Open Source Fail – Barre HUD News

Image Source: www.darrickbynum.com
Image Source: http://www.darrickbynum.com

An intriguing post from Rachael Young, developer of the Barre HUD.

It will be interesting to see what happens, given her open source announcement in February of this year.

Source: Open Source Fail

Recording a Dance Sequence

QuestionMarksDid you know you can record a dance sequence?

I’ve been doing this for years, and it can really save you time when you are working on choreography.

I first discovered recording sequences in 2012, when Nottoo Wise was doing a comparison of dance HUDs.

I was introduced to the Fleursoft HUD, which had a feature that let you record your sequence as you danced it manually (pushing the button to play each dance in the order you want).

I fell in love with the feature and would often pull out the Fleur HUD just to record sequences with it.

Later, when the Group version of the Barre was released, it too had a recording feature.

However, recording was kind of a pain for me.

With over 700 dances loaded into the HUD, I had to click through pages and pages of dances to get to the ones I wanted, and do it quickly enough that my sequence worked.

A short time later, an update was released that changed the recording feature.

I could now put the dances I wanted to use on a notecard, load that notecard, and then only the dances I needed would be available to click.

Yay!

For years, that was how I would do my rough choreography – I would pick out the dances I thought I might use, and then load them up on a notecard.

I would load that notecard, play my music, and figure out which dances I wanted to use, and where my transitions needed to be.

Then, I would record the sequence and voilá – the Barre spits out a link that gives you a sequence, complete with timings and dance names, that you can copy into a sequence notecard.

After I had that rough sequence, I could go back and make any adjustments as needed.

There is a Barre HUD video with information about how to use the record button:

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here for a link.

The information about the record button is in the first couple of minutes of the video.

When SpotOn came out with their Performance Director HUD, I stopped recording sequences as much, because I choreograph differently with it.

Given that many times I am including walks, poses, and sits, in addition to just dance animations, recording a sequence for use with the PD HUD just didn’t make much sense, as it would take more time than it saved.

When SpotOn released their club dance HUD, the Smooth Dancer, I saw that it too had a recording feature.

However, it was like the original Barre – you had to page through everything loaded in order to record.

So, I continued to use the Barre when I needed to record a sequence.

SpotOn has recently updated the Smooth Dancer, and you can now load your animations onto a notecard so you can easily record sequences just like you can with the Barre and Fleursoft.

If you want to use the recording feature and you already own the Barre, the Smooth Dancer, or the Fleursoft, you’re all set!!

Quick Poll – Favorite Dance Animation Store

QuickPoll
Image Source: http://www.jr7.k12.mo.us

If you’re a performance dancer, what is your favorite animation store?

Imagine you could only shop at one store from now on – which one would it be?

I’ve listed as many as I can remember – feel free to write-in if I forgot your favorite. 😀

Affordable Dance Props – Better Gnomes and Cauldrons

I’m always on the lookout for well-made affordable props to use in my sets.

(One of my dreams is that gachas will someday offer a copy/mod option – I see sooo many cool things, but a no copy object is useless to me.)

Whether I’m looking for something specific or just looking for inspiration, one of the places I like to go is Better Gnomes and Cauldrons.

BGC StatuesIt’s a full perm store with mostly mesh items.

And they’re very reasonably priced.

There’s a little bit of everything at the store and they’ve had a couple of clearance sales recently, so I’ve picked up some really nice items at bargain prices. 😀

I’ve seen the ‘Immortal Tree’ statue used in many a dance set.

BGC PlantsIn addition to a plethora of statues, they also have plants and trees.

You can find everything from roses and tulips to fairy grass.

BGC also has new releases on a pretty regular basis, making it easy to find something new when you visit.

It’s one of my favorite places to look for mesh items, and since most everything is full perm, there are no worries about using it in a rezzer.

BGC PigsYou can find almost anything here and know that it will be good quality and usable as a dance prop.

Take these cute mesh pigs.

The alien pig is adorable, right?

And who couldn’t use a bat pig in a Halloween set?

Or, if you want something scary, you can find items like that at BGC as well.

BGC MinionsBGC has a ton of monstors, demons, and animals – whether you’re looking for something realistic or just spooky, they’ve got you covered.

These minion/shaman statues would be perfect for a scary set, and some items, as you can see, come with particle effects.

Since the items are full perm, you can resize easily for different effects.

Maybe you want an army of small minions – easy to do, since you can copy and resize the statues.

Or resize and have just one big statue.

BGC NunsThat’s what I love – having lots of options.

Maybe you’re building a church set and you want to add some people.

You can find nuns, clergy, or deities to suit your needs.

Perhaps you’re looking for something in between cute and spooky.

Goblins might fit the bill.

BGC GoblinsBGC has you covered there as well.

Pick your favorite color or mix and match.

I’ve seen these little guys used as props in several dance acts.

Even if you’re just looking for those little extra bits and bobs to help ‘flesh out’ a set, BGC can help.

BGC extrasNeed candles or books?

A map?

A globe?

A set of apothecary jars?

You can find everything you need at BGC.

If you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Better Gnomes and Cauldrons

Happy Friday!

Friday
Image Source: http://www.yourpathtofit.com

As the school year winds to a close, RL is intruding more and more on my SL time.

I was so busy yesterday I didn’t even have time to log in! 😦

Hopefully after the next couple of weeks are over, things will get back to normal and I will have a more set routine.

Until then, I’ll do my best to keep blogging!

One of the things I’m hoping to start is a series of posts on creators – places where I like to go for props, poses, particles – anything you might use in a routine.

I have a few creators already in mind, but I would love to hear from you – what places are ‘go-to’ stores for you when trying to find something particular?

I hope to be able to interview some of the creators as well, but given everyone’s busy schedules, I’m not sure how many will be able to participate.

Regardless, I will be doing some posts on them. 🙂

At least it’s Friday – Happy Weekend, Everyone!

Have We Hit The Wall?

Image Source: teamfunctionalfitness.com
Image Source: teamfunctionalfitness.com

Often when people have trouble coming up with ideas, they say they’ve ‘hit a wall.’

I have days like that when I’m trying to think of something to write on my blog (although it is usually me banging my head on the desk, not a wall).

You’ve wracked your brain for new ideas, and you’ve come up empty.

I’ve had a number of conversations with various people in SL about whether this is the case with dance in SL.

There have been some new tools released recently, but do they qualify as ‘new’ and ‘innovative’?

As one person said – do any of the new tools change anything from the audience’s perspective?

I’m not sure they do.

One of the things that always made things seem new (to me, at least) was new dance animations.

Sadly, it seems that there are hardly any new animations being released.

I used to go dance shopping every week to see what was new.

I can now go months before I see any new content.

Things that used to seem ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ have become old hat – particles, set changes, faders, etc.

When movers came out, walking on walls, flying, riding in a car – those were amazing things that were then possible.

But I can’t think of anything I’ve seen in a show lately that made me think, “Wow! That’s amazing – how did they do that?”

Maybe it’s just me.

What have you seen lately that made you say, “Wow!” ?

Pet Peeves 2

pet_peeveA while ago I wrote a post about some of my pet peeves in SL.

Frankly, some of them drive me absolutely batty.

Most of them are quick, simple, easy fixes.

They are (in no particular order):

Broken ankles – For the love of Pete, people – get an ankle lock!!  If you dance, you NEED one.  Mesh feet look lovely, but there are a TON of animations that make ankles look broken.

Like this:

BrokenAnkle1You can pick up an ankle lock for FREE!!!! at the SLink mainstore – right by the SLink feet.

You don’t have to own SLink feet or belong to the SLink group to get one (last I checked).

One of the worst offenders are ballet animations – when you wear tip toe or high feet and then use most ballet dances, your ankles look downright deformed.

SpotOn also gave out an ankle lock as a group gift, so dig through that inventory and put it on. 🙂

Face lights – While I was attending a class, I made a happy discovery.

If you use Firestorm (which I do), there is an option under the phototools to TURN OFF facelights!  Woohooo!

Now, it also turns off local lights, but most of the time the facelight causes more of an issue than the loss of local light sources.

So wear your halogen face lights – blaze away!

Caching – Please, please, please, PLEASE! When you dance, right before you go on, those few minutes while you are waiting on stage before your music starts, CACHE your dances.

You will catch any stragglers who arrived after you cached your dances the first time.

If you wait until the last minute to cache (and since it only takes a few secs, why not?), then most of the audience will see your dance as you intend, and not broken up with awkward pauses where it looks like you forgot what you were doing.

Feet in floor – This is another pet peeve, and one that is a very easy fix.  If you are using SpotOn movers, just page up before you start.  Glance down, and make sure your feet aren’t stuck in the floor.

Like this:

FeetInFloorIf you use other movers, take a minute and make a few adjustments to keep your feet out of the floor.

Often it’s those little overlooked details that can make or break the reality of your performance.

If you build/choreograph at home and then have to move everything to a venue, do a trial run and make sure your feet aren’t in the floor because things are slightly different at the performance venue.

Glide Dancing – I think this is one of the things I like least when I go to a dance show.

With the performance tools available in SL, it is a fairly simple matter to design your routine so that you do not ‘glide’ over the floor.

Take a few moments – tweak your movers and/or your routine for that realistic feel.

Add in a walk animation instead of just sliding over the floor doing your dance animation.

Watch your routine and note places where the dance animations lend themselves to movement across the floor.

Tip Jars – I have a love/hate relationship with tip jars.

I love to tip performers – they work very hard to provide quality entertainment.

However, I don’t like the way many tip jars are set up.

A running total, great.

Although I’ve been told by others if they see one dancer has a high total and another one doesn’t, they will tip the second dancer and not the first, regardless of any other factors (performance quality, etc.).

Tipping is such a subjective issue.

An ‘amount last donated’ line, great.

It’s always nice to see that people are tipping, although personally, I’d be ok with this not showing.

It doesn’t really matter to anyone, except perhaps the tipper and tippee, what the amount is, does it?

A ‘last donation by XYZ Resident’ line, great.

Again, always nice to see that people are tipping.

Performers do work very hard and dancing is a rather expensive proposition in SL.

But a ‘last donation by XYZ Resident’ AND an ‘amount last donated’ line?

A pet peeve, because I know that there are people out there who want to tip, but don’t want to seem like a cheapskate by donating $25L or $50L when someone else just donated $1000L.

Even though it might be their last $25L.

So many of them elect to just skip tipping altogether.

Which is a shame. 😦

One last thought –

GET AN ANKLE LOCK!!!!  😀

Avi Choice Awards

Image Source:  avichoiceawards.com
Image Source: avichoiceawards.com

A quick update on winners so far in the dance world:

Best Venue – Rose Theater

Best Set Design – Rose Theater

Animations – Humanoid

Choreography Tool – HUDDLES

Dance Troupe – Guerilla Burlesque

They announced the best choreographer winner, but I couldn’t understand the name.  :/

Will update when I have the info.

News Flash

Image Source: www.darrickbynum.com
Image Source: http://www.darrickbynum.com

Just a quick post to share a couple of news bits from the last day or so:

Rachel Young, creator of the Barre HUD, has announced she will be leaving SL and making the Barre open source.  See here for details.

It’s Tuesday, so that means a new Tool Tip video from the folks at Firestorm.

This one is about contact sets – lots of good information!

Guerilla Burlesque has announced their new cast/season – see here for details.

I’ve been working on my photography skills, but I’m looking for subjects.

So if you’d like to be a guinea pig and get some free photos in the process, hit me up! 😀

Last but not least, it’s FAT TUESDAY!!

So party like it’s Mardi Gras, because tomorrow begins Lent.

Enjoy your Tuesday, everyone!

Avatars, Lag, and ARC

This is an old pic, but the principle is still the same.  Image Source: nwn.blogs.com
This is an old pic, but the principle is still the same.
Image Source: nwn.blogs.com

One of the things you learn quickly and come to hate passionately in SL is lag.

As a performer, lag is inescapable.

You’re backstage, caching dances, and then WHAM!

Suddenly your computer freezes, your screen goes black, and you begin to pray that you won’t crash.

By some miracle, you don’t crash, but moving is now like slogging through molasses.

Dancers have traded tips and tricks for years on ways to reduce lag at performances – things like:

  • turn down your draw distance
  • lower your particles
  • turn off render for stuff like trees, terrain, sky, etc, that aren’t needed indoors
  • watch your scripts – remove unnecessary ones

Venues have tried to help by asking audiences to do various things –

  • sit down as soon as they arrive
  • no facelights
  • remove AO’s
  • watch their scripts

Many venues have even installed script counters to help police the worst offenders.

But we still have lag.

So I was curious when I saw a post from Penny Patton about draw weight (ARC, Avatar Render Cost – whatever you want to call it).

In her post, Penny talks about how she was able to reduce her ARC from 200K+ down to around 50K.

Now, Penny is much more technical than I am, and I wouldn’t even attempt some of the things she does to decrease her ARC.

I wouldn’t even know HOW to do some of them.

I, like many of us in SL, am at the mercy of the content creators, whom I expect to know much more about things like textures, specular maps, polygons, and LOD than I ever will.

So after reading Penny’s post, and coming across another post on the same issue by Nalates Urriah, I decided to do a bit of testing on my own.

The post by Nalates refers back to another post (which I did not read), and states that on an ’empirical basis Kay found that jewelry is a major culprit in high ARC.’

I was curious to see what the ARC of various items in my own inventory would be.

I logged in and turned on the ARC.

You can do this yourself under the Advanced Menu > Performance Tools > Show Render Weight for Avatars. (And that is about the extent of my technical knowledge when it comes to SL!)

You will now see a number above your head – this is your ‘ARC.’

I found an outfit in my inventory and put it on.

After removing each item separately to find its ARC, here is how my outfit broke down:

  • Mesh Hair:  1450 ARC
  • Mesh Dress:  2744 ARC
  • Mesh Feet:  1736 ARC
  • Mesh Hands: 1200 ARC each (2400 ARC total)
  • Mesh Shoes:  10560 ARC
  • Earrings: 4345 ARC each (8690 ARC total)
  • Necklace: 14482 ARC

I was not wearing any other items, other than my eyeballs, skin, and shape (I have no idea how to find the ARC of these things, since SL does not allow you to NOT wear a skin or shape).

So, I just subtracted all the items listed above from my ARC total.

Eyeballs, skin, and shape apparently account for 6308 ARC.

I was pleasantly surprised at the relatively low ARC for my mesh hair, dress, and feet.

The hands seem a little high, but I was fairly shocked by the ARC of the jewelry I had on.

It was not big, flashy pieces, just a simple necklace and earrings.

Since the other posts mentioned that jewelry was a huge culprit, I wanted to do some more investigating.

I found a jewelry set that I really love from a fairly well-known jewelry maker in SL.

I added a piece at a time to find out the ARC for each piece.

Now, let me add that this is not necessarily a scientific experiment, because sometimes the ARC would change slightly if I took the piece off and put it on again.

I don’t know if that’s because the texture is already cached?

Again, technical is NOT my forte. 😀

Anyhoo, I put on the bracelet from this jewelry set.

The ARC of the bracelet was 13603.

Almost as much as the necklace I was wearing earlier.

Then I added the left earring from this set, assuming that both earrings would be the same ARC.

Now, for some reason, I didn’t get a stable ARC from the earrings.

I got a large initial ARC, then when I removed and re-attached the earrings, the ARC seemed to fluctuate.

After several add/removes, I got the same ARC several times in a row, so I am using that one.

The earrings had an ARC of 14375 each, so 28750 ARC total for both.

So now I am at 42353 ARC for the jewelry alone, which is almost equal to the starting ARC of my entire avatar + wardrobe at the beginning of this exercise.

Then I added the necklace of the set.

The necklace had an ARC of 24235.

So for 4 pieces of jewelry (bracelet, earrings, and necklace), the ARC of the set had a grand total of 66588.

66588.

Just for the jewelry!!

Ouch.

With the jewelry added, I currently have the number 173388 floating above my head.

Which doesn’t make any sense, because if I add up the items separately, my total should be 91786.

So it appears that ARC fluctuates (I’m sure for technical reasons I don’t understand).

However, even at 91786, that would mean that 2/3 of my ARC is jewelry alone!

That is ridiculous.

I decided to try jewelry from a different maker.

I had two bracelets.

Each bracelet had an ARC of 15539, so a total of 31078 just for the two bracelets.

Wow.

That means the two bracelets alone have a higher ARC than the rest of my entire avatar/items.

Jewelry does seem to be a huge culprit when it comes to high ARC’s.

I’m not sure what the ‘optimum’ ARC for an avatar is – I suppose it depends on your computer system.

However, I will be more conscious of my ARC when going to shows.

Wearing jewelry is nice, but not absolutely necessary, especially if I am unknowingly contributing to lag.

I have a fairly nice computer setup, so wearing all this jewelry hasn’t really affected me, as ARC (from what I’ve read and (hopefully) understood), is a factor in client-side lag, NOT server-side lag.

But I am there to see the performers, and if my beautiful jewelry is lagging them out (because perhaps their computer system is a tad older than mine), then I am ruining the show.

Do a little experimenting yourself next time before you go to a show.

Perhaps you can help avoid the lag monster as well by being more aware of not only your scripts, but your ARC.  😀

If you’re curious about how ARC is calculated, see here.  I didn’t understand all of it, but light-emitting prims have a high count.

So leave your facelights at home!!!!