Tips and Tricks – Smooth Dancer

During workshops, it’s not always the best time to share the tips and tricks I’ve picked up, so I share them here.  As always, use whatever information works for you.  Note:  I am a bit OCD – these tricks work for me. 🙂  Always evolving.

Smooth Dancer is an amazing foundation tool, and a great performance tool for beginning choreographers!  Contrary to common belief – you can perform with just a Smooth Dancer HUD and a simple pose ball!


PERFORMING

Add Shout Commands in Your Sequence

Want make your set fade during a dance sequence?  Costumes change using the costume assistant?  You can should commands within your sequence, just like the Performance Director!

Within your dance sequence, add something like this:

67|S:1801:addfolder hat
77|S:77:show
87|S:1801:removefolderhat

time|Shout (S):channel:command

Your sequence:

67|animation A
67|S:1801:addfolder hat
74|animation B
77|S:77:show
87|S:1801:removefolderhat
96|animation C

You can also use emote spoofing with the Smooth Dancer HUD.  More info here


Use Your Hotkeys to Rez Your Set, Open Your Curtain, and More!

Have you noticed those five numbered buttons on the bottom of your Smooth Dancer HUD?  Those are hotkeys.  At the touch of a button you can should commands to control other objects.

Open the contents of your Smooth Dancer HUD, and open the !!Configuration notecard.

Now you can add or update what your buttons will do for this HUD:

@button1=S:42:Poker Set
@button2=S:42:clearstage
@button4=S:0:Thank you to my dancers!
@button5=S:51:curtain

In this example, button 1 will rez my Poker set on the stage.  Button 2 will clear it.  Button 4 will shout a thank you for everyone to see, and button 5 will open and close the curtain.

Use whatever channels or commands are appropriate for your tools.


Invite dancers to your HUD automatically when they stand on a mover

  1.  Open the contents of your Smooth Dancer HUD, and open the !!Configuration notecard.
  2. Find the line that says spotInvite and make sure there’s not a # in front of it.  (# tells the hud to ignore it) :     @spotInvite
  3. In each mover notecard, assign each dancer a different number, just like you would for the Performance Director:  @spot_dancer 1, @spot_dancer 2, @spot_dancer 3, etc.

Now when they sit on their mover, they will automatically be invited to your HUD.

Note:  this can also be done for the formation system.  Spot On instructions here


Starting Your Movers Automatically With Your Dance Sequence

The Smooth Dancer Choreography HUD and Choreographer Design System are two powerful foundation tools that should be the focus for any new choreographer or any choreographer wanting to enhance their skills.

The Performance Director is primarily a coordination tool, to coordinate the performance of what is usually created using the Smooth Dancer and Choreo Designer Tools.  It is highly encouraged to master the foundation tools before beginning to learn the Performance Director.

One challenge when you begin performing using the Smooth Dancer HUD is activating your movers at the correct time.  The Choreo Designer has it’s own HUD and its own play button.

But…what if the Smooth Dancer could start your mover routine for you?  During your sequence?  It can!

There are three commands your movers can listen to:  play, pause, and reset (stop)

  • In your mover notecards, assign a mover channel:  @user_channel <any number>
  • all movers for your dance should be set to the same channel
  • In your sequence, add a shout command:   0|S:<mover channel>:play

0|S:99:play
0|spin turn animation
time|dance animation A
time|dance animation B
time|jump animation
time|jump pose animation
time|land animation
time|dance animation C
time|dance animation B
time|pose animation

A good practice is to set one of your hotkey buttons to reset your movers.  This allows you to easily return the movers to their starting positions and play the dance again.  In your !!Configuration notecard:

@button3=S:99:reset


MISC


Replacing the Dreaded Bounce (the pause animation) & Why to use Pause

You’ve probably never tried your pause button, and if you did you’ve seen that dreaded bounce animation that makes every choreographer (and most dancers around you) shudder.   First – what is the pause function?  Pause can be very handy, especially if you are freestyling with your dance hud, playing animations manually.  Press the pause button, and a specific animation will play.  This is great to use as an “in between” animation.  Best thing?  You can change your pause animations.

Open the contents of your Smooth Dancer HUD, and open the !!Configuration notecard.

Change this to any animation loaded in the hud:  @idledance AnimationNameHere

Does it have to be a dance animation?  No!  Try uses pose, ao, and gesture animations as an alternative and have fun with it!


 

SEQUENCES

Adding Notes in Your Sequences Notecard

We’re used to seeing the # sign used in our spot on notecards, begin notecard, etc.

The # sign means this is a note, and tells the tool to ignore the rest of that line.  Why is this important?  YOU can add notes to your sequences notecard too!

While selecting animations when I begin my choreography, I use notes to remind me of what I wanted to use those animations for:

#INSTRUMENTAL
animation12
animation3
animation8
animation12

I keep my sequences notecard open while I practice my choreography for each section of this music to help me remember what animations I thought would work for the section of music.

I also use notes for alternative animations, for example – my dancers are going to do zombiewalk but I’m going to do sexywalk-2 instead when I put it in the performance director.  You won’t see the notes on the sequences tab, but I see them in the sequences notecard.

Example:

INSTRUMENTAL=
0|animation12
6.12354|zombiewalk
13.5652|animation8
14.3514|animation12

#ME – 6.12354
sexywalk-2


Recording a Sequence Within a Sequence

You have a special piece in your dance, you want to jump, go into a pose, then land.  The timing is extremely specific for it to look clean, and you just can’t get it right when you’re recording your dance.

Simple answer?  DON’T

Did you know you can record this small action as a sequence, then record it within your dance?  (I call this a mini-sequence)

– add the animations in order to your sequence notecard, preferably at the top for now:

jump animation
pose animation
land animation

Save, then reload your notecard and go to the sequences tab.  Practice the flow of these animations until you have your timing right – just these three.

Press record, then play your jump, your pose, and your land animation.  If your happy with it, press the output button (the disk with the arrow).  Now you have a 3 animation sequence.

Now the magic happens, update your sequence notecard, adding this timed sequence in the middle of your other untimed dance animations!  Save your sequences notecard and reload when done.

Your sequences notecard:

pose animation
spin turn animation
dance animation A
dance animation B
JUMP =
0|jump animation
1.45632|jump pose animation
2.89452|land animation
dance animation C
dance animation B
pose animation

What you will see on the SEQ tab:

pose animation (don’t record this animation, use this for dancers before the music starts)
spin turn animation
dance animation A
dance animation B
JUMP
dance animation C
dance animation B
pose animation

See the jump in the middle?  That’s your mini sequence.  Now practice your dance.  When you hit JUMP, it will play all 3 animations for your jump mini sequence.

The magic?  When you record your sequence for all the animations with the JUMP mini-sequence in the middle, it records every animation – including the jump animations – as if you’d pressed every one of them manually!

Your final sequence will look like this:

0|spin turn animation
time|dance animation A
time|dance animation B
time|jump animation
time|jump pose animation
time|land animation
time|dance animation C
time|dance animation B
time|pose animation

You can use this trick as many times as you like, and you can also keep your favorite mini sequences noted somewhere to use in other dances!



Recording Dances – one clean recording:

My ultimate goal is to record a perfect dance in one run through, start to finish, but sometimes it’s just not possible.  Sometimes I record in pieces and adjust the times.

TRICK:  If you’ve recorded the first half of the dance, and want a smooth recording to complete it:

  • press record
  • play your recorded sequence for the first half of the dance
  • when the time comes in the music, start playing your animations for the second part
  • After you stop your recording, export the macro.  It will have recorded every animation and time, including the individual animations in your pre-recorded sequence for the first half.
  • RESULT:  You get a smooth recording of the full dance


Finishing Your Timed Sequence Dance in a Pose:

I prefer to finish my dances in a pose, and leave the dancers in position until I press stop on the Smooth Dancer HUD.  This gives me the ability to control when they leave the pose so I can make sure the curtain is closed first.  I prefer this over the alternative of STOP in my recorded dance, which breaks the sequence.

Recording your dance:  Add a pose to the end of your untimed sequence.  While recording, when you reach the end of your music, press the pose button after the last dance animation at whatever time in the music they should move into a pose.

untimed sequence, before you record:

dance animation A
dance animation B
dance animation C
dance animation B
pose animation

Your recorded sequence will include this pose and will keep the dancers in it until you press stop on the HUD.

After your performance, close the curtain, then press stop on your HUD.

Special Note!  If you move your timed sequence into the Performance Director, make sure you add 999|STOP for your all dancers group.  The PD automatically stops your routine when the last animations plays, so your dancers will pop into their pose then immediately zip back to starting position.  To keep them in their ending pose, 999|STOP tells the PD to keep the routine running until YOU press stop (or 999 seconds pass!).


Having a Backup Finishing Pose When the Music Finishes Early

No matter how well we prepare, there will always be times things don’t go quite right.  Perhaps your dance was a few seconds late starting, perhaps the music jumped, or the lag monster flashed it’s nasty fangs.  There may be times when your sequence is still playing and the music stops.

Very often, the audience doesn’t notice this during your dance but they will be expecting your dancers to pose before the curtain closes.  There is a simple way to do this when performing with the Smooth Dancer HUD!

As mentioned above, you should have your starting pose as the first line in your sequences notecard, followed by your sequence.

Below your sequence, add the name of your pose as a “loose animation”.  (No, this does not mean that the animation has no morals…smh.  The animation doesn’t have a set time to play.  You play it when you want to.

Your sequences notecard:

opening pose
MY DANCE=
time|pose animation
time|spin turn animation
time|dance animation A
time|dance animation B
time|jump animation
time|jump pose animation
time|land animation
time|dance animation C
time|dance animation B
time|pose animation
closing pose

What the SEQ tab will look like:

opening pose
MY DANCE
closing pose

(I like to use capital letters when naming my sequences, so that I can easily tell what is a recorded sequence.)

Using your sequence:

  • When I bring my dancers on stage, I press the opening pose.
  • When my music cue plays, I press MY DANCE
  • If the music ends early, I press closing pose and close the curtain quickly

If the music ends on time, my sequence has the closing pose in it automatically – but setting up my sequence notecard this way let’s me “override it” if I need to.


 

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1 Response to Tips and Tricks – Smooth Dancer

  1. Pingback: Dance Resources Index | Madness, Matter, and Rambling Thoughts

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