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How and why do you choose your choreography moves?

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The title sums it up.  There hasn't been much on the site about how people choose the moves, one short discussion from 15 years ago, and a few stories that I've unearthed while browsing old SKQ and Kite Lines magazine archives.  

From the most broad perspectives it is about building up a collection of motions and choosing from them.  I've got a good chunk of the AKA compulsory figures under my belt, plus a bunch of figures and ideas from watching at festivals and old performance videos.  I'm not talking about doing a motion, or the techniques behind a pinwheel or tip pivots or anything.

How exactly do you choose what to fly?  How do you match up what you hear in the music with how the kite moves?  I think this is where the art comes in, and I want to learn that art.

When flying solo, on the most broad perspective slow points in music mean arcs, slow circles, and stalls. Fast usually means angles, snaps, and tight motion. But for YOU INDIVIDUALLY, what guides your choices?  Why does one person choose an arc over a circle or a stall?  Why do you choose to do an axel instead of a sharp turn?  Why do you say "I need to do X because Y"?

When flying groups (which I rarely have the opportunity to do), it is much the same. Why should the caller choose one formation over another?  What is it that says one situation is better with side-by-side boxes, another similar situation is better with do-se-do/matrix, another calls for a blender?   What goes through your head when you are calling? 

When flying together with beginners --- since when I can occasionally convince someone to fly with me I'm usually the most advanced of the group --- how do you build up interesting patterns when your copilots only know two or three maneuvers? For those who are professionals or otherwise advanced, how do you make the calls still be fun and also compelling? 

And finally, for fixed and pre-choreographed routines, what do you do when the wind doesn't match what you had planned?  "Just wing it, and try to get back into formation" seems to be typical, but some performances seem to suddenly shift into ad-hoc moves that still work out despite the wind dropping and the team suddenly running a reverse marathon.  What goes through your head as the caller? 

 

When watching videos both of competitions (and of myself), there are flights that are polished yet completely unrelated to the music. There are flights that are unpolished but fit well with the music. And there are the rare amazing flights where both the motion and the music are amazing together.  

I imagine the answers are unique to each pilot. In that regard I feel like an art student looking at masterpieces, being able to identify the curves and forms in the art, able to clone pieces of what masters do, but struggling to create something masterful of my own.

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For me, solo flying, indoors or outside, is all about the music and the mood it conveys. I rarely have any planned routine, just fall into rhythm with how it moves me. I may go into it with wanting to try several things, but where I try them is dictated by the music. Soul flying ......

Team flying is a whole different beast, partly because I'm tailgunner on my team. Our leader usually comes up with the majority of a routine. We fly it to find out if it works or not. Maybe some moves fit better here or there? Maybe some moves don't work as thought, but will if modified? This is a chance for the whole team to have input on it. But still, it fits to the music, the mood, the rhythm.

I do call for many "beginner" lines. I try to determine the skill set each flier brings to the table, and construct the line based on what people can do. No sense putting someone at tailgunner if they can't hold an inverted hover, that means balls would be shaky. BUT, I also try to push them a bit, try new moves, experiment. Do things in segments or slow motion. Talk it out and explain if need be. But push them to come away a better flier if possible.

Funny story: A friend and I were fooling around trying new moves to be different as a pair. Out of those experiments, I built a complete pairs routine - but without any music! One day I heard a song that fit perfectly! Match made by the wind lords!!! 

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First, I don't compete but I do a lot of Demo Flys.   I'm 100% a Soul Flier and I choose music that I know very well so my timing steps reflect the music and the mood.  I do let the choice of equipment for the day determine my music selections. Light Wind days will give you flowing performance from me. High winds and I'll be picking something far more up-tempo..

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I compete, have since 1999...... but that doesn't mean I care about how I do.  I just want everyone to have the same opportunities I've experienced.  See what's being done, and how.  Anything I can take and make my own?  Is the thing I'm after "equipment specific"?,... if so what's different, that allows this thing to take place at all?

I have music, but it's the same ole crap I've had for over a decade. Honestly I do better just pulling a rabbit out of a hat (sound tent chooses).  I don't usually win, only if the conditions are beyond the legal limits of competition (MMB is 3-18 mph I believe). I'm awesome under a dead calm or if the portas-potties are blowing over (under 2 mph or over 28)

I've got a few things I've practiced for years to throw in,... as the music fits,..... be they precision moves or slack lined tricks.

A winning routine is built on straight lines, tight corners and clearly recognizable circles.  The rest of your routine has to fit and belong where you put it!

On the East coast you will not receive a good score if you fly a quad with two string fitting music and flight style (almost all forward and fast).  Here the quad line effect is king, you better show me what that kite can do and do so tight.  15% side slides and full hovers are possible with a dually, upright or inverted.  SHOW ME quad effect, back that pig up, slide diagonally and make it match your music. Are your tricks balanced (if you can only do it one way then you can't do it yet!) across the window?

Do you use the window's edge, where others can't fly at all?  What separated you from all others, technique, music, equipment, routine, fashion statements?

Competition has taught me so much, new friends and new techniques.  Everyone should have the same opportunity that was offered me.  There are plenty of things to complain about during a competition too.  foremost, you WATCH more than you get to actually fly.  Still it's worth it to me.

What is everyone else doing?, well I'm not going to do it and that's for sure!  But sharing the tricks of the trade conversations, those friendships established even the ribbing that takes place before, during and afterwards.  The newest, coolest stuff will be on display with somebody wiling to let you try it out!

Given a choice, I will always team-fly the last position, I prefer inverted, and occasionally I've been known to see and give chase to a squirrel too!

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Those are good, but they don't really address the art side.  

Flying at a fast tempo can mean lots of twists and turns, but even if those are performed well, the tempo alone doesn't make it beautiful.

I think about this article. That "washing the car" description seems to fit for me.  When I know music well I can do my own "soul flying" as was described, maybe matching wingtip turns to a beat, flying certain shapes at given times, but nothing that makes me think "wow!"

I like the general guidance for showing off quad-specifics when flying quads, and not doing what others are doing. Those fit nicely in my engineering brain, remove X from the set, leaving Y and Z to choose from. But still trying to make the art side of choreography, what is going through your head when you choose them?  What makes it a "wow"?

14 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

The newest, coolest stuff will be on display with somebody wiling to let you try it out!

That's good, and I look at shows like that.  Living in central Texas there isn't much, but I attend whatever I can, and watch streams and videos that as best I can.

I guess coming from you specifically, an example of the wow factors was this segment of yours at SPI from two years back. As always, those performances are better in person than in video. Great music selection, it's driving, dramatic, and hits strong emotions.  A+ for that. When I look at "wow" moments during the performance, there were several where you interacted with the audience; several "wow" moments were over-the-audience glides, stopping and reversing over the crowd, or the long slides. A few other wow moments were a few series of fast tugs (where you were clearly getting a workout).  Throwing the kite out of the arena toward the air vent that pulled it away from the audience at the end was also a wow moment for me. 

Were those just ad-hoc moments of dancing to the music, or more along the lines of "time to do another pattern, ... glide turn back, glide turn back, next wall, glide turn back, glide turn back, on to the next pattern..." ?  Or did you have specific segments already in place fitted to the music, "this segment goes through four long glide/return pieces, that's followed by some rapid beats, and next comes this one really long slow draw ..." ? Or in the moment were you thinking more about trying to get up over the audience specifically, and because it was on your mind you repeatedly went over people during the segment?

Basically, what went through your head as you chose those specific patterns?  

 

For others like Brett Marchel, many of his videos lately seem to be focused around axels, mixing them in effective ways with other motions. Is the thought process more like "I want to do ALL the axels! An axel here, and an axel here! Here an axel, there an axel, eveywhere an axel!"? Or is the thought more along the lines of "to the side, TURN, other side and TURN, back over and TURN?" Or more dancing to the beat, like "1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, flat, yank, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, flat, yank!" ? Or more about knowing the specific song and what patterns happen to work well for it? Why all the axels and not something else for those sharp turns?

I guess written differently:  Lots of y'all are are awesome performers. What are you thinking, how can I perform as awesome as you? In addition to a billion hours on the lines, what is going through your head for pattern selection that changes it from a meh to a wow?

 

 

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Too much credit given to guy who makes it up on site.  Frob I don't think about the music, ( back to the future is an outdoor song!) certainly no pre-planned movements . nope I simply let loose and watch the crowd's reaction.  

Dave's original design almost flies itself, so no hard work by pilot, it glides down a wall unattended too, so trying to include that ending seems reasonable.  The crowd occupies all of the wall surfaces, so I'm forced to throw the handles over their heads once contact is made.  All the antics in the world won't cure a dangerous safety violation! 

I understand you want advise to improve,... well here's mine, be yourself with kites.  Are you organized, great use that. Me? Heck no! Loose as a deck of cards in the wind, I can't apply organization, it is against everything I stand for!

i am lazy, don't edit music, plan corrography, even maintenance on my wings is neglected, been described as the Charles Barkley of kiting (not a positive role model.) 

i am exceptionally gifted at fun, like a double PHd in it!  Spectators like a friendly smile, indoors is intimate with the folks, pick one individual and focus/fly for them.  A kid, cute gal, special needs individual, not someone you know.

work your strengths and be yourself, listen to your music, know it well, don't follow my example, I am everything wrong with kiting!

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I'm coming at this from a different angle....the kite "writing" the music rather than flying to the music per se.

I'm a musician and if I have to learn material then I'll fly to the music I have to learn for whatever or whomever I'm working with/for. However this isn't choreography really, as I'm reacting to the music or mixes of the music I'm working on, concentrating more on the musical parts and learning them.

On the other hand I video the kite's flight and use that as a graphic score. I can play the vid on one computer and on another computer compose the music in accordance to what I'm seeing the kite doing....ie....if the kite goes up it could mean either up in pitch or up in tempo. I would assign musical moves to kite moves and work within these parameters. Keeping in mind I'm not composing songs but pieces of more abstract music....like an ambient film score using hardware or software synths. I used this technique when I was doing sound design for a video game company years ago....ironic as I detest video games but they paid me really well...so I could buy more kites!!!

When I'm learning music and flying, or just flying to toons I'll do free or soul flying. When I'm in graphic score mode I sometimes may have a motif or idea in mind, or just improvise the kite moves with no music. Then as stated before I'll watch the vid and score from there, sometimes in real time depending on the sounds I'm using. 

On top of that I'll fly to no music except the natural soundscape so I can leave my job at home, but it sure is nice to incorporate kiting as part of my job.

bt

 

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I've heard to diagram your routine in 5 second intervals on graph paper,... you can flip thru and see it all, nothing repeated!... what can you fly w5secs? A precision figure takes about 40-45 seconds

ive seen a performances where the music was assembled /edited to match the routine, 1,000 edits in a three minute musical piece

i am NEVER doing anything like that, they care way more than me, taking fun crap and making it a sweaty career, welcome to the victory lap champ!

you get out what you put in, mine overflows with fun, professionalism is sorely lacking

dozens of years later, I'm still out there, where are those guys working their tail feathers off, GONE, on to newer challenges.  What do you come back for, if you've already accomplished it all?  Every time you get a score, it's perfect! There's nothing left to challenge,.... there are more people gone than still around, hence the demise of the Eastern League.

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My take on "competition": and I'm sure there will be plenty of opposing views:

At one time, kiting was trying hard to be a "sport" in this country. There were leagues, a circuit almost, where one gathered points to compete at the "national" level. Sponsors of line and kites abounded, trying to get their product recognized as "what the champion flew". People aged out and weren't "replaced". Gradually competition has given way to demonstration flying.  It's a more relaxed style of flying, no pressure, no score. The only pressure is self imposed - wanting to do it well for the audience .......... and yourself.

Why? There are only a handful of people making a living from kites. Store owners, kite builders, and very few doing like JB - designing, marketing, and giving lessons, holding clinics. The profit margins are slim, leaving little for any type of sponsorship. Think about how much just one comp level kite costs, then multiply by the several a good competitor needs for the many wind conditions he/she might face. Plus the costs of lines, handles, kite bag, and any related gear. Simple stuff like a good hat, water bottle or hydration pack, buff, sunscreen. All optional, but your body will thank you if protected.

Travel costs. So not only do you have comp costs, but getting to a festival. Add in a place to stay and feeding yourself, the costs start to mount up on John Q. Public. Not everyone has a couple hundred dollars laying around for a weekend. And try adding up the costs if you were to try and go to as many as you could. In today's climate - a small fortune.

Time. Honing those moves to a comp level. How many have it? If so, how many do it? In today's world, how many have that much time to devote to something that has a silent partner? Wind. Maybe it's dead or maybe too much? There's a day out the window for that type of practice. You are happy to just fly!

So this becomes an age old argument - Is kite flying a sport ..... or a hobby/activity?

Just some general thoughts.....

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How we approach choreography is as individual as the kite flier. I didn't get to experience kiting in its "heyday"   One thing to keep in mind throughout it all is, every competition we attend, and every festival we support is our only testament to this sport/hobby. The main reason I don't personally compete is I refuse to let my competitive nature ruin my friendships. I don't like the time limits or the structure of the current competitive circuit. I do however enjoy flying to music and using the kite to interpret that music so I go to events where I can fly demos. I attend competitions where I can fly a demo while the judges discuss the next event. 

Bottom line is you will get out of kiting what you put into it. If you want snap, pop and go precision, it's a matter of practice. If you want Tight team formations and precision flying, the same answer is practice. If you want free flowing soul flying, that also takes the same practice if you want to keep it fluid AND interesting.

Every time you grab the lines or the handles in public, you are an ambassador to kiting. The attitude you show MAY be the only influence the public ever sees. The Precision of your performance, the tight line team performance or the tears in the eyes soul flying are each in their own way a spark in the next generation of kiters. The largest complaint I hear is kiting (and kiters) are getting old. It's not perceived as a young persons activity any more unless you are talking powerkiting (buggy, Kite Skiing, Kiteboarding, etc.) It's up to you to change that, each and every time you fly in public.

If you aren't having fun, you are doing it wrong.

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I'm having fun and doing what I enjoy. But when I see what I've done, either by being mindful of it or by recording videos, it doesn't have a "wow" factor.

Again, it isn't that I'm not having fun.  It is that I want to help others see a "wow" factor, and I want to have that myself.

 

I'm a left-brained highly analytical engineer.  I can describe a dozen different ways to sort things without even warming up, and I've forgotten more data structures and algorithms than most people have ever known.  But when it comes to artistic things like dancing with the kite, I struggle. Anything "freestyle" is abysmal for me. Even with my daughters, crank up the tunes and while they're dancing to whatever it is that comes into their head, I can't dance (and they tell me so).  

I can play music, I'm a great pianist and organist.  I can feel the music, I can replay the music and add my own emotion to it, but I cannot create something new. I struggle with the creating side.  When I fly a kite I can count out the beat, and I can feel that I want to create something with it, but I don't have it in me right now.

When I fly I do have fun, I have a blast. I can hear a beat, know that something is coming up, and do a box in time with the music.  I know a rise is coming, so I can do a ladder or wingtip climb.  I know a slow drawdown is coming so I can do a similar move. 

But they don't have a "wow" factor.  I might have someone stop for a minute or two at the park, then walk on.  I've had times when I play with people following actions I've seen others use.  Particularly if I'm near a sidewalk and some kids are walking by, I can land the kite and do the little walk or hops, that draws a smile.  Sometimes I can do a dive-stop, followed by a bicycle then back to the top, that gets a moment.  But that's about it for 'wow', and it certainly isn't during actual flying.

 

If asking about choreography isn't the right question, what is?  How do I go from simple "washing the car" style flying, where it looks like I'm going through all the correct motions to get the job done yet it still isn't exciting, to demo-style flying full of "wow" moments?  I don't have the artistic showmanship side in my personality, I'm not naturally charismatic nor dancing nor nimble.  But I'm hoping I can get enough information and examples that I can still build up those moments of delight.  Even if it means training myself to do them, I want to share those moments with others.  That's the reason behind the question.  What is it I need to do to generate those wow moments, the moments of delight, that show up in the shows?

 

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I spent hours watching some really great fliers "click" with their routines..

That Wow factor truly is a matter of the flying emphasizing the musical phrasing. Addressing the mood of the song with the style of flying and then adding accent points where appropriate to literally punctuate the performance.

Paul uses soundtrack styles of music a lot which have natural builds and lulls which he takes advantage of every time.

Take the analytical approach to this. Looks at the performances you want to emulate and what you remember from those performances. I call them pop points. What was going on with the kite at the time? What was the music doing? What particular point of timing, performance or trick made this stick in your mind?

Paul's "Back to the Future" routine from a few years back had him doing a catch on 80+ ft lines. He'd tug the kite just before a certain point in his music and it would seem to take forever diving out of the sky into his waiting hand. The times I saw him do it, the catch was the crescendo and everything leading to that point in the music was just building to that catch. The timing of the catch was everything.

Watching John Barresi's looney tunes performance, the animation of the kite literally carries you back to the cartoon that sparked the performance. The kite becomes everything from Bugs Bunny's ears slapping Elmer Fudd's head to a chasing gait to even the flowers blooming after the hair tonic was applied. It all fits.

John's "I'm the Man" demo for the Djinn had a pop point for me as well. The diamond bicycle. The smoothness of that particular sequence within the video highlighted the entire sequence. 

Watching Chris Shultz's Mirage stack performance is mesmerizing. The kites have a life of their own with a banter and playfulness that literally demands you watch. It's one of those moments where you forget you are recording and end up recording the ground or the sky while you just watch.

These are pop points for me. What do they all have in common? The motions of the kite whether difficult or easy, clicked with the music and the overall performance to create a memorable moment. It doesn't have to be an axel or flic flac. It can literally be a stop or sudden change of direction or speed.

Now when I'm listening to music I use for my demos, I find those accent points I want to emphasize and practice whatever move I want to do there around that point. Where do I need to be in the sky? What aspect does the kite need to have at that time. The pop points don't have to be difficult at all. One pop point I use in a song is an unexpected double cymbal hit. I time my approach loading the sail and flying slowly across the window (forwards) using each beat of the song to load the sail a bit more. On the double cymbal hit, I quickly accelerate the kite with each hit releasing the energy I've loaded up into the sail. It's not a hard move to do but when you see it timed with the music (and when I get it right) it just pops. You listen to the song later and the cymbal hits you never noticed before will stand out to you.

Bottom line is, Yes, there is technicality involved but those pop points are what makes a performance memorable. Placing them at strategic parts of your sequence will maintain audience attention and get you on the right track. As you start stringing these pop points together with cohesion and continuity, your performance will leap ahead with the impact you are looking for.

Personally, everything between the pop points, I fill with soul flying. I think Paul does some of the same approach. I'm under the impression John visualizes a grid in the sky and approaches it methodically with short sub-routines and transitions between them.

 

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I compete, have since 1999...... but that doesn't mean I care about how I do.  I just want everyone to have the same opportunities I've experienced.  See what's being done, and how.  Anything I can take and make my own?  Is the thing I'm after "equipment specific"?,... if so what's different, that allows this thing to take place at all?
I have music, but it's the same ole crap I've had for over a decade. Honestly I do better just pulling a rabbit out of a hat (sound tent chooses).  I don't usually win, only if the conditions are beyond the legal limits of competition (MMB is 3-18 mph I believe). I'm awesome under a dead calm or if the portas-potties are blowing over (under 2 mph or over 28)
I've got a few things I've practiced for years to throw in,... as the music fits,..... be they precision moves or slack lined tricks.
A winning routine is built on straight lines, tight corners and clearly recognizable circles.  The rest of your routine has to fit and belong where you put it!
On the East coast you will not receive a good score if you fly a quad with two string fitting music and flight style (almost all forward and fast).  Here the quad line effect is king, you better show me what that kite can do and do so tight.  15% side slides and full hovers are possible with a dually, upright or inverted.  SHOW ME quad effect, back that pig up, slide diagonally and make it match your music. Are your tricks balanced (if you can only do it one way then you can't do it yet!) across the window?
Do you use the window's edge, where others can't fly at all?  What separated you from all others, technique, music, equipment, routine, fashion statements?
Competition has taught me so much, new friends and new techniques.  Everyone should have the same opportunity that was offered me.  There are plenty of things to complain about during a competition too.  foremost, you WATCH more than you get to actually fly.  Still it's worth it to me.
What is everyone else doing?, well I'm not going to do it and that's for sure!  But sharing the tricks of the trade conversations, those friendships established even the ribbing that takes place before, during and afterwards.  The newest, coolest stuff will be on display with somebody wiling to let you try it out!
Given a choice, I will always team-fly the last position, I prefer inverted, and occasionally I've been known to see and give chase to a squirrel too!

The Man Song. Best routine ever


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13 hours ago, DTill said:

Link to video?

nope, at least not from me..... surely everyone's best performances were missed on video.  I'm never happy seeing my own efforts, my bride has repeatedly told me I've embarrassed "our family",.... or "what was up with that crap?". Wrong kite, wrong line lengths, missing my props for freestyle (OIOU), didn't use the right music for the conditions (do YOU have a slow indoor song & fast one for booking winds outside?)

Feeling the performance is so much more rewarding than a score, at least to me.  Many of my best efforts resulted in a disqualification for flying over the crowd, a judging station or completely out of bounds.

High risk beats tight precision EVERY TIME on my score sheet!  What'chew got for us?!??

The best performances I've seen have taped themselves and watching the tape CAN/ and SHOULD improve you own efforts.

You're not supposed to watch the flyer in competition, only the kite.  Heck I'm as much of a show as that darn wing though, just another reason demos are more fun than a structured environment!

Demos allow you to screw around with your friends, including them or cutting in on each others time, stealing the handles, or sneaking under to grab THEIR catch! Passing off the handles between pilots or sharing one in each hand. Jumping over each other or laying on the ground doing antics.

Not knowing what comes next is the TRUE excitement for me, it comes out in the performance but it will not win a competition.  I surely enjoy a demo though, I'd like to go first and fly in no wind too, really show you what I've worked on for over 25 years.

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Have a few things you can "throw in" as necessary.  45 seconds in for Back to the Future to begin

Everyone does 180 turns up the center, "climbing the ladder", .... so I do 'em in reverse

I've probably got a stop sign in reverse too, (the Octagon from precision figures), whereas lots of folks do a diamond pattern flown all forward included someplace.

I've got a clam-shell roll-up as a kite with magic sticks GIVES you this technique free.  I've got an axel, the lower the wind the slower I can effect it.  On the Zen it is timed with a sundial and changes lanes, morphing from a half axel (or a stationary held-fade) to a clam-shell or wrapping all the way around to come back out inverted completing the axel rotation.

I've got a throw & catch, but I've been working on it for 20 years.  Start close to the kite and work your way up to longer and longer lengths.  if you can catch 120's you KNOW you can demo 90 feet successfully.  If you can throw it 70 feet you KNOW you can do fifty like magnetism, complete reliability, effortless.  I've made extensive modifications to my kites to get this killer glide (live in the land of no wind, a glide is essential to recover your field). B-Series & Speed series kites OWN this technique.

Make the kite walk, heck you don't even fly doing this trick!  You Gotta' own this for kids around the world.

I've got an axel, but I do it way better towards my right than from the center out to the left (I'm left handed, go figure!).  I can do half axels and gain ground at the same time in no wind.

I've got a flick-flak (super reliable) but the French Bridle gives those away free, it comes out of it all by itself too, not secondary jerk is necessary.

Depending on the kite, I can do a Falling Leaf,... now you don't want that killer glide built into the leading edge, as it forces the kite into recovery mode and you want it to drop like a stone from on high! (Djinn, or Phoenix OWN it)

Everybody has a dive/stop, .... where are you gonna put it so it belongs there?

You ought to be able to do a bike-roll across the window, if not practice HOW SLOW you can go and it will come to you

I try to hide the differences in speed when possible, the kites go faster inverted than side-sliding, and it goes faster still in forward compared to any other orientation.  Don't allow the public to figure out the kite's preferred direction of travel.

Smile and make eye contact with the witnesses to your activities!

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I really appreciate all the discussion so far.

I could easily be the stereotypical nerd with a pocket protector and taped-up glasses, monotone speech, etc. I'm one of the people who is seldom invited to the fun parties, often I don't see what's funny about most 'blue collar jokes', and struggle to see what most people find fun even when it is right in front of my eyes. 

I suspect that's part of why I'm having a hard time with this.  I think maybe an alternative title to the topic might have evolved to "How do I change the nerd into the popular kid?"

 

8 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

You're not supposed to watch the flyer in competition, only the kite.  Heck I'm as much of a show as that darn wing though, just another reason demos are more fun than a structured environment!

Agreed.  So many people have distinctive motions as they fly.

People range from zen-like slow motions, to dance styles that would fit with disco lights, dances that could fit in a ballet or broadway show, to full-body contortions trying to tug on the lines performed either slowly like yoga or quickly like flailing.  

While it isn't part of a competition scoring, their personal flair certainly has potential to boost the 'wow' factor.  I suspect some of that comes with either natural charisma or learning how to actually dance, but having not much of either I don't know for certain.  Graceful, lithe motion certainly plays well to the crowds.  Even when flying a great performance, those who stand mostly in position tend to have less of a wow, some is due to not changing the sail loading, but I think there is a strong personality factor.

That's certainly something I need to work on.  Maybe it would go under a label like showmanship, not of the kite but of the pilot.

7 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

Everyone does 180 turns up the center, "climbing the ladder", ... the Octagon ... diamond pattern ... sundial ... dive/stop ... bike-roll across the window ... 

Good list, and I like your variations to them. 

You're right that the formations are scène à faire, they are standard across everyone who flies and they're what needs to be done, they've been included in the international compulsory books, and for me personally flying them seems like standard motions to me now.  I struggled with bicycle turns and traveling bicycles for a while, but a bit of practice got those added to my collection.  I still struggle with a few of the Master-level compulsories, but that isn't holding me back from the wow factor.  I've seen people with less skill and less precision have more of those moments of delight.

Thinking back I had not really noticed that before, but after seeing other pilots do them normally your backward variations add some excitement to the shows and demos. 

 

I like your thoughts on the throw/catch.  I can do it indoors (it's an essential alternative to spending time resetting the kite) and outdoors on 30', but I cannot imagine actually doing it on 120's.  Just thinking about it makes me cringe at the risk of loops/tangles in the lines.  I've seen the catch done at some demos, but how on earth would you do that as a throw?! 

7 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

Make the kite walk, heck you don't even fly doing this trick!  You Gotta' own this for kids around the world.

When I first saw it I thought it was gimmicky. My analytical brain still struggles to make the connection for it.

Even though I struggle with the appeal for myself (my nerd side cringes as it chews up the endcaps on concrete) I've seen it charm and entertain so many people that I picked up kite walking and I use it when near people, especially kids. It is safe because you're not up over their heads, and it is quite easy to do.  While I don't personally feel the fun behind it, I do get the joy of seeing the smiles and laughs from other people.  

The same thing with 'waving' at people, giving quick alternating tugs while inverted and either midair or parked on the ground. People like it, I don't intuitively feel the draw but I can see people enjoy it.  

7 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

I've got a clam-shell roll-up as a kite with magic sticks GIVES you this technique free. ... morphing from a half axel (or a stationary held-fade) to a clam-shell

I'm not familiar with that term. I know axels (but struggle with performing them), I know flick-flacks as a great way for me to do the walk of shame after the kite depowers and won't recover, but I don't know what you mean by clam-shell.

7 hours ago, Paul LaMasters said:

Smile and make eye contact with the witnesses to your activities!

This is something I'm already okay with. While I enjoy flying for myself, it's very zen-like and calming, I absolutely love having an audience to play with.  I often struggle with keeping and holding that audience, but I love engaging with them while it lasts.  I'm hoping these moments of delight and pop point ideas can help with that.

 

 

In any event, I've got a list of ways to improve, you have all helped a bunch.  My list so far, although it is probably more about personal improvement rather than generally applicable elements:

  • Learn a small number of demo-able songs extremely well, so I can plan or predict 'pop points'.  Right now I play a Pandora channel that goes through perhaps a hundred songs, I need to find one and say "THIS is my demo song".
  • Continue to pay attention to general beats and flow of songs, to take stronger advantage of 'pop points'. Currently I count along with the beats like '1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, POP!', pushing this further will take some intentional efforts.
  • Since I can fly the standard formations and patterns, look for opportunities to NOT do them. This is especially true if someone else also does them, such as doing them backwards or otherwise differently from how others do them. This doesn't take much additional intent or mindfulness.
  • Become more mindful of my own body's showmanship and my personal dance, at least until I'm more comfortable with it.  This one will require some more videos.
  • Continue studies on tricks, things like flick-flacks, glides, and axels. I'm not really skilled with them, but they are popular and they can be used at pop points.
  • Continue studies on difficult conditions, particularly low wind outdoors.  (While watching people try to fly in the dead air at AKA Grand Nationals last year, JB quipped that flying in the calm air was perfect for grand nationals, it helped separate the men from the boys.  Unlike everyone else, when he was out of ground during his compulsories due to very calm air, he ran a 360 on his long lines to recover ground, then continued.)  This Saturday's forecast is for 1-3 mph most of the day so I removed kite flying from my calendar, maybe I need to put it back on and suffer through it.
  • Find more opportunities for urban flying. My few attempts so far usually end with frustration due to cross-winds, having a breeze that completely reverses directions or dies without warning.  

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Clam-shell roll-up is a technique applied on the ground, (in the beginning). It is not flying.

you land the kite leading edge up, directly downwind.  You step forward towards the kite as you lunge your handles forward,.... all in unison, this new found slack allows the kite to fall backwards onto the magic stick end-caps.  If sufficient slack was provided, the kite will keep right on going all the way around until the strings come over the front of the trailing edge. 

it is rolled-up into the strings!

to undo it, you step backwards aggressively as you yank the handles back towards your hips (together!).  It will unroll itself from the lines and snap back to upright, ready to take off again.

Now you've got style, so you know it's actually four beats of music timed to this technique.  Land, roll-up, unroll, relaunch.

Time to engage "crew", as the high risk is

if all of the flying lines do NOT fall into the center of the kite sail (the center V) or all of 'em don't fall to the outside of the down spars. All have to be the same way, either inside the down-spars (preferred) or outside. Your crew needs to be ready as a tangle is gonna' happen if it's a mix of inside AND outside the down-spars.

So you've mastered this technique (it is foolishly easy if everything is right with the length & location of the magic sticks), so do you START your routine with this high risk maneuver, or play it safe and END with it?

You now own this trick to such an extent that you can throw a flat and super slow axel inches above the ground FIRST, and when it's gets half way around (leading edge is now facing you) you lunge at the kite and snap the handles aggressively (done together) to create the Roll-up from off of the ground!

oh boy, now you're a bad motor scooter

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Frob,

....  low wind skills, like anything else takes time on the lines.  Managing your own movements to a minimum and maximizing the effort on the other (kite's end) of the strings, learning the techniques.

For example, you "set" the kite in the low, or non existent wind and MAKE it fly, not handle movements at all, but engaging your feet to walk backwards, holding that pre-set angle stationary in relationship to the kite.

You don't tune in more forward drive on the leaders, that is counter productive in low/no wind!  No, you add DOWN until the kite will backup from an inverted position (you are very likely walking backwards to apply enough energy, to make the kite back-up). This backing-up will be look much smoother with feet applied too. "square to the wind, if you were holding a plywood sheet in a wind tunnel"

Now you are well back from your starting location, it's time to recover your field.  You can do it with the leading edge vertical, imagine you were shooting an arrow from your English long-bow, one arm punched way forward and the other drawn back all the way to your shoulder.  Notice how that feels more comfortable if your torso is facing left and the LE is facing right? (than squared-up shoulders). You pull the bottom wing and swing it over the top of the original height wing, a tip rotation, done with authority too, powering it up and over, then alternate and do it again the other way. Climbing the ladder.  Leaning or laying out the kite, parallel with the ground to maximize those floating capabilities when possible.

Easier still is the LE facing down field recovery, remember all the Reverse you have tuned into the leaders? Well now is the time for it to be empowered and set free.  Fly as high upright as you can and turn the LE down towards the ground, how fast you decent is a measure of gliding capabilities on your kite COMBINED with the pilot's mastery of angling the handles either more or less to control that decent. Descending as you walk forward.  A well tuned glide should recover the field if you completely release the handles entirely,... aLL by ITsElF!!!  80 feet of height should net you about 240 feet of field recovery!  Don't tell me you can't recover your field, the kite does it without you!

Indoor or no wind kites are delicate, you can't just slam them around or things go seriously wrong.  How much flexibility to fill the sail with energy?, how much stiffness so the kite tracks a straight line when told to?  Flying alone allows more bend and a lighter weight overall, flying team you suddenly find you kite won't turn on it's wingtip, only centered rotations due to all the LE flex.  You don't match-up with the others, add some weight and stiffness back in there!!!

Longer throw handles lessen the effort necessary by the pilot in low wind, (they have an opposite effect in high wind, unnecessarily torquing your wrists, uncomfortable by the end of the day).  Swing your short handles fully forward and back and examine how far the bottom leader travels.  Now imagine if all of the braking action could be significantly increased.  You'd work less and the kite could still dance thru slack line tricks!

Lighter weight lines means less drag, but also less connection to the kite, they seem/feel more stretchy in flight.  We use 50lbs/100 foot frequently at the Washington Monument and I have a set of 60 footers too.  100# is for those locations where little bits of crap stick up and snag you lines on the ground.  When you just want to just yank it out, instead of walk up there and unhook it.  Indoors is more personal, some like it not tangled (thicker) and some want it lighter (thin string)

Take the indoor skills outside.  You can't stand stationary, but that doesn't 't mean you need to run 360s perpetually either.  Know you equipment, what can you change and put back again, just as an experiment?  Did the test help your low wind skills improve or add anything?

I moved from Chicago (by Busse woods/Schaumburg) to Ft. Lauderdale (Plantation) , then to Washington DC (Germantown).  Upon arrival in the nation's capitol I found out NONE of my kites would even fly here.  I watched others and drooled, finally joined kite club, eventually became an officer, still remember the first time someone asked me for advise (turned around to see who was actually being spoken to).  Worked for 2-1/2 decades on my low/no wind skills, practice flying and testing modifications as direct comparisons with friends.  Now I have the skills and tools necessary to make no wind my preference for conditions.

When you go someplace and complain about the lack of wind, just know that not everyone feels that same sentiment, I want that first demo, I'll take mystery ballet too, I am ready, put me in next, no NOW!

Work on your weaknesses, enjoy the journey of discovery too, it never ends.  Someone is always better than you and somebody else looks up to you, share the field with everyone and don't let FUN interfere with the public's safety.  Chase kids when you own your hover and approach their moms slowly and respectfully.  Make eye contract and insure they are okay with your antics.  It only takes one complaint to ruin all of our fun.  Don't be THAT guy!

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Okay, I went ahead and tried to keep a kite up in spite of low wind today.  The wind forecast was 2-3 mph, but there were some gusts that were maybe 5 mph.

image.png

I was focused mostly on trying to keep the kite in the air, not on making the music pop. The music coming from my phone is quiet, barely above the chirping of the birds. I figured I'd not add music, avoiding the risk of blocks due to copyright grounds or hunting down tunes they allow.

Anyway, here's 15 minutes of boring practice in very light wind, for those who want to critique.  If @riffclown or anyone wants to split it off to a new topic, it's probably diverged enough for that.

I went with a rev with 2-wrap, and 30-foot 50# line with 15 inch handles, rather than putting up the indoor rev or the kaiju.  It went better than I expected, and the occasional slight gusts helped significantly.  Even so, most of the time was spent just trying to keep the kite in the air, not so much trying to work on form or choreography.

 

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27 minutes ago, frob said:

  If @riffclown or anyone wants to split it off to a new topic, it's probably diverged enough for that.

@Frob Given that you are the original poster, that's 100% your call.

Nice flying in the video. Low wind flying is almost an art form all to itself.

Small suggestion. Try giving yourself even more brake. I know it sounds counterproductive but you'll be astonished at what you can accomplish with it.

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2 hours ago, riffclown said:

Try giving yourself even more brake. I know it sounds counterproductive

That does indeed.

I wanted to try to slow down through more gliding that works with the indoor kites, but it kept destabilizing and swooping down instead.  I'm not sure how much more brake I could have applied.  I'll try it next time.

I didn't have it on the video clips, but I also spent part of the day trying the throw/catch. I can comfortably do that on 15 foot lines indoors, but I only managed to catch it once on the 30 feet but it was never very high when it started. None of my throw attempts were successful, every one ended up with grass clippings or weeds snagging the lines.

This is progress, though.  Having been trying to fly indoor at least once a week now for about a year, alternating days between the Kaiju and the indoor Rev, I've learned a lot about keeping a kite up.  This gentle air was just strong enough that I couldn't make this outdoor kite do the indoor stuff, my 360' attempts ran out of motion at about 250' when it was blowing back toward me, and the air temperature was getting to me so running was not really an option.  There was a heat index of 105'F, and despite setting up a little shade for my camera it ended up shutting off due to overheating. It's almost time to be done flying outdoor for the Texas summer. It would have been more tolerable if there had been a gentle breeze to cool things off. 😉 

I also thought about swapping this one out with my Djinn later in the day.  I was out of water, so I didn't try it.  Do they handle well at the low winds with the Mystic 12's, or will I need to send an order in for the mystic 10's?  And old post says the 2-wrap frame is about 75 grams, so I'm guessing they're somewhat similar weight.

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Being the inquisitive sort, I pulled out the kite bag and the digital scale.

My modded Rev with 2-wrap spars weighs 205 grams.  The 2 wrap frame alone weighs 65 grams, the race frame I usually use weighs 77 grams.

My Djinn with Mystic 12 spars weighs 221 grams. The Mystic 12 frame alone weighs 66 grams.

So switching to the Djinn would have added 16 grams to the weight. Not a significant amount, but probably enough to make it slightly more difficult.

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Watching the video sends this comment, "more brake is necessary in your leader tuning".  Not adding lift for forward flight (by angling the kite's leading edge towards you), No you want it square to the wind so it receives maximum pressure upon the sail.  That pressure you can increase or decrease by simply moving your feet.

More brake means the kite will back-up inverted, it is NOT tuned correctly until this action can take place. Now in low wind you might "seem" to be hovering or even actually slowly backing the kite inverted UP towards the top of the window.  You are walking backwards to MAKE the kite fly and do these actions, nothing is effortless in a dead calm.

If the kite will NOT back-up, as it appears in the video,... you did a jerk-invert-launch to enough height to go forward and gain flight.  I want the opposite of those actions.  FLY the kite backwards, practice an inverted launch to shoulder height and land again, NO right back in the same location.  Place an empty pop can or some marker (that you can kick or step on and not break a leg, ankle or wrist falling over!)  Think about walking away from your marker and returning to it.  Do that a couple of times and double up that altitude, still flying the kite backwards and inverted.

Get comfortable an inch above the ground inverted.  Master the kite's ability to fly backwards, slide sideways and hover stationary.  All of these actions should feel easy, relaxed and comfortable. if you are straining and squeezing, fighting to make it do this stuff, something needs to be adjusted.

The first adjustment if neutral flight is not already programmed in, is always to add down, not inches, just a little bit.  did that improve reverse flight, it should be almost difficult to go forward.  (an example? you are driving on a winding mountain road, it's snowing, the wipers don't work, there's no guard rails and it's night time. The front windshield has been removed so you can lean out over the hood and see if the road is even still in front of you, both feet are smashing the brake pedal thru the floor and you are scared out of your wits.  That is how fast you can go forward flight, only an inch if you allow it to move at all.

The kite waits for your command at a neutral position, you could hold it there all day, relaxed and easy.  That is the secret to no wind flight.

Keep adding down until the forward flight is an intense demand on your part, no wind surge is gonna get you!

Imagine you have to land on a trash can, forward, inverted, each wing-tip.  Balanced right up there like you owned it.  Well you ain't one of us until we can remove that trash can and you can do those same actions on a soda/pop can.  wanna' show off?, land that kite into the hole of that empty pop can, balanced on top of fence or sign post.  We'll take your picture and talk about this amazing display of control we witnessed.

ADD more down and keep practicing.  This is gonna' feel so weird but sally forth, you can do it too

 

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Practice your throw with the kite off of the strings,

your objective is flat, parallel with the ground and as far away from you as possible.  Now angle it up slightly and try again,... where is launching too high and where is not high enough? Experiment!  Maximize your distance.

Magic sticks means you don't have to throw it all the way out to the end of the strings, just as far as possible and walk the rest of the slack out while the kite waits inverted on the ground, resting on the kick stand.

 

Catching is usually done from directly overhead,

but you've got it down cold as mastery when you can ride that catch up (from 2/3's height engagement) over the apex of the arc and gliding it back down to you.  The less steep the arc the more skill by the pilot (or more heavily modified the kite to make this a predominate feature of it's flight dynamics, probably at a lose of something else like a Falling Leaf)

 Practice on longer lengths than you intend to use for your demos, ... so it looks easy and magical at crunch time.  If 30 feet is easy then show me double that, still looking like a it's "your thing"? Ok, double-up again.  I can catch 120s on a full sail and throw it about 70 feet.  On a Zen?, in my conditions?,... well its the ending to almost all of my precision or ballet efforts in competition, even a demo unless i steer it to a friend to catch instead, sharing the glory, HA!  In ideal conditions I can walk along side this catch and decide when I want to end the flight, maybe catch it behind my back, or run forward and allow the "beheader" whilst sitting Indian style.  Imagine a kite that goes upwind with controlled glide, only in the most perfect of conditions, but magical if rarely known.

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