Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Making a Dance Show 7

Making a Dance Show 7
This is the seventh article about Making a Dance Show. Please read posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 first.

I have finished two songs, Quien Sera and Oblivion, and the dialog through Oblivion. Now, I am ready to continue.

Voice Recordings

Laz Dresler, who is the voice of the Shadow, sent me her voice recordings. Thank you, Laz xxx. I think I will give up on DanLange and try someone else for the Director's voice. Maybe Stretch Tomsen will do the Director's voice for me. Stretch is a Blues DJ I have known for a long time. I will ask him to help. I also need to record my own voice, which I will do soon. I have a strong accent in English and my words are hard to understand, so I have intentionally written my part of be easy.

Once I have all the voices recorded, I can begin to create the complete recording of the show. But, since I am not ready, I will leave that for a future post.

Planning for Rumba Negro

I had originally included Rumba Negro in the show because I had it in my CD library and it sounded good when I heard it, but I really don't know the song too well. Unlike Quien Sera and Oblivion, I have no attachment to it. It is going to be hard to choreograph this song since I plan to use couples dancing combined with moving around the stage. I know I will listen to it a lot.

Second Thoughts!

I had better really like the rumba song because I will listen probably 90 times to it. Hmmm, maybe I should listen to some others and find one that I may like more. The first thing I recognized is that I want to do a fast song. As it turns out there is a Cuban rumba and a ballroom rumba. The first is fast and the second slow. I want it fast to balance the slow song Oblivion. Oh oh, I thought, maybe there are not enough Cuban rumba couples anims to do what I want. I had previously bought the six rumba individual dances at MyAnimation, the two AV Puli rumba dances, and the couples rumba dances at Henmations and Animazoo, so I went through them looking at the speed. Most of the dances looked like they were made for ballroom rumba.


When you are dancing a specific style of dance, you had better be sure there are enough animations to do what you want. In this case I had doubts. One of the positive things that has happened in the last couple of years is that the major MOCAP dance makers are actively listening to their customers. The dance makers are trying to make what the customers want and are open to ideas of what to make next. BUT, my need is now.

So I thought about what is it I am trying to demonstrate in this part of the show. I want something fast as a couples dance so I can move around the stage and I want something I like. Rather than focus on a specific style maybe I should broaden the music to be something fast that I like without worrying about the style. I decided to do this and abandoned Rumba Negro.

In creating this show I am giving you the inside look at exactly what I do. This includes how I make decisions, the doubts I have, the feelings I have, the successes I have ... everything. I think that every person who undertakes making a dance show has similar experiences. I am pretty far into the show creation to make major changes, but this is one that I feel is necessary.

Choosing a Couples Song

One of the things that I started doing a couple of years ago is to create a list of songs that I like. I go to dance at a lot of SL clubs and hear different kinds of music. Of course I like some genres more than others, but I am talking about specific songs. I have my chat set so when a song plays I get the name of the performer and the name of the song in green chat. If I really like a song, I add it to my favorites list. I started doing this so I could tell Riddle what I want to hear when he DJs, but it has developed into a second benefit. This list is a good one for me to use to choose songs for shows. When I am thinking of songs to include in a show, I can look at my Nottoo's Favorite Songs notecard.

So, I did. I looked at fast rock songs and selected Joan Jett's classic I Love Rock and Roll. I could imagine myself as a tough girl and still dance fast to it all around the stage without worrying about style.

Planning for I Love Rock and Roll

I went to and bought and downloaded Joan Jett's I Love Rock and Roll and added it to my iTunes. You can also listen to it on YouTube as the original video but to get the times right with my copy listen to this one.

I analyzed I Love Rock and Roll just as I had done with Quien Sera and Oblivion to give:

0:00 - 000 sec - start - plays 16 sec
0:16 - 016 sec - voice starts - plays 27 sec
0:43 - 043 sec - refrain - plays 16 sec
0:57 - 057 sec - voice - plays 27 sec
1:24 - 084 sec - refrain - plays 15 sec
1:39 - 099 sec - guitar - plays 11 sec
1:50 - 110 sec - voice - plays 16 sec
2:06 - 126 sec - refrain - plays 11 sec
2:16 - 136 sec - guitar - plays 10 sec
2:26 - 146 sec - repeat - plays 10 sec
2:36 - 156 sec - repeat - plays 9 sec
2:45 - 165 sec - repeat - plays 10 sec
2:55 - 175 sec - end

As I looked at the breakdown of times I felt that 27 second interval for the voice would be good for the couples dances, while I could use a combination of individual dances and animations for the sections that ran about 10 seconds or 16 seconds. I could see this in my head as a fast moving dance with some fun tough girl anims in it.

Choosing Dances for I Love Rock and Roll

In fact I had already done a Dance Sequence (number 068) and used I Love Rock and Roll as the song to go with it. As you know most of the dance sequences that I send out are made to a speed of a song rather than made to a specific song, but this sequence appealed to me because it combined individual dances that are 'tough girl' with those animations that just seemed so right.

Here is Dance Sequence 068:


However, in this show I wanted to have two dancers and incorporate couples dancing. So, I noted the dances and anims that I had used in Dance Sequence 068 and started looking for couples dances.

Psyche Lunasea has the most complete couples dance collection that I know of. I think mine is the second largest with over 160 couples dances (located at Dance Central). So, I went through my collection and identifed about 20 couples dances that were about the right speed. Then, I went through the 20 and found about 7 that had moves similar to the individual dances from Dance Sequence 068:

Dont Cha
Turn to you
Bite Me

So, now I have the dances selected and I am ready to choreograph.

Choreographing I Love Rock and Roll

So far I have choreographed through the end of the song Oblivion and I have Nottoo and Shadow facing each other at 0.75 m apart. As the audience sees them, Nottoo is on the right and Shadow is on the left. There is a bit of dialog in the script between the end of Oblivion and the beginning of I Love Rock and Roll:

** MUSIC ends
NOTTOO - Why have I not heard you before?
SHADOW - You hear me all the time, but only from the inside. We argue in your head a lot, but this is the first time I have been outside you in Second Life.
NOTTOO - Why do you speak English so well when I can not.
SHADOW - Ha ha ha. In your head you hear yourself speaking perfectly in English.
SHADOW - AND I know all about you, because I am part of you. For example, I know you like Cuban music ... like the RUMBA
NOTTOO - Yes, but ...
** MUSIC Rumba Negro (Spanish Stomp) Count Basie
SHADOW - Come dance. It's like masturbation of the soul.

Of course I had changed the next song from Rumba Negro to I Love Rock and Roll and the script needed changing too. Since Laz had already sent me her recordings I didn't want to ask her to do more, so I rewrote the script in this way:

** MUSIC ends
NOTTOO - Why have I not heard you before?
SHADOW - You hear me all the time, but only from the inside. We argue in your head a lot, but this is the first time I have been outside you in Second Life.
NOTTOO - Why do you speak English so well when I can not.
SHADOW - Ha ha ha. In your head you hear yourself speaking perfectly in English.
SHADOW - AND I know all about you, because I am part of you. For example, I know you like Cuban music ... like the RUMBA
NOTTOO - Yes, but I like Rock and Roll more.
** MUSIC I Love Rock and Roll

I removed "SHADOW - Come dance. It's like masturbation of the soul." and may use this line later in the show.

I decided to wait to do the animations for the between songs dialog because I have not determined where to start the choreography for I Love Rock and Roll. During the between songs dialog I want to position Nottoo and Shadow for the next dance. The dialog will let me do this.

The greatest challenges in choreographing I Love Rock and Roll are the transitions to and from the couples dances. I have previously discussed the challenge being caused by the off-centerpoint start and end for the two animations in couples dances. For example, here is the female animation from the the dance Ti Amo right at the start with me on the choreography grid facing north.

I start the dance approximately 0.5 m to the west of the starting point and facing east. To make a smooth transition to the female part of Ti Amo would mean the animation that I was doing prior to Ti Amo would need to have me positioned 0.5 m to the west of the centerpoint and facing east.

This is a huge additional constraint on choreography. Not only do I have to think about the timing of the dance changes relative to the changes in the song, but the changes have to occur at a different point than the centerpoint.

I could think of two ways to do accomplish this.

The first way is to look at all of the dances that I considered using prior to each couples dance and determine if any matched the position and orientation required for the start of the couples dance. Of course, I needed the exact time in the prior dance when it was positioned and oriented right.

The second way is to make simple transitional movements from the center point to the couples dance starting point. Perhaps, something short like 0.5 seconds duration would work and make the transition look right.


I am becoming a mathematician not a dancer like Princess Diawa predicted.

So, I took a step back and decided that maybe I could visually determine which couples dances to use at each place I wanted a couples dance, then just figure out how to make a good transition to it and from it. I like this a whole lot better, since I can look at the couples dances and listen to the music.

I started with analysis of I Love Rock and Roll at "0:16 - 016 sec - voice starts - plays 27 sec" as the first point where I wanted a couples dance. I put myself on a choreography grid facing north.

Next, I played the female part of the first couples dance on my list, couples-02. The animation name is 02_Girl_Couple_KATE_07_01_Duration_25.08. It has the time included. I played the part of the song from 16 seconds to 43 seconds over and over and looked at the dance. I started the dance at 16 seconds (picture on the left below) and then looked at it when the music changes at 43 seconds (picture on the right)

Left - Couples-02 Female Starts; Right - Couples-02 Female Ends
I am in almost exactly the same position and orientation. Then, I did the same thing with the male part of the dance.
Left - Couples-02 Male Starts; Right - Couples-02 Male Ends
One of the things I discovered is that it's hard to see the position and orientation of your avatar when the song changes at 43 seconds, but by using 'PRT SCREEN' on my windows based computer I can get a picture at the exact time. This is how I made the above shots. It makes it much easier to see the position and orientation.

I liked how the dances fit the music. However, I have not seen Nottoo and Shadow dancing together. I made the decision that for the first couples dance I would have Nottoo on the female dance and Shadow on the male dance. In the next couples dance I will reverse roles. This will be consistent with my desire to have the inner and outer self equal and avoids all the male dance lead issues and who dominates.

I wanted to look at the couples dance from different directions to see which orientation to make the couples. I have the dance couples-02 in my INTAN. I rezzed the pose balls while standing on the choreography grid and put Nottoo on the female dance ball and Shadow on the male. My plan was to use the resync feature of the INTAN to start the dance at the right time in the song so I could look at the dance from different directions. Then, I saw something strange. The INTAN starts the dance from the position where the resync places the dancers not from the position of the pose balls AND there was no jump from the resync position. The resync position is set by the orientation of the pose balls. The INTAN resync has the couple slightly apart facing the same way holding hands. I found the resync anims in the INTAN and they are couplef (female) and couplem (male). Both of the resync anims have a built in off-set of about 0.5 m. YIKES! The starting point for couples-02 is the identical location (x, y coordinates) for both dancers. This I did not know before!
Sync Places the Two dancers About 1 m Apart Facing the Same Direction

The designer of the INTAN, Cecilia Zheng, had looked at every couples dance and calculated the jump in both the female and male animation and compensated for it in the INTAN. This meant that the INTAN contained all the data I needed to do the set-up mathematically. If you are into quaternion math, this offers a solution to positioning. I wrote about this previously.


I like math, but I like dancing even more, so I decided to stick with the approach I was using except now I knew the secret of some couples dances: they start at the same x, y coordinates for both dancers.

I decided to look at the couple dancing from different directions to see which orientation I should use for the pair. As soon as I looked from the first direction I  saw another problem. Nottoo and Shadow are the same height. The dance I have chosen has them dancing sometimes with their hands touching. Since most couples are somewhat different in height, couples dances are made for some average height difference. When making Nottoo and Shadow dance a couples dance I will need to make an adjustment in the z direction. Unfortunately, the DanceMaster can't do that and I will have to live with the height difference. Bryndyn tells me this will be incorporated into the next version of the DanceMaster Pro.

You can see that choreography is in some ways a set of problems. All I am doing is recognizing them and solving them. Since I am doing new things for me (and I hope you), it sometimes seems like we are climbing mountains.

Anyway, back to determining the direction. I want the direction to show the couple as much as possible from the side so both dancers are visible. I also have learned that dances look very different depending on the viewing direction. This is true for individual dances too. When doing choreography for a show, always look at the dance from the audience's viewpoint. After looking at all four directions I decided that I liked best the starting position with Nottoo on the left facing Shadow who is on the audience's right.

This set the position of the first couples dance and from there I can figure out the position on the stage for the dances at the start of I Love Rock and Roll.

I went through the entire song like this. I alternated individual dances for the two with couples dancing. I decided to put in a guitar anim for Shadow during one of the guitar riffs in the song. To add some excitement I also had Nottoo jumping over Shadow and had them circle each other. Working with the DanceMaster is a tedious process. As you know it requires dance selection and entry of the information into the *DM dances notecard. It requires definition of formations in the *DM formations notecard, and it requires entry of the sequence in the PCL notecard, *SOMBRA. It took me about three hours to plan this choreography and 30 hours to complete it.

Bryndyn had previously suggested using the cue command for syncing the dances and I learned about it, but I have not used it yet.

Finally, I had the three notecards done for this section of the show. Since I knew the staring position of the dances for I Love Rock and Roll, I also added the movement from the end of the previous song, Oblivion.

Here are the additions I made to the three notecards.

The *DM dances notecard:

The *DM formations notecard:

Finally the PCL notecard *SOMBRA

\\Nottoo and Shadow stand after Oblivion
.wait 14

\\Nottoo and Shadow move to position for I Love Rock and Roll
.section Part 30
tran 1 1
sync 0
formation CNSSouth1
.wait 1

\\Nottoo and Shadow dance to I Love Rock and Roll
.section Part 35 \\I Love Rock and Roll starts
formation CNSSouth1
sync 0
.wait 6
.wait 9

\\Nottoo and Shadow dance couples-02 together at 16 sec
formation CNSFace1
.wait 26

\\Nottoo and Shadow dance together at 43 sec
formation CNSSouth1
.wait 0.8
.wait 13.5

.section Part 36
\\Nottoo and Shadow dance together at 58 sec
formation CNSEast
.wait 1
.wait 25

.section Part 37
\\Nottoo and Shadow dance at 84 sec
tran 0.9
formation CNSrear
.wait 0.9
sync 0
.wait 13
.wait 13

\\Nottoo jumps over Shadow at 110 sec
tran 0.6 0 old
formation CNSup
.wait 0.6
tran 0.4 0 old
formation CNSboth
.wait 0.4
.wait 6

\\Nottoo and Shadow move side by side at 117
tran 1 0 old
formation CNSSouth1
.wait 1
.wait 6
.wait 3

\\Nottoo and Shadow dance side by side at about 126
.section Part 38
.wait 11
.wait 3.3
.wait 2
.wait 3

\\Nottoo and Shadow face each other at 148
tran 21.5 1
formation LNSFace2Face1
.wait 19.5
.wait 2
.wait 6

There really was nothing new in the formations or PCL cards, but it sure took me a long time to do it. The detail required for complex dancing with the DanceMaster Pro is really a lot and the time required for testing each little step is also a lot.

I took a few photos of the dancing.


So, that's it for song 3. Next is the blues song and dancing with chairs and poles. That will be in the next post. So far I have about 71 hours invested in the show.