Sunday, April 15, 2012

Advanced Dancing 01

Advanced Dancing 01 (120415)

One of the points from the March DANCE QUEENS survey is to have more advanced dancing information on the blog. Today, Mily Sandalwood and I were talking about dancing and Mily sent me an article she wrote in March 2011. Mily is a very advanced dancer and specializes in Gorean dancing. Take a look at her individual dance sequence from Choreography Show I.

The article is a good discussion of advanced dancing and I am posting it as Advanced dancing 01. I know there area  lot of great dancers in DANCE QUEENS, so, if you want to write about your know how, send it to me and I will publish it.


Hints and tips for making dancing easier.. by Mily Sandalwood

 submitted  14th March 2011  for publication 16th marc 2011

This week I shall be doing more of a" how to" article than what I usually do.  I have noticed recently that often when I go to dance events some dancers are not aware of some basics to make dancing more pleasurable for the spectators and for themselves, I hope to deal with a few of these for you all to read and hopefully find helpful. 
When dancing in front of people.
Starting in a way that will have many of you thinking " what are you on mily" but  BREATHE..  It really does help. Breathe in real life before dancing and during dancing, remember to breathe deeply and freely it helps you relax and prevents you getting stressed and feeling flustered about what you are doing. It is so simple but often mistakes happens simply because we allow that rush of nerves to take over. Breathing will calm this down.

Practise makes perfect
Have everything set up the way you want it ready to use before you go to the event (practise doing this before the actual event) Have a folder with everything needed for that dance put together. Make notes on your dance note card (if prewritten) to remind yourself of things (for example props or pace) I often when I use a stationary animation to start the dance with have notes on my own card saying " mily take off start position"  "mily did you take off start position?"  "START POSITION??"  as I get into the dance to remember to get it off (speaking of this underneath in a moment a bit further).  On the same level rehearse in your mind what to do if you crash just before/after or during your dance. Perhaps have a note card with everything you need written down On top of the folder, that way if the boot monster does grab you you will be ready to set yourself back up and begin all over.  With this also consider how you will cope if you crash on the dance pit. Perhaps you can you make a landmark that will tp you directly to the side of the dance pit (not all sims permits this) so you can log back in to your home spot and then return to the dance event quickly, or make friends with other girls dancing so you can tp each other if this does happen. 
Go to the place you are due to dance at and familiarise yourself with the dance area. Is it sand tiles or grass? is the dance pit square oblong or rectangular? All of this will have a bearing on how you dance, what animations to choose even in what direction you need to face when you start. If you have no travel privileges ask the questions of the organiser so you have as good an idea as at all possible.

A word on Note cards.
We all know it can be complex to have a note card that you can edit out during the dance. I am sure plenty of us have started to copy a prewritten part of a dance to by mistake delete it. I when I have competitions/Exhibitions coming up often get a friend to take the note card copy paste the lot into another note card and then return it to me as a no mod note card. That way I am not in danger of suddenly deleting a post by accident. 

Something about timing
We all want to time our dance posts well and there are several ways to do this. I know dancers whom slowly count as they go from one post to the next. I know dancers that change when the animation change.  I know dancers that sit with a stop watch at home or on their pc even some that use one in SL attached to their  HUD. Personally I prefer to use the fader and I want to mention it here because it surprises me how many dancers doesn't realise this tool is here. If you go to preferences - text chat.  You have  a part of it that says " chat Console"  in there you have " fade chat after" and a little white box where you can change the number in.  If you set that to the pace you want (I would suggest using the suggested timing in Master Samos Tips card that he always adds to his dance reviews for ideas on how long) then click apply before you go to the main chat window. Now ensure that you get rid of all of the local chat boxes and then when you post the posts you do will last for the allocated seconds you picked before it "fades"  from the chat. that is then your que to post the next post and you get a smooth evenly posted dance post length.  

Kneels/Start/End positions 

Take your  kneels / start positions/end positions off whilst you dance. If you do not for a short moment in time as you are changing animation that position  (the stationary position) will show as it will override your animations. This in some cases looks a bit like you are squatting down to pee before the next animation takes over and you gracefully sway off again. (apologies for the mental image some of you now will have in your head)
Use your Cashe / Loading Dances into Cashe
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. 

You need to load the dances both into your own cashe and into your spectators cashe. Before a dance event clear your cashe so you do not have a lot of stuff / scripts in your own cashe this can also slow you down and then having done this - relog. Now load the dances into your  cashe I personally tend to do this before I go to a dance event as I find it easier to run a cache animation when I am trying to load it into other peoples cache. 

The reason for doing this is if you do not your spectator will see you "standing still" between each of your dance animation changes. So you need to load the dances into not only your cashe but also those of the spectators. I want to thank Hayden Cerise whom patiently put up with watching me shift animations after animation for us to find out exactly how long a distance we can work it out.  From our little experiment (and I shall try to talk someone else into doing this with me to see if it repeats) you can be any distance on a sim -on the same level as them- away from the other person and it will still load into the spectators cashe. This is GREAT news for us dancers as it basically means we can hide somewhere on the sim, run the animations and it will have loaded into the spectators places.  A prime example for this would be Petra where they in the dance arena have a area behind where the dancers wait and you can load the dances into cashe by dancing behind the scenes. (literally )  If you are a place like a Tahari sim where the sim are much more open and you cant easily get to hide away to load them I would suggest you if using a huddle ez animator (I know this to be the preferred choice for many dancers) use 2 note cards call one "name"  and the other "name 1 second" in the "name 1 second" you have your sequence but the timing it set to 1 second for each dance run the "name 1 second" you will look a little like your avi is having a seizure of some sort  but the dances will load into each persons cashe with little fuss to you. Then load the sequence called "name" and get ready to dance. This way you will have the sequence loaded as it is the same dances in both cards only difference is the length the animations play. (you can get a similar effect by hurriedly clicking down your dances if that makes you feel more comfortable then please do it that way) If you do not use a hud of any sort to dance with, you still need to run the animations one by one to ensure that they are loaded in other peoples cashe" you can see them immediately if you run the animation but everyone else can not.   
Now when I was out and about with Hayden we tried a few other things. I could be up to 150 meters from her (straight across the sim) and  she would still  have the dances loaded. But when I went up to my Skybox 4000 Meters in the air loaded dances into my cashe then returned down to where Hayden was she got a break inbetween each dance change. Hence 4000 meters are definitely too long a distance to load from ~ smiles. 
We also explored dancing over a sim line to see if this makes a difference. We do this on some sims (Koroba comes to mind) and it is wonderful for lag free dancing for the dancers. We had a rather interesting situation there. We Used Tancreds Landing Hayden stood in Tancreds Landing I stood in their sister sim of Vosk Woods.  When I ran the animations what occurred was the following. Hayden didn't get a pause in the dances when I danced close up with loaded into her cache animations. However I was 3 animations in before she saw my avatar dance. This was in a low lag area Hayden and I were the only 2 people in the sims (and indeed on my radar) during this experiment.  However 3 animations in for me is nearly a full minute of dancing before it registered for her I was playing an animation, this could cause havoc if you are in a dance event where the commonly used " did animations stop with the music"  scoring is in place. 
The day after my experimentation with Hayden I asked on the dance contest group for another helper and Tessa (Contessa Coba) came to help me. Tessa reported the exact same experience as Hayden had I could go to 180 meters away from her (that is right to the other side of the sim on the diagonal) and the dances loaded perfectly fine for her to see. When we went to Tancreds Landing however Tessa had a different experience to Hayden. It took her only  3 seconds before she could see me dance. When I ran another dance set however loading it into her cashe and ran it  it took her 12 seconds to see me dance. We were 12 meters apart but on different sims. It will because of that suggest that when we are dancing across sims, we get less lag - easier for the dancers and they can move and get to use the animations - but the spectators will have a delay and  here we saw quite a significant delay occurring for Hayden.  

Hayden's draw distance is low at 64 and Tessa reported 600 draw distance. I may  try to explore if the difference draw distances makes a difference at a later date but I suspect I need to educate myself a lot more on how SL works to get anything meaningful out of this.
Avatar rendering cost

Check your own avatar rendering cost. (Advanced -  Rendering - Info Display and Display Avatar rendering cost)  some hairs are prim heavy, shop for less prim heavy hair it will help all the dancers and spectators if you do not wear very prim heavy hair/silks/jewellery. I was at a dance event once where I put on avatar rendering cost  because I wondered how much a FW in a very frilly gown was and to my surprise the FW was close to 2000 rendering cost lower than the nearly naked (wearing a brief camisk with no prims on it) kajira near to her. The kajira in question did however have this beautifully swaying moving hair.  A Wiki article at explains ARC in more detail. 

In the same genre to the above Take your AO off I don't just mean switch it off I mean detach it and put it into your inventory. Help reduce lag and if you really cant cope with the noob walk to the dance pit you can- if you use a huddle - load an AO / walk into the huddle so you can walk to the dance pit with a sexy sway. 

Those of you whom are a member of the "Gorean Dance group" or "Silk "n" Sands" dance group will know that I often speak with Notto Wise of "Dance Queens" about dancing in general (Nottoo is not Gorean but my complete guro when it comes to anything huddle related) Nottoo has written a note card about reducing lag and has kindly agreed I can distribute it with this note card so this you will find attached at the bottom of the card. It is worth a read even if it is just to remind yourself of stuff you already knew.

Avatar Imposters   
If you look in preferences under the Graphics tab and check Custom, 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. (where you have more than one dancer using the same huddle to dance from) However it can be a good way to reduce your own lag if you are dancing singular like we usually are in competitions/events.

In writing this article I sought help and comments from  Sparkle Kling, Sarina Prieto, Notto Wise and as I mention in the main article Hayden Cerise and Contessa Coba  I wish to thank them all for everything that they suggested and commented upon. So many of the things spoken of above I do so automatically that actually placing them down in writing was a lot harder than I expected it to be.

Next week I will be writing about "To huddle or not to huddle" I would love to speak to dancers whom use the Huddle ez animator and in what way. I will also seek out a couple of dancers I know whom do not use it at all.  I know some only use it for storage and takes dances out I would very much like to hear from you about how this works for you? I would also like to speak to someone whom uses note cards but not timed and a dancer or two whom like myself uses it for sequenced animations timed, Are there anyone out there whom uses it to post the dance text? Anyone whom uses it for AO as well as dancing? If so I would love to hear from you about why you have chosen to use it this way and what the benefits and negatives are for you?  I will right now state just in case any of you do not know that I am an ardent huddle supporter and it is my most treasured thing (next to my collar) in my inventory 

Until next week


  1. You say use a walk animation in your Huddles. Something you may have missed is that the AO is looking for movement changes. This means it is actively checking on you. Sure it can be turned off but you still have scripts that are running in the background. This means your hud gets less time spent on dance. If you don’t have an AO at all that runs on scripts, you don’t have that issue. This is why the professional top of the league dancers have moved away from HUDs with AO’s or scripted AO’s all together. Phoenix, Firestorm and other clients give you a built in AO. I would suggest that your sexy walk to the dance pit, be managed by your SL client rather than a fist full of scripts.
    Professional dancers may or may not pass on this information because they are too busy winning events and cashing in on their skills. As a professional they don’t need blogs like this. They have mastered their art.
    I love my old Huddles! But it is just to antiquated. It’s hard to look good and win against better modern dance equipment. Seriously, if you want to look good you don’t wear second life high heels from 2005 or a HUD from 2005.
    Dropping your draw distance is a huge help. With your graphic setting preferences on low, drop your draw distance even lower, 64 is not bad. You can even derender other avatars that have a lot of flex or movement before you start, derender particle emitters, turn off clouds, and other things in debug. What this does is help your client deal with what you want it to focus on. Sure it dumb down you're viewer but in the end does it matter when you see 2000L$ drop into your account because you OWNED?
    Nice article, this is always a good subject to cover.

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    { Seriously, if you want to look good you don’t wear second life high heels from 2005 or a HUD from 2005.}
    You've stopped just short of advocating which HUD you feel is not 2005. Preferences and familiarty are serious considerations to dancers.
    {As a professional they don’t need blogs like this.}
    Yeah we do!