It’s time to start pulling the animations. Actually, I lost a few days in there so I *really* need to get my butt in gear!
I have my own method and rhythm for creating choreography for a dance. It works for me and because I follow the same general process every time, once I get started it usually moves right along. Choreography is usually my favorite part of creating a dance – most days!
I’m sharing how I do it here. As I often say – take from it what you will! Maybe you’ll be inspired to tweak your method, or you might make a face and go…uhh…lol!
Step 1 – Get the music: I purchase a copy of the music from Amazon if I can. Sometimes I’m using a special mix or a version of the song from YouTube that isn’t available for purchase. I always download it and have a file, no matter where I’m getting the music from.
Step 2 – Get the music player ready: I open my file in TROFF or whatever music player you’ll be using. I like TROFF and Audacity. In both you can add markers (labels) where the chorus is, slower sections, etc. This helps me when I’m choosing animations.
Step 3 – Get my costume on. For women especially, dance animations can look very different depending on the costume. If I haven’t finished my costume yet, I wear something similar. Flowing skirt – leather straps – hiphop outfit, etc.
Step 4 – Starting picking from my current dance animations: Time to start selecting! Most everyone has different ways they organize their animations. Maybe you have yours in a HUD – one for country, one for hip hop, etc. Maybe you open animations from your inventory. Maybe you have pose stands. I use what’s called a “Boom Station”, which basically has a stand pad and buttons where I can organize my animations. Mine are organized by store – or for stores where I have a lot I organize by store and type/pack (like Abranimations S2 Ballet). There’s no wrong way to do it – just whatever works for you.
So, with my Boom Station, I can press arrows to go through the animations loaded in each button, and hit the number if I like an animation for the dance. I make quick decisions – if I think it might work, I pull it knowing I’ll whittle them down later. When I hit the number, it gives me a copy of the animation. When I’m done picking, I’ll load them all into a Smooth Dancer HUD to start working on my choreography. This is my way – use whatever way works for you to test your animations and collect them so you can put them in a choreography HUD!
After working more with layering animations in the Performance Director, I was surprised to notice I automatically started looking at the animations differently. For a few, I wasn’t thrilled about the beginning of the animation but it had cool moves shortly after the beginning so I grabbed those too. We will see!
Step 5 – Load the animations in a Smooth Dancer HUD for choreo: I put the animations I picked into a single Smooth Dancer HUD. I rename my HUD to CHOREO <name of the dance> then leave the Smooth Dancer..blah..blah..blah…version number. For this dance it will be CHOREO KillNight Smooth Dancer..and the rest of the original HUD name. I find I can copy about 20 animations into the HUD at a time. Much more than that, and ye old “In-world object creation failed” error pops up – which means at least one of them didn’t copy. Easier to just do 20 at a time and avoid that.
Step 6 – Buy a few new animations to add: I try to purchase two or three new animations for every dance I create. This was an excellent tip passed on to me that I’ve continued – it helps keep my animations “fresh”. Sometimes a piece of music also needs something that I just don’t have in my own animation inventory.
This is where I go shopping. I try not to go overboard, limiting it to just a few new purchases. If I’m not careful, this can become a major procrastination tactic for me – spending my entire day going to the stores looking for the “perfect” animation or trying out all the new animations or checking out their animation sales and events. On occasion I do need something specific, but most often I’m just procrastinating…
Note about Dance Animation Stores: Just like dance venues, dance animation stores have their own “vibe” and style. Abranimations is where you can get mirror animations, they generally have a lot of new releases and their animations are great for smoothly transitioning into and out of other animations. Sync’ed has a lot of new releases and some that are very expressive. Some are kind of “clubby” which doesn’t usually work for me, so I know I need to sort through a bit there. Some stores have great animations but aren’t creating any new ones – like S4D. MyAnimation has good animations – they’re all sorted by type of dance. A&M has good animations and comes out with new releases though not as quickly as Abram and S4D. They have excellent couples dances. Henmations has some good ones too, although I find the unisex ones are still pretty feminine. I haven’t seen new ones come out there in quite a while. These are just some of the dance animation stores. When I’m looking to add a few new animations for a dance, I keep this info in mind when deciding where to look.
OK, now that I’ve written all of that, what am I doing? I’m in the process of picking animations from my Boom Station. Usually I can finish this within a day. I do find that I need to take breaks periodically, otherwise the animations will all start blurring together or the process becomes something I just want to get done. When I get to feeling like this, it’s a red flag that I need to stop for a while, then come back when I’m refreshed. My dance will be a lot better if I take a breather, and I’ll enjoy the process a lot more.
Dance like there’s no tomorrow! Until next time….