Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Flex-Stage - Big vs Little

The topic of the big stage vs the little stage has come up again in circles. Sounds like it's on a few peoples minds.

A solution to satisfy the needs of performers and audience has been bandied about...that of modifying existing big stages so that they become flexible to handle both large and not-so-large acts. When an act does not have the need to the full dimensions of the maximum stage metrics, there would be an option to apply a framing and/or shrinking mechanism: across, up-and-down, as well as stage depth. Just how that would be accomplished will be up to each venue. 

I suspect there will be 2 preset sizes but there could just as well be 3. Performers would be provided with 2 (or 3) stage templates to choose from when creating their act as well as any sort of framing mechanism that would end up being used. 

There is also the possibility of using the stage as a camera in that you could start off big, like an opening establishing shot, and then have a dynamic set-size-change as the performers dance-areas shrinks and we are told to focus on the main dancer (or dancers). And the stage could shrink then expand again and shrink again. That might look cool and really help highlight and magnify what we are seeing, even thought the image size of the dancer is the same.

You sort of do this now when you start out with one dancer and add dancers during the routine. Here we go from small to big. Or we see black-out effects to help focus on 'just the dance'.

Then there are the pros and cons of an auto-cam system that controls what the audience sees, should they opt-in. While I am a strong proponent of at least providing the option, it could end up diluting the 'immersive' feel that is part of the SL experience. That we are ' there'... 'in it'....free to look around at what we want when we want. A cam-controlled event might begin to parallel tv and movies and then are we no longer immersed as in typical SL fashion,  but just watching something akin to tv thru a virtual world platform.

I do think auto-cam is an integral part of big productions where you are trying to convey intimate interactions between players akin the the 2-shot and closeups. There is no way around this if your goal is to tell a story with people-centered dilemmas, as opposed to some action-packed adventure drama spectacle where the 'whole' is always the thing to see. But sometimes we need to know where and when to look at what....without guessing, being wrong, and missing integral story parts because we guessed wrong...Looking left instead of right. 

Well anyhoo...my prediction for SL-2015 in the realm of performance is that we see some bold avant-garde creators address the issue of 'size' and the 'when-where-what' to look at...as an attempt is made to increase the live SL bang-for-the-buck visual.

Lat "Yummy" Lovenkraft


  1. At Elysium, we offer our performers three sizes of stage templates, plus I tell them, if you don't need that much room, black out parts of the stage to make the performance area smaller, or even use decorative prims to reduce the working size. There is no reason for them to feel they must fill a huge space, that is primarily meant for group numbers and epics, if they only require a small, intimate stage to suit their act.

    I personally don't care if a stage is large or small. I like both. I think there is room in SL for both. I think SL is a place where everyone is free to do their thang, whatever it may be. If it makes them happy to dance on a large stage, or a small one, no worries. Over Christmas, I did a show where the stage was an entire sim, and it was a blast! I also did a show on a very small stage, and it was so intimate and cozy... I loved it!

    I agree about the cam ruining the immersive feel of performances in SL. I do not like cams. I rebel and usually do not use them. I like the freedom of camming around and looking at what I want to look at. Using a cam feels very restrictive to me, and I do not enjoy the audience experience as much if I am using a cam to control what I see, so I usually cam away and do my own thang.

  2. One positive on AutoCam systems is that its an "option" and cannot be forced since it asks your permission and so in that light offers people extra choices and experiences, the thinking being, more options are better. One way to look at 'not having autocam' as an option, if it can be offered', is that it enforces 'free-camming' and, as such, denies people the freedom to choose. I wouldn't be surprised if many people are not active-camming enthusiasts and simply come to a show and set the angle to full-stage and watch the whole show and if that means jitter-bugging avatars in the back of the stage, so be it.

    On full-sim productions, or even mid-sized productions, where the optional viewing area is 360 degrees, people, myself included, are often at a loss as to where to look and when. My only choice, free-camming, caused me to miss half the show, half the time, because i was looking in the wrong place, just assuming I was looking in one direction, waiting for them to prepare when actually the act was performing 180 degrees from where I was looking. So if 360 degree shows are to become a popular choice then it sort of begs for some sort of solution, AutoCamming being one of them, audience-seat re-orientation being another.

  3. I am curious...has 15x30 become the unofficial, official stage-size to help facilitate performers moving their sets between venues? I've been hearing rumblings behind the scenes. If someone knows if there has been some agreement between some venues as to this standard....I would love to know?

  4. I imagine if it has become default its just the stage size that works best for the most people rather than some sort of agreement.

  5. I don't know of any size agreements being made, but some venues that share dancers have on their own decided to make their max stage size the same as the biggest, to make it easier on the dancers. It is easy to fit out a smaller set on a bigger stage but trying to make a set smaller is often a complete rebuild including movers.