Monday, November 19, 2018

The Sirens Call - A Beginning for the New Dancer, Post 7 - Learning Your HUD, Animations & Caching

A series of posts sharing my own beliefs, methods, and suggestions for the new dancer.  As with anything I say or teach - QUESTION EVERYTHING!  There are many different approaches and methods to dance.  From all you learn, all you experience, strive to create your own methods, ideas, and knowledge.  Unique and in your own voice.

Disclaimer:  The author of this article wishes to point out, in case it was not already embarrassingly, ridiculously obvious, that the opinions expressed belong solely to the author and they do not represent in any way those of Dance Queens, Dance Queens members, any affiliations, friends, non-friends, the guy in the 3rd row, or management.  If you must...EvaHarley bio

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the wonderful, crazy, consuming and thrilling adventure called dance here in Second Life!  Perhaps you've been bitten by the bug or wonder what all the hullabaloo is about?  Step-by-step I will share what I know of creating a dance performance and self-expression.  The stage is your canvas, the dancers your paint.  What story will you tell through your creation?

Previous posts:

Post 1 - An Introduction to Dance
Post 2 - Observation, Learning Style, and Inspiration
Post 3 - What is this Choreo Thing and Choosing Music
Post 4 - Animations
Post 5 - Basic Skills Needed Before Working with an Animation HUD
Post 6 - Animation HUDs!  It's time to move it, move it

As we explore the process of creating your own dance performance, you will find that I follow a certain flow and focus heavily on building a strong foundation.  I love tools, gadgets, particles, and anything else that gives that extra bit of oomph which enhances my dance.  In time, these will also be introduced in this blog series.  I believe strongly that choreography is the core element in creating a dance - the animations chosen, how they are linked together, and those infinitesimal changes, transitions, pauses, and poses that express the music.  Amazing choreography can be performed in front of nothing more than a black screen and still draw the audience in and take their breath away.

If you've been following along, you should now have a piece of music selected, own a number of animations that fit the music you chose that are from a variety of stores and dance packs, and own a dance animation HUD.

In this post, we will be focusing on the basics of loading animations into your HUD, beginning to use it, caching, and learning the basics about your HUD.

Getting Started with your Animation/Choreography HUD

Most dance HUDs are similar when it comes to the basic functions - load your animations, cache them (more on that later), and play animations.  I highly recommend using whatever resources are available for the specific HUD you chose - online videos, instruction pages, in-world workshops, and mentors.

Loading Animations into your HUD, step-by-step
  1. rez a copy of your choreography HUD onto the ground
  2. Right click, select Edit, and rename your HUD.  I usually add something like this to the beginning of mine: "CHOREO BLACK PARADE", identifying it.  Choreo - because I'm using it to create choreography, and Black Parade which is the name of my song.  I just add that to the beginning of the name, because I still want the original HUD name and version too.
  3. Click on the content tab, which lists all of your HUDs contents.
  4. Open your inventory and select the animations you want to copy to your HUD.  Don't select more than 25 at a time or you may get an in-world object creation failed error.  (This just means that one or more of the animations didn't copy from your inventory to the HUD.)
  5. Drag your selected animations to your HUD.
  6. Wait a few moments for your HUD contents to refresh, and add more animations until done.
  7. You can now take your HUD into inventory and add it.
Note:  there is an alternate method for copying animations to your HUD - especially when copying a large number.  If you use the Firestorm viewer, you can use the zdrop command to copy an entire folder of animations into your HUD quickly.  Watch the blog for an upcoming post about zdrop, or google "firestorm zdrop".

You now have a choreo/animation HUD loaded with animations!  For most choreo HUDs, the first screen will show you a list of animations to play.  Depending on the HUD, this is usually the first 10-20 animations and uses arrows so you can flip to the next page.  Before you get started:

I would be remiss if I didn't mention caching.

Caching - running a small bit of each animation to "preload" the animation information for you and anyone watching.

An animation is a type of item that contains all the information SL needs for that animation.  The starting point, the movement of each body part, the priority, etc.  When you play an animation, your viewer (like Firestorm) needs to get that information from the SL asset servers where SL stores the bits of code for billions and billions of objects, textures, sounds, and animations.  There is a brief delay before the animation plays for the first time while your viewer gets that information.  Once the animation has been played, your viewer will "cache" that information, remembering it until you log out of your viewer.  By running just a brief part of each animation (caching), this pre-loads this information so that the dances will run smoothly and without that "loading" delay when you're ready to start dancing.

Thankfully, all HUDs designed for choreography have a button/function for caching your animations.  You will look like you're doing a crazy 80's dance because it will do it extremely fast!  Make sure you always cache your animations before using your HUD for a better experience.

Now is the time to explore your HUD.  Play is one of the best methods of learning!  Read your documentation, attend a workshop, really look at the HUD and menus.  Focus on the key functions of your HUD:

- how to cache animations
- how to show the list of animations loaded in your HUD and changing pages to view them all
- how to invite other people to dance with you
- how to remove people from your hud - a specific person and everyone
- how to remove yourself from the HUD, and how to re-add yourself
- practice playing individual animations, and watch how you transition from one animation to the next

Most importantly - HAVE FUN!! 

Next post we'll begin exploring transitions and freestyling - a wonderful way to become comfortable with your HUD and get a feel for the animations you now own!

Dance like there's no tomorrow!
~ Eva Harley