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Friday, October 7, 2016

Moveable Lighting Techniques

If any of you have been to the Sinner's Burlesque shows in the last 6 months ago you will know that we have gone back to using a "midnight" windlight setting for our shows.

When I first came to SL, most shows used this windlight and dancers used face lights which made them look like mini-lighthouses as their face lights were just that - attached to their chins.  Back then I experimented a lot with different body lights and using glow orbs to simulate spotlights but I was never satisfied.

For everyday use I have my windlight set to Starley as I love the crisp look for skins and objects.  We have had forced windlights using this setting at different theatres but again, people can just choose to ignore that and the whole effect is ruined.

So I started thinking about the whole lighting issue all over again.  It would be nice if we all had the processing/graphics capabilities to watch shows in Advanced Lighting, but most people have enough difficulty with lag as it is.  I concentrated on ways that we could make something look interesting with only normal lighting enabled.  It is simple enough to attach invisible lighting prims to sets which will give the desired effects and are not much different to stage lights with colored gels.

For this particular routine I wanted to try something different.  There is a function of the palette which can turn lights off/on and dictate colors.

I used this in two palettes which were then made invisible and kept as "movers".  One was "red" and placed at one side of the stage and the other was "blue" and positioned at the other side.  I made one palette slightly higher than the other so that the colors would stay more distinct.  The palettes were then programmed to move back and forth across the stage at the same time a number of times.  My avatar was also lit by a "white" panel at the front of the stage.  If you watch the skin of the avatar you will see the lights playing across the skin.   I have also included a reference diagram and then filmed part of the routine with transparency enabled so that you can see the moving palettes.

You can watch the video here


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I Can't Make You Love Me

Watch the Video ==> I Can't Make You Love Me

I decided a couple of months back that a music video might help promote my singing.  Apart from anything it would be a challenge and something different from dance videos and I know Sterling loves a challenge.

I really loved the song from the moment I heard it and there were a lot of cues in the song but even so all I really had was the one image of the couple in bed and one of them slowly fading out.  Sterling said it was do-able so we started with that.

He also wanted cut-away shots of me singing so we divided the set space up into two areas.  The darker colors of the main set with a more claustrophobic feel and the secondary set with open sky, light colors and a subtle lighting effect of traveling stars.  

Sterling filmed it all at very high graphic quality and used Depth of Field to get some great shots moving from one character to another.   His persistence really paid off.  There were multiple shoots from different angles and we chose a quite brooding windlight for the main shots that brought out a lot of detail but added to the oppressive feeling.

The shot that made it for me was the final one with the walk down the hall.   Again, a series of multiple shots from different angles so it had to be done over and over.  I used an Artiste Palette with a single move to achieve the walk and triggered it from the palette menu with the'TestAllMoves' button.   It meant we could film it repeatedly with no deviation and get what you see in the video...that almost seamless change of angle from front side and back.   One simple function of The Artiste that added so much to the completion!   I know it has given Sterling a lot of other ideas about how Artiste Palettes amongst other things Artiste can function within filming.

He certainly put in more time than ever editing on this one, matching moves, cutting scenes to fit...a lot more than he usually does filming dance routines which are usually a fait accompli.   He also deserves a special mention for the wonderful sound mix he did on the song; awesome job, Sterling! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Black Room


Watch the Video >>> The Black Room

When I first heard "Breath Control" by Recoil I was driven to do a routine around it but I had no idea what form it would take or even when I could perform it as it was rather dark and more suited to an "After Dark" audience.  Then, a couple of months ago, Imajica asked me if I would join her and Zed do a one-off show at a BDSM club.  I had another old routine in store but I wanted to see if I could pull this new one off in a couple of weeks. 

The set and costume were no real problem but it was the essence of the song and its cut-up sections leading me to want to do something more than just a dance.  It became more cinematic in my mind and so the idea of having a fade to black in certain places made sense.  Easily achieved with a simple fade screen timed to the breaks in the song.  

It was only a small step from there to imagining cutting the action up into segments and making them very different to suggest the passing of time while the protagonist is running through these memories.  

I decided to use sit-2-sit from one area to another masked by the black out.  
Originally this was going to be about 6 palettes as I was going to move her around more than I did. It also got me thinking about economy again.  Palettes can be used to do so many things and they don't have to be used discretely as one thing in a routine.  

For example, in this routine the first palette (Pal A) is by the window for the smoking stand.  She then moves to the palette in front of the chair where she walks back and forth (Pal B). Then comes the palette on the day-bed (Pal C).  I used tiny moves up and down to accommodate the height difference in poses (one of these days we will have poses that don't fling you around while changing from one to another).  

The next sit is to the chair. In my original idea I would have needed at least another two palettes to complete the routine. In fact I used only three. While she is sitting on the bed, the first palette (Pal A) moved to the chair to become the sit there.  I then moved her back to Pal B for the rest of the routine (which I simplified from my original idea as I thought it was too much).

so Pal A > Pal B > Pal C > Pal A >Pal B

Using one palette for all the moves might have been asking too much, but the whole thing could actually have been managed by alternating two.  

All the animations were in the Sequence notecard and the moves were directed from there as well.  Only the screen fades and the sit-to-sits were directed from *autofx.
Example of Autofx:


Corresponding Events:


The resulting video has had some post-production but the routine is pretty much as it was performed live and I am sure with some judicious use of autocam we could have gotten those delicious "through-the-fan" shots!


I know I bang on about this all the time, but the key is simplicity and planning. I was up against the clock to get a routine done start to finish in 2 weeks when I had so many other things going on in SL and RL.  You can't do that and assure quality if you don't plan sufficiently well.  Draw your ideas out, map them, put them on sticky-notes, draw them in mashed potato..what ever helps you sort them out into a coherent form.  Then pare it all down to the simplest way of doing it.   


Don't just think about recycling palettes as movers.  Could the mover you used 3 minutes ago move to the other side of the stage and be a particle generator?

Could it appear on stage as something else? Can it just sit where you left it and direct another palette to do something else...or even speak?  There are many ways in which they can use their chameleon talent to swap from one role to another. Think outside the box.

Makes one less thing you have to add to your rezzer...and hey, that can only be a good thing, right?

Yummy here.

Great advice! 

I really missed the nuance of this routine when I saw it live. Here is a case where the post-production really brought home the understatement and subtley of the routine. Amazing against-the-grain thinking: lyrics, pace, non-dance, and perfectly-placed nuance.

Lat "Yummy" Lovenkraft

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Alas, the End is Near - July 6th 2016

July 6th will be the last day to purchase one of the entry level Artiste Performer Series systems.

The A-50 (5,000 k), A-75 (7,500 L) , and A-100 (10,000 L) will no longer be available. I did extend the offer an extra 6 months past the intial shecudled deadline of December 2015.

The only package available will be the A-250 GOLD at 25,000 L until the PLATNIUM is released.  It now boasts nearly 200 featurs up from 150 when the system was 1st released...but now all for the same price initial price.

Lat "Yummy" Lovenkraft

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Girl(s) On Fire

Hi Everyone,
How are you all doing?  I’m very well thanks.
The reason I post this is to comment on the recent performance and the making of the Girl On Fire video that will be linked in this brief summary and edited by Lat.
Ffirst, the making of the routine was a lot of fun. The hat-throw itself was an SL dance at first, not from the adorn point-of-view but the throw itself.  Lat (Yummy) has done it before for the demo videos for everyone to learn from.
It was a subtle change from the original sword throw, to actually use it in a routine performed live at The Wolf Theater.  Lat will cover all the aspects which I used in this routine so I won’t go over them as I know she is quite eager to do it.
Learning new things can be time consuming and to implement them into something thats original or that has not been done before is even harder to do at times while at the same time associating it with dance.
But the point is, it can be done.  And the more complex you make a routine the quicker you feel gratification in the work you have accomplished,
If someone asked me to sum up the complexity of it, most is pretty easy.  The hat, being the trickiest part of it all, really didn’t take long to do, building on the previous sword-throw.  So, as the thrower is now, a few hours is all I need to make something throwable. That includes rotation, velocity, and distance.  Anyone can do it but it takes time to learn so best of luck to everyone!. Oh I forgot the link
SarahRho Huntress
Yummy here.
The preparation, creation,  live-performance thru the making of the video conjured up a books-worth of ideas, thoughts, and emotions, but I will try hard to pare down my thoughts and be as concise as I can.
First and foremost this is the first effort and results from a person not only new to the Artiste but new to SL show-dance as well.  This routine prioritized learning and using features of the Artiste  over any other routine-creation-criterium.  It is also the 1st live-show ‘throw’.
This effort shows some of what CAN be accomplished when a person:I think we have 
isolated key factors  required to become proficeint in the Artiste way of life.
1) sets aside a LOT OF TIME to learn,
2) PRIORITIZES learning and mastering tool-skills over performing and other distractions,
3) acquiring almost DAILY ONE-ON-ONE tutoring, and
4) really WANTS IT and BELIEVES in the RESULTS
Is all the effort worth it? I often ponder and wonder that.  And even when answered, I realize the answer will be personal. What is worth it to one might not be worth it to another.
So, that is a question I cannot answer. Only a person like Sarah who has gone thru the ordeal can answer.  I can never be “new” to the Artiste experience.  I repeatedly asked her on several occasions and she always answered in the affirmative.  Proof may well be in the pudding as she seems to have an unending craving for more Artiste feature-knowledge, experience, mastery, and practical application. Her enthusiam remains at an all-time high always trying to top her previous endeavors..
The focus on what has been done here should be placed on the mastering  of intermediate and advanced Artiste skills in a relatively short span of time by a relative new-comer… more so than polish of a final product as she is new and should be allowed the time to grow and mature like all of us have had.
Tha Artiste is not an easy product to learn much less master but now I know that even with a new person and a reasonable amount of time…it CAN be done...with extreme sacrifices
Many of the accomplishments are visually apparent.  Many will have significance only to those familiar with the internal machinations of the Artiste. 
I will list the techniques that I identified in this performance:
1 – Dance-Sequencing
2 – Group-Dancing
3 – Cane-Adorn
4 – Group-Cane Adorn
5 – Hat-Swap (head-to-hand)
6 – HatThrow (Thrower) (1st live use in a show)
7 – Compound-Palette design (Fire Particle and Thrower)
8 – Sit-2-Sit
9 – Group Sit-2-Sit (Relay)
10 – Multiple Movers
11 – Lower
12 – Raise
13 – Extendibles (Extractions) (Phoenix) (1st live use in a show)
13 – SetRez
14 – SetSwap  (HUD-sequenced control
15 – AutoCam design  (1st live use in a show)
16 –  HUD sequenced Curtain Control
17 -  Rez Object  (Palette)
18 - Kill Object (Palette)
18 down, only 182 more to go.
Lat (Yummy) Lovenkraft

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Artiste Complex & Compound Rotations: Artiste Answers Its Second Challenge

See the Video >>> Artiste Complex Compound Rotations

I have had about 4 people in my ear recently over the topic of independent compound linked rotations 

So, I have added 2 simple new Palette instructions to help facilitate implementation of more interesting and challenging rotation scenarios

I don't claim this to be rocket-science from a scripting pov. Just an added convenience for performers..

The following video, first-half, shows the Artiste's rotation-while-moving ability first presented to the public at the Extravadanza Exodus event when I turned a 25-seat barge into a Palette.

Then in the second-half, I incorporated that feature (
rotation-while-moving) ability, first presented to the public at the Extravadanza Exodus event, into the new link-specific spin features. I show a side-view and an overhead-view so you can see the relationships.

In the video:
There are 4 linked prims linked to a root for total of 5 prims.
Each link is started and stopped independently
The half-dome spins around its Z axis
The rectable spins around itz Y axis
The cylinder spins around its X axis
The yellow blimp on top spins around X, Y, AND Z axis.
The root Palette slowly rotates around its Z axis while moving along a diagonal path.

A few things to note:
1 - You can control local axis of spin per link
2 - You can control speed of spin per link
3 - While spinning, the linked items ALSO rotate around the root-palettes chosen axis of rotation. You could look at it as local-spins combined with a global rotation.

4 - Each linked prim can be started independently
5 - Each linked prim can be stopped independently
6 - Not only are the linked prims rotating around their own axis and around the root prim axis but they are all moving along a path with the root while it is rotation.

7 - These actions are controlled via autofx from the Artiste Performance HUD.
8 - And yes, you could increase complexity by adding particles effects to the links
9 - The linked prims in the example are scriptless BUT...they could be Palettes in and of themselves and have their special abilities...almost 100 Palette features. (a few would conflict).. his owuld be where your creativity could come into play. Sky is the limit. 

And on a related note, the Artiste Thrower already has the ability to move while rotating that adds additional functionality in the wya of gravity-based as well as target-based movement with rotation:
 as seen in this video: The Artiste Thrower

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Artiste MasterPiece


What is the Artiste MasterPiece? 

It's a feature of the Artiste Performer Series that allows a performer to stitch "middle" segments of multiple dances together, simply put. The idea being to skip over unwanted beginnings.

It is in response to the most requested feature for SL show-dance. A project I started many years ago. (I gave up twice before seeing a light).

It makes starting an animation in the middle a reality. It requires sequencing the dances together which means pre-planning where dances start and stop. Thats what the Artiste Peformance HUD now does. (It cannot be done manually on-the-fly).

It does NOT require that all dances begin at the same time!

It does come with a few caveats, but ones that are tolerable. 

Technical Caveat A: No. of Dances
The current version allows for 15 dance segments to be pieced together up to 30 seconds each of which only the 1st segment cannot start in the middle. (A future release may allow up to 29 dance segments). 

A dance segment can be: 
  1) a whole dance, 
  2) a dance that starts at the beginning and ends before the end, 
  3) a dance that starts in the middle and plays to its end, 
  4) a dance that starts in the middle and ends prior to its end.

Technical Caveat B: Start Position
You cannot skip more than half of a dance before starting - meaning if a dance is 30 seconds long, you cannot start it beyond 15 seconds into it. If a dance is 20 seconds long, you cannot start it beyond 10 seconds into it. (I may relax this restriction  in a future release)

Technical Caveat C: First Dance Limitation
Cannot  start the 1st dance in the sequence in the middle.

Technical Caveat D: No. of Dancers
Current version only allows for one dancer. A soloist. (A future version may allow for up to 9 dancers depending upon demand.)

Technical Caveat D: Build-Up Delay
It also requires a build-up delay upon which you must mask out the dancing by delaying opening of the curtain or some other solution. The more segments and /or the further into a dance segment you skip, the longer this build-up-time. Think of a build-up as a fancy dance-cache that you don't want the audience to see.

Technical Caveat E: Dance Reusability
You can NOT use the same dance more than once in a MasterPiece if it is named the same. SO if it is mod, then change its name before reusing it, else your results will be unusable.

And not to steal any of Aura's thunder, nor to overstate the obvious, you must be very very accurate with the information you provide the MasterPiece on its notecard, especially total length of dance.  

When will it be released? Well technically it is available now via an interim HUD GOLD release upon request, but officially it will be part of the upcoming and final Artiste release (since that's what everyone else is telling me it should be). The PLATINUM release. When? month of so.

Format of MasterPiece Notecard (one entry per Dance-Segment max of 15:

Dance Number
Dance Name
TotalLength of Dance in Seconds and fractions (MUST BE ACCURATE)
StartAt (Number of Seconds into dance to START playing)

StopAt (Number of Seconds into dance to STOP)
PlayFor  (used only if stop-at is zero in which case StopAt is ignored).

Example: 2 | *Cry me a River | 24.20 | 6.7 | 14.50| 0

Some  history leading up to the MasterPiece

Playing Several Back-2-Back Animations

Starting an Animation in the Middle

And now I turn the discussion over to Aura Fitzgerald (auricrose) who was generous, persistant, and meticulous enough to make a very noteable video as well as chronicle her ordeal, illustrating  the trials and tribulations of 'thinking MasterPiece'. 

SEE THE VIDEO ==> MasterPiece Video

She presents this dilemma and phenomena with unabashed forthrightness. 

I also wish to thank Sterling Randolph (photobug9000) who conceived of the method for explicit video presentation of the intricate timing. You may have to watch it more than once to fathom whats going on.


When Yummy first tried to explain the process of MasterPiece to me it was very baffling.  Given that she was essentially trying to re-write the laws of SL physics, it was probably the equivalent of trying to wrap your head around time-travel.  How far we have come in the (probably) 18 months since then.

I will reassure you that once you grasp the principle it all becomes a lot simpler. I am going to talk to you here about the testing process and what I learned from it and I will leave the technical discussion to Yummy although I will refer to some of the caveats that come with the process.

Once the prototype MP unit was ready I went away to put together a simple routine with which we could test the MP.   I used a set of 4 ballet dances, being that ballet is made up of formal moves that can be more easily identified rather than free-form dance.  The plan was to alter the length of two of the dances, one at the beginning and another at the beginning and end.  Of course the trick is finding a suitable transition point where you are not too far off center to move from one animation to another. (see caveat 1)  I used a mixture of ballet dances from different makers.

Within a week we had a model that worked, as far as we could see. The bits of animation I did not want were pre-played at the beginning and the animations were played in shortened form.  

 After that there was a hiatus while other developments were happening with The Artiste and I had to wait until Yummy could incorporate the MP into the Artiste HUD for proper testing.

I got my first HUD with built in MP.  Testing could commence again!

The information from the prototype was loaded into the HUD with animations and away we went. At this point everything is still being checked by eye and seems to work.  

1 | *Cry me a River | 24.20 | 0.0 | 24.20| 0
2 | Ballet-1_copy | 23.66 | 6.5 | 17.2 | 0
3 | Ballet-2_copy | 22.70 | 2.0| 22.70| 0
4 | My-BALLET-21 | 29.77 | 0.0 | 29.77| 0

This was my original layout. Animations 1 and 4 would be played in full, either side of 2 which has cuts at both ends and 3 which is cut at the beginning only.

I started to think about how the MP would be used in performance.  The pre-play of unwanted bits has to be masked. They are played in reverse order before the first dance starts, so with a short section like this you can wait to raise the curtain until the first animation starts to play (see caveat 3). We were now ready to film the sequence in full and in its altered form as you see in Sterling's video.  However this was where it got interesting...

I decided that if it was to look like a completed sequence it should really have a pose at the start and finish:

1 | [Black Tulip] Snow Dancer #10| 5.00 | 0.0 | 5.00 | 0
2 | *Cry me a River | 24.20 | 0.0 | 24.20| 0
3 | Ballet-1_copy | 23.66 | 6.5 | 17.2 | 0
4 | Ballet-2_copy | 22.70 | 2.0| 22.70| 0
5 | My-BALLET-21 | 29.77 | 0.0 | 29.77| 0
6 | [Black Tulip] Snow Dancer #10 - Mirror| 12.00 | 0.0 | 12.00

(see caveat 2)

MP started fouling up.  It really didnt like the pose at the beginning. Our filming started to show discrepancies in the timing of dances.  I removed the beginning pose and it seemed to recover. 

 We filmed it again and compared the the versions.  Something was still off.  Now we all know that even if an Animation Maker tells us the time of the animation, it can sometimes be slightly off. I decided to replace one of the dances to see if this was the case.  

1 | *01_Ballet| 22.70 | 0.0 | 22.70| 0
2 | Ballet-1_copy | 23.66 | 6.5 | 17.2 | 0
3 | Ballet-2_copy | 22.70 | 2.0| 22.70| 0
4 | *Cry me a River | 24.20 | 0.0 | 24.20| 0
5 | [Black Tulip] Snow Dancer #10 - Mirror| 12.00 | 0.0 | 12.00 

I won't bore you with how many combinations we tried, but every time we filmed there was still a discrepancy and most with the 3rd and 4th animation not playing correctly.  We were getting very frustrated. We had now been testing for nearly 6 weeks on and off.  

The MasterPiece is started by an *autofx command.  1,MASTERPIECE=play

While we had been filming the last version, I had started to think again about the practical use of MP.  A routine is generally made up of more than 4 animations. Adding in more animations as well has having more animations with changes will  lengthen the time at the beginning that you will have to mask.  This is something that you are meant to use SPARINGLY.  It is NOT meant to be used with a multitude of dances.  Please consider here how incredible this is that we can do it at all!  Do not take it for granted, please.

So my thinking was this, that the MP would be a command like the 1,PLAY_SEQ=1 and so why could you not move from MP to seq and back again?  That way MP would be reserved only for those dances that were to be altered.  We finished another night of filming and disappointment and I went to bed with it on my mind.  I couldn't sleep and the thought was still there.  As with most things, if you give the mind a chance to relax and reflect an answer will come.  

I split the routine into two.  
this was now the MP notecard:
1 | *01_Ballet| 22.70 | 0.0 | 22.70| 0
2 | Ballet-1_copy | 23.66 | 6.5 | 17.2 | 0
3 | Ballet-2_copy | 22.70 | 2.0| 22.70| 0

and on the *sequence 1 notecard:

*Cry me a River | 24.20
[Black Tulip] Snow Dancer #10 - Mirror | 12.00


I added up the times of the dances and used those to create the *events timings. For some unknown reason, SL balks at going back to a full, unchanged animation once the preceding animations have been tinkered with.  This way we could bypass what was happening.  The event time is calculated by adding together the FULL time of all dances on the MP notecard. As I use ELAPSED time, I then added the 5 seconds from event 1.  We know that timings in SL are slightly elastic, so I added a second onto that time to be sure.  Once you can see the break between the MP ending and the Seq1 beginning you can easily work backwards to trim the time to where you want it precisely.  The great thing is, once you have the MP in place these alterations are only to events so you can do a quick save from the first menu while you are figuring it all out.   No having to reset the HUD and re-Build. 

The other beauty of this method is, it reduces the pre-play  time considerably.  From 29.7 seconds I was now down to 15 seconds, therefore less to mask.

N.B.  Using palettes to adjust for movements from center: I did actually implement this at one stage but decided to omit it from the final video.  Not exactly a caveat but please remember that as the dances are coming from the MP notecard, it is not as easy as when the dances are on the *seq NC. They have to be triggered from *autofx and that means painstaking timing of the moves.  Oh yes. Pain...

Caveat 1 = you MUST use looped-dances of identifiable length - as precise as possible - otherwise it will not work properly

Caveat 2 = Animations/poses in the MP cannot have the same name.  You either have to use a mirror, load the dance twice, and rename it...if that is possible.

Caveat 3 = Masking the pre-play of unwanted animations will mean that you have to time carefully where your music starts, where the dance starts and when you open the curtain!  Not impossible, just takes some thought.

Have fun and please remember, yet again...less is more!