Wasted Space

After attending several dance shows recently, I was once again struck by how much of the stage ends up being wasted space for me.

I have never been a fan of large stages.  As I’ve said before, I’m there to see the dancer.

Sure, a nicely decorated stage is nice, but it’s not my focus at a dance show.

Perhaps I’m alone in this, but I will often focus my camera on the performer, so that I can follow their movements as they dance.

What ends up happening is that I miss a lot of things, because I am cammed in so close to be able to see the performer.

So I thought I’d do a visual demonstration.  🙂

Here is a picture of an empty stage.

15X30StageThe size is 15m deep by 15m high by 30m long.

Pretty standard these days for a stage.

Some may be even larger.

So what does it look like when you put a solo dancer on a stage this size?

Stage with DancerThis.

I’m in there – see?

Can’t you tell that’s me?

Notice that both pics are pretty much the same distance from the stage.  Not a lot of detail at that distance.  You can tell I’m wearing red and black, not much else.

But we don’t see empty stages, do we?  So what does it look like if you fill up the stage with stuff? (Ok, I just filled it up with cubes, but you get the idea.)

StageDancerCubesI’m still in there, see?

These cubes are 3mX3m in size.  Just to simulate the size of the space occupied by props in many routines.

Again, the pic is pretty much the same distance from the stage as the first two.

I’m not a small avatar.  When I checked my size (remember, I’ve been called ogre-ish tall), I am 2.23m tall (that’s 7.3 feet, according to the appearance editor).

This is not the best viewing distance, in my opinion.  Indeed, I’ve been to many a show where the DJ/MC/Host urges you to ‘cam in close’ to see the performer.

So what happens when you move in closer?

StageDancerCloseOk, a bit better.  I can sort of make out the dancer and the props behind her.

But the props on the side of the stage?

No longer in visible range.  At this distance, I could probably keep most dancers in view without moving my camera around, as a pretty big chunk of the stage floor is visible.

But I still don’t get a lot of detail viewing the performer.  I want to see the cool costumes, don’t I?

So I cam in closer.

StageDancerCloseUpThat’s better.  Now I can see some details of the performer.

I can see the hair, the jeans, the cute sweater.

But I’ve lost even more of the stage and props.

In the picture above, you could see 6 cubes.  Now you see 3 and parts of 3 more.

And I still can’t see the dancer clearly.

StageDancerFaceNow we’re talking!

I can actually see the performer and am close enough to see their face.

But – I can only see 1 complete cube.  The surrounding two are cut off.

And the other 11 on the stage?  Can’t see ’em.

This is perhaps an extreme example, but it helps to illustrate my point.

I sometimes feel bad for dancers who have clearly gone to great lengths to build and decorate their set, when most of the audience doesn’t even see it, except at the beginning and end of the routine.

If there are multiple dancers on stage, then there is a reason for a larger stage.  However, the picture with 3 cubes visible would probably be plenty of room for that, or even the picture above that one (with 6 cubes visible).

But the first few pics?  Does anyone really stay cammed out that far for a dance show?

Sound off, people!  😀

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13 thoughts on “Wasted Space

  1. I cam around and I like seeing all the pretty or interesting or clever things they have put on their sets. But I am there for the ‘total picture’ not just the dancer. I like a feast. I get restless if I am on one shot for too long. I like to explore. 😀

  2. Thank you for the very clear demonstration! I hope it opens some pairs of dancer/troupe leader/producer eyes. And you’re not alone with this, I totally agree with everything you wrote above.
    I’ve never understood the stages size of an airplane hangar. There’s no way you can see everything at once because the details get lost when viewed from a distance and the dance gets twitchy (especially if there are more than one dancers). And I guess it’s safe to say that the point of a dance show is the dance(r)… Sure, go ahead and decorate your set all you want (I know I do). It’s fun for the dancer and makes it more interesting for the audience, but don’t let it be your main thing. It’s a dance show, not an architect fair. If you find building means more to you than putting together dance routines, become a builder.
    I find it funny how so many dancers in your interviews said that the reason they don’t emote is because they don’t want to distract the audience from the actual dance. Well. I may be missing something but having to cam around on your stage that’s big enough to fit an entire house on it is a much bigger distraction from the dance than the emotes, which you can (depending on your viewer settings) either see through of or have them in that neat little box in the corner of your screen. And don’t get me started on the particle effects… Sometimes it feels like the main point of all those huge stages and effect floods is to hide the dancer.

  3. I love the initial big set…I guess its what makes shows special today. The initial wide angle is like a movie establishing shot. But then, like tv and movies, I always end up zooming in to make the dancer as big as possible. I think its why dancers are always giant-sized compared to us normal folk. I’m always asked to make myself super tall when invited to ball-sit.

    The more pixels moving that i see, the more I feel. I guess it will be a matter of producer preference. Audiences will attend either, I believe, without bias, dependent upon the quality of the shows a venue is known for presenting.

    If the “show-dancer” is really on a slow path of deprecation then I am all for new forms of productions that exclude dancing all together or only punctuate the show on occasion with dance, and make the set/show/non-dance stuff – intelligent and interactive, like a 3D-performing-art-spectacle, something on par to the stadium laser-light-shows of old or a 4th of July fireworks presentation. After all, in SL it all boils down to pixel-motion.Pixels don’t have to even be human, or even life-sized, as we see with skeletons and other faux-dancer representations. So I’m ready for the ‘next thing’.

  4. I do SL on a 15 inch laptop and this is a pet peeve of mine too. Especially when the dancer is lost in the set because it’s so detailed and the contrast between dancer and set is very low. Another pet peeve is lots of dancers spread out across a large stage so you can only watch a few of them. But some dancers do use the whole stage and that makes it interesting. Others never move from the centre. Oh well everyone has his/her own vision.

  5. I sometimes wonder if producers and choreos watch their own production from the audience view. A pet peeve of mine is overly deep stages with dancers way in the back and dancers up front. Impossible to get them all in sync..Either the back dancer(s) are jittering around like speedy cartoon or you lose half or more of the up front dancers to zoom in on the back dancers. And to add insult to injury, just trying to zoom will cause dancers to go out of sync. I wonder if we would be surprised at the number of viewers who just sit their cam on either wide angle or closeup and just leave it there cause they don’t want the hassle or are uniformed of how to cam around and/or cam-lock? That implies that either dancers(s) are viewed without much detail or pixel motion …or the elaborations of the set are lost for the whole performance.

    1. I’ve often wondered that myself. I know at some shows, the only person who has seen the act before the show is the performer who created it.

      With so many different settings available client-side, it’s impossible to know what people see and how they see it.

      But it would be an interesting experiment. 😀

      I’m sure that many people just position their camera and leave it, because of zooming not only causes the dancers to be out of sync, it can also cause lag, and sometimes even crashing.

      I’ve wondered before how much I miss because of my settings. 🙂

  6. Thanks for all the comments, everyone! And yes, Jo, I agree – everyone has their own vision and way of doing things. I’m not suggesting that big stages are bad, just that performers need to consider size when they are building/performing.
    I agree with Nancy on the particle issue – I was just at a dance the other day and a dancer used so many particles that not only were they almost completely obscured, I almost crashed (and I lower a lot of my settings for shows for precisely that reason!). More is not always better.
    Yummy, you bring up a good point. With animated mesh now having hit the scene, how long will it be before we have NPC dancers we can animate? No more need to have a bunch of alts to use as dancers, just buy some! Although, I would hate to see dance in shows disappear altogether. 😦
    We all know audiences in SL have a relatively low boredom threshhold, so yes, I can see Baby’s point in giving them something to look at beyond just the dancer.
    Each dancer will have to decide for themselves what pieces are worth their time and effort – for me, I’d rather concentrate on my choreography than spend hours fussing with a set. 🙂

  7. Oh! Something that helps heaps with dancers being out of sync when you are cammed out cause there are a lot of them, or they are spread out: Preferences, Graphics, under Avatar Rendering in the middle/bottom UNTICK Avatar Impostors, and then slide Max # of non-impostor avatars (two lines under Draw distance) up to around 30. Mine is slid to 42. It is amazing the difference it makes in avatars staying in focus and in sync. 😀

    1. I always have avatar imposters unticked, but Yummy told me last night she sets hers at 50. I’m gonna have to try that – somehow I missed that setting!!

  8. Large stages do not bother me. What bothers me are the obnoxious attitudes thrown at people at the other end of the preferred set size spectrum. A door that swings both ways. Because someone has a big set doesn’t mean they are egotistical and because someone goes for small simple sets it does not mean they are lazy.

    I had a spate of them comments when some dance teachers spouted that crap to classes and gave the classes the impression ‘simple acts are lazy’. Although I do not feel the need to make advanced stuff like everybody else, I have seen girls get really put off doing anything other than the huge stage and set routines because they have been taught that mentality. Great. All the dance world ends up getting is more of the same.

  9. I actually prefer a tiny stage. At Guerilla Burlesque Exclusive, the stage is very tiny and up close to the audience. I love the intimacy. It’s my favourite stage to dance on. I don’t think a small set is lazy. I do, however, like to see imagination with a set. I’d much rather see a small beautifully decorated set that has atmosphere and personality than a vacuous textured box with a lone dancer swallowed by the vastness. I do tell my dancers if they do not need a large space, block it in with black or textured prims, alter the space they are working with, and utilize a smaller space.

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