Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dance Lag

Dance Lag 111004

Click to dance and you stop .... aaaarrrrgggghhhh ... dance lag. I hate it.

There is a helpful Wiki article about lag. I read the article and others, but I am far from being a lag expert. All I want to do is dance when I click and stay in sync. One of the things I have learned is that we all do not see the same thing at the same time. Lag can be very local to you. So, after reading all about it, I made changes to my sim, I made changes to my preferences by following the advice I read, BUT I do more. Here is what else I do:


1. Use Your Cache

Dances are stored on the SL server. When you click a dance it downloads from the server to your computer. As soon as it has downloaded it starts. If the server is being used a lot, it takes a while for it to send it to you. If the internet is busy, you might get delays. You see this as LAG.

There is a solution to this. If you are going to do a dance show as part of a group and you have choreographed dances, run through them all before the show. What this does is get the dances into your local computer's cache. The cache is for storing stuff that your computer has used recently so it doesn't have to be downloaded again. This is important because you don't have to download a dance from the SL server. As soon as a dance starts it is in your cache. You don't have to go through the full loop.

Other people may not see the same lag you see. They may have the dance in their cache or may have a faster download speed. So, don't be suprised if some people see no lag at all while you are stopped.


2. Avatar Imposters

If you look in preferences under the Graphics tab, you will see a check box called Avatar Imposters. This is a way to reduce lag by using a simpler graphical form for avatars who are distant from you. It's great for lag, but terrible for syncing. One of the worst dance leading experiences I had was after downloading a new version of the SL viewer then leading a dance circle. In downloading the viewer all my preferences were set to match my computer's capabilities. It automatically chose to use imposters. WOW, fifteen avatars all dancing out of sync ... it was complete chaos.

Avatar imposters make syncing terrible. I fixed it by unchecking the box. I would rather have some lag than seeing 15 avatars out of sync.


3. Load Your Cache

You can use your Huddles HUD to help you reduce lag. You can do this by loading all of your dances into your cache using your HUD. It took me a while but I figured out a way to do this. Here is the process:
a. Click the All button to load your list of dances in alphabetical order
b. Using the white button at the bottom of your HUD change the view to the one with the tricolor. On this view you see a clock. Click the clock and enter in chat 1. This sets the interval between dances to 1 second when using the random or ordered mode. One second is the minimum time that Huddles accepts.
c. Using the white button at the bottom of your HUD change the view to the normal view where you can see the All button.
d. Click the single dancer icon to begin dancing in the ordered mode. What this does is go through your entire list of dances in alphabetical order, playing each dance for 1 second. If you have about 300 dances in your HUD. It takes 300 seconds (five minutes) to go through your entire HUD.

When you are finished, you have loaded all of your dances in your HUD into your cache. Others may still see lag, but you will have done a lot to reduce your dance lag. Note that if you have a notecard loaded the order will be what is shown on the notecard. Sequences only load the first dance.


4. Repeat Dances

One thing I have experienced is that as a dance leader you pay a lot of attention to the dances, but most people do not. They just want to let you control and have them look sexy. You can't run the same dance over and over, but you can sure repeat sequences and dances a lot. If lag is a problem, repeat the dances and sequences and your and their cache will make it look great.


5. Lag Back-up

DANCE QUEENS member Tabby2Tone Ghost and I were discussing this and found another thing you can do. From your inventory open a dance that shows some motion like a waiting dance (e.g. rythm6). It opens in a window called Animation: (name of dance). Run it from the window using the 'Play in World' button. This dance will run in the background. Whenever lag strikes your avatar will default to this dance. It's a lot better than standing still. Be a little careful to use a dance that is equal or lower in priority than the dances you use in your HUD or you will get some jerky dancing.

If you want to do this with a group, you can accomplish the same thing with two HUDs. One for your normal dancing and the other for the waiting dance. Just add the dancers to both HUDs.


6. Reduce Your Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC)

Using a point score, Avatar Rendering Cost shows how each avatar affects the rendering performance of the Viewer. It is found at Advanced ... Performance Tools ... Show Avatar Rendering Cost. The higher the number the more what you are wearing causes lag. A Wiki article explains ARC in more detail.


7. Just Live With It

If you have lag, it makes Freestyle Choreography very difficult. You cannot really tell when to transition to another dance. However, if you use Sequenced Choreography the transitions are built in. It may look laggy to you, but can very well look great to everyone else.




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