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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Your Heart is as Black as Night 

Watch the Video ==> Your Heart is as Black as Night 



Technical Details:

SCENE ONE:  Stage Set

Rezzed a palette (01_A) and set its position.  Sat on palette and adjusted position. Chose suitable bow animation which I placed in the palette for simplicity.

Took the "guts" out of a palette and loaded them into the Stage Curtain, re-naming it "01_B" 

Simple up and down move.

SCENE TWO: Backstage

First shot shows the hallway with the swinging light-bulb.  I Attached a palette to the bulb array and used the swing function.  Took a while to work out which axis to use but once I got it I could use the size of the palette object to obtain a suitable arc and speed of swing.

Second palette "walks" me down the hallway and out through the end.

SCENE THREE: Dressing Room

I replaced the dressing room door with a palette to animate the swing open and closed.   The trick is to have the original door then create an identical invisible prim.  I attached both of these to a central "rod" which was the palette.  This allows the door to pivot on a central axis i.e where the door hinge would be.  I set the two movements at a different speed: swinging open faster than it swings closed to suggest a push opening it and then the door swinging closed under its own steam. 

  Second palette, as a mover, was propelling my avatar through the door.  Trick was to get them lined up so that you had a reasonable interval between the door opening and me coming through it.  Its very quick so I had to find a way to get around the 5 second interval in events.  I could have used one palette to trigger the other but for expediency, as I was filming and not performing live, I adjusted by altering the length of a dummy move in the mover palette which came before the walking animation.  I could then adjust when I started walking.  Just another way of doing it, there are several ways it could have been done, some of which would be much better for a live performance.

Yumz and I talked long ago about the old "flipping the clothes over the dressing screen" trope.  Again, because it is filmed rather than live I could fudge a bit with editing, but it could be done live with some more playing around.  The bits of "dress" (a mesh shape and some flexis) were attached to a cylindrical palette which was sitting on the top edge of the screen.   I had envisaged that it would be one straight rotation to flip it over but I actually used a couple of tiny linear moves (up and forward) as well to make it look a bit better. 

The one thing that I would have liked to do better was when she came out from behind the screen..obviously in real life we don't walk in discrete lines with angled turns but rather automatically start to turn our bodies as we walk.  It would be possible to track this on a palette but the problem is actually the animation as it could look very odd unless you found the perfect walk.  Plus it was a very cramped space between the screen and the armoire.  Anyway, standard walk turn walk... might have looked better with a pause and an animation before she turns.

The rest of the action is pretty straightforward...palette used to position the sits at the dressing table etc.   The very last shot where you see the police lights in the window didn't capture that they were actually on a mover and slowly moved up into shot behind the windows.

That was purely to do with the tracking speed of the camera I was using.  I had originally wanted to pan down on to her as well so that you could see the poster above the dressing table was for a movie called "Meet John Doe"  :D

Anyway I hope that has given you a useful insight into the making of the video from a technical point.  This was originally planned years ago as a stage piece and believe it or not, everything was possible to do live!  The original would have been much more focused around dance and emotes though.

  I changed the look of the piece a lot for the video, deciding to give it a much more film Noir feel.  The sets were kept to greyscale for that reason but each splash of red has its own significance.  The dress and the underwear, the "Sinners" sign almost like an entrance to Hell; the roses were the love and passion and the make up the artifice each one builds up until eventually it leads to the blood on the sheet.  She takes off one layer of red but she is still "red" underneath.  

Anyway I hope you enjoyed it!  It has had wonderful responses so far.   I hope you will leave your comments too :)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reflections on...

I haven't made a video in a while and  had been itching to get back to it, so I finally went for an idea that had been kicking around for a while.   I really love the illusion of deep reflections that you see in some clubs and stores.  If you have ever looked at how its put together you will have seen that they just flip the set up and put a semi-opaque "floor" between.   I figured that if you could do that with a room then why not with dancers?

Yummy and I had discussed a long time ago the concept of using some kind of reflection but obviously it has its limitations with  live performances.  I did start working on something a while back that would have worked around this by using a tilted stage but got distracted...look a squirrel!!

Anyhow... I had the skybox with the pillars etc set up and had been playing around with it in photos, so I figured why not.  

I used an anchor but in this case I didn't have to include any movement with the palettes.  I could have used Yummy's adjustable poseballs I guess but I like the smooth adjustments of a palette.  Plus they are boxes so you can easily see which way up they are.  The key thing with this one was getting the alignment of the avatars as close as possible.  Now because I wasn't using two avatars with identical feet this could be a bit tricky at times because the mesh body I was using for the hologram effect below had a very stiff rigging for its ankles and foot movements so it was never going to be exact.  Haven't tried it out with two identical avatars but it might work a lot better.

As you probably guessed, its just a matter of flipping one palette 180 degrees.  I used mirrored dances from Abranimations to match the moves and the AB system in The Artiste to regulate the dancers.

Technical point for filming: if you let the "under" dancer go out of frame when filming then the system "ignores" it as if its not there, so when you bring it back into frame the animation starts over for that avatar, meaning that your dancers are out of sync.   If you are filming and synchronised dancing then make sure you keep even just a little bit of the other dancer in frame.  Otherwise you just have to edit your way out of a mess.

The second avatar is wearing an old experimental mesh body that will take scripted textures, so that is how the "hologram" effect works.   Again, something left over from another old routine that never made the cut.

My editing is a bit lazy,  I still need to work on matching one take to another as far as the choreography is concerned.  So forgive me if the moves seem a bit repetitive in places.    I now appreciate more than ever how much time Sterling used to spend matching the shots.  However the main concern here was showcasing the effect for Yumz and matching to the song's cadences.

You can watch the full video HERE

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Do you get Frustrated Trying to Use The Artiste?

Yummy and I have tried many times to emphasise that learning to use The Artiste is a learning curve.  
I know that it seems at times to be a very steep one, but the truth is it isn't.  It is just  a very long series of baby steps.   Learning to walk means falling over a lot.  I say this as someone who has spent four years learning the basics and then moved slowly through the pathways...and I still haven't mastered it!  in fact there are some of you out there who know more about certain aspects than I do now, and all kudos to you.   

I want to offer this video link to you.  I have never come across anyone explaining so clearly (and amusingly at times) how learning something works.  I think it fits exactly what we have been trying to explain to you, things like how important it is to have a firm foundation of the basics.   Please, please do watch it and let us know below if it has been useful to you :)   

Keep on using The Artiste to create Awesomeness!

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