Friday, January 20, 2012

Dance Equipment Explained

Dance Equipment Explained 120101

If you are a beginning dancer, the many different options for dancing in SL can be confusing. This note is intended to help you understand what the different dance equipment is and how it works.


All movement in SL is done with animations. Animations are special files (.bvh files) that are uploaded into SL. Animations include all dances, actions (such as shouting, standing, landing) and static poses. The maximum length of an animation is 30 seconds. The equipment used for dancing in SL is what is used to control the animations in terms of when the animation is played, how long it is played, where the avatar is located and how the avatar may interact with other avatars and objects. In Dance Queens we have divided animations into four TYPES:
  • Dances
  • Animated Poses
  • Static Poses
  • Couples Dances
There are tens of thousands of animations in SL. In dancing we rarely use the animated poses and static poses that are used for cuddles or sex, but when we do they usually fall into the Animated Poses or Static Poses TYPES.

Dances are further divided in two ways. The first has to do with the method used to create the dance animation: MOCAP (MOtion CAPture) or non-MOCAP.The second has to do with the CATEGORY of the Dance. You can see the CATEGORIES and further separation into STYLES in the Dance Database section of the blog.

Individual Dancing

Many of us in DANCE QUEENS had our first experience with dancing in a club by clicking on a Dance Ball, which is an object usually above the floor in a club in which you click and select dances that make you move. Your first experience was probably quite exciting as you looked great dancing to the song that played in the club. A Dance Ball is an object that contains individual Dance Animations and scripts for activating the dances usually displayed with a blue menu. If you go to popular clubs, you will still see noobs asking "How do I dance?"

Couples Dancing

It doesn't take long in most clubs to see another form of dancing called Couples Dancing. In this form two people dance together in sync (synchronized). This looks a lot like RL (Real Life) dancing. Couples dancing is done by one of four methods. The most common is to rezz pose balls using either the TIS Hybrid System or the the INTAN System. These systems are explained and compared here. The older system is to use static pose balls in red (or pink) and blue on which the couple sits to dance. The third system is to use Dance HUDs (explained below) to control each dancer. The fourth is to use a couples dancing HUD (explained below).

Dance HUDs

Many of us learned to dance using Dance Balls for individual and couples dancing. I remember my first time seeing two people dancing together the same animation in sync. How cool. This led to learning about Dance HUDs (Heads Up Display). Dance HUDs are objects that you purchase (or get for free) that allow you to control your own dancing. You have to put dances into the HUD, then wear the HUD and you can select the dance you want to dance. One of the great things about Dance HUDs is you can dance almost anywhere and you can buy the dances you like the best. Dance HUDs also allow you to control the dancing of others by inviting them to join you. This lets you dance the same dance in sync.

There are a lot of Dance HUDs in SL and we have placed them into four categories of increasing capability.

With Dance HUDs most people learn about Freestyle and Sequenced Choreography so they can really look good when dancing.

Some Dance HUDs are designed to let you control couples dancing also.

Dance Show Equipment

Once people become really proficient at dancing using a HUD, often they decide to join a Dance group. If you join a Dance Group, this is when you realize that putting on super Dance Shows requires more than just running a Dance HUD. Dance Shows often feature multiple dancers moving around a stage at precise times. Rezzing of scenery and props also may be important. This is where additional control equipment comes in. The DB Dance System, DanceMaster, XPOSE and MPC System all offer some degree of control of dancer positions and dance timing. Often Dance Show designers use Dance HUDs and one or more of the control equipment. Dance Balls, INTANs and TIS Hybrid systems are rarely used in Dance Shows.