Dance Formations App

Discussion in 'Main Bhangra Discussion' started by brohan, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. brohan

    brohan New Member

    What’s up folks. My name is Rohan, I danced on DRP from 2009 to 2013 and was captain during the 2012-2013 school year. While I was captain, I got frustrated with formations, and put together a barebones danceapp over a christmas break. Since then, the app has come a long way. I’m sharing it here, hoping that more people find this to be as useful as I did :)

    URL is

    Teams including DRP, Bhangra Empire, Cal Bhangra, NSG, Bruin Bhangra, Cal Alumni, Raas Ruckus, Zor, RVD, and Zeher have been using this to choreo formations. DRP since 2013.

    Some things that may not be immediately obvious when using the app:
    - you can shift click to select multiple dancers at once (for movement or color changes)
    - there is undo/redo buttons with ctrl-R and ctrl-U
    - the workflow is to create frames, set dancer positions in each frame, and press the play button. If you want to checkpoint your work or share it etc, 'publish' will create a url with the formation at that point in time.
    - works on chrome on mac, everything else is not guaranteed.
    - Once you ‘publish’ a formation, you can share it around. Others can edit it, publish it again, it’ll create a new URL.

    Here is an example formation:

    We have a facebook group where you can post questions & feedback, feel free to join it and post to your heart’s content:

    More story:
    Ever year since my first year on DRP in 2009, I noticed how painful teaching formations could be during practices and tried to make a formations app. Each year I used a different method and got a little bit further each time but ultimately didn’t know what I was doing. As I became more senior on the team, a lot of the formation choreography fell on me. When we needed a smooth transition in short notice, I’d end up whipping out my notebook and scribbling a bunch of dots and arrows. It took a while and was difficult to visualize, and sometimes failed. By the time I was captain, I realized that I NEEDED a way to spread the burden of making formations - I couldn't do it on my own.

    Formations are non-trivial to create esp for first-timers on the team. Giving someone 2-3 hours of practice time to teach everyone a formation and then only realizing it doesn't work AFTER spending 2-3 hours of practice time is frustrating for everyone.

    So over winter break of senior year, I put together a very basic version of this app (2D formations, movement, can save and send to someone). Over time, we realized this solved a bunch of problems for us: no collisions. If it worked on the app, we KNEW it would work in person. People could theoretically learn their formations ahead of time ( but this never happened for us :p ). But best of all, we could kind of see what the formation looked liked before committing a few hours to trying it. And send it to each other. By Bruin 2013, most if not all of our formations for the entire set were made in the app.

    The app still had many things left to be desired. A huge one of those being the fact that it was 2D only, and birds-eye view only. When doing choreo we were all about the 'front row' effect… Trying to arouse the most intense emotions from the front row audience with our dancing. And formations play a big role in that. Not being able to see what the formations looked like from the front row on the app made it difficult for us to tell if this was the case before trying it out in practice.

    So, after graduating, I spent some time and re-vamped it with 3D, and continued to add features over the years. In 2014/2015 a close friend Pavan (also DRP captain 2014-2015) jumped in to start working on the app as well and has since added many of the app's best features.

    Anyways, feel free to use it / share it / join the fb group / let us know what you think :)
  2. MohitoK

    MohitoK Active Member

    Best app of all time
    Basim and mehabakshi like this.
  3. Basim

    Basim ♥ BTF ♥ Staff Member

    So THIS is why all those Cali teams keep wining... the secret is out!

    On the real though, THIS IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Where have you been all my life Rohan?!?! I'm sure most of veterans have suffered from trying to manage this on papers, sticky notes, napkins, etc.. all while using the X's and O's as if we were football coaches.

    The fact that everyone can pitch in and "share" formations through this app/website is the best part. Thanks for creating this, maintaining it, and more importantly sharing it.

    Joined the FB group as well. All the best.

    ~ Basim :)
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
    srazdan, angeblah and mehabakshi like this.
  4. HdBrar

    HdBrar Welcome to the Dark Side.

    This is dope. Formations are major chabi.
  5. Fahaddd

    Fahaddd Member

    beyond cool
  6. siddyp

    siddyp Tough times never last, but tough people do.

  7. Armaan Kapoor

    Armaan Kapoor Member

    oh. my. god.
    srazdan likes this.
  8. hardeep_singh

    hardeep_singh Well-Known Member

    thank you for releasing this swami ji, i appreciate all the hard work you and pavan put into it
    smehta313 likes this.
  9. Sue Sylvester

    Sue Sylvester kinnell

    This is fucking awesome.

    As someone who has been using Flash since 2007 to create formations (some of them uploaded for posterity:, this is a game changer for the circuit. Flash was significantly superior to the pen-and-paper technique, m&ms-on-table method, and the all too common, you-know-what-fuck-it-lets-just-figure-out-formations-at-practice-you-go-here-she-goes-there-see-how-easy-that-was-judges-be-wack-these-days-anyways modus operandi slash life ideology. However, Flash had a learning curve and was hella time-consuming (aka why most of my flash videos were the bare minimum to visualize ideas and concepts, didn't always bother with music, or creatie play/pause buttons or fixed directions that dancers were facing after a while). This app, on the other hand, is very easy to use and does a fantastic job helping teams truly be able to test the effectiveness of their formations and spatial arrangements on a stage.

    Seriously, mad props.


    Here are some suggestions that I'm sure many of which are already in your development pipeline:

    - Add the ability to add music. Upload a sound track (I know, eek, upload/storage space, maybe premium pay-for feature to offset that cost) and use the waveform as your timeline for frames. Be able to add keyframes to this timeframe which would allow you to hold "formations" until the next change. Music gives you context of the performance and you can better visualize the impact of the formations in that context. Like, "Damn, we moving a lot, we should let that one formation mechanism effect breath a bit more and let the choreo shine a bit more at this part" or "we haven't done anything interesting formational wise for this entire song, maybe we should".

    - Add the ability to add markers. Be able to define your own vertical/horizontal guides. Teams may split the stage differently. (ie: Both AEG and FAUJ used different number of markers) Even if you're a team that doesn't use markers when you get on stage, markers are helpful when creating formations and teaching them.

    - Directions. Be able to rotate people so they're facing back or forward at a certain frame. This is taking formations a bit further in that this helps you better visualize the end product.

    - Paths. This won't be the easiest to implement, but being able to define a path (ie: a circle) and attaching people to that path for getting from their point A to point B. This was possible in Flash, but it was so time consuming that I didn't do it (as evident at the formation at the end of, but able to get a full path for times when you want people to go in circular paths allows you to check to see if that movement is actually possible in a given number of beats or whether you need more beats to get the entire effect.

    But regardless of these, I'm super impressed. You've done a great service to the circuit. I remember this thread from 2009 talking about how people did formations ( It's now 2017 so I truly hope every team uses this to their advantage to actually create impactful, innovative formations that enhance their sets. I know for sure that this is definitely gonna make my upcoming season of wedding performances so much easier to coordinate.
  10. Basim

    Basim ♥ BTF ♥ Staff Member

    I meant to sticky this topic because I believe it's an immense resource for both new and old teams alike.

    Great suggestions/feedback Sue - I hope the developers circle back (no pun intended) over to BTF to read these comments. I put up a comment on their facebook page as a reminder.

    ~ Basim :)
    Sue Sylvester likes this.
  11. brohan

    brohan New Member

    I'm glad you guys are enjoying this.

    @kinnell those flash formations look awesome. Often for us, we did formations mentally (lots of improvisation) or used pen/paper or experimented with coins. In 2009 I also had tried to see if I can make an app using flash similar to danceapp, but I couldn't figure it out.

    Also, fat thanks for the detailed feedback. I'm going to respond to each one of the points with some thoughts:

    -music: This is probably the first thing I wanted to add after I got 3D working. Back then I wasn't sure if there was a reasonable way to implement this.. I have some ideas now, we may try to get that working soon...

    -markers: Sid & Umer from FCB gave us very detailed feedback about how they'd like to use markers. We added the white lines in as a quick way to get SOME marker functionality working, but we're currently working on revamping this and giving more flexibility to teams.

    -paths: First iteration of the app, I actually was planning to support *only* arcs/custom movements. But to get the minimal useful app working so I could use it with DRP before winter break ended, I ended up using straight line movement, baked into the assumptions of the app.
    Now this would be a really fun feature to work on, though I'm a bit weary of how much use it'll actually get. We measure usage of every feature that exists in the app, so that we can get an understanding how folks use it and for any new features that we provide, whether people find it useful or not. So once we get to that, we'll be sure to measure usage for this as well

    -directions: This is something that's easy to provide and we've thought about it in the past, but nobody else has asked for it yet, so you are the first :)

    Music + markers are something that we're starting to look into now. We've been getting feedback from teams that use the app about what their pain points are. We'll use that as well to determine what we work on next.
    Sue Sylvester likes this.
  12. walkertexasjr

    walkertexasjr Member

    Ditto what Sue said, this is a game-changer. Since I have no experience designing apps or coding, my suggestions may be whack and you can tell me to gtfo but after I stopped fan-girling over the app some things immediately popped into my mind:

    1) Music (addressed above)
    2) Paths/arcs (addressed above)
    3) Something similar to paths/arcs would be some set functions like "rotate" or something like that. Shift-click, and all dancers selected rotate some degrees
    4) Shape templates to help position people, like in a circle
    5) A snap-to marker function (or snap-to-dancer) that can be toggled on and off. Just to keep lines straight, etc.
    6) An auto-mirror function. This might be the toughest (I honestly wouldn't know), but often a dancers movements are mirrored. If you were able to set a "mirror pair" that would move together that could be very useful

    Thank you again for putting this out there for everyone to use. It's awesome, and I think a lot of people will benefit from using it
  13. mithu

    mithu Active Member

    Adding music might be a bit too complicated to add. They'd (coders and teams captains) will have to add tempo changes for each segment.
    From a back end view this would be a night mare since every DAW processes tempos differently. And lets not forget about copyright issues.

    What can be done is have a export function with in the app. Even if it doesnt captains can use OBS to record it in MOV format.
    Import mix and all captured formation into MOV into Adobe Premiere or Ableton, and edit formation speeds that way.
  14. Sue Sylvester

    Sue Sylvester kinnell

    @mithu You don't do it by tempo, you do it by actual time (seconds) lol

    Sure, in the absence of music, "number of beats" is a good choice as the unit of "time" between key frames (a key frame as a single intentioned (as oppose to intermediate movement auto-generated) positioning of people on a stage), but with music, the more reasonable approach is to simply use the actual timings of the mix as positions to put these frames. This removes any sort of need of having to beat map tempos or worry about tempo changes. Basically, regardless of the tempo, any gaps in the mix, or moving formations for whatever reason not aligned with tempo, the end user would merely need to place frames on actual time position corresponding to how many self-counted beats they may need.
  15. pritpal94

    pritpal94 Active Member

    Damn good app bro
  16. Howie Magz

    Howie Magz Well-Known Member

    Just started using this for AEG and I love it. Thanks again for putting this out here for us. It has made my life a million times easier.
    srazdan likes this.
  17. tasneem

    tasneem New Member

    Yooooo we expired now?! How can we get this back? plz plz I'll venmo you I swear

    Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 10.48.49 AM.png
    DCBC likes this.
  18. Basim

    Basim ♥ BTF ♥ Staff Member

    Should be working now.

    ~ Basim :)
    HdBrar and tasneem like this.

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