Sunday, June 10, 2012


Out of the starting gate...


Helloooooo, fellow Dance Queens and Dance Kings!

First, I must thank Nottoo for the opportunity to express myself in a way that I hope will be of benefit to the community. I'd also like to credit her with her choice of my column name --- "Taste". I   Very clever, Nottoo, but not too clever.

And speaking of names, let me clear the air about the nickname, Yummy, because many people are either asking or wondering. Back when I was just Lat, people for some reason, started calling me Yummy. First one then another, then another.  People who didn't know each other kept calling me yummy. Coincidence after coincidence. I had no idea why. I don't even know what a yummy person really means. That you want to eat the person as in devour them? To me food is yummy, not people. It also seemed to feel self-indulging and self-congratulatory. I never felt that way.

Ok I am not naive. I get it. It's a very nice sensual reference and a compliment and for that I am forever grateful. So if you want to know how I taste,...I taste like chicken to most, and pork to a select few.

So it feels better to see people happy when they express that it 'fits me' than to be obstinate and go against the grain for no good reason. Maybe they know something I don't? I guess its how people get nicknames when they are small and then actually agree to that name and allow it to continue in their later years, even when its not that flattering. And now the nickname is starting to feel more natural.

Without Nottoo's brilliant blog, I would not be as aware of the broad offerings of entertainment that SL has in store in this type of venue, nor the useful technical information, nor the ease of
finding a particular type of dance.

 I've heard it from many who have indicated that as of late, SL has become well 'boring'. I was one of those for whom it had lost much of its luster.  But having found this new
(new for me at least) entertainment medium...well it was and is a welcome breath of fresh air. It provides a fun dream-like escape into the creative hearts, minds, and souls of very talented people who are inspirational to be around. A chance to create and/or enjoy others creations.

Second, it's my intent to be as positive and supportive of this community as I can be so unlike
movie, TV, and book reviewers, you won't see any negative reviews of clubs, people, or performances. Its more about trends and what people are doing that I and others indicate we value and enjoy. So have no fear. I was warned by someone who runs a blog to not expect any feedback and that any that I do receive will be negative, so I should get a thick skin. So I have this new alligator, tomato-repellent SL skin and goggles. It can take about 20 tomato tosses before it starts to crack and peel. After that, I will cry real tears. Please be gentle as my skin reacts negatively to tomato juice, however Bloody Mary's seem to have little effect.

And I have already been asked not to blog an affair I  was at because of the technical difficulties. I am thinking, wow...what kind of evil creature did they imagine me to be? (I will be providing a YouTube of the whole show next week. (just kidding...only the bad parts..)...not really...not at all. This is column is meant to be upbeat and fun and supportive. I do get free drinks now. Before this, I had to pay for them.
 In real life  we vote our approval with our pocketbooks and have a wide selection from various mediums to choose from, be they books, movies, plays, concerts, art exhibits, etc. In SL all events are FREE. No one makes us attend nor are we promised any particular level of performance. We just assume that they want us to be happy via their performance.

In real life, it can be of benefit to have someone or several someones offer their opinion on events they have experienced in order to help us choose from many events that occur at the same time.

In SL you rarely have to choose one event over another just because...seldom do multiple events occur at the same time since there are so precious few.
So trying to attend as many events as possible can offer serendipitous results. I try to support the old as well as the new with applause, compliments, and lindens when warranted, which is the usual case.

Surprisingly this medium has the affect of people arriving early and leaving late. It's a wonderful feeling to be a part of that. Also, arriving early, I am told, allows not only time for things to rez for you as well as getting a good seat but also allows time for textures and animations to cache themselves on your client computer, as well as lowering a late surge of server-side load  at opening curtain. This can effect everyone not just you. Also a good time for establishing camaraderie (thank God for spell-check) with fellow community members.


So how about something that I have found useful as an event-attendee?

Confronting the lag-monster.

Lag can be an events worst enemy. One thing that has been reinforced to me that I may have known at one time and forgot are 2 things:

One is something I should DO and the other is something I should NOT do.

What I was told NOT to do:

As an event-attendee the powers-that-be strongly recommend that I NOT
clear cache before an event as this will:
  1. cause me to have reload textures and as such perform poorly on my client-side, and
  2. exert an extra load on the servers impacting not only mine but others performances
  3. I am told that clearing cache will not fix the problems below
    • - teleport problems
    • - upload problems
    • - movement or communication problems
    • - most kinds of lag
    • - most kinds of crashes
    • - a vast majority of bake fails
Clearing cache CAN help solve inventory problems and it can help solve texture problems.

In fact they recommended clearing cache as a last resort behind:
  1. re-logging out and back in to Second Life
  2. rebooting your computer
  3. resetting my router/modem, and
  4. lowering my bandwidth.

What I WAS told to do:

Lower my bandwidth down to say 500 to 700 and perhaps even less on SL-Sundays. They say it should never be above 1,500.

And I can admit that lowering my bandwidth I have credited with fixing various problems
like "clouded avatars", "gray avatars",  "slow texturing", and TP issues to name a few. I can testify that it made an immediate difference for me when I went from 1,000 to 700 and for a friend who went from 3,000 to 900 and then 700.

Something I didn't know was that turning off Name Tags can reduce lag. And one that never occurred that I rarely ever use is Look At and Point At. I hear that turning those off also helps reduce lag


Just Your Average Attendee


I am writing this column from the pov of an attendee. So I asked myself "why" I liked what I was seeing? And it all boiled down to being "surprised". The sense of adventure of the unknown. What big wondrous set will be unveiled? What awesome costumes will I see. What songs will I hear? In what ways will artists think up to tell a mini-story.  Ahh the wonder of story-telling...only here the stories are often no longer than the length of a 3-minute song yet a story can also span several acts as well as encompassing a whole event.  No doubt about it the lavish sets are very delightful to see. You never know what is hiding behind the curtain and you wait with baited breath to go "ahhhhhhh".

Surprise and adventure are not unlike what one might expect to find in a novel, movie, or TV series, for example. And the events create an atmosphere of 'friendly regulars' who really give you the feeling that its a joyous occasion because we are all there for the same have FUN! To me, as often as not, the audience-involvement lifts the performances to another level. We share that commonality.

 But, I have since found 3 new ways I have been affected besides just feeling happy and joyous from a well-mated marriage of music and movement...'aroused','informed', and made to 'laugh'. I really like it when I can leave an event knowing I learned a thing or two about history, science, culture, people, etc., conveyed to me thru song-and-dance...and... when dancers can take a moment and laugh at themselves...and...well .'arousal' speaks for itself.

And as a side know this...maybe not just for me....that time travels much faster when you are performing on stage than when you are experiencing it in the audience. I am not sure why that is but that has been my experience from my very very very limited time on a stage. So I like to factor that in when I am  contemplating a performance. My hats and gloves off to the performers for it takes confidence, talent, guts, fortitude, perseverance, and lots of nice shoes to get up there each week and do what they do.

They can control what they do but now how we perceive what they do as in...staying zoomed in so they stay in sync, that we toggle at the right time, that lag doesn't impair our experience....that we have decent enough connections so as not to be hampered by speeds, that we have a graphics setting that flatters them in the best light or in a way that they see themselves....that they don't crash during a performance and that if they do, they can recover gracefully, that people stay script-light, come early enough to cache, and that people enjoy themselves and have fun.




 I have been really honored lately with having been invited to take part in 4 practice sessions with 3 different dance troupes. Of course I accepted. I am getting to see how choreographers work and create. The steps, paces, and mindset. I have been subjected to at least 2 different HUDS. Let it be known that several hours a week go into the presentation of a 3-minute routine. Experimentation, set design, music selection, dance selection, sequencing, start and finish poses. A lot of decisions and a lot of time spent doing the same routine over and over for hours and hours.


The Purist (random thought)

The SL purist might argue that everything having to do with a performance must be homegrown including animations, music, sets. Now, usually, events that I attend, only the sets are homegrown.

I can see both povs as I have attended both  types and found something to like in both styles. Then I was reminded of a cable channel called:
Arts & Entertainment Channel.  There is room for both art and entertainment and we should consider ourselves lucky when a performance can do both but indeed I am usually either "entertained" or "arted" (is that even  word? probably not).

I guess by saying that you offer both, then at those awkward times, you can avoid people asking you..."You call that art?" or "You call that entertainment?" You can always say, "No, not really...Its the 'other one'.


Resolution (random thought)

We start at home and venture away and then return home. Home starts with a question sometimes. And the journey can give us one or more answers. Getting one (more) answer(s) is returning home. Stories have beginning, middle, and end with the end often resolving with answers.

Music has 1,4,5 (1) or 2,5,1 ...a canvas and photograph is broken into 3 invisible parts and they ask you to center objects on the 3rds. We have General, Mature, Adult.... Youth, Middle Age, Old Age. We like to resolve. There is tension that builds and resolves. This new medium seems to me, to embed a 'story' in various ways using a variety of choices to create the environment and use them
to help 'resolve'...something.

So yes, many venues accomplish resolution, I feel, by having a big finale and bringing out all of the performers who participated in the event. Another way is repeating the opening act with or without a variation. Other venues consider the cumbaya moment of inviting the audience to dance in sync with them as a resolution.




I will end this 1st blog with the choices that an attendee, viewer, patron, has at her or his disposal when choosing an event...or if you are considering joining an existing performance group as an artist or even starting your own venue then things to consider (as I see it). So many choices of threes.

1 Run  

  •     Single Performance (new performance every event) (most use single performance) or
  •     Several Repeats (multiple showings of same performance) or
  •     Always Repeat

2 Animations -

  •     Custom
  •     Pre-built
  •     Mix.  (most use pre-built currently)

3 Story  

  •      Song-Based
  •      Show Based
  •     Season-Based  (most are song-based currently) 

4 Strip

  •     Always Strip
  •     Sometimes Strip
  •     Never Strip
    In Sometimes-Strip, it seems stripping is a case-by-case issue.
    Seems to depend on whether the act warrants it, or there is time for it as a lot is going on
    and it can often be left for the last few seconds of a performance.
    Some venues it is all about the strip so they are Always-Strip.
    (most shows seem to opt for a mixed-strip mode except for venues where stripping defines
   what they are

5 Audience

  •  male
  •  female
  •  mixed
   I am under the impression that if you ask any show producer, the official word is
  that they cater to  all audiences.  My observation is that shows with  a predominantly male cast  tend to draw largely female audiences and  their product seems geared towards females as indicated in their emotes. These are often more  successful financially and seem to increase as the rating of the venue moves from 'mature' to 'adult'  Breaking news: 'Sex sells..well, and often'
 Shows with predominantly female casts tend to reach a mixed audience but yet is predominantly female. As of yet I've not seen a show with  this type of "entertainment medium" catering primarily to males. There might or might  not be and audience for it. Argument can be made as to whether there should be.  While I have seen furrys perform in this entertainment medium, I am not currently aware of any venues that offer regular shows put on by furrys, but if there was one it  would certainly peak my interest.

6  Target Time-Zone

  •   European
  •   Asian
  •   Americas
 These seem to be the 3 time-zone choices when deciding when to hold, attend, or work your primary event(s).  I was told that the audiences are distinctly different and yes I have noticed a difference in the level of "subdue-ness".  There seems to be distinct types behind the scenes so find ones that match your personality.


7 Length of Show

   I am only aware of 3 models and they vary up or down by minutes of course but they are:
  •   1) about 30 minutes
  •   2) about 60 minutes
  •   3) several hours when its a festival with separate acts limited to around 30 minutes with 15 mnuteset-up time (I think?) 


8 Post-Show

   Most venues have an "after party". 2 styles

  •     Freestyling
  •     Audience invited to sync dance with a cast member as leader
  •     Live Concert Act
I think when an audience is invited to dance, there seems to be slightly better participation when it comes to dancing...but not sure.


9  Type of Acts

  • Single Type (as in 'all dance')
  • Variety of Types (usually a mix of dance, comedy, and performance art)


10 Size 

  •     Concert
  •     Cordial (most venues are on the smallish cordial side)
  •     Festival (this contains multiple venues with events occurring over several hours) 

11 Sets

  •    Custom (this seems to be the most popular choice and one of the big advertised draws of these types of venues)
  •     Prefab
  •     Mix

12 HUD for Sequencing

 Dancers seem to live and die and swear by their choice of HUDS...the most if not one of their primary tools...after their creative minds. HUDDLES seems to current hud of choice for performers when "sequencing" their dances with others gaining popularity based upon special needs but there seems to be a definitive shift in preference among major participants in the community to the Barre HUD. I will be checking into it as I am curious. I saw the comparison and while I don't use either, I am definitely going to see what all the fuss is about : (Postscript: I have since had a chance to try it but need more time with it to become comfortable)


13 Rating (sim rating)

  •    G(eneral) art (most artistic)
  •    M(ature) attendance (by far the most popular with regards to number of clubs and total attendance)
  •    A(dult) financial (with admittedly very few samples to go by, seemingly the most popular as indicated by patron tipping)


14 Costuming

  •    similar costumes (by far the most popular)
  •    planned different
  •    whatever the cast wants to wear


15 Lag

  •   Expect significant lag
  •  Expect little lag
  •  I think the most popular situation is somewhere in between


16 Time-of-Day

  •  Times vary but it seems to depend on where the club-owners time zone lies (can't expect otherwise really)  6/7/8pm SLT start-times (this seems to be the most popular event time)


17 Day-of-Week

  •  Well studies have been made that show SL people like to be entertained the least on Wednesdays.Other days are up for grabs with festivals seemingly doing the best on weekends, mainly Saturdays but of course held often over many days of the week to offer everyone a chance to attend.


18 Frequency

 How often they have events
  •  Semi-Weekly (as in several times a week)
  •  Weekly 
  •  Monthly
  •  Seasonally
  •  Annually
 This seems a toss-up between weekly and twice weekly as most commonly occurring.


19 Type

  •   Art
  •   Entertainment
  •   Mix


20 Performer Grouping

  •  Single -  (quite popular)
  •  Couple
  •  Multiple - (seemingly the most popular with dance troupes dancing in sync and even those venues with predominately singles acts have a finale that is almost always a group act)


 21 Gender Mix of Cast All Male

  •  All Female - most popular
  •  Female and Male - 2nd most popular


22 Audience Mobility

  •  Fixed (by far the most popular)
  •  Mobile (Some venues allow the audience to move around either by walking or on a moving device).


Well one club has closed it's doors and new club is opening soon so there seems to be a balance between creation and destruction.

The Future

 I see the sets getting more incredible with a continued emphasis on creating depth. I foresee more set animation.. I see the dances becoming better, and there seems to be a trending towards ways to do more 'story-telling'. And I predict more tools will soon be available for the cast as well as tools for the audience experience for a better overall experience. More "big-ideas' seem to be on the way. I predict more joint presentations between 2 or more venues. I've seen a rise and expect to see a continued rise in the number of dance-festivals of varying types.  Festival attendance seems to be on the rise over previous years, I am told.

 And I will go out on a limb and say that I have been sensing a very very slow but deliberate and gradual movement towards more sensuality bordering on sexuality as show producers very carefully test the waters. Seems most are taking a wait and see attitude of what the audience
  will accept, not wanting to upset the apple cart and estrange their faithful followers. I am not saying this is how it should or should not be...just some subtle changes I've seen. And...I have also noticed a trending towards more spiritual dance/movement if one sees them as polarities, (not that they need to be) then one could see the art-form as out-stretching its arms in at least 2 directions and maybe even in 4 directions, the 2 others being arts and entertainment.

I hope I did not suggest that what is most popular, for any reason, is best or most desirable. I don't mean to imply that either attendance or financial is 'better' or more desirable. It is hard to measure personal satisfaction for example. It is just how I see it. It is just an indication of what is being offered and what the choices are as an attendee or prospective artist or even new venue creator. I don't claim this list to be exhaustive of all the variables that exist but maybe a place to start. Things I have been pondering.

Now if you managed to suffer thru to the very end without dozing, (and you are a member of Dance Queens) then you should be rewarded with a FREE copy of a new tool I just created called The PieceMaker v1.1. It helps me see the *middle parts* of dances in preparation for stitching several middles parts of various dances together in to a new dance with a subsequent tool called MasterPiece (crosses fingers and toes on that one) that I am finishing up.  The PieceMaker will produce the 4 things needed for MasterPiece to work. DanceName, DelayTime, PlayTime, and DanceLength. So the stitched together Piece would include: 1) a waiting animation, 2) 1 or more middle pieces, and 3) 1 ending finish pose.

I also thought of another application. It will let me more easily precisely time dances now for dance sequencing instead of me having to use a stopwatch. I can see the exact results if i want to segue 2 dances by cutting the 1st one a bit short.

 If you request a copy then you forfeit your right to throw tomatoes at me, at least for the next 5 blogs. (just/kidding).  It is a first attempt to start playing an animation in the middle. We can already stop an animation before it gets to the end by starting a new animation or just stopping the old one.

 I was told to include pictures where I can so below is a screen shot.

(CAVEAT: There is currently a sub-second glitch at the beginning so some show-biz creativity can possibly mask that or simply run the piece once before starting since it doesn't seem to repeat or be as noticeable after running once)

Also, I stick to animations of the same priority (all 4)) and note that not all animations will work if they don't assign the same priorities (4) to all joints.

I don't know if this tool will really have any value but, hey, the price is right..and its the thought that counts right? At least that's what they say. Consider it a humble blog-warming gift for you allowing me to come into your community. :) And please note that I am not a choreographer so I just chose 3 animations that were free and  put in random times. I wasn't trying to make it look artistic. That is where you all come into the picture with your incredible selection talents. In fact the hardest part was choosing animations. Oh, and it can be triggered to PLAY and STOP, in fact all of the buttons on the HUD, using other HUDS or controllers that can send chat out on a specified channel..

Simply send me IM to me, Lat Lovenkraft, (or drop me a note-card in case IMs are capped) with a time a place to meet and offer me 59 seconds of face-to-face time allowing me to get to know you just a bit as I know you are all very busy. , and I will present you with this new HUD. Oh and if anyone comes up with anything noteworthy with it, please share.


spelling - check
grammar -check
be nice - check
no unkind words - check
don't mention (as in favoring) any person, event, or venue by name - check
don't preach - check
offer something useful - check
talk about LAG - check
don't take self too serious - check
inject some humor - check
don't be too funny -check
offer something FREE
put on alligator skin and goggles and duck for cover - check

And that's Yummy's *taste* of things.