Thursday, July 31, 2014

Introducing the Artiste Thrower

The Artiste Thrower

The Artiste Thrower is one of 150 features of the Artiste Suite of products. It is so special and sophisticated that it has its own manual and Palette submenu. It also has its own notecard for adjusting about 50 parameters. You can also adjust many of the parameters quickly and retest your changes using the [THROWER] Palette submenu.

Up until now, the only throwers you could involve yourself with are the mouselook-games type throwers. Problem with them as they relate to shows is that they are manual and not programmable nor customizable, you cant see your animation during the throw and some don't even have animations. They have manual power meters that you would have to repeat for dependable outcomes with the consistent accuracy. Some use range-detection to trigger the handoff which doesn't allow for a more precise handoff  that can be accomplished with more precision by using 'another method'.

Benefits of the Artiste Thrower:

1 - No mouselook. Third-Party POV.
It DOES NOT use MOUSELOOK like all of the action-throwers in current products
available in SL.  You always can see all of the throw. The Artiste Thrower offers TRUE GRAVITY-based RL throw. You see the throw and its animation during a throw and are not
confined to a mouse-look view which masks the automation, if used, from the person using the thrower. NO show-time power-ramping. NO hidden extended-arm solution.

2 - Reliability and Consistency
Speed, direction, and many other throw-related characteristics are hard-fixed via notecard parameters for repeatability and reliability.

3 - Interoperability
Because a "throw" can be triggered to occur at very specific times, you can integrate it with other time-based Artiste HUD actions as well as other Palette actions that require tight synchronization.

4 - Configurability
Unlike current throwers whose only parameters are usually limited to a manual 'power-up' and gravity on/off, the Artiste Thrower has over 50 customizable features to tailor your throws for show-time use that specifically caters to the unique requirements of live stage performers.

5 - Not Limited to Range Targeting
Unlike current throwers, the Artiste Thrower is not limited to using range to terminate a throw which usually results in wide spacial gaps for unattached-to-attached transfers. While we also offer range as a termination solution, we have found a new method/process we have developed to provide for even closer 'hand-offs' i.e. attaching an inflight object to an avatar.

6 - Non-Avatar-Movement "catching" - ability to simulate the catching of a thrown Palette via using the HUD to sync the animation in the Player Palette with the release of the thrown Palette without using the normal 'move' option of the Player Palette.

7 - Multi-Stage Throwing
We provide for multiple stage throwing to allow for pre-throws and post-throws. Examples might be: Boomerang, dribble-before-shoot, pass-before-shoot, drop-before-kick, catch-and-passback, hike-before-throw, hike-before-kick, pitch-and-bat, ricochets, etc.

8 - Palette Compounding
Because a throw is part of a Palette, you can combine a throw with most of the other features of the Palette. Example: A throw could happen while involved in a 'moving palette' operation or Palette rotation or it could trigger a Topple or Shatter.

9 - Special Features
The Artiste Thrower offers multiple options for:
a - throw-movement
b - throw-rotation
c - throw-triggering
d - throw-targeting
e - throw-inflight behavior
f - throw disposition
g - throw handoff
h - throw-termination
I - special predefined functioning like: boomerang and ricochet

10 - FUN!
It is just plain FUN to use and create with.

Please enjoy the 12 demonstration videos below  to give you a visual of how we've chosen to implement this ability. If you can't wait to see the thrower used in an actual performance then you can watch it here:
STATE OF SHOCK -  Video  - Watch the video ==> or you can watch the videos below in order then save the STATE OF SHOCK video for last as there is another link at the end.

Attachment Based Throwing Video Series

The 1st Video gives a brief overview of the Artiste Thrower

1 - Artiste Thrower Overview - Watch the video ==>
The 2nd video demonstrates 2 basic throws that are detached, (do not originate as an attachment to an avatar) amongst many combinations. You can get an idea of the beauty of true gravity-based throws.

2 - Basic Throws (Unattached) - Watch the video ==>
The 3rd video extends our 1st video by demonstrating:
a) - a thrown palette originating as an attachment to an avatar
b) - a throw timed to release in sync with a release-point in the animation
c) - a targeted landing

3 - Targeting - Watch the video ==>
The 4th video demonstrates some special handling of a thrown object, that of a return flight path to the originator. It introduces the concept of a reverse-throw and that of the 'catch' so it uses 2 animations both timed to sync to the departure and arrival of the thrown Palette. It also has a configurable hover-time and rotation speed to name just a few options.

4 - Boomerang  - Watch the video ==>
The 5th video demonstrates a controlled ricochet effect where 2 targets are used. But we could have used just one of the targets. Either one. notice how the rotation goes from controlled to chaotic...also configurable.

5 - Ricochet - Watch the video ==>
The 6th video demonstrates how Palettes can interact with each other in mid-flight, in this case with both of them moving at the same time but at different rotations, trajectories, and velocities. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the timing right as this is NOT a targeted collision but its effect is none-the-less eerily impressive.

6 - Cruise Missile - Watch the video ==>
The 7th video in this series demonstrates how we can emulate the transfer of energy between multiple thrown Palettes in a very precise method with realistic decreased velocities and a final landing disposition of precise positioning and rotation that could be considered to have story-telling pertinence by its choice of subjects.

7 - Three-Hat-Carom  - Watch the video ==>
The 8th and final video in this 1st (Hat) series demonstrates a matrix-like effect, that of stopping thrown objects suddenly in mid-flight. The key is choosing the right animation(s) and then timing and aligning the "stop". We accomplish much of the timing using the Artiste Performance HUD.

8 - Matrix - Watch the video ==>

Unattached-Based Throwing Video Series

The 1st video in this series (Soccer) demonstrates a detached throw, timing an animated throw(kick) with a detached Palette.

9 - Kick - Watch the video ==>
The 2nd video  demonstrates a 'catch' of a thrown object. The first near-hand reception that "I personally have ever seen in SL" accomplished using our new technique.

10 - Catch- Watch the video ==>
The 3rd video demonstrates how the Artiste Performance HUD can synchronize 2 throw-related functions by synching a 'throw' with its associated 'catch'.

11 - Kick and Catch- Watch the video ==>
And finally our 4th and final video in this series illustrates multiple functions synchronized with each other with the addition to our kick-and-catch...of a "drop"( detach-throw-gravity-only) and return-throw "punt"(2nd detached-throw)

12 - Kick, Catch, Drop, Punt - Watch the video ==>

STATE OF SHOCK -  Video  - Watch the video ==>
This has probably been one of the longest developments that Yummy and I have undertaken.  Some months ago she said to me "Hey I tell you what would make a good routine" and gave me the YouTube link for the song. Little did I know we were starting on an adventure.

The initial set up for it was simple enough...two avatars dancing on a stage and a sort of "dance off" that would be achieved by using the AB function of the sequencer to establish two sequences - sometimes alike and other times very different.  But then the real fun started.

 How could we establish the dialog that the two dancers were "doing solos"?

 I built a simple spotlight around a palette with an animated floor and the whole thing would fade in/out so that the soloist was highlighted.  As well as the animated texture under our feet, they also had the fade and a mover built in, something which would normally have to be covered by three controls. You will also notice that they follow us around, not only in established moves but inside dance moves which is usually impossible.  Finding a way around it took a couple of days of working through ideas until we hit upon one that worked.  In this case, jumping from the palette in the light to an invisible palette.

Of course, once we started using the routine as a development tool there was no stopping us and several "what ifs" later and a lot of palette updates...

There were certain areas where, because I was the one wearing the HUD, I needed to be able to "force" Yummy to adorn something and it wasn't viable, until she came up with a small relay that she could wear that would listen to my HUD for RLV instructions, which came in very useful.

We both love the old hat tricks, so I had to get in the old MJ hat flip and to make sure that it went smoothly she initiated a different adorn feature that allows for a direct swap between objects instead of  strip/adorn ( so yet another option to consider)

Having such a long routine did make us look at ways of making the sequencers more efficient and I think Yummy did this incredibly well.  For a dance that lasts over 5 minutes and no appreciable lag.

So the final question was how to end the routine...and it being a stage production it had to be something with a bang.  I liked the idea of having the speakers blow up at the end (too many Iron Maiden concerts) but at the time Yummy was experimenting with the hat throws and had just introduced me to it.


making the speakers blow up with the hats.

I learned how to use the palette as a particle generator and these were hidden in the speakers..the tricky part was the hat toss. It would take too long to go into the specifics here, but suffice it to say that getting a physical hat to match up with an animation AND to fly at the correct trajectory and speed AND to bounce in the right place....well that was a fun learning experience.  I don't think I have ever laughed so much at a hat even for a Dadaist.  Originally the hats and explosions were timed to each other but in the end we went with the collision to trigger the explosion which worked perfectly.

The great relief was having everything centered around one set of scripts in the hat rather than disparate elements from all over.  THAT would have been a nightmare.  So 12 palettes on the stage all controlled by one HUD.  Sounds a bit like herding cats but actually its very simple. 

All in all,  months of some very hard thinking and planning, but I think we came up with some fantastic solutions to things and as ever it was a great pleasure and honor to work with Yumz.  

Ok what are we doing next??

Aura Fitzgerald

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nancy’s First Impressions of the Artiste Performance HUD – Gold version

I have been performing as a burlesque dancer in Second Life for about 2.5 years now, mainly focusing on solo numbers. I have always done as much as I can myself: choreographed the dance, built the set, put together the outfits, written the emotes, managed the stage lights and effects during the shows, timed all this to the music and sound effects I have edited... and what not
I used to always do it using multiple HUDs: one for the dance, another one for the emotes, a third, fourth, fifth (and sometimes even eleventh) one for whatever I wanted to happen on the stage during my number. Anyone who has ever tried to put together a complex, precisely timed show number (be it dance, theatre, or a fire-breathing) knows that controlling all this can be a nerve-wrecking and vulnerable method (vulnerable in the sense that you could accidentally click the wrong button or wear your whole set instead of just the outfit – believe me, I have done all that).

Therefore, I was very intrigued when I was to asked to try the Artiste Performance HUD, which was said to do it all from the dance to strips, moves, and emotes, with a simple click of a button (of course after you first spend a lot of time carefully planning, constructing, and timing the said spectacle). And yes, I can honestly say that Artiste does what it promises.

To be fair, I have not done more than one number with it, and it took me a long time to get all the pieces together, but with the use of the HUD together with the Palette (which is a multifunctional tool that can be used as an avatar/object mover, fader, light, particle effect, and pretty much anything you can imagine) I was able to produce one of my most complex dance numbers in which I started dancing on a rising and rotating podium, then seamlessly walked away from it following a route I had pre-determined, continued dancing in a spotlight that went on the moment I stepped under it, and finally descended through a hatch I had built in the stage. All this was done with the HUD and the Palette. The HUD even opened and closed the curtains and launched the faders for me, so it really was just one click I had to do during the actual show. And guess what the best part is? All these things happened exactly at the points of time I had scheduled them to happen: there were no delay whatsoever with the object or avatar moves nor did the use of movers delay the actual dance.

In the past, I used to use the leading (I guess it is/was the leading) mover system together with the leading (I guess it is/was the leading) dance HUD, both of which I liked at the time and felt were adequate, but I always struggled with them: The dance faced unpredictable delays (especially when used together with the mover) and often times the mover would act as if it had a mind of its own, starting too soon or changing the times of the moves drastically. All this together with the lag caused by the use of other HUDs and the presence of the crowd ensured that I could never quite know how my number would go in the actual show. Therefore I must say that I am more than relieved to notice that the Artiste Performance HUD seems to be a much more stable tool (at least based on my limited experience with it), and since it can do pretty much every single one of those things I used to need multiple HUDs for, it is very reliable and light even if there were some lag.

Now, I am not claiming that the Artiste HUD + Palette is perfect. Nothing is. As with everything, Artiste has its downsides too: the biggest one being that it is not suitable for those who just want to play random dances at random times from their dance HUD, or whip up a quick dance number with not much happening (of course, you can do simple numbers with Artiste too, but you still need to learn a slightly different way of doing them), or to those who suffer from short attention span and who aren’t willing to learn new things. The learning curve can be steep, especially with the Palette, and you need to have at least some basic-level knowledge on how to edit notecards that at first glance can look like they were written in an alien language.

 I, too, faced some issues when trying to make my idea come to life, but there was nothing Yummy (the creator of the HUD and the Palette, as you probably know) could not have helped with, and together we got all the wrinkles ironed out.

If you are like me and refuse to lull yourself in the “Oh, it’s SL, there’s only so much we can control here” excuses or settle with “good enough”, and if you feel that the more traditional dance HUDs and mover systems are limiting your creativity, Artiste might just be the answer for your prayers. Also, the Artiste + Palette combo can do things no other HUD can. I, personally, am more than excited to try all the different functions it has. Finally I can make even my most complex show ideas come to life.

-Nancy Toocool

PS: A little disclaimer. I’m not the type to promote any crap just for personal gain. I am not being paid to say what I say nor do I have any personal interests or investments when it comes to the Artiste Performance HUD. This is an honest review of the product I was asked to try and review in its beta testing level.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mj's Burlesque Review of the Artiste Performance HUD - GOLD Version - Live Show

I did my first act using the new gold version of the Artiste, making use of the palette system for the first time as well. The palette is like a mover but has a smoothness and control that is not available elsewhere. Not only does it move you smoothly and precisely, you can use it for fades, mist and lights just to name a few of this performance huds amazing features. This is truly the first hud made with the serious performer in mind. I started out using one of the earlier versions of the Artiste and it freed me from using as many as 5 huds for one act. In the past I was so frustrated working on a walk and a few stops and starts on the catwalk for 30 minutes only to have it jerk and lag during a performance. I'm so happy to at last have my moves look like they do when I created them. The gold version has all of the things I have ever wanted in a hud and so much more. You would be hard pressed to out grow this hud.


Mj's Burlesque Review

Friday, July 11, 2014

Reposted Review of Artiste Performer HUD - Full Version - by MJ

The following is my experience with the Artiste Performer HUD:

I want to start off this testimonial with a little background on myself. I'm the owner of MJ's Burlesque Review, and known for having very exacting standards. I do not endorse things for friends, money or even death threats, so this is a first. I'm very honest and will give a truthful review of my experience with the Artiste.

I was given the Artiste almost a year ago to try out, during that time I reported any issues, and not only shared my feelings but made suggestions on things that may help improve the hud.

At my club there is no huge support crew, just performers so I do many things myself, like running the stream. Some acts I would have as many as four or five huds running at any given time, so the Artiste really got me excited. At the most now I use two, on very rare occasions three.

I'll not lie, the learning curve was difficult at first, but after say two shows I was getting on fairly well. This was an entirely different way of doing things, unlike any of the other dance huds I had used in the past.

One of the many lovely things about this hud is that it talks to other scripts seamlessly, at least it has for me thus far. I have also noticed that I don't have the lag issues I had with some of the other huds. 

Costume changes are a breeze and the menus are so easy to navigate. I have reached a point where I would have (a) tantrum if I had to go back to the standard huds, i'll sum it up like this. When I first started performing, this is what I had expected the dance huds to be like.

MJ, of MJ's Burlesque Review