Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Introducing - The Artiste Faders

The Artiste Palette - Faders

I keep getting asked more than anything else, if my Artiste Suite can do fades?. Not sure why people keep asking me that after what I've shown.? I would think people would assume that if I can do  hard stuff, I would surely include the easy stuff...BUT...I get that faders are cool and one of the 'must have',  features like particles, movers, set-rezzers, sequencing, emoting, stripping, outfit-changing, formations, etc

People don't think we have a mover? Again, not sure why. It can be seen in many of the Artiste Videos. We just don't make a big fuss about it. Maybe we should make more noise about it? Anyway you can see or movers in: Sisters, State of Shock, Call of the Siren, The Sacrifice,... we have about half-a-dozen ways to move an avatar. Our movers have also been used by others in live shows. And i guess with all the fuss, its deserving of a demo video. On my to-do-list. Check!

So anyways, here I've been thinking I had to stand on my head and attempt to walk on gravy in order to get peoples attention and all I had to do was show we could do simple fading. Hmmm!?. Well sometimes its the little things that count the most and 'less is more' and all that jazz. I get all that. So without further ado...to finally put this question to rest once and for all, (just/kidding)...without further ado...OUR FADER!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Introducing - the Artiste Particle Emitter and more Set Rezzer - Masked Set-Swapping

Well by now you've seen the Artiste Palette configured to be a particle emitter alone (State of Shock video) as well as in conjunction with it being configured as a mover (The Sacrifice video). Particles are all the rage. Of course we will not only provide for them but make it enticing by offering 999L value popular particular configuration generator to aid in your creative process. We feel it is such a paramount part of any suite that dares to call itself 'comprehensive'.

I have at least 2 generators, both called Particle Studio, but by different creators.  This one I am recommending has a friendly dynamic user interface. And, you can easily copy its output to 2 different places. 

1) Copy its export into our Artiste Particles script, as is, and then configure it to run as a Palette-initiated-script...or 
2) copy its exported output into our *specialfx nc. It just so happens to work with the exception of when you want it to 'follow' something or someone. Very easy to make the minor adjustments to add that extra ability.

Here is the Particle generator used in the demo video. [ Particle Studio HD ] Particle Generator Hud Version 2.3. SO of course the advantage of a particle generator is that  you can easily create your own particles. You can also import existing configurations and modify them.

It is again important to state the importance of the Artistes ability to start and stop in conjunction with other HUD functions and Palette action-features. The following exemplifies the Artiste Particle Emitter and Set-Rezzer's ability to sync...in this case with each other. This particular sync is built in and tightly integrates the SwapAB function (exchange of transparencies between 2 sets) of the Artiste SetRezzer with the emission of particles to mask a set-change. Having this automated removes yet one more thing you have to remember to do during a show.

This is another attempt to help enable those new to burlesque and special-show-based-synchronizations without relying on others for help. 

I am such a novice at creating, well anything really, except scripting. So this particle example is simply a cloud that I toyed with until I could get it to a size and shape to mask my little dinette set.

If Particles is "on" on the *particles nc, then a particle mask will automatically be generated to the named-palette when the Artiste MasterRezzer receive a SwapAB command from the Artiste Performance HUD. 

You can also trigger several Palette-Emitters if named the same. You can also stack emitters and get combined effects. 

Now a nice added plus of the Artiste is that you can combine an emitter-configured Palette with other Palette action-features like the Palette as a mover as well. What if you rotate (the particle source) an already rotating particle emission. Or how about 'throwing the particle-emitting-palette end over end or frisbee style? Who will be the 1st to try something crazy like that? How about a stack of emitters that shatter? Which 150 or combo of 150 features will you conjoin with particle emission? (Ok not all 150 will be practical to combine but enough to send  you off into new directions, never to return any time soon).

Watch the video: 

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Artiste Configuration Service? An Artiste Specialist? The Artiste Cluster!...and Why the Artiste? Why NOT the Artiste

Well these demo videos have at least given people who, if no courage to IM me or post comments and questions, gathered the courage to speak to me in public, IF and when  I run into them. I have had a few such episodes recently. It is a start towards opening up lines of dialog about this product, seemingly still shrouded in a cloud of mystery.

I will start dumping my brain now and then so you know how I am thinking and what's been going on.

Why the blog information without it being available for sale? The $64,000 question. Well my take on this is:...

If you are going to spend 25k on a non-refundable, un-warranted, as-is, new product, boasting 150+ features, you should want to know...."WHAT THE @&#$% IT DOES?"

That's where I feel we are at now. Us explaining and showing, what IT IS. I am trying to familiarize you with the product and those most knowledgeable about it. You should start feeling more comfortable as you digest more and more of it.

I will have a part here upcoming on the blog dedicated to SUPPORT, but let me lay fears to rest on that issue. Will I support the product? YES. There is and will always be unlimited 1-on-1 support. You may ask dumb questions. Ask me the same question over and over.  Ask a question that's answered in the manuals. Its OK. I won't sell more than I have time to offer full support to. The earlier you buy the product suite, the higher your priority will be in receiving support.

More of Yummy'z mind. 

Based on the type of conversations I've had lately with people, there seems to be a new avenue of opportunity running  parallel to...'selling the product as a user-central performance-enhancing package".

There appears to be a whole crop of people popping up out of the woodworks who have grand ideas of that they want to do, big production type ideas, but without, I've gathered, the will, [time, patience, confidence, sometimes skill-set], to accomplish what they want in their defined time-span. 

I think???. I could be wrong.

That being said, it has had me thinking of a new way to get good use of the product and fast-track its abilities to do some cool things without the buyer spending time they don't have [money they can't afford, patience they are not imbued with, and sometimes skills they may not be able to muster in a timely manner] that matches their hurried schedules.

I was approached recently and am in current talks with, a huge production house to provide the primary technical support for their vision. Should it come to fruition, it would be a chance to test this idea of offering an Artiste Configuration Service (I just made that up, have no idea what it will eventually be called). I would be going in and making a standalone Artiste Cluster version that will tackle the heavy-lifting required to deliver results to someone's Goliath-sized visions. (Its actually the 2nd time I was approached recently, by a producer, but the 1st was a smaller venue with a smaller vision, with limited Artiste needs, but still intriguing. But if this is a trend...then it should be recognized as such and go with the flow of peoples needs.)

So I am retrofitting the Artiste so that it can ALSO run as a 'stand-alone-cluster' super-charged, with multiple simultaneous interacting occurrences that can run a whole production. Not much more to do to it really, knowing what littleI know about what might be required. I am probably a bit naive at this point,  but will soon know more of what will be required. We already have the missing piece - The Artiste Relay...a very tiny HUD the performer would wear. I just need to expand its abilities a bit and make special versions of the Artiste Performance HUD. I suspect we will encounter some heretofore unseen issues that will require some customization based upon the unique needs of full-on story-telling productions, but we will cross those bridges when we come to them.

Myself or another Artiste Specialist, if they are willing, would be supplying the know-how and actual configuration of the Artiste Suite to make it sizzle in a full-on large-scale production. It will be fun, challenging, a bit nervy,  but may also help us fast-track its abilities to work in heavy-duty situations. More importantly, it enables the ability to demonstrate its cool features in the process and make people aware of whats really 'under the hood'. Its like a sleeping giant.

I am more interested in opportunities to run it through its paces, rather than its ability to handle "BIG", but I accept and embrace this new area of performance.  
I mention all this because this new way of thinking may provide an alternative method of realizing your vision with a way of sidestepping common hurdles like: time, money, learning, experience, confidence, frustration , etc

Meanwhile I will also continue on my current track as well of making the product available to the next stage, that as a avatar-centric HUD and suite of supporting products; that of a Release Candidate, restricted release. More on this later.

And coming soon...an open introductory class, high-level, covering the basic concepts as well as providing some face-to-face time and chance for questions and answers.

My fear of just listing all the features and just placing it on MP for sale, without any preparation time,  is that, people would get it, be overwhelmed at the amount of content, and find themselves feeling they were falling behind if they were not up and functional as quickly as others. And that could be a deterrent to giving up prematurely. Now you have time to grasp concepts at your leisure without the pressure of feeling you have to quickly become proficient and productive.



Why the Artiste?

Is it truly "better than"? (I've been asked that) Better is subjective. Depends on what your needs are and who you ask.

Here is what I see are reasons to consider the Artiste as a total solution based on my own experience and the testimonials of other users:

1 - One system to learn with consistent protocols at each stage and you can make it do anything, all in one place.

2 - Automate repetitive show-time tasks consistently

3 - Save Screen Space

4 - Avoid show-time fat-fingering. 

5 - Avoid show-time stress of remembering who, what, when, where, and how to do what needs to be done.

6 - Consolidated functions and features

7 - More consistent and accurate timing.

8 - Avoid bothering others as to how they do something cool or wondering what to get, where to get it, paying for it, how to use it, combining it with other tools, remembering what and when to do what at show-time.

9 - Features are modifiable and adjustable

10 - Performs extremely well under lag.

11 - Four years in use including public performances

12 - Well Integrated. Parts engineered to work with each other seamlessly.

13 - Independent events.

14 - Delay and lead times that are adjustable

15 - Vast feature-set

16 - Unlimited one-on-one support


Why NOT the Artiste?

1 - Price - 25,000L

2 - It can be HARD to learn for some. It has a STEEP learning curve.

3 - Sheer volume of information to learn

4 - Notecard-Driven if you are fearful or are super-type-prone.

5 - You have already invested time and money into other tools with the features you care most about.

6 - No time to learn a new system

7 - Skittish, lacking in confidence, about taking on something that is involved.

8 - You are only interested in the basics and what you have now satisfies your needs.

Friday, October 17, 2014

LOVEFEST 2014 : A Chance Request

It had been a while since I had been challenged to perform live in an "uncontrolled" setting, but when I had the chance to volunteer for the Lovecraft Festival 2014 I jumped in both feet.
The HPL RPG group stage a festival each year around the time of H.P. Lovecraft's birthday and raise funds for Autism Awareness.  As part of that festival they have live shows, amongst which is a cabaret.  To cut a long story short, we ended up with merry band comprising of myself, Yummy, Else Barnard and Candace Bethune.

The Arena

Restricted to a medium to small space inside a large circus style tent, which had an irregular shape inside and so I plumped for an oval stage with a fade-able screen we could use to cover scene changes.  The original tent was on the "ground" and set at a 45 degree angle which presented its own problems (see comments on set up and moving)
Eventually this was moved to a sky platform and re-oriented to 0 degrees.

The Theme

I was trying to keep this as closely tied to Lovecraft as possible, but a lot of his ideas are cerebral and not easy to represent in a tangible format (applause to HPL who keep pulling it off though), so I left it at "Tales of the Uncanny" and the brief was "a turn of the century X-files from the journal of an explorer of the unknown"

The Role of The Artiste (click on Title links for videos)

The Call of the Siren Video - Parting Sky and Sea

1. A two part move, bringing the avatar up from "underwater" to the surface and forward as if walking out of the sea. At a later point the avatar is moved further forward to expose the feet and dance at the very edge of the sea.  When I repeated this performance at Sinners, I added the 3rd move to drag the "creature" back into the sea and avoided being stranded beyond the curtain.
2. Use of an oscillating fade (oscfade) to move between two background images.  The original idea was to have it fading in and out constantly but I left it with one or two reveals.  We now have an adjustable interval between fades so you can control the changes.

The Sacrifice Video - Vanishings and Voids

1. Moving the main avatar down from the steps and forward from the dance.
2. Moving the second avatar on the altar upwards in a levitation effect.  The palette used for this was also a particle emitter so it shrouded the "Vanishing"
3.Compensating for the difference in two animation positions by using the palette to match them up.  (see also: Explanatory video of sit-2-sit (animation re-centering)
4. "Vanishing" the second avatar- using a sit to sitmove from the elevated palette to one backstage
5. Reveal and rotation of the "black hole"  Rotation of a second textured but invisible cone which was then made visible
6.Sucking the first avatar back into the abyss - one long sweeping move with a suitable animation, taking the avatar up and back and through.

(The Artiste also controlled the reveal screens on my stage, which was a palette using fadehide/fadeshow)

Set Up and Moving

Although the anchors and palettes will adjust on a 90-degree rotation when you transfer from one location to another (right angles, as most theatres are set on the straight) I did have a problem with the 45-degree angle as it knocked the position of the moves astray.  Obviously if you are doing an "outside" show then the remedy is to check the rotation of your potential stage and if it is at a certain angle (and that can't be changed) then do your set up at that angle or set up your moves in-situ.

I simply re-did my moves on the stage and they worked fine,  but then we decided to go for the straight stage after all!  I was trying to make life easier for other people and ended up just making life difficult for myself.  Lesson learned!
The sets were packed up in a traditional rezzer and opened up at the other end with no issues about positioning.  I reset each palette in turn when the scene was rezzed just to be on the safe side, but in rehearsal they performed over and over.


I am not sure how many people exactly we had packed into that tent on the night of the show, but the sim was maxxed out and I think we were lucky that we didn't have a huge amount of lag to contend with, but there was a fair amount.  On the whole The Artiste behaved itself extremely well, with one judder as I was swept back into the abyss. The sit-to sit went without a hitch, and the levitation looked great.
This was the first time that I had used many of these techniques in a live situation but I felt totally confident about the performance.

Thank you to Yummy for her support and to Else and Candace for stepping in and helping out with their own wonderful routines, many thanks to HPL and in particular Arik) for the chance to put the show on; for all the wonderful people involved who were so helpful and the appreciative audience who donated so much to the charity during the show.

Lastly, special mention to my little brother Aodhan, who introduced me to these wonderful people, and made it all possible :)

See you all there next year!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Introducing - Artiste Director: SongSync, StopWatch, DanceDisplay

Sometimes I am excited by little things. I love the StopWatch feature on the front of the Artiste HUD. Yes, so simple anyone can code it and add it as a feature to their tools, but sometimes less is more. Press the circle inside the HUD face and it gives you a time readout in owner-only chat from start of pressing the PLAY arrow. (Sometimes I also call it the START button. Same thing) ADDENDUM: The StopWatch gives approximations into a sequence and is not meant to be used for anything that requires precise timing. It gets you to the relative position but then you must eyeball where you really want to be.

Sooooo...how many of you practice your routines by pressing PLAY on a YouTube video? *Raises hand* I used to. No more. The Artiste flagship is its timing engine 4-yrs in Q&A, and accurate syncing of multiple events down to 1/10th of a second.  We try to automate/sequence everything we can. This allows us to get inside animations and make them come alive.

So why not the music too? Now you can. Here are all the note-cards to make this happen. I will begin to show a bit of 'how' things are done so you can again see the different pieces involved and how they work together and the scope of your involvement in 'getting the Artiste to accomplish a task for you;.

Here is the autofx line: - Music starts 2.0 seconds after pressing PLAY

Here is event #1 & #2:
2,"End It",16.0

Here is the dance sequence nc - We shorted the dance time for demo.
bottoms down copy | 16.0

Here is the key config entry - Sequence 1 starts upon pressing PLAY (the 1)

We also enable (toggle green) the AutoFx and AutoSequence lights on the HUD.

In this case Event #1 fires 2 seconds into the routine (after PLAY). You will see that the dancer does a pull down tease motion at the exact same time every time. I will run it 5 times in a row. and show how they look in a video editor so you can see the start of the YouTube video and the same spot in the dance routine. 

Artiste Director
ADDENDUM: I forgot to add that the Artiste Director must be owned by parcel owner or assigned to same group that land is deeded to, assuming the parcel is indeed deeded to a group.

I should mention the introduction of the Artiste Director. It is simply a check-point device that allows 1 and only 1 person to control stage stuff...things that should only be controlled by one person; that being person (or group leader) of the present show segment/ dance routine. 

Examples are:
Curtains, lighting, song-play, maybe a shared set-rezzer, applause sounds or other sounds, etc.
Other examples are: Group Stripping, Group Adorning, Groups Outfit Change, even Groups Syncing of Multiple Artiste Performance HUDS doing similar and/or different tasks

How it works is: the soloist or group-leader logs into the Director. (Now you can log in directly from the Artiste Performance HUD.  A nice new improvement)...keeping with our motto, ONE HUD does it all. The person can also be "forced off" by any group manager as indicated on a *managers nc inside the Director, in case someone crashes or makes a mistake.

Now only this person can control stage-specific items. We used to have so many issues with too many hands on the curtains. Problem solved.

Also this solves a problem of when to start the music. I've seen countless times where the DJ and dancer were out of sync...either starting the music too soon or too late. Now the performer controls the start and it will always start in sync with their HUD PLAY. You can play media from: 

1) Website URL
2) YouTube
3) MP3

This demo uses YouTube.

If not YouTube for show time,(maybe for various reasons you choose not to use media for your live show)  this still saves a lot of time when you play your song in practice (assuming it exists on YouTube),  as many of you play songs 100s of times in order to perfect your routine. One less thing to do...and always in perfect sync.

Wow seems this is a big deal for many. I was asked if we display the current dance. Well we currently do in the  chat log. You also get a stop/start time-stamp. Useful in syncing dances to other eventful functions. If more is needed I will consider adding a list with highlighted dance but so far no current users have requested it.

Watch the demo video below

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Introducing - The Artiste SmartChange - Attacking Rez Issues

If you are looking for a video, there is none for this feature. Just a discussion and explanation on another feature of the Artiste Performance HUD.

Someone once said, after I had enumerated 57 features of the Artiste Suite, that they didn't know what half of them were. I sometimes forget that I made some of these terms up and that they will fall on deaf ears unless I do my due diligence and take the time to describe what they mean and do.

 How can I expect anyone to take serious interest in this product suite if they don't know what all the components do, and some of how it does what it does? Well that's a laborious process and requires patience on my part as well as potential customers. So I am trying to be patient and do what needs to be done first and foremost. Explain just what IT IS.

One such term is SmartChange.  It is a built-in feature of the Artiste Performance HUD. With just about every feature we introduce, we attempt to also solve pressing problems that performers face in this business. I am always looking for ways to solve live-show issues.

If you have ever had:

1) Missing hair
2) Missing shoes/boots
3) Double-worn items
4) Bare alpha layers

...then this may interest you and may someday help you resolve some of these issues, should you at some time in the future decide on the Artiste Suite as your primary performance solution, or at least, an addition to your tool-set.

 I was inspired to research this phenomena when I attended a festival show and saw 4 out of 5 sets for a particular troupe having failed hair rezzing. Me and my testing assistant and myself also experienced failed rezzing. This was 2 or 3 years ago. I have recently seen and continue to see missing hair, footwear and failed alphas which has brought this issue to the forefront of my attentions.

Anyways, after much trial and error, it appeared to be isolated to items with a lot of prims in their linkset trying to update at the same time; like hair, shoes, jewelry. We also discovered the timing of the application of alpha layers to be suspect.

So....I implemented an automatic feature that occurs during a full outfit change we call Wear/Unwear. You can can specify up to 5 SmartChange sets that describe special rules to follow when changing outfits. It can cover a maximum of 5 outfit changes per set.

You can isolate and advance or retard, in secondsthe wearing of certain items at certain times in an outfit change cycle. You can also specify applying alpha layers separately and in isolation of other items...waiting for the clothing or attachment 1st before applying the alpha, as well as not combining alphas. 

You have lots of other options like applying things to help force a rebake we call AutoRebake, appying a fake tattoo layer we call AutoTattoo, AutoTeleport, and other customizable features for a given SmartChange. These are implemented via notecards.

We had about an 75-80% success rate with regards to fixing an existing rez issue. It didn't always work but it seemed to improve our odds. And you can also specify the number of retries which seemed to increase our rate of success,  up to a point.

And even if you are not changing outfits during a show...this feature can be used to wear your initial outfit, especially if you are changing outfits backstage in preparation for your next set, assuming you didn't leave home already dressed...and even then...this can aid in helping to ease the burden on the servers to do a lot in a short amount of time, often exasperated by a busy sim.

Hopefully by release time, LL will have resolved these issues ...but may also introduce new ones. SmartChange allows us to not only have a means of fighting off current rez issues but provides for enough flexibility to maybe even  address future issues we don't have yet.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Introducing the Artiste Sit-2-Sit - Animation ReCentering

Here is a link,  Animation Centerpoint  to a previous discussion on the animation "centerpoint" from the Dance Queens blog by Nottoo Wise to provide some background and context. 

Sit-2-Sit is the term that's come to describe another of the many features of the Artiste Palette. It was an idea I had always had in the back of my mind to add but figured it wouldn't have any pressing demand for use, so I put it on the back burner. I was wrong. Two of the Artiste Release Candidate users asked for it's specific ability so I advanced its development.

 Its primary use is to add flexibility to Palette usage by being able to detach from one Palette and reattach to a different Palette, changing a sitting avatars range of functionality.

What I present now is another interesting application, that of animation re-centering. This problem-solving mechanism can be applied to couples dances as well as singles dances or both at the same time. 

It also extends the range and application of starting animations in the middle because it provides more choices in where to make your match at by removing the restriction of matching centerpoints. 

But I strongly suggest that when using either of these new methodologies, that you proceed frugally and wisely and consider  using them to fill a pressing need as opposed to 'looking for places and ways to use them'. I am not sure that using them a lot will be worth the added extra effort that it takes to: 1) setup and test and 2) refine the timing necessary to 'sell' the trick.

You can see, well you can't really see it cause it was executed without any noticeable glitch, but in the video State of Shock, Aura and myself, use it to detach from one Palette and reattach to another, (4 Palettes involved) extending her abilities to do something different partway thru.

And another live-show use by Nancy Toocool:

" Nancy Toocool: Hmm... I used it to make a smooth transition from a piece of props to the "regular" ground (meaning dancing on the stage and not on any specific object). It would have been impossible to do that without the sit-2-sit function, it would have meant that I would have first jumped off the initial object and then hopped back on the palette I used as a mover (which would have look horrendous)"

I'd like to reiterate that it takes a systems approach to apply Sit-2-Sit so it requires full understanding of the whole system as do most of the Palette features.

The parts necessary to pull off this demoed solution are:

1) events notecard - establish offset timings
2) dance sequencing notecard - list dances
3) autofx - send commands to Palettes at right timings
4) main configuration notecard
5) Palette notecards -  move instructions

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Introducing - Artiste Set Rezzer - Other Unique Features (Part 5 of 5)

Those of you who are experienced scrutinize new developments with a very analytic gaze as you carefully weigh the pros and cons.

How much time will I have to invest before it will see a benefit? 
Is it worth the time it takes to learn it and come up to speed? 
Is it worth the cost
Is it that much better than what I already have and use? 
How much of the new gizmos will I actually use
Do I feel its easy to understand, learn, use, and reuse? 
Will make enough of an impact as as a labor saving device?
Is the added extra effort of setting it up and using it worth it? 
Will I get the support I need, when I need it?
Will it truly work as advertised
Will it perform consistently to expectations? 
Who do I know, that I trust, also uses it? 
How are the training materials? 

Well its easy to get into a mindset of "I have to impress my peers...the staunchest of the staunch". The most stringent and hardened users. 

BUT...there is also a "place" for someone just starting out who is looking for an all-in-one solution who is too shy to ask others 'How they did a certain technique", 'Where can i get that', 'How do i use it". Those questions can become daunting and fearful to someone new who doesn't want to seem a pest. Many cool tools require that you have already committed to it before you can either try it to determine if its what you want or attend classes to learn of its capabilities. 

There is also a "place" for someone daunted and overwhelmed by a fair number of HUDS and inventory windows and other screen-occupying devices as well as the number of things they must remember to do and click on at the right time and the right order during showtime. For them, we feel that the Artiste Suite of products provides a viable alternative

This 5th of and final demo of the series demonstrates a few more note-worthy features, though not all, of the Artiste Set Rezzer's capabilities.

1 - It demonstrates the value and use of variable and adjustable fade times.

2 - It demonstrates variable and adjustable minimum and maximum transparencies.

3 - And highlights the benefit of including movers and Palettes into your set rezzer as they are scripted to become aware of each other.