Spot On Sync – Starting Your Dancers Backstage

* Pictures coming soon

One of the strengths of using multiple pieces or a complete system is the ability for the tools to coordinate with each other.  For this post, we’re breaking down the benefits of using “Backstage Movers” and how to do it.

If you are using Spot On tools and not using backstage mover notecards, these are the three most common scenarios I see:

  • Movers rez onto the stage with the set.  Your dancers jump on during your intro music.  Sometimes they can’t find them, their screen freezes, or they are momentarily distracted.  Not only can this create undue stress on you as you anxiously await for all your dancers to find their movers, but it also creates stress for the dancer.  They know the work that goes into creating a dance and do not want to delay the start as they sift through the objects on the set to find their mover.  This is an additional challenge for those with vision impairments.
  • Movers rez backstage with your set.  Your starting point is backstage and when you hit play they are whisked into position onto the stage.  Because being whisked onstage is part of the performance, you can’t open the curtain early with the dancers already in place.
  • Movers are rezzed out early backstage, manually put into the right position.  This is the starting point and when you hit play they are whisked into position, similar to above.

What are backstage movers?

You may hear them called many names – backstage movers, backstage routines, “pads are out”, etc.  Basically what this is, is an additional notecard you add to your movers and an additional routine notecard you add to your Performance Director.

Whenever you load a routine in the Performance Director, it automatically triggers the movers to move to the starting position for that dance routine.  In this case, the “starting position” for your “backstage routine” is behind the stage.  This allows you to have your movers out early, for your dancers to jump on them early, and for you to even be able to precache your animations before you even go onstage.

They aren’t really extra movers, it is technically an extra routine that let’s you move your movers backstage.

Why do this?

With the evolution of tools, we have additional options that can help reduce the anxiety of performing for both you and your dancers.  By using Backstage mover and PD routine notecards, you can have your movers rezzed out before the show, your dancers can jump on their mover early, and you can cache and check your PD well before your intro starts playing.  You can also move your dancers onstage during the intro, and when you open the curtain they are in position – no whisking them on while the curtain is open, or opening the curtain after you’ve already pressed play.

How the Spot ON TOTS (trio of tools) work together:

Performance Director – when you activate a routine (by clicking on it), it communicates with the notecards in your movers – telling them which routine to load.  The PD can contain multiple routines in one HUD.

Choreo Designer Mover – can include mover notecards for up to 10 routines.  When the PD tells the mover to activate a notecard, the mover moves to the starting position for that routine.  How?  In the mover notecard for each routine, there should be “offset” information at the top.  This is basically the starting position for that routine.

Stage Manager – based on the Stage Locations notecard in the contents, it knows the center point of every stage.  If you create your mover notecards with an active stage manager nearby, it will include the starting position for the dance you’re creating (the offset part of the mover notecard).  When your stage manager is active at a venue and you rez your movers  and activate a routine, it also acts as a homing beacon – telling each mover “you belong (offset) away from this center point on the stage”.

Assumptions:

You have your dance completely done.  Maybe you’ve choreographed a bit of sexy Justin Timberlake or umm…some dwarfs.

You have your Performance Director HUD ready.  Your dance notecard is in there with your choreography, dancer groups, and animations.

Your movers are done, the named notecard for your dance is in each mover for each dancer.  Your dancers start onstage or wherever they should be for the start of the dance.  Maybe they’re on the side of the stage and will walk in during the music or maybe when you open the curtain they’ll be posed in the center of the stage, etc.

You have your Stage Manager set up with the stage location.  When you created your mover notecards, your Stage Manager talked to the designer ring and the mover cards for your dance have the offset information in them.  Your movers know exactly where to go when you load your dance routine.

So – what do we want to do?

You want your dancers to be able to jump on their movers early and you want this “waiting area” to be a bit out of the way behind the stage.

You also want to be able to move your dancers from backstage onto the stage for your performance during your intro music as easily as possible, and after the performance move them offstage as quickly as possible.

First – where do you want your dancers to stand backstage?

Most venues have a similar layout – the stage area, a wall, and the backstage area behind it.  This makes using backstage movers even more convenient because you can generally use the same back stage spots for every venue with a similar setup.

You generally don’t want your dancers standing right behind the stage wall in the middle – this is often where traffic jams occur and the next dance to go on will always “win” that spot.  (No brawls over turf, please!)

Because you can cache your animations early, it is good to have your backstage area be somewhere near the center behind the stage.  Maybe a bit off to the side, up above people’s heads, or back a bit farther – closer to the back wall.  The audience viewers (like Firestorm) can still “see” your animations even if the audience can’t.  You want to lift them off the ground at least a little bit.  Some venues might have a carpet on the floor.  By lifting them up just a bit, your movers will still be visible at the various venues you perform at.

Chose where “your” backstage area will be for your backstage movers.

Second – creating your backstage mover notecards

Now we need to create a “route” for each of your dancers.  We need a mover notecard with at least one waypoint and the offset information.

Rez out a designer ring for dancer 1 in the backstage area you chose.  Now add 1 waypoint to the ring.  You can either repeat this process, or shift-copy so that you have a ring and a standing space for each dancer – usually side by side.

Now we need to get this information and put it into a mover notecard along with the @spot_dancer number.  This is critical – your Performance Director needs to know which dancer is sitting on which mover, even backstage.

** Because we’re actually going to be putting these notecards into your finished dance movers, save the mover notecards in your inventory.   The notecards name needs to match the backstage routine notecard name exactly, and they all have to have the same name, so I store them in folders:

Folder:  Backstage Mover Notecards
subfolder:   Dancer 1
subfolder:   Dancer 2
subfolder:   Dancer 3

Now we are ready to create the notecards.  However you want to copy/update/create your notecard, there should be one in each dancer folder and it should look like the examples below.  (You can use the extra options like @text Dancer 1, etc. if you want to.)

For each of your backstage designer ring, click on “Get Notecard” and paste this information into the appropriate backstage mover notecard in your inventory for each dancer.

Examples:

@text dancer1
@spot_dancer 1
@silent_mode

#BEGIN NOTECARD
@pos_offset <-14.10219, 2.34153, 0.12402>
@rot_offset <0.00000, 0.00000, 0.00000, 1.00001>
<0.000000, -0.000004, 0.000000>, <0.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000, 1.000000>, 1.000000, 0.000000, 0, 0,
#END NOTECARD

*****

@text dancer2
@spot_dancer 2
@silent_mode

#BEGIN NOTECARD
@pos_offset <-14.10219, 3.20745, 0.12402>
@rot_offset <0.00000, 0.00000, 0.00000, 1.00001>
<0.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000>, <0.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000, 1.000000>, 1.000000, 0.000000, 0, 0,
#END NOTECARD

*****

You can now delete the designer rings – you won’t need them anymore.

Add your Backstage Position mover notecards to your dance movers

For each of your dance movers, add the appropriate Backstage Position mover card to its contents.  Make sure that your dancer number 1 gets the backstage mover card for dancer number 1.  Your movers should now have at least two notecards – the named mover notecard for your dance, and the Backstage Position mover notecard.

Creating your Backstage Position routine notecard

You’re not going to actually perform it (unless you wanted to give the backstage crew an extra little show), so let’s keep it really simple.

This is an example of a Backstage Position routine notecard:

@anklelock
@button1=SHOUT:42:SET NAME
@button2=SHOUT:42:clearstage

@group All|1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8|Backstage

For my backstage routines:

  • My buttons are set so I can rez and de-rez my set for caching before the show.
  • I have one group for all of my dancers
  • I have a special “backstage” pose animation I always use as the idle/default animation for the Backstage Position routine.  If a dancer isn’t standing in that pose, I automatically know they aren’t on my HUD.  (the backstage pose is just a pose I renamed – nothing special)
  • There’s no actual choreography, I just want my dancers to stand backstage.

Save the Backstage Position routine notecard to your inventory in another subfolder and then copy it to your dance Performance Director HUD.

 

Ready to put this into action!

Rez your mover from your inventory if you haven’t already.  On your Performance Director HUD, press the Backstage Position routine.  You should see your mover move into place backstage.

Stand on your mover.  You should be in your backstage pose.  You can now cache all animations if you choose to.

When you hear your intro music and the stage is clear, press the name of your dance routine on your PD hud, loading it.  Your mover will automatically move to your dance starting position – bringing you along with it.  It generally takes less than a minute for your notecard to load and for you to be moved into position.  (Be patient.)

You can now cache your dances for the routine.  When you are ready, open the curtain and press play on your HUD just as you normally would.

After your dance, close the curtain, clear your set, and press the Backstage Position routine on your HUD.  Your dancers will be brought back stage automatically.

Whoa – I know what you’re probably thinking!  What happens if one of my movers gets lost rezzing them like this?  Can I still put them in the Stage Manager because I’m more confident having them packed and rezzing out with the set?

I completely understand!  When I first began doing this, I’d ack my movers into a different rezzer – then I realized that I could just rez them out on the floor.  But what happens if a mover disappears?   Step 1:  Press your Backstage Position routine on your PD – this will usually call them back into place.

Having emergency backup plans are always an excellent idea, and can apply whether you rez from a rezzer or from your inventory!

Options:

  • Delete the mvoers that are out and re-rez a soft linked copy of your movers from your inventory folder
  • you could also store your movers in your inventory twice – once as the soft-linked copy with them all together and also have a copy of each individual mover so you can rez just one
  • I also make a “backup” box when I’m creating a dance, which I save in a different inventory location and in-world just in case I lose my “Dance” folder.  I could rez that and get the copy of the movers out of there
  • You can put them in your Rezzer too!  If you like to have everything all packed up together, go ahead and put them into your rezzer.  For the Stage Manager, you can rez them when you rez your set or just have them in the contents so you can always find them if you need to.

Decide what plan and back-up plan works for YOU and stick with it.  Consistency makes things much easier!

But wait, why put them in the Stage Manager and rez them with my set?  You still get one of the best benefits of backstage movers – your dancers can finding them easily without hunting around on your set!  Rez your set and movers, active the Backstage Position routine, have your dancers jump on their pads backstage, then load your dance routine on the PD to put them into position.

Use your Backstage Position routine again and again!

Almost every venue I perform at, I use the same Backstage Position routine.  Most venues are set up with the same area behind the stage.  I create my dance like I normally do, then I just add my backstage routine notecard to the PD and the backstage mover notecards to the movers.  Done!  I can use this same Backstage Position routine at Phoenix, Winds, Elysium, Paramount, TerpsiCorps, Moonstone, etc.!

How you say?  Your stage manager knows the center position of your venues.  Most venues use the same size set template with the backstage area behind.  The Backstage Position mover notecard knows how far away it should rez from center stage – making it incredibly easy!  Set it up for a dance at Elysium and bam!  You’re ready to use it and perform at Phoenix too!

Wait – what if the venue has a different backstage area – like Noir or Inanna?

Create another set of Backstage Position notecards.  Store them in a separate separate directory and keep the same name, or create a new name for them – like:  Noir Backstage Position.  It’s up to you!

For me, I use a Backstage Position routine and an Understage Position routine.  I like to keep my movers out of the way when we aren’t standing on them or sometimes I like to chill with my dancers understage – especially venues where backstage gets a bit crazy!  I just repeat a similar process to create the Understage Position routine, and my movers have 3 notecards – Backstage Position, Understage Position, and my dance.  Again – do whatever works best for you.

Tips and Tricks:

  • I don’t put my movers in a rezzer.  I take a “soft copy” of all the movers at the same time and store them in my Dance folder in my inventory.  When I arrive at a venue, I put out my stage manager then I rez out my movers – doesn’t matter where.  On my Performance Director HUD, I click on the Backstage Position routine and they automatically zoom to their backstage position.
  • After I’ve created my performance movers, I just drag the backstage mover notecard for the appropriate mover into them.  Remember that dancer 1 should get the dancer 1 backstage notecard, dancer 2 the dancer 2 backstage notecard, etc. (so your dancers don’t stack on top of each other backstage!)
  • I have a “New Dance” folder in my inventory.  In this folder I have subfolders for Performance HUDs, Performance Rez, Choreo, Costumes, Tools, Notecards, and zMisc.  When I begin to create a new dance I make a copy of this folder and rename it with the name of my dance.  Within this, in my Tools folder, I have a designer ring, in the Performance Rez folder, I have a Stage Manager pre-loaded with my stage locations, standard blank set, and prim lights I often use.  In the Choreo folder I have a Smooth Dancer HUD I’ve resized so I can fit 2 high on my screen.
  • Also within this new dance folder, in my Performance HUDs subfolder, I have a PD preloaded with my Backstage and Understage routines and the animations I like to use as a “start/idle” pose for those.  I save a lot of time having everything ready to go and pre-loaded as much as I can.

I hope you find this process easy to follow and that it simplifies preparing for a performance!

Happy Dancing!
~ Eva


Questions  

Q:  I have stage manager, but I don’t use it for my sets.  I want to create these Backstage notecards, but do I have to rez my sets from the stage manager?

A:  No!  You must have a stage manager, your stage manager must have the platform/venue locations in the stage location notecard, but you DO NOT have to rez your set from it.  Just place the stage manager anywhere at the venue and it will act like a “GPS” for your movers.

An alternative is to use the Stage Marker which comes with the Performance Director.  It is the pre-cursor to the stage manager, works similarly, and bases where movers go based on its location – not a list of venue center positions.  Additional note on the stage marker:  If you add ! to the beginning of the name, it will rez first out of your rez box.


Q: I created my Backstage PD notecards, but what do I do with the designer rings?

A: Delete them.  You only needed the rings to get the information for the notecard – they’ve served their purpose.


Q: I never dance with more than four dancers – do I have to create these Backstage PD notecards for 8 movers?

A: No.  You choose, just make sure your PD notecard lists the same number of dancers that you’ll create mover notecards for.  I use 8 because that’s normally my maximum and the maximum default slots for the Performance Director.


Q: My dance will only have two movers, but the Backstage notecard in the performance director lists 8 dancers.  Do I need to change it?

A:  No.  I frequently dance with less and never change the Performance Director card.  If you do get a warning about dancers 3 – 8 not being present, just ignore it.


Q.  I followed these instructions but it’s not working!

A.  Check the following things:

  • reset your stage manager.  Does it say it’s configuring for your stage or does it say it can’t be used until a stage location is set?
  • Check your movers and your PD.  Are the names EXACTLY the same?  Don’t add any numbers, they must be IDENTICAL.
  • Check your Backstage PD notecard in the movers.  Does it have a dancer number listed?  Do you see the offset information in the bottom section?  It will say offset and a bunch of numbers, and this will be right after #BEGIN NOTECARD and before the information for your first waypoint

 

This entry was posted in Dance Resources, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s