The Act of Creation – Blind & Frozen, #5
Background: a look into my creative process as I build a dance start to finish. See previous posts to follow along if you’ve just jumped in. Welcome to my madness!
MUSIC, ROAD MAPS, AND….COSTUMING <eek>!!
So, in post #4 I mentioned how I’m not fond of the 25 second guitar solo and how I want to extend the beginning and end of the music for the dramatic open and close of the performance. Next on my roadmap is editing the music, but I decided to put this on hold for now. Why? For the start and finish, I’ll be in a contemporary room with a magic book. All of the animations will be expressive – walks, poses, falls… not really dancing. I’m not going to focus on that yet, I want to focus on the dance itself – I can easily add that part in later. For the guitar solo? I could possibly edit it out, but cutting out the middle part of a song can be a real challenge sometimes. Either I need to splice it very carefully so no one notices the missing part, or I need to add some kind of fade/pause/sound effect to mask the change. After some thought, I decided I’ll start working on the choreography and see how it starts coming together. I might make where the guitar solo is be a dramatic change in the dance and use a sound effect, some special action in the dance, and cut out the guitar solo. Make it a pivotal moment. This gives me a little more flexibility too – going back to a previous verse in the music, instrumental, a sound effect, extend a fade or maybe have some of the guitar solo fade into the background and layer another sound over it. Pregnant pauses can also add such a dramatic impact in the dance! I’ll need to wait and see what the dance speaks to me when I get to that point. Not everyone edits their music. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
Ok, that decided I moved on to finding my costume or something similar. For women, animations appear so much differently depending on the costume.
I’m sure you can see how significantly different animations would appear for the two different costumes. Not only do you have the flow of the skirt layers on the right and the limited exposure of the legs, but you have the general feel of the costumes too. To me, animations appear to be sexier, risque when wearing the costume to the left – for various reasons. When watching the same animation in the full dress, the animation can take on a more subtle yet passionate feel or you might not even be able to see most of the movement at all because the dress may obscure it (which can be good or bad!). This is why I always work on choreography for a dance wearing my dance costume or something similar to what I expect to wear.
Side note: I’m finding that working with this new timeline/roadmap is really keep me on track and focused, but almost making me want to rush so I can put that “checkmark” in the done box. I did mention I’m Scorpio, a procrastinator, and yet a little OCD too right? It’s a conscious effort to make sure I don’t rush to get the pieces done and that I do it right. I’ll get used to it I’m sure. I think it’s an ingrained “reward” signal, making lists and crossing off what’s been completed – kind of like Pavlov’s experiment? Hmm….
Back to to the costume…
So, in post #4 I listened to the music over and over again and wrote my thoughts, ideas, the story and feelings within the dance. Because the dancing is set in the medieval period, I wanted a dress that was similar to that period of time – long, flowy, good movement, yet a bit untraditional – not overly modest. I also knew I wanted two other female dancers with me.
Finding a long dress to use in a dance can be a real challenge, especially with a mesh body. Why? You want a dress that will move well. If you use a long mesh dress, it generally won’t have a sense of movement, and it will just stretch as you move. Many long medieval dresses are older and still don’t have appliers. Even if they do have appliers, I don’t always like the look on my Maitreya body. Most of all – you don’t want a dress that looks like it’s eating you as you dance. Long flexi skirts may move while you dance, but they can also become distracting, jarring, and completely obscure you! You don’t want people to zero in on your dress like a train wreck, just waiting to see what strange things it will do!
For the dance above where I wear the flowy dress, my costume almost became a piece of the choreography, an identity of its own. Like another dancer, the movement of the dress as it flared, how it slowly settled and stilled during the dramatic pauses in the choreography became part of the dance itself. In Blind and Frozen, there are more dancers and a more intricate set. The dress will still be part of the whole, the way it moves will impact the overall performance, but it won’t have quite the same focus.
So, my considerations/preferences when wearing long skirts in a dance:
- at least some flexi for movement. May be a single skirt over a mesh dress/skirt or just a flexi skirt. Sometimes even multiple overlaid flexi skirts.
- when the skirt moves, is it too jarring/distracting. Does it seem to flow naturally? Am I being obscured in a really bad way?
- Are there pants/glitch pants under the skirt? What does it look like when I run animations? Do my textured legs stick out, the skirts trailing behind in a strange way?
- Does the long skirt have a slit on the side to expose the leg(s)? This can be great for breaking up the long skirt and adds interest to the choreography as skin is revealed/hidden.
- I almost never wear just a long mesh skirt/dress for a dance. If I consider it – does it stretch in a strange way? Appear unnatural?
- If I’m wearing a mesh dress/skirt under flexi skirts, how does it look as I run the animations?
- Did the outfit come with multiple layers so I can choose how many/what skirts to wear? Is it copy so I can wear two nearly see through flexy skirts on top of one another to give me a look I like?
- Is the dress/skirts modifiable so that I can change the length of the skirt panels – shorten them to expose a bit of ankle/leg?
A lot to consider isn’t it? The other challenge is, many demos only include the mesh pieces for testing fitting, not the flow of the flexi parts. I must admit I have quite a few “well that didn’t work” outfits in my inventory. To help avoid this, I study the marketplace listing carefully, try the demo if I can, but also keep a list of some of my favorite clothing creators. Good fit, great design, good quality textures can make such a difference in costuming.
Disclaimer here: honestly, costuming may be one of my least favorite parts of creating a dance. It’s always a challenge for me to put together an outfit in SL – just like it is in RL. The eye for composition, details, gut instinct is less intuitive for me as I’d like it to be. It’s an amazing feeling when I do put together or create a great costume. I generally have a few missteps along the way…but I own that and know it’s part of the creative learning process. This is why I will probably never teach a workshop on costuming. I do sometimes read articles and blogs about costuming in RL. It actually crosses over into SL, believe it or not.
Other things I consider when costuming: colors and textures. I haven’t built my set yet, but I have a general idea of my colors and textures. In this case, the set will be stone walls, traditional wood pieces, rather muted. I want costumes that will stand out from the set, be noticeable, yet fit into the overall color scheme. Neon green just wouldn’t work for this dance. For color, I also consider the emotion too and if I will be dancing with others. Do I want to stand out from them or should we all look similar except for hair, etc.? Here the dance will include men and women, which means I need to consider male costumes and male mesh bodies too. (I’ve been slack lately – not creating dances that include men recently just because of that.)
For me, if I’m dancing with other women, I generally try to use the same creator as the maker of my dress. It may be a different color, a different style, but the overall structure of the costume will be similar. There’s a huge difference in texture quality, shades, detail of the costume pieces between creators. Sometimes it’s the same creator, sometimes different ones, and sometimes I even combine pieces from two different creators together. When I get to finalizing the costumes, I’ll paste in some examples.
So, all that being said, I’ve picked the main part of my costume:
The pictures don’t do it justice. I still need to accessorize, may lift up the skirt on my hips a bit, but overall I loved the flow of it and all the options I have with it. It has appliers and mesh pieces, multiple options for tops/skirts/scarf/gloves. It took me a while to play with it. It’s not modifiable which I wish it was, but I think it will look and flow well for the dance.
That decided, I went ahead and looked for dresses for the other two women. I wanted them to look similar yet different to me. I wanted them in another color. I think this is the main piece they will wear:
This is the same dress I’m wearing, but in a different color. The white version looks significantly different yet still similar to mine. They will be wearing a different combination, probably the one on the farthest left without the belt (but with the waist band). I don’t use the arm flexis, they almost always just get in the way.
There is a gold version of this dress, which may complement mine better as it picks up the gold in my skirts, but with the white the dancers and I stand out more from each other. I think I’ll wait until I finish at least the main set design before choosing.
One last comment about costumes? These dresses aren’t cheap, 549L each which can add up over time. When I can, I like to use full perm templates/mesh pieces to make my costumes. This makes it easy to distribute to my dancers (copy/mod, not transfer) and to use different dancers each time. Personally, I generally provide the costumes to anyone dancing with me. Sometimes one I’ve made, sometimes loaned (if I own transfer versions), or most often sent as gifts from marketplace. This plus the other creation costs is how I use any tips I may get. Sometimes the costume I really want to use is a bit on the expensive side. For these, I try to use the same dancers in repeat performances. For one special performance, there were six dancers. Two of the completed costumes approached 2k lindens and were no transfer. For that dance it was completely worth it to me and my creative choice. I am so exceptionally thankful to all my dancers and anyone who dances with me, and I know I’m not always the easiest choreographer to work with so it is the least I can do. This was my personal choice, and as with everything depends on the costumes, the dance, etc. Dance is an SL can be an expensive hobby ~ every choreographer should always feel comfortable doing whatever is right for them when it comes to costumes, tips, etc.
That’s it! I have the main piece of my costume. Next I’ll be listening to the music at a “deeper” level and noting the chorus, instrumental parts, changes in tempo, beats, lyrics, etc – then on to choosing the animations.
Blind & Frozen Timeline
Start date – 6/2
Performance date – 7/13
|1||6/2||Choose the music||6/2|
|1||6/2||Buy or download the music||6/2|
|2||6/3||Write up an outline for the dance, background, the story, ideas, feelings, how many dancers, etc.||6/3|
|4||6/5||Edit the music (if needed)||HOLD|
|4||6/5||Pick a costume, or something similar to what will be my costume||6/5|
|5||6/6||Listen to music for dance and change ideas|
|14||6/15||Work on choreography and record|
|22||6/23||Create style cards for dancers|
|25||6/26||Plan out movers and create routes|
|27||6/28||Test and adjust movers and choreography|
|30||7/1||Test and adjust|
|31||7/2||Pack up set|
|33||7/4||Make any final adjustments|
|33||7/4||Take a copy of set and movers into inventory|