  If it’s copy, you can rez it on the ground and copy the animations to your inventory!  I now copy animations from my furniture, ballet barre, and whatever else I have with copy animations that might look great in a dance!

Transition – Changing from one dance to another.  Your goal is to have a smooth transition – no jumps, no slides, so that for the audience the dance flows seamlessly.  Not the easiest thing to do!  For smooth transitions, watch the placement of the hands, the feet, the tempo of the animation as you change.  If the hands were on the hips, and the next animation has them overhead you might very well get a jarring transition.  Also watch for where on the floor your dancers feet are.  Many animations travel across the floor, moving you from your avatar center – like walking around in a circle.  If you change animations while your avatar is away from center, you may see a slide when you start the next transition – dragging you back to avatar center.  Suggestions?  I work on choreography standing on a grid, with me starting right over the center circle.  This visual helps me see where my animations move to and where I am when I want to transition to another animation.  I also recommend looking at changing your animation in a different place, very often if I let the first animation play just a bit longer, or catch it mid-step, I can find a better place to transition.  After a turn or within a turn can also be a great place to transition.  There are also animations you can use to “link”, that flow smoothly and create a more seamless transition.

Link – Links are animations used to link two animations together, that flow smoothly and create a more seamless transition.  You found the perfect two animations, but when you change from one to another you have a hot mess of a jump and/or slide.  They just don’t have a smooth change.  Very often you play just a second or two, or even a fraction of a second of a link animation, just enough to bring the two perfect animations together.  I look for slower, smooth animations that don’t have distinctive moves, or ones that have a nice short move – like a turn or a booty wiggle, etc.   Where to find these magical link animations?  My favorite to use are from Abranimations, just regular animations you probably already have!   I find their animations generally flow well between various types and makers.  Want to try it?  Put a bunch of smooth, subtle animations in a hud, your dance animations in another, and try it!  Play just a bit of the link animations in between to see which gives you a nice smooth connection.

Cache/Caching – The definition of “cache” is to “store away in hiding or for future use”.  When someone views your dance, their viewer is displaying your animations, your costume, your set, and your particles to them.  If their viewer hasn’t seen those things before, it will take it a moment to go to the second life server where the information is stored, get the info, and then display it to the user.  Example:

  • I play the animation “sexy8” while you are watching
  • your viewer goes to the second life server and says “ok – what do I do for sexy8”???
  • the second life server sends the animation data to your viewer and says “here ya go!”
  • in there, the sim server is also listening too and says “ooh, sexy 8!  Needs resources!”
  • your viewer finally plays it.

You can see that a short amount of time is needed for this exchange to occur – and it happens for mesh objects, clothing, textures, animations, etc.  (don’t forget, particles are textures too!)

When you cache in advance, it prepares the viewers of everyone watching, and also prepares the sim you’re on.  Caching sets, costumes, animations, particles, etc. for the sim and also while users are present (even through a closed curtain), will help your dance be seen as you intended it.

Mover System – A mover system is basically a tool that moves dancers from one set of coordinates to another.  For example, your dancers start on the stage floor, and you want them to rise 2 meters so they are flying, or move them to the left and to the right.  A mover system will allow you to do this.  There are several mover systems.  I recommend exploring.  You may find that some tools work better in certain situations than others.  A mover system is generally comprised of two things:  a HUD or some type of master control, and movers or dance balls which your dancers sit/stand on.  By moving the dance ball or mover your dancer stands on, it also moves your dancer.

Mover – The object your dancer stands/sits on.  May be a square on the floor, a spot on mover, or other object.

Dance Ball – Another type of object, used by the Dance Ball Controller system.  Generally referred to as a dance ball but often the shape of a square which is generally dancer’s mid height.

Rez/DeRez – This term in the dance world usually refers to the act of putting your set out on stage and removing it.  Most dance leaders use a tool that by a click of the button will put out a copy of the set on the stage (rez it), and with the click of another button (de-rez it).  You can also accomplish this by rezzing the item from your inventory, then taking it back when done, but this does additional considerations and potential issues.  Using a rezzing system is the standard in the dance world.

Stay Pad/Stay Ball – These are critical for every theatre.  A stay pad/stay ball is simple an object for dancers to sit/stand on.  By sitting on an object, the sim is no longer tracking the movement of the avatar, as it would if they were standing or walking.  To the server, the avatar becomes nearly invisible.  This saves a significant amount of server resources and prevents lag.  It is recommended that dancers never walk during a performance.  They should jump from the stay pad directly to their movers and back again.  This again helps to reduce lag.

Phantom – from the Second Life wiki: “Phantom is an object setting that can be changed from the edit window or by script. When an object is phantom it will pass through other objects and avatars.”

When phantom is referred to in the dance world, it is generally in reference to your props and sets.  You should almost ALWAYS set your props and sets as phantom objects, and there are two important reasons why.

  1. When you are rezzing a set that is not set as phantom, in some cases objects may collide with each other.  Standard objects do not want to occupy the same space and will shift out of the way of other objects.  If an avatar happens to be in the way, it will do the same thing.  Your set may not rez properly, you may pull out your hair, and a swear word or two might slip out.  When you set the objects as phantom, avatars and other objects can pass through as though they don’t exist.
  2. When an object is not phantom, the sim server is keeping track of that object and any collisions that occur – with props, avatars, other objects, etc.  By setting your set as phantom, the sim won’t record collisions – because there can’t be any when phantom.  This saves sim resources.

Transparent – transparent is the ability to make an object invisible.  It is frequently used for set pieces, props, and even parts of costumes.  While objects are in use, such as a dancer standing on a spot on mover, it automatically becomes transparent.  Want to see transparent objects?  Press Ctrl-Alt-T.  Transparent objects will be highlighted in a reddish color.  Press Ctrl-Alt-T again to hide them.

Link – A link is the use of an animation to link two other animations together.  For example:  you found the absolute perfect animation for a piece of the music, and you found another animation for the next phrase of music.  Hooray!  …but wait…the first animation ends with the hands up and the next animation starts with the hands down.  When you play the two animations together, you see this strange jump – oh no!  A link animation is an animation you put in the middle that smooths the flow between the two animations, and generally only a little piece of it is played.  I use mostly Abranimations animations as links – something a little slow, subtle, that shifts the arms and feet.  You can also use a slow moving pose or whatever works for you.  When you can, always try to find a place in the animations where the two link together seamlessly, but if you can, try looking for a link animation that will seam them together.

Freestyling – Extremely underrated in the dance world!  Freestyling is simply loading up a dance hud with animations, and playing music or going to a club and dancing yourself – or even others!  (make sure they’re willing first!)  The more you do this, the more of a feel you’ll get for your animations, when to change to another animation so it’s pretty smooth, and most of all – you’ll have fun!  When I’m choreographing a new dance I ALWAYS spend time just freestyling it, having fun and playing with it.  After a time, I can feel the dance starting to come together on its own, if I relax and enjoy!

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Particles, a Hunt, and Inspiration

In a time of transition and turmoil, or even between creating – getting out for a bit is important for mind, body, and soul.

Today I couldn’t help but jump on this:


NOTICE: Color Alchemists, the particle maker, is having a hunt
Mon, Aug 07 2017 5:30:34 AM PDT

Delain Canucci of Color Alchemists particle store has created an amazing LEA sim. She is also hosting a hunt from Aug 7th – Aug 12th. This is a great opportunity to explore, have fun, enjoy the hunt and the free gifts and hunt prizes she has. Yay particles!

Notice from her group: Yaaay a HUNT for Dragon Eggs!

We have a HUNT at LEA1 Myth’s, Mystic’s and Elements of Nature with amazing Prizes .

So grab the Taxi and come on over for a HUNT and Slay a Dragon.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA1/80/100/22


A beautiful and inspiring sim, a pleasant hunt for amazing gifts, and relaxing sounds to soothe the soul.  Delain is an amazing and kind woman.

Whatever you may do, enjoy.  Peace and balance, wishes for happiness to you.

~ Eva

Reaching for the Stars:

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My World – Newest Little Toes dance teacher

Next Wednesday will be my first dance class with Little Toes Dance Academy.  Here, I’ve attended Miss Tati’s ballet class, being silly and having fun.

No real instruction, I pick the theme, freestyle, we dance laugh and have fun.  The cuteness level is on overload and I’m reminded of the magic and fun of dance and music – and being silly.

A little piece of my world. 🙂

See the world as if for the first time; see it through the eyes of a child, and you will suddenly find that you are free.  ~ Deepak Chopra

 

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Boom! Animation Organizer – a key piece of my dance toolbox

boom__animation_station

What is it is:

  • Object you rez in world.
  • Load animations into each one of the numbered squares.  (some of my squares have over 200 animations)
  • Sit on the Boom pad.
  • Press the arrows for each square to try out each animation

 

 

Why I love it:

  • So much easier than wearing multiple huds for choreography or trying to find just the right animation
  • You can organize your animations into the numbered blocks any way you want, by store, type, animation pack, etc.
  • It copy mod, so you can have multiple stations and even add more numbers by unlinking, copying, and linking them back.  super easy!
  • One I loaded mine, I found all these animations hiding in my folder I didn’t even know I had
  • Allows me to easily browse through all my animations, using them more effectively
  • Other people can use it too
  • If you like the animation you’re doing, click on the number.  It can give the animation to you, then you can toss it into your hud.  No searching.

Holds poses, animations, and dances.

 

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/BOOM-Animation-Station/11369394

 

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Editing Music: Audacity Video Tutorial – from Me!

I’ve been asked recently about how to edit music, so I thought I’d post the video separately.   Audacity is an amazing program – a music player for creating or practicing choreography, and also a powerful music editor.  Best of all it’s free!

A year ago I recorded this tutorial for an Audacity class I was teaching, in this case we were going over how to mix tracks (songs/audio files) together.

Additional info here:  https://harleyquinadventure.com/2017/06/14/finding-the-right-tool-for-the-job-lets-play-with-audacity/

It was my first tutorial video but I think it’s ok!  Enjoy!

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