Sets are extremely important in dance. With a set you create an atmosphere. This sets the scene for your entire performance. What do you want to show your audience? What do you want to make them feel through what they see? Your set has a huge impact on the interest generated by your performance. Most sets start with a stage blank. This is a plain model, usually a box, that you use to create your set. It fits on the stage. It is what you will dance in.
Building in SL is something that can take weeks or even months of classes to master. We do not have time for that. For our purposes, we will limit our class to the basics in set building, which is the type of building useful to dancers. I will teach you what I do. It is not all there is to learn, but it will give you a good starting point for your set building. DO NOT try to absorb all of this straight off. But rather, view it to see what there is to know, then refer back to it later as you have need of it. Learning is a journey. Take your time to enjoy the view as you go along, don’t gorge yourself then feel sick with an exploded brain by trying to absorb all this at once. It is more important to know where to find the answers than to know all of them. The knowing will come in time, as you use these tools.
One of my pet hates with dance is what I call the textured box set. It is a box. That is textured. With a prop or two. It is not interesting. It is not stimulating. It is not exciting. It does not stir the imagination. It says to me, “Meh.” Please put some effort into building your sets. You do NOT have to be a great builder! You only need be a caring decorator.
I did not know how to build when I started dancing. What I would do, and still often do, is search MarketPlace for the type of setting I wanted to create. I would then refine the search to copy/modify items only. Then list by Price, Low to High. Then go through and buy the best scene for my set. Since it copy/mods, I could modify it to fit my stage blank, and personalize it to suit my dance. Without spending a truckload of money. *grins* Through modifying purchased items, I learned how to build from scratch. I learned tricks and started experimenting with the buttons and arrows in the edit menu, finding out what they all do.
All sets start with a set blank or template. This is usually a box that you will use to create your set. It fits on the stage. I recommend making the walls, floor and ceiling of your blank thick. That way, you won’t have issues with having to fit them exacting. Making them a little thicker gives you some playroom when fitting them to the stage.
What if you want something very important to your set that you cannot find? You can find a professional builder perhaps, to commission that item. Or, you can try to build it yourself. Everything in SL, except for sculpties and mesh, are made from prims… primitive shapes. These shapes are manipulated into forms and then put together, then linked together to form an object, such as a table or space ship or house. A group of prims linked together is called a linkset. The last prim that is touched when forming a linkset is called the root prim. This is the one that highlights yellow when you put a linkset into edit mode. That root prim is the prim that controls the rest of the linkset if you wish to put a script in it, for example a rotation script. The script usually only needs to go into the root prim, and this will control all the prims in that linkset.
I now invite you all to experiment with prims for a few minutes. Please right click the ground and select “Create” from the pie menu. The edit menu should open. Then left click the ground. A box should appear. Now, click the Object tab of the edit menu. See the different primitive shapes you can make. See the top arrow down button on the right side of the menu. Click it and select one of the shapes that appear in the drop down menu. Select sphere. Your box will change into a sphere. Then change it back to a box.
Experiment with the rest of the options. Take an hour one day to play with all these buttons on a prim, and see what they do. Hollowing them out and pathcutting them is something I use a lot, with cylinder, to make a giant half-circle backdrop for some of my sets.
Notice the options at the top left, things you can do to prims. You can move them to position them. You can rotate them, stretch them. Select Face is used in texturing. I never use Align. Edit linked is extremely important and you will use this a lot. Also, Stretch Both Sides is something I use a lot. UNTICK this box if you want to stretch only ONE side of a prim. To get that perfect fit or shape!
Now, hold down the shift key on your keyboard. Place your cursor on one of the arrow points that are on your prim. Left click and hold your left mouse button. Pull the mouse in the direction of the arrow, as though you are dragging the point of the arrow. You will see an exact duplicate of your prim appear. Release the left mouse then again left click hold on the cursor arrow point and move it again. Release and repeat this a third time, a fourth. You are making exact duplicates of your prim simply by dragging the duplicate out from the original. Isn’t this neat? This is a quick and easy way to make for example a row of trees, light bulbs, bricks, or anything else you want a heap of, when you want them to be in a nice line and the exact same shape and size. Please note: on occasion, duplicating a scripted item in this manner will break the script. You will finish up with a prim that does not work. For those occasions, you will simply have to rez a whole new one for each item you want.
By now you should have a line of four prims. You should still be in edit mode. Next I want you to softlink these four prims together. What does softlink mean? That means you will temporarily link them together. If you take softlinked items into your inventory, they will look like a crunch box… one of those bumpy boxes. A crunch box is a box of items that are softlinked… temporarily linked. The links are not permanent. To softlink your prims, left click the first one. Then, hold down the control key and left click each of the others. You may need to zoom in a bit close to grab each item. Now you should see all four prims highlighted in yellow.
NOTE: Softlinking is useful when you have objects on your set that, for one reason or another, cannot be linked together.
Hold down the shift key, put your cursor on an arrow, left click and hold your mouse. Drag the arrow back from the group of prims. You should now have eight identical prims. Isn’t it neat how easily you can duplicate things, even groups of things? As long as the prims have copy permissions, you can duplicate them in this manner.
The prims now highlighted in yellow should be the four new prims. Hold down your shift key and left click each of the original four prims to softlink the entire set of eight prims. Now, right click TAKE the group of prims. They should go to your Objects folder. Find them and right click them. A small menu will appear. In the first section of that menu, right click Restore to Last Known Position. Your softlinked set should return to it’s last known rezzed position. Just like magic, the prims usually remember. THIS is one way we make sets and props suddenly appear in their exact needed position. We position our sets and props before the show. Then during the show, we right click the item in our inventory, select Restore and POW! It just appears. Isn’t that neat?
Now please again softlink your eight prims. Then I want you to look at the Build menu at the top left of your monitor. Click build, then left click link. You have now linked all your prims together. They are now an 8 prim linkset. If you take them into your inventory, they will look like one smooth yellow box. You will notice seven of your eight prims are now highlighted in blue. And only one is yellow… that is your root prim. Knowing how to assign one prim as the root prim can be very useful. For example, when linking an object to a Spot On mover, the last thing you want to click when softlinking is the mover. Then you link them, making the mover the root prim. And it will control all the other prims. If the mover is not the root prim, things may not work right. The prim you want to hold scripts in any linkset is usually the root prim.
Be warned about one thing. Often, if you link mesh and non-mesh, your prim count will explode. It can go from say 50 prims to 500 or more. I have found dropping the script called PHYSICS MOD into the root prim of that linkset will usually fix that. For example, I recently had a set that was 212 prims until I linked a mesh item to it. That exploded the set to over 500 prims. I dropped PHYSICS MOD into the root prim of that set and it dropped the entire thing down to 60 prims. Also, using a mover to move a mesh item is at times troublesome. Dropping that script into the root prim of the mesh item usually fixes it, and it will then be easily controlled by a mover.
EDIT LINKED PARTS
Now tick the box that says Edit linked. Then left click one prim in your linkset. Tick the circle that says Stretch. Grab one of the white boxes that appear and move it inward so that that one prim gets smaller. Now let go and close out your edit menu. You should see 7 larger prims and one smaller. Edit linked is how you change only ONE prim in a linkset.
Notice the phantom box. I make almost all my sets phantom. Sometimes prims, and especially sculpties and mesh, can push against other prims including your avatar. If you are on a mover or poseball, this should not affect you. But, to be on the safe side, guard against prim pushing by making your sets phantom.
Now I want you to give your attention to the left lower section of the Objects menu in Edit mode. First, create two new prims. Which will probably be boxes. Next!! Stretch one of the boxes to be somewhat big. Put it into Edit mode, and make sure you are on the Objects tab. The section that says Size… left click the C (which stands for copy). Now, left click the second prim that you just made, which should be the smaller of the two. Then left click P (paste) on the Size menu. You should have two prims that are the exact same size. This is useful of course when you are building and is another way to make objects all the same size.
Now on the first prim that you made, in Edit mode, please left click the C on Position. Now, left click the second prim and then left click P. You will see this prim pop into the exact position of the first. This is a useful way of getting perfect positions if you ever have need of two objects in the same place. There are sims that do not allow you to RESTORE on them. In order to be allowed to Restore, you must have edit rights at the 0,0,0 position on a sim. If you cannot restore, this makes it really hard to pop your set onto a stage during a performance. One way around that is, before the show position your set. Left click the C to get it’s position. Copy/paste that info onto the NC for your dance, or in the properties of the set. Then at show time, you can rez your set perhaps in the air above the stage. When time for you to dance, copy/paste the X Y Z of the coordinates into the relating boxes of Position, and your set will go right into place. I use Position a lot in my building for different reasons, and especially when lining up WayPoints for a Mover route.
This is one of the most important features of a set. Please light your sets! It is easy and it is free and it matters. Venues are always asking audience to set to midnight. Then dancers don’t light their sets and they are so dark, it is very hard at times to see their faces. LIGHT YOUR SETS, DAMMIT! All you have to do is, make a prim. Doesn’t matter the shape or size. Then right click Edit it, go to the Features tab. Down near the bottom, tick the box that says Light. See your prim light up? You can play with the Intensity (how strong it is), Radius (how far around the prim the light is thrown), and the Falloff (how far the light reaches). I usually use 1.000, 10.00, and 0.00 respectively. You also may tick the white box and make the light into a colored light, for mood lighting on a set. You can light yourself, other dancers, and objects. Be careful not to overdo it!! You don’t want to blow out your set. I seldom use more than three lights, and that is for a large set where my avatar is moving from one side to the other. I often only use one light. Always place the light for yourself at eye level and just forward of the farthest forward place you will dance to. So that you don’t dance out past your light, which causes your face to suddenly go dark.
Facelights are evil. They provide spotty, uneven lighting. I do not recommend wearing them in dancing. Light your sets and you won’t need them.
We use the Objects menu when placing and positioning our sets on a stage. We may need to rotate our sets to get them to line up properly on stage. When you are positioning a set, please please zoom back and cam around it. Peek under it. Is it sitting fully flat on the floor, or floating in the air a little? Is it square to the front of the stage or turned at a sloppy angle? What about the sides and back of your set? Are the sides or back of the stage showing through? What about the roof? Is the ceiling of the stage showing, and do you need to lower your set a bit? Take time to fully check your set, and guarantee it is positioned as perfectly as you can get it. To do otherwise just looks sloppy.
Rez boxes are extremely important to the organizational sanity of a dancer. If you do not know, a rez box is a box that you put all objects from your set into. Then, you click the box, select your set from the blue drop-down menu, and the entire set rezzes in seconds. This takes the guess work out of set rezzing, and removes the nerves of restoring. As sometimes restore fails… you go to restore something and you get that ugly message: No in-world position found. This really sucks when you have 2 minutes to get your set rezzed and get on your mover or poseball during a performance. Linden Labs have also now made it so that you cannot restore no copy items. You CAN override that in your Debug settings, but still restoring no copy items is always risky.
I could not imagine dancing without a rez box. I use the MULTI-SCENE PACKAGER (Business Ed.) rez box system:
It is expensive. There is a much cheaper version of it, but you will hate it and it will make you cry because it does not copy. That means you can only use it once. Then you have to remove your set from it to use it for another set. And then after enough frustration from it, you will just go out and buy the expensive one, so might as well save yourself the agony and get the expensive one from the start. The one I use copies so I can have a different rez box for every dance, and it is multi-scene, meaning it can hold more than one set. But I prefer one dance per rez box.
It is SO easy to use. Simply rez a rez box, placing it in a spot that will not be visible to the audience, preferably behind your set. Please use the one that says NO MSS (that means it won’t spam local chat with messages that the audience can see). Then put a rez box script into the root prim of each linkset (this requires the use of Edit linked, to left click the root prim, go to Contents tab, and drop the rez box script into it. You will get a message in local chat that a rez box has been found, and to take the object into your inventory. Once all linksets in your set have received a rez box scripted and been taken, right click edit your rez box and drop each item in turn into the contents tab of the rez box. You will get a message with each item that the rez box has received it. There is a NC in the rez box. This is a list of what you want to rez. You can put the title of your set on this NC and list each item that is a part of it. The names of items must be exact, so I usually copy their names from their properties and paste them onto the NC. Save the NC. Then click the rez box, select that set, and the entire thing appears.
This is what a rez box NC looks like before being personalized with my set item names:
#2 Write your scene name and objects starting at line 4. Scene name should be placed in /*[ ]*/ bracket.
This is what it looks like after I have listed the items that are part of my set:
#2 Write your scene name and objects starting at line 4. Scene name should be placed in /*[ ]*/ bracket.
Animated two headed Crow on a Skull no sounds
GB – Halloween Set
Spot On Choreography Mover 1.17
King Crab (2 prims) looper z 0 Land
The advantage of using a rez box? You can rez your set in seconds, everything popping into place. At the end of your dance, you can derez it in seconds, NEATLY, rather than having to softlink and take all the objects or take them in bits, clunking around grabbing stuff up while the next dancer is waiting WAITing to rez her set. Also, people who use rez boxes don’t leave things on stage. I can’t tell you how many dancers who don’t use rez boxes miss something (I have done this back in the day before I used rez boxes, and you feel awful when you mess up someone else’s set cause you missed removing something). Then they have a mover or some prop showing on the next dancer’s set. It is sloppy. Rez boxes eliminate the sloppiness. They are fast, tidy, and professional.
The drawback of using a rez box is, you can ONLY use items that copy and modify in a rez box. However, this is for the best. For using items that do not copy can lead to heartache if SL decides to eat them. Then, your set is gone… all that hard work.
We are going to take a coffee break now, have a stretch and meet back in five minutes. Next we are going to discuss the very important topic of texturing.
Texturing is extremely important to the shell of your set. The walls, the roof, the floor. This is where we separate the girls from the women! I have made a texture for you to have as reference. Good texturing will empower you with the ability to produce the best possible setting for the rest of your atmosphere.
Please find in the folder I have passed you a box. Please rez it. Then right click edit it, go to the Texture tab, and click the Texture box. Find the folder I passed you and the texture inside. Please click it. Now your entire box has that texture.
A nice start! But we sure can’t leave it like that.
Right click edit the box. Unless of course you are still in edit mode, on the Texture tab. Tick the box that says Edit linked. Then tick the circle that says Select Face. Now left click the back wall of the box. Then go to Horizontal scale and click the arrow four times to stretch the image. The number in that box should go from 1.000 to 0.6000. Now do the same thing on the inside left and right walls of the box, only take their Horizontal Scale down to 0.2000..
Left click the left inside wall as you face your box. Now go down to Horizontal offset. Tick the down arrow four times so it says -0.4000. Then click the right inside wall and take its Horizontal offset down to 0.4000. Do you see how you have stretched the back wall texture and sides, sliding the sides over a bit, and instead of having a full roller coaster texture on every wall, it looks more like the roller coaster wraps around the set? It looks more realistic.
You can adjust it further by taking the Vertical scale of the left wall to 0.9000. You can keep tinkering with these settings until you get the textures to look seamless and near perfect. Do you see how you can adjust the textures to give a more overall natural look to the sides and back of the box? This is POWER!! This box is, by the way, the stage blank you will use to build your set for your debut performance at Dance Galaxy. I chose a smaller box because I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a ginormous set for your first time. This is a manageable size, giving you room to dance while still providing enough space for some interesting props.
Now what about the ceiling and the floor? Let’s find the texture in your folder called Sky. You should still be in edit mode, Texture tab, Edit linked and Select Face. Click the inside ceiling of your set. Click the texture box. Find the texture in the folder I gave you called Sky. Then close out the Edit mode.
This time I want you to try a different way of texturing. In your folder, I want you to left click HOLD the texture that says Ground, and drag it into the box, being very careful with your aim… drop it on the floor. This is a quickie way of texturing one face of a prim. However, do so with care! As, if you drop it in the wrong place… well it could be a disaster. A friend who had my edit rights once dropped a texture on my castle, and I did not have the texture to fix it. So I had to delete my castle and rez a new one. I am now going to Select Face Edit linked on my ground and make the Horizontal scale 1.5000 and Vertical scale 2.0000 to make the concrete a more natural looking size. I will then click the color box and colour it a darker gray to match the background texture a little better.
I do not like the pattern that is show on the ground texture. That is because, this texture is not truly seamless. A seamless texture will show no seems, no matter how many times you multiply the Horizontal or Vertical scales.
You can also texture objects by dropping a texture into the Texture box of the Texture tab. There is a lot you can do with this menu. I encourage you to experiment with it, empower yourself, that you may get to know all you can do with Texturing. Done properly, you can present a near perfect setting, textured evenly and smoothly with edges lining up beautifully. Sloppy texturing stands out like a sore thumb. I encourage you to texture with care.
Now what about those edges? Please don’t leave them like that. Edit linked and Select Face, left click each edge, then the color box… select black. Do something to make your edges look as nice and well-presented as the rest of your set.
Are you exhausted yet? Has your brain exploded?
When selecting textures, please do so with care. For example, if your walls have a daytime forest seen, using a night sky on the roof is kinda O.O weird. Try to find textures that match up and compliment one another as best as you can. Where to get textures? Well you can buy them of course. But I prefer to go to Google Images, type in the name of what I want, and then pick through those choices. Save the image I want and upload it. This is not only cheap, it offers you a massive variety of images that are often not already overrun in SL. Searching by Snow Background, Desert Road Nighttime, Ocean Waves Texture, and especially using the word Panarama in your searches can produce some amazing results! Want to have some fun with textures? Try searching Fractal and see all the amazing images that pop up!
I have included a texture organizer in your folder that you can add your textures to. It does come with a good collection to help get you started. It is so important to your sanity to keep your textures organized. And, storing them in an organizer will help to keep your inventory from exploding.
Now that you have your textured box, FILL IT with props! Make it interesting. Every item you add to your set stimulates the viewer’s imagination. Of course, there will be some songs that you perform where “Less is More” will apply. Only you can decide what your set needs to give your audience the experience you want them to have. If you have decided you want to use a mostly empty set, then consider using black prims to fill in the sides of your set blank, making the space you are using smaller. For example, angling in the walls with black prims, raising the floor or lowering the ceiling with thick black prims. It is a bit meh to see a big empty box. So, if your box is going to be empty, consider using a smaller box so you do not appear to be in a vacuous box. I hope this makes sense. Basically, I am trying to say to block off some of the unused space of your set with black or decorative prims, if you only want to use a tiny part of the set.
You can find heaps of great set items on MarketPlace in the Building and Object Components section, most of this being sculpty or mesh, high quality, and full perm. One of THE best places, and my ‘go to’ shop, for set decor is Better Gnomes and Cauldrons. Their stuff is mesh, full perm, and inexpensive. It looks amazing.
1. Fades: Fading things in and out is a fabulous effect. You can even fade entire sets in and out. This is how I do scene changes in my dances. To do this, you need to drop a fader script into the root prim of every linkset that you want to fade in and out. Now keep in mind, if you have an object that is semi-transparent, if you fade it in, it will come in fully with no transparency. And items that glow when you fade them out, the glow will remain. I get around this by trying to not use such items in my sets or by not putting those types of items in my rez box, and simply restore or take them when I want them to appear or disappear. Chewie Quixote has created a script that will also allow you to control glow on an item when fading it. But that is for advanced building.
The fader script I use is free on MP, and we usually send the generous creator a little tip when we buy it. If you can afford it. This is the script I use: ShowHideFade https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/ShowHideFade/3925724
First thing you want to do when you get this script is to remove the hovertext. You don’t want some text over your items that says “here”. So, open the script and delete the word “here” that is between the quotes, but leave the quotes. Then, to use this script, drop it into the root prim of each linkset. Then type the command in local chat on the assigned channel. Example, if the assigned channel is 8, you would type /8 Hide. Or /8 Show, to make something appear. You can change the channel that the script listens on, which is especially useful if you have different items on your set that you want fading in and out at different times.
2. Animated Textures: There are a lot of scripts you can put into prims to animate them. You find them on MarketPlace or in a script shop. You can also buy animated textures, beautiful amazing ones. My favourite animated texture shops are Sanna and Sirius. Movement in your textures adds interest and beauty to your sets. I have included a few scripts here for you to experiment with. Drop one into the root prim of a linkset and see what happens. Some scripts affect only the prim it is in, some effect the entire linkset depending on if the script is in the root prim or not. Also if a script is modify, you can change it. For example, you can slow down the speed of a flowing water texture or change the direction of a rotating texture. Now scripting is advanced building, we will not go into that at this time. I just want you to know modifying scripts is an option. Pretty much anything you want to do, you can find a way with the help of scripting.
3. Particles: There are heaps of particle shops in SL. There are also particle HUDs you can buy, so that you can make your own particles. We will be having a class in this a bit later. I prefer particles that I can wear, so that I can detach them at will. If I use particles that I have to rez, I prefer ones that I can click to turn on and off. This is why I prefer to make my own. The HUD that I use to make particles is:
But wait for the class in this, because making particles is an art unto itself.
4. Lights: There are a lot of lighting systems you can buy in SL, foggers, and all sorts of things to enhance the magic of your set. The system I use is OD Designs. They have a system that includes explosions, lightening, fog, sparklers, and steam. This all comes with a HUD. You rez the generator for the particle that you want, then click the HUD on the color that you want. You can also change the color of the effects. I usually change the color because I think the primary colors they use are too strong. You can make the colors of the effects any color you want. For example, a soft purple fog that changes to a peach color is stunning. There In Spirit also has some of the coolest trick lighting on the grid.
Note about scripted items: Sometimes you will get an item that is scripted and you do not want it to be. Example, it has a rotation script but you don’t want it to rotate. You delete the script. The object is still rotating. This is because, prims have memories. Linden Labs gave them memories. And sometimes, they will remember the last script that was in them. The only way to get rid of that memory is to give them a new memory. Usually placing a scrubber script into the root prim of the linkset will fix it.