Monday, September 24, 2012

Making a Dance Show 2

Making a Dance Show 2 (120923)

This is the second article on Making a Dance Show. Please read the first post before this one. This post picks up with the overall planning for the show finished and the script written.

Since I now know what I want to do, the next step is creating a set. I do the set before the choreography, then adjust the set as needed to fit the dancing.

Set Design

If you have seen the sets for the Dance Festivals, you know that show designers make some really incredible stages and sets. Sometimes, there are multiple sets with moving items and even particles. I love seeing these type of shows and am always impressed. One of the nice things about SL dancing is that it lets you express yourself in your own way. My expression in shows is visual in that I try to make the dancer(s) really stand out. My way of doing this is usually to use very simple sets with a striking contrast between dancer and background.

For this show the script I created is focused on the interaction of the dancer and her shadow. I don't need any set changes and don't need a lot of complexity in design such as backgrounds or particles. I just need a dark stage and a lighted stage. There has to be enough room for the two dancers. My experience is that a stage 16 m wide and about 8 m deep will give me enough room for two dancers. So, the next step is to make a simple stage.

The first thing I wanted to do is to put down a base for the stage. Since I decided to make the stage and surroundings 40 m wide I set the base of the stage base at 40 m. I decided previously to make the stage 10 m away from the audience sim and with an 8 m deep stage I need a total of 18 m for the depth on the stage pad. Riddle arrived when I was doing this and the first thing he said was, "I feel like I am on a chessboard." I told him to be patient since I was about to put down the stage pad. I did and here is what it looks like.

Stage Pad
I decided to color it black so it would not be a distraction to the audience. I put it directly on top of the platform with no overlap of prims.

Next, I built a simple stage leaving out the back initially and placed the stage on the pad so the back of the stage and the back of the pad were flush with each other.

Simple Stage on Pad
When I looked at the stage and visualized myself in the audience, I thought that the stage needed to be closer to the audience. It is tiny compared to the space. I had to figure out a way to make the very wide front with the audience usable with a small stage. I decided to move the stage 6 m closer to the audience. To fill the huge space to the left and right of the stage I would put the show title and at the end the show credits.

In the script the character Nottoo turns on the lights and then can see her shadow. To create this effect I needed a way for the shadow to be not visible and then to be visible. I decided to use the prim color changing script to accomplish this. I took the same script that is in "Nottoo's Famous Color Changing 2005 Shoes" and put it in a curved prim for the back of the stage. With this script I can make the background all black or all red with three clicks. To make the background a bit more appealing I added a gradient texture to the prim. The results is in the two pictures below ... the first with an all black background and the second with the red. That's Riddle to the right goofing off.

Black Background

Red Background
I like this look and can visualize Nottoo and her shadow dancing with the red background. At this point I felt the basic stage was okay. I would add the areas for the title and credits later. As a last step I made the back of background prim transparent so I could see through it from the back.


Since this was a show I wanted to perform by myself, I needed to find an extra avatar that I could use. Of course, my first choice was to use my RL best friend Nottooo's avatar. I called her on the phone and she agreed I could use it. That was helpful because we have very similar shapes and some overlapping accessories.

The Director part is voice only so no avatar was needed for him.

For the voices I thought about native English-speaking voices I had heard in SL. I asked two friends to do the recording for me. Laz Dresler agreed to be the Shadow and I asked DanLange Diavolo to be the Director. Laz responded immediately with a 'yes.' Dan hasn't responded yet, but I am hopeful for a 'yes' since he has done this for me previously. I asked Laz to make separate mp3 files for each line she would record.

For the mixing of the final voices and music I would ask Riddle to help me. He has equipment for doing that.


Since I had created a one-act play, there was no costume change needed. Using one costume always makes doing a show easier. BUT, I had to decide on the right outfits. For the shadow this was easy ... ALL BLACK. This I could make using an all black tattoo layer for the Shadow then remove all of her clothes except sunglasses to cover the eyes and black shoes.

For Nottoo I really had three choices because my palette is limited to my favorite colors of black, red and white. I rejected a black outfit because when I danced alone with a black background there was not enough contrast. This left a choice of a white outfit or a red one.I didn't want a long skirt because I wanted to have Nottoo and her shadow dancing closely together. Skirts would cover some of the intertwining of legs I visualized in my head.  I wanted the outfit to be sexy so I thought in terms of pants, shorts or a very short skirt. I chose a very short skirt because I feel legs are an important part of dancing and the contrast of Nottoo's legs with the black Shadow's legs would be more sensual. Skirts are also more sensual to me than shorts.

I tried a sexy white outfit and a sexy red one with the two backgrounds.

Red Costume with Black or Red background

White Costume with Black or Red Background
I liked the yin and yang feel of the white costume with the black shadow, but the use of three colors was too much for me. I liked the red better. It felt 'hot' to me.

I also chose the same hair for both Nottoo and the Shadow. The hair felt both sexy and at the same time a bit sophisticated.


At this point I will stop for today. I have all the preparatory work for the play set up and now I am ready to set up the DanceMaster and start the choreography. I've spent maybe five hours total at this point on the show, but I have set the framework for what I want to do. The show is clearly a personal expression and that is what makes shows fun for me.