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.

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