MetaHarpers (MST), Spot On, and Sneetches

Over the last few days, I’ve been questioning two beliefs that I’ve always held true – is it possible to be independent and that a teacher can teach anything. What brings about these doubts? Dance systems in SL. I love tools, and I will use any tool that allows me to do more and/or makes things easier. Exploring what MetaHarpers can do has been on my list. I’ve been asked so often about MST that I planned on teaching it too.

MetaHarpers and Spot On both provide complete dance performance systems for SL. Everything from dance animations/choreography, movement, rezzing sets, creating dance routines to control an entire performance, and more.

For MetHarpers, the key component is MetaHarpers Show Tools (MST) which consolidates most everything using this one system and is the only tool needed for dance performances. They also offer two different Choreo HUDs, a Dancers edition and a Directors edition. The dancers edition can be used to create dance sequences or freestyling up to 80 people.

Spot On offers separate tools for each function – Smooth Dancer HUD for animations, Choreographer Design System or Formation System for dancer movement, Stage Manager for rezzing sets, and Performance Director for easily creating routines and controlling all of these functions from one HUD.

Both systems have their strengths, weaknesses, and things one can do but the other can’t. MetaHarpers has controlled audience view (cams) which allow you to control what the audience sees, creating a unique experience. Spot On seems to be better at moving movers larger distances such as understage to onstage. Neither is “bad”, neither is the “right one” or “wrong one” to use. I feel like Dr. Seuss and the “Sneetches” story:

Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
“We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!”
And, whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They’d hike right on past them without even talking.

One of the dance groups I belong to is moving to everyone using MST for performances. I must say, I’m starting to like the Dancers Edition Choreo HUD for freestyling and inviting people. With up to 80 dancers, I’m definitely looking at it hard for running crowd dances. It might be an improvement from what I’m using now.

For dance performances, I use Spot On. I love Spot On. I’ve used it for years, I know it, I’m comfortable with it. In a recent workshop, I shared info about a number of different tools – dance systems, animation HUDs, rezzers, etc. Do you know what I found? I unintentionally highlighted the Spot On tools and was more lackluster about the MetaHarpers tools. That definitely isn’t what I call independent. Is it because I don’t feel comfortable with MST? Know it as well?

When there are two competing systems and you are an avid user of one of them – is it possible to teach both systems equally? or will I always highlight the “weakness” of one over the other? Is it better to learn MST from someone who is as passionate about MST as I am for Spot On? Is it doing a disservice to others that may find the other system is a better tool for them but were perhaps dissuaded by my approach?

I’ve heard comments from MST users that were a lot like the Sneetches. That because they used MST it was somehow considered “less” or “not as good” as using Spot On. They were judged based on this fact. They didn’t have “stars on thars”. The Sneetches had a good message on that.

In dance – should the tools really matter? I don’t think so. What should matter is what someone creates, whether they use two spoons and duct tape or the fanciest dance system available to get there.

While I don’t believe I’ll teach MST at this time, I’m now aware of my unconscious emphasis of Spot On when communicating about different tools and can consciously even it out.

Learn from others, explore, research, try the different tools available – and make up your own mind. Don’t let someone else’s passion (or lack there-of) about a system be a factor in your decision.

To all the Sneetches, stars on thars or not, happy dancing!

~ Eva

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