Spot On Smooth Dancer – Focus on Sequences

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Tutor:  Eva Harley (EvaHarley Resident)
Last updated: 9/17/2017

Workshop Summary:

Create a sequence of timed animations by using the amazing record feature in the Smooth Dancer HUD.  Learn how to create multiple sequences, and manually edit them when needed!  We will also touch on smoothing transitions, blind animations, and how you CAN perform using only the Smooth Dancer HUD!  Includes creating your own sequence and a group activity.

Workshop Notes:

Welcome to Smooth Dancer – Focus on Sequences!  During this workshop we are focusing on recording and playing sequences with the Smooth Dancer HUD.  We will also be introducing “blind” animations, manually editing a sequence, and even recording a sequence within a sequence!  Don’t worry!  If you know how to play animations with your Smooth Dancer HUD, this is just a small hop, skip, and a jump to learn!

What is a sequence?

A sequence is simply a list of animations.  For Smooth Dancer there are two types:

Untimed:  A simple list, in the order that you will perform them in a dance.  To activate each animation, you click on each animation name individually.

Timed:   A list of animations in the order you will perform them in a dance, but which also includes the time the HUD will play them after you press the name of the sequence on the HUD.

Smooth Dancer includes the ability to record the timing of animations as you play them, making it much easier to create a timed sequence.  You then have the added ability to manually “nudge” the times – change the sequence.

The !!Sequences Notecard

The !!Sequences notecard is where the magic happens.  This is where you list your untimed animations and also your timed sequences.  You can even mix it together – having untimed animations listed in the middle of timed sequences.  This is a great thing and you’ll see why!

In your class supplies folder, please open the notecard:  !!Sequences – Untimed Examples

You will see this is a random list of animations and was created based on the order I want to play the animations in manually.  If you look to the slide, you can see the !!Sequences notecard on the left, and the Sequences tab on my Smooth Dancer HUD on the right.

Why would we create a list of animations?  When you are working on choreography for your dance, it often takes time to decide what animations you will play during different parts of the song.  I generally listen to the song over and over again, playing the animations until they fit and feel right for the dance.  Listing untimed animations on my !!Sequences notecard allows me to put them in an order so that I don’t have to flip pages or hop around on the HUD trying to find them.  I can create a list so that they are all listed one after another.

The second benefit of creating an untimed sequence is for when you are ready to record your animations.  The Smooth Dancer does an excellent job of recording an exact timing when you change animations – to 6 decimals places!  This allows you to catch the nuances, a hand turning, a foot pulling back, and allows you to smooth out your transitions as you catch the moment two animations can flow seamlessly together.

You have already created an untimed sequence – this was one of the activities you completed before you arrived.

We’re going to take a look at it – but what’s the one thing you should always do before playing an animation or sequence?  Cache, so if everyone can go ahead and cache their HUD now.

Now let’s click on the SEQ tab on your HUD to access sequences.

Don’t see much do you?  Any time you changes your !!Sequences notecard, you must click to reload at the bottom.  This prompts your HUD to read the notecard and load the new sequence information.  Please do that now.

You should now be seeing the animations as you listed on the !!Sequences notecard.  To play an animation, simply click on the name.  Generally, you would create a sequence so that you can play the 1st animation, then the 2nd, then the 3rd etc, as you would expect them to play for your dance.

If the animation doesn’t play, or you get an error saying that the animation doesn’t exist, this generally means the animation isn’t in the HUD or more likely the animation name doesn’t match.  I always recommend copying the name from the animation properties, not manually typing.

To correct, open you hud and go to the contents tab.  Open your !!Sequences notecard, then right click on your animation in contents.  Select properties and copy the animation name.  Paste this in your !!Sequences notecard.  Make sure there are no spaces or punctuation marks before or after that shouldn’t be there.  Save your notecard, close the edit window, go back to the sequences tab and press reload.

Go ahead and practice playing your sequence, and feel free to change your sequence as you practice.  Don’t forget to reload any time you change your !!Sequences notecard.

Now that you know how to create an untimed sequences, it’s time to create a timed one!  You could do this by manually counting or using a stopwatch, or you can let the Smooth Dancer HUD do it for you.

From your class supplies folder, please open the notecard !!Sequences – Timed and Untimed Example

You can see on this notecard that at the top, you have a name and equal sign.  This tells the Smooth Dancer that the following timed animations are part of a sequence.  Your HUD won’t display the individual animations for a timed sequence, just the name of the sequence.

You will see below the name and equal sign is a list of timed animations.  The time represents when the animation will play based on when you pressed play.  For example:

animation will play x seconds after you pressed the play button, this animation will play x seconds after that.

Below the timed sequence, you will see my list of untimed animations.  When I choreograph I like to leave these on the notecard in case I decide to re-record or change my timed sequence.

Now it’s time for you to created a timed sequence by recording with the Smooth Dancer HUD!

First step, wiggle it out, take a breath, and have fun!

Second step, press the record button on the sequence tab.  The Smooth Dancer doesn’t actually start recording until you press your first animation.

Starting from the top, go ahead and press an animation name to play it and start the recording.  When you are ready, go ahead and press the next animation name.  You can also hop around.  When recording, it will record whatever animation you play on that HUD.  Go ahead and continue until you’ve recorded 5 or 10 animations.  You can also repeat animations of course.

Once you are done playing your animations, press the record button again to stop the recording.  It is always important to have your local chat window open so that you can watch when it starts recording and when it stops.  Many times I had a perfect performance, but it wasn’t recording…

After you turned off the recording, press the button that looks like a disk with an arrow.  This will output your sequence to local chat.

You can then press the stop button to stop your dancing.

Special note about stop:  If you press stop while you are recording, it will record the stop too.  I like to put a poses in my hud, and record the pose at the end of my dance instead of a stop.

Adding your sequence output to your sequence notecard

Like several of the other Spot On systems, when you output your recorded sequence it goes to local chat for your viewing only.  If you’ve recorded a long sequence, this may be broken up into sections.  You will want to make sure you copy all the sections of your recorded sequence.

Open the !!Sequences notecard in your HUD.

At the top, add “My Dance=”

Below this, paste your recorded sequence from local chat.  Delete any extra lines if it broke it apart.

Save your notecard, close the edit window, and press the reload button on the Sequences tab.  You should now see My Dance at the top.  Go ahead and press this, and your recorded sequence will play.

Let’s go ahead and open your !!Sequences notecard again.  As you can see the timing for when the animation will play is listed.  Most often, if I’m not completely happy with my sequence I will re-record it.  Sometimes I will manually “nudge” the numbers, or even change a pose name.  You have the power of doing it all – recording, counting, or “nudging”.

Recording a sequence you’re happy with can take some time, but it can also be one of the most fun parts of dance after you get over the initial “which animation should I use”.  Very often when recording, I know I’ve missed an animation or started it too late.  I just press record (to stop), stop button (to stop moving), and press the record button again (to restart).  Then I do it again.  You do not need to output your sequence until you are happy with it, but when you are, make sure you press that output button right away before it “forgets” what you just recorded!

Sometimes, you may have a small set of animations where timing is crucial – perhaps a jump and a land, or two animations that have to transition at a specific moment.  Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to record this as a part of the larger sequence.  There is a way you can record your sequences in pieces and put them together seamlessly.

From the class supplies folder, please open the notecard !!Sequences – Mixed Example

You can see on this notecard that I’ve listed two animations, a timed sequence and two animations.

If you look at the board, you will see this notecard on the left, and what my HUD looks like on the right.

With the smooth dancer, I recorded my jump and land first, then I added this as a sequence in the notecard.  I can play my individual animations, the JumpLand, then individual animations, knowing my  JumpLand is timed exactly as I want it.

The best part?  If I record this entire sequence, the 2 animations, the JumpLand, and the 2 animations, the Smooth dancer will re-record the JumpLand, making it all one sequence as if I had recorded each animation individually.

What this does?  You can record the animations for the chorus of your music, and then record that sequence in with the rest of your animations, without having to re-record the individual animations of the chorus every time.

Now that you know you can mix recorded sequences in with untimed animations, we can explore another use.

The Smooth Dancer is an excellent tool for performing, and one of the core tools every dancer should start with.

If you are performing with the Smooth Dancer, there are times you may want to manually hit a pose, or manually start your first or second animation before you start your sequence.  Sometimes this is because of timing – perhaps your dance starts on the first beat of music but you’re not sure you’ll hear it.  If you manually play your first animation, then start your sequence after, it gives you some flexibility.  This has been referred to as a “blind” animation.

I have also had performances that I recorded, but even with recording the last animation and pose just wouldn’t hit right.  I had my timed sequence first, then my untimed animation and pose after so that I could hit those two manually and have a clean performance.

The Smooth Dancer is a very powerful and flexible tool for creating choreography and performing.

Thank you for attending Smooth Dancer – Focus on Sequences.

~ Eva Harley
Instructor