Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dance Maker Analysis

Dance Maker Analysis 111112

There are 22 MOCAP dance makers in SL all of whom are listed on the Dance Makers page. DANCE QUEENS is a group that represents the buyers or users of the products (dances) made by the Dance Makers. We are here to have fun using the dance products while the dance makers with perhaps a few exceptions are here to make a profit. Being a RL business woman I am not opposed to profit-making activities, and I think it's perhaps helpful to show some of the differences among the dance makers. So here is my data and my sure to be controversial views:



I am a member of almost all (missing only Lost Dog) of the groups that are run by Dance Makers. I have done this so I get announcements of what is going on in each group. As a group member I get to see the group size and announcements. So, first here is the group size of the MOCAP Dance Maker groups:

25938 - Henmations
12459 - VISTA
8506 - MyAnimation
8194 - AKEYO
8022 - SEmotion
2453 - A&M
2223 - Akaesha
2067 - Raymation
2045 - Sine Wave
1876 - 3FX
1818 - NHC
1261 - Animazoo
1107 - Abranimations
1099 - Studio4D
577 - Ministry of Motion (I use my nose to type)
475 - Extreme
355 -  Bits and Bobs
270 - There in Spirit
101 - AV Puli

The size of the group is in part dependent on the time in business of the Dance Maker and the aggressiveness in adding members. For example, Henmations invites all people landing at its location to join its group while A&M does not. Size is one measure, but member loyalty is more difficult to measure.

The September 2011 DANCE QUEENS Dance Survey gives some indication of member loyalty in answer to "What is your favorite MOCAP dance maker and briefly say why." There were 26 answers and giving 1 point for each answer the distribution was:

A&M - 10
MyAnimations - 7
Studio4D - 2
Henmations - 1
Ministry of Motion - 1
None, all or non-MOCAP - 5

Group size and loyalty do not mean much if you do not communicate with the group members. I went to each of the MOCAP Dance Maker Groups in which I am a member (21 of the 22) and counted the number of notices sent in the last 14 days:

16 - MyAnimation
14 - Henmations
4 - A&M

3 - Akaesha
1 - There in Spirit
0 - SEmotion
0 - Raymation
0 - Sine Wave
0 - 3FX
0 - NHC
0 - Animazoo
0 - Abranimations
0 - Studio4D
0 - Ministry of Motion (I use my nose to type)
0 - Extreme
0 - Bits and Bobs
0 - AV Puli



Another way that Dance Makers attract customers is through advertising. If you look at SL Marketplace in the Animations Section, you will see the paid advertising at the top in the highlighted Feature Items. The ads are almost all for dance packs. I counted the number of advertisements by MOCAP Dance Makers before a repeat and found:

10 - Henmations
2 - Extreme
2 - MyAnimations

Of course, just being on SL Marketplace is important since you cannot sell dances if you are not present. Here is who is and is not on SL Marketplace in the Animations Section with the number of items (dance and other items) offered:

313 - Henmations
162 - MyAnimation
142 - Bits and Bobs
122 - SEmotion
93 - VISTA
92 - A&M
87 - Extreme
77 - Abranimations
70 - 3FX
58 - There in Spirit
19- Animazoo
13- Ministry of Motion (I use my nose to type)
0 - Akaesha
0 - Raymation
0 - Sine Wave
0 - Lost Dog
0 - NHC (many in other categories)
0 - Studio4D
0 - AV Puli

Next, I looked at the in-world search using the search term "dance" and looked at both the top listings and the paid advertisements:

#4 MyAnimation
#9 MyAnimation
#10 Ministry of Motion

#1 Henmations
#3 Vista
#4 Abranimations
#6 Vista
#7 TIS
#10 Lost Dog
#11 A&M
#14 Bits & Bobs
#16 There in Spirit
#19 3FX

Another search term I used was "dance animations" and found:

TOP LISTINGS IN IN-WORLD SEARCH - "dance animations"
#1 Ministry of Motion
#5 MyAnimation
#7 Henmations
#10 MyAnimations
#12 Studio4D

#1 Henmations
#4 Vista
#5 Abranimations
#10 Vista
#13 There in Spirit



Taking care of Groups and advertising for customers is of value only if the Dance Maker attracts customers. I surveyed the Dance Maker locations for daily traffic. Traffic is counted as one for an avatar on a sim for one minute and includes all traffic on the sim.

Vista - 22480
MyAnimation - 18233
Henmations - 12748
Bits and Bobs - 7089
A&M - 6620
AKEYO - 6159
There in Spirit - 3919
3FX - 3700
Abranimations - 3588
Animazoo - 3258
Sine Wave - 3095
Studio4D - 2628
Ministry of Motion - 2450
Extreme - 2409
SEmotion - 2071
Akaesha - 1035
NHC - 779
Lost Dog - 357
Raymation - 46
AV Puli - 0
Animocca - unk



It seems like an easy task to go to a Dance Maker and count the MOCAP dances, but it has some challenges. Some of the locations are huge and it is easy to miss some dances especially if they are in multi-vendors. Some vendors have animated poses and dances in the same area so defining what is a dance is not always easy. Distinguishing MOCAP from non-MOCAP requires actually dancing the dance so is also time consuming. The list below is my best estimate for each Dance Maker counting individual dances as well as pole, lap and couples dances:

MyAnimation - 529
Henmations - 526

Sine Wave - 404
A&M - 347
Ministry of Motion - 339
Studio4D - 313
Animazoo - 240
Abranimations - 195

3FX - 159
Extreme - 128
AKEYO - 103

There in Spirit - 80
NHC - 50
Akaesha - 46

SEmotion - 41
Vista - 37
AV Puli - 21

Animocca - 20
Bits and Bobs - 20
Lost Dog - 13
Raymation - 0 (renovation underway)

Attracting return customers is important for Dance Makers. One reason customers return is to see new dances. Every month or two I look at the new dances that have been added to the MOCAP Dance Makers. Dance Makers who are active give customers a reason to return. Of the last three surveys here is who was active.

ACTIVE DANCE PRODUCERS (Number of times new dances were introduced in the last three surveys)

3 - Active in all three surveys

2 - Active in two surveys
Ministry of Motion

1 - Active in one survey
There in Spirit

0 - Not active
AV Puli
Bits and Bobs
Lost Dog
Sine Wave

Estimating the sales per day of dances is not easy. From the September 2011 survey the median number of dances bought per month by DANCE QUEENS members is 15. I suspect that DANCE QUEENS members purchase more dances that most people. When I am in the Dance Maker stores I usually do not see a DANCE QUEENS member, so it is hard to estimate the sales of dances from the DANCE QUEENS survey.

I suspect sales are related to time spent in the store. If for example the average person buys one dance for every 20 minutes of dance shopping, this could be used to calculate the sales by Dance Maker based on the traffic. Here is a chart of Dance Maker sales based on the traffic and three different times for each sale (20 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes)


Traffic 1 sale/20 min 1 sale/30 min 1 sale/60 min
Vista 22489 1124 750 375
MyAnimation 18233 912 608 304
Henmations 12748 637 425 212
Bits and Bobs 7089 354 236 118
A&M 6620 331 221 110
AKEYO 6159 308 205 103
There in Spirit 3919 196 131 65
3FX 3700 185 123 62
Abranimations 3588 179 120 60
Animazoo 3258 163 109 54
Sine Wave 3095 155 103 52
Studio4D 2628 131 88 44
Ministry of Motion 2450 123 82 41
Extreme 2409 120 80 40
Semotion 2071 104 69 35
HUMANOID 2028 101 68 34
Akaesha 1035 52 35 17
NHC 779 39 26 13
Lost Dog 257 13 9 4
Raymation 46 2 2 1
AV Puli 0 0 0 0



To make MOCAP dances you need the equipment to collect the movements of a real-life dancer, plus software to polish the movements into a looped dance. The cost of making a MOCAP dance is part the fixed cost of paying for the motion capture equipment and software and part the variable cost of paying for the dancer and technician to operate the system and make a looped dance.

If you look at the video provided by MyAnimation on YouTube and HUMANOID at their sales location, it looks like Dance Makers use an optical motion capture system. Markerless systems cost $595 to 995. Animazoo sells motion capture systems including suits for about $8000. Software for making MOCAP dances are programs like Poser for $250. So, my estimate for the inital outlay to make MOCAP dances is about $10,000.

From my discussions with a number of MOCAP Dance Makers, the dances are initially made by recording the dance moves of a dancer in a session of 3 to 4 hours. If you look at some of the series of dances that have been made, for example at HUMANOID or the Henmations GOGO series or the AKEYO Lenn series, it seems that one dancer is good for 15 to 30 dances. If the dancer is paid $100 per hour and 20 dances can be recorded in 4 hours, the dancer cost is $20 per dance.

I do not know the time required to polish a dance in Poser or other software, but I have used the free programs Qavimator and BVHacker and find that it is pretty easy to manipulate the files. I estimate that 2 hours per dance is need to polish. If the technician is paid $30 per hour that is an additional $60 per dance. The total variable cost to make a dance is the cost of the dancer plus the cost of the technician or $80.

Of course, all locations in SL have to pay land costs. A sim costs $295 per month and the larger dance makers all have their own sims. Smaller Dance Makers have partial sims.

So here are three scenarios for the profit that a MOCAP dance maker has:


SCENARIO 1 - A small business (e.g. AV Puli or Animocca)

Initial outlay: $10,000
Monthly rent: $100
Number of dances: 20 or $1600

If the business plans to cover its investment costs (the initial outlay and cost of the dances) of $11,600 over three years it needs $322 per month just to cover the investment. Including the rent of $100 per month, the small business needs $422 per month to break even. That means it must sell 422 dances per month or about 14 dances a day. An alternate way to look at the breakeven over 3 years is that the average dance must be sold 760 times.


SCENARIO 2 - A medium business (e.g. 3FX)

Initial outlay: $10,000
Monthly rent: $175
Number of dances: 159 or $12,720

If the business plans to cover its investment costs (the initial outlay and cost of the dances) of $22,720 over three years it needs $631 per month just to cover the investment. Including the rent of $175 per month, the small business needs $806 per month to break even. That means it must sell 806 dances a month or 27 dances a day. An alternate way to look at the breakeven over 3 years is that the average dance must be sold 182 times.


SCENARIO 3 - A large business (e.g. Henmations)

Initial outlay: $10,000
Monthly rent: $295
Number of dances: 526 or $42,080

If the business plans to cover its investment costs (the initial outlay and cost of the dances) of $52,080 over three years it needs $1447 per month just to cover the investment. Including the rent of $295 per month, the small business needs $1742 per month to break even. That means it must sell 1742 dances a month or 58 dances a day. An alternate way to look at the breakeven over 3 years is that the average dance must be sold 119 times.


If you look at the estimated dance sales even at 1 sale for every 60 minutes of traffic, you can see that the making of dances is profitable for the larger Dance Makers, but not profitable for the smaller ones.



I see the Dance Makers falling into three categories.


<><> <><>
Bits and Bobs


There in Spirit
Sine Wave
Ministry of Motion

Lost Dog
AV Puli

I suspect that over the next year the small and unprofitable Dance Makers will go out of business. The Medium and Struggling will need to innovate in terms of sales strategy and dance offerings to be competitive. Most of the innovation is coming from the Large and Profitable group. This is where most of the new dances come from and, with some exceptions (e.g. TIS), where new technologies come from.

With almost 4000 MOCAP dances in SL, it is hard for me to imagine a continued rapid expansion in the number of dances. When the median number of dances owned by DANCE QUEENS members is 300, there are already many choices for purchasing dances. With so many Dance Makers, I predict that the pricing of dances will begin to get pressure to fall. NHC is a good example of this (50 dances for 500L). I also think that Dance Makers will focus on more niche dances instead of general dances. I think they will also seek more ideas of what customers want and that means growing influence of people who know dancing (like DANCE QUEENS members). Perhaps some new way of dancing, for example modifying dances, or dance system will be invented.

The first innovator of MOCAP dancing in SL was Sine Wave. Now Sine Wave seems to be headed out. Bits and Bobs is an old Dance Maker, but rarely introduces new dances and does not innovate. The real leadership in dancing is coming from Vista, MyAnimations, Henmations, A&M and AKEYO.


Follow-up 111113

Today, Hendrik Schroeder and I had an IM in follow-up to the above note. Here is a slightly edited version of our conversation:

[12:00:28] Hendrik Schroeder: hey
[12:01:10] Hendrik Schroeder: lol
[12:01:14] Hendrik Schroeder: im sorry to say that
[12:01:15] Hendrik Schroeder: but
[12:01:34] Nottoo Wise: hey hendrik xxx
[12:01:39] Hendrik Schroeder: your analyzes is group based probably ok
[12:01:48] Hendrik Schroeder: but right now...
[12:02:03] Hendrik Schroeder: theres a big gap between us and other animators...
[12:02:11] Nottoo Wise: yes u told me
[12:02:13] Hendrik Schroeder: in visitors... in group members... in customers
[12:02:17] Nottoo Wise: but that was confidential info
[12:02:23] Nottoo Wise: so i wont use it in my blog
[12:02:52] Hendrik Schroeder: even,,,
[12:02:56] Hendrik Schroeder: marketplace ads...
[12:03:00] Hendrik Schroeder: i had nothing there
[12:03:08] Hendrik Schroeder: just did some... started a few days ago :)
[12:03:14] Hendrik Schroeder: but never did before :)
[12:03:50] Hendrik Schroeder: and search rankings changing daily
[12:04:03] Nottoo Wise: i know
[12:04:24] Hendrik Schroeder: if you want...
[12:04:39] Hendrik Schroeder: i can drop you real statitics... about what dances has been sold on sl most
[12:04:48] Hendrik Schroeder: from all creators
[12:05:00] Hendrik Schroeder: my hud drops all this data
[12:05:14] Hendrik Schroeder: and u i have about 7.000 users now
[12:05:19] Nottoo Wise: will u allow me to use it?
[12:05:37] Hendrik Schroeder: yes why not
[12:05:47] Hendrik Schroeder: i even tell that to other creators.. when they ask me
[12:06:06] Hendrik Schroeder: and...
[12:06:10] Hendrik Schroeder: traffic rankings...
[12:06:25] Nottoo Wise: then i would love to see it
[12:06:34] Hendrik Schroeder: these are manipulated... by buying visitors or doing games
[12:06:43] Hendrik Schroeder: i dont do that at all
[12:07:04] Hendrik Schroeder: we have 5 years henmations this week :)
[12:07:34] Hendrik Schroeder: many freebies will drop all over the week now
[12:07:39] Hendrik Schroeder: first one was today...
[12:08:02] Hendrik Schroeder: and
[12:08:10] Nottoo Wise: i saw it
[12:08:10] Hendrik Schroeder: poser... is not a mocap editing software
[12:08:18] Nottoo Wise: ok
[12:08:23] Nottoo Wise: what do u use
[12:08:24] Hendrik Schroeder: poser does not support any editing of optical data
[12:08:44] Hendrik Schroeder: its motionbuilder
[12:08:49] Hendrik Schroeder: price is 4k usd
[12:09:28] Hendrik Schroeder: and you should make a difference...
[12:09:30] Hendrik Schroeder: because
[12:09:46] Hendrik Schroeder: [DELETED] ... is using a 5k usd mocap system :)
[12:09:54] Hendrik Schroeder: thats why the anims are like they are :)
[12:10:27] Nottoo Wise: ok
[12:10:41] Hendrik Schroeder: you can see on his video
[12:10:47] Hendrik Schroeder: the optitrack cams
[12:11:11] Hendrik Schroeder: the whole set is cheaper than our motionbuilder licence
[12:11:50] Nottoo Wise: ok
[12:12:17] Hendrik Schroeder: the most sold dance over the past years is a industrial dance from sinewave
[12:12:39] Nottoo Wise: send me the data
[12:12:39] Hendrik Schroeder: most sold this month is the LMFAO pack from us
[12:12:47] Nottoo Wise: :-)
[12:12:57] Hendrik Schroeder: i can prepare it for you :)
[12:13:06] Nottoo Wise: yes i would like that

Any data that Hendrik provides I will share on the blog.