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What SilverDrill is:

The SilverDrill applet is an easy and simple game for making and sharing animated shows online.  If you need a true professional drill design solution to create and print shows for your students or clients, I offer a program called Field Artist for that.  Click here to learn more about Field Artist.

SilverDrill is a program that runs right in your browser window.  You can use it to create your own shows or to view shows that other members have done. To view some shows that other members have done, click here.

To create a SilverDrill show, you choose a cast, then add a number of sets to the show by moving the cast around with the mouse.  You have many keystroke commands available that help you move the cast members and arrange them into lines, arcs, and other shapes.  See the complete list of keystroke commands below.  You can also add flag spins and rifle tosses using keystroke commands.

You can edit your shows after you save them by going to the "Manage My Shows" page under the "CREATE" section.  Just click on the title of your show in the list to make changes.

You can embed YouTube videos in your show pages after you save the show.  This allows you to have music playing along with your show.  To include music, edit your show and paste the Embed string from the YouTube video you want to use into the field provided, and click the Save button there.

To use SilverDrill you need Microsoft Silverlight installed on your computer.

SilverDrill looks like the picture below. If you click on a show title and find that the applet does not appear even after a few minutes, then you may not have Silverlight installed on your computer.

Silverlight is free from Microsoft.  To install it on your computer, click here.

SilverDrill takes a few moments to load the first time you view or create a show.  On subsequent viewings it will start much faster.




General advice about using SilverDrill:

SilverDrill is a program that runs in your browser. You can see the SilverDrill applet embedded in some of the pages of this web site that allow you to view shows others have created, and to create you own shows. To see and use the applet, you have to have Silverlight or Java installed on your machine. It's easy and free to install Java. For more information, see the Help page about Silverlight and Java on this website.

There is a how to video about how to use SilverDrill.  If you want to watch it, click here.

You can create your show completely within the applet and save it when you are finished. You have to have an account for this website to create and save shows. An account is free and takes seconds to set up. From your account, you will be able to view and edit your existing shows from a web page.
While working on your show, do not close your browser or click on any of the website menu options or move to any other web pages until after you have saved your show. If you go to another web page, the applet will restart and you will have lost your work. So it is very important when creating a show, to save your work before going to any different web page, including this help page. If you want to see the help while working, clicking the HELP button on the applet menu ( not the website menu! ) will open the help section in a new browser, which will not disturb the show you are working on.

You can edit shows after you save them.  To see your saved shows, just click on the title of the show on the "Manage My Shows" page under the CREATE section of this website.    To see an existing show that you have done, go to your list of shows on the web site and click on the title of the show you want to see or work on.  This will open your show and let you make changes and save it again.

When you click on your show on the "Manage My Shows" screen (under CREATE), the applet is opened in edit mode, which lets you make changes to a show you have already saved.  In edit mode, all commands are available.  When you click on a show ( including your own show ) from a viewing page ( under the WATCH section of the website ), or when you click on another member's show, the applet is opened in view mode, which means many commands including save are disabled.  So if you want to change an existing show, make sure you open it from the Manage My Shows page  under the CREATE section of the website.

You can embed YouTube videos in your show pages after you save the show.  This allows you to have music playing along with your show.  To include music, edit your show and paste the Embed string from the YouTube video you want to use into the field provided, and click the Save button there.  To add music to a show, you first have to save the show, and then go back in and edit the saved show.


How to select and move cast members in SilverDrill

You can select cast members by dragging a box around them with the mouse pointer. Selected cast members appear with a red rectangle around them.  To deselect all of the marchers, click in the open area. When you select a group of cast members with the mouse, it deselects any that were selected before. To prevent this from happening and select multiple groups of cast members, just hold down the Shift key when dragging the box.

You can also select a cast member by clicking on that cast member.  This will deselect any other cast members unless you hold down the shift key when clicking.  So you can select a series of cast members by holding down the shift key and clicking on each one.

To move a single cast member, just click and drag on that cast member. To move a selected group of cast members, first select the cast members you want to move and then click and drag on any of the selected cast members to move the entire group.

When moving your mouse over a cast member that is not selected, you see a rectangle highlighted around that cast member's body which indicates your mouse is over it.  A selected cast member has a red rectangle.  A highlight is a blue rectangle that lets you know the mouse is over that cast member and you can click to select it or click and drag to move it.

When you move cast members after having created at least one set, you will notice path lines are drawn which connect the cast members to their last known position on a set.  These lines are to help guide you in designing the motion for the next set.  They disappear after the SET command is used and are not seen during animation of the show.

You can make cast members hold props instead of flags.  A prop is held by one cast member.  You move a prop by moving the cast member that holds the prop.  You won't be able to see the cast member behind the prop, but the cast member will be in the middle of the prop.  When you move your mouse over the cast member in the middle of the prop, you will see the blue highlight rectangle appear that lets you know the mouse is over the cast member and you can click to select or click and drag to move the cast member / prop.


How to create transitions

There are three kinds of available transitions: float, rotation, and follow the leader (FTL).

You create a show by first choosing your cast and moving them to their opening positions, then clicking the SET command.  This creates the opening positions for your show.  You then continue the show by moving cast and adding sets as many times as you want.

A set can have three kinds of transitions in it: float, FTL ( follow the leader ), and rotations.  You can have multiple FTL's and rotates and floats all in the same set.

When creating a set, make sure you move ALL of the cast members you want to move in that set, either by dragging them to a new position (float), rotating them, or adding them to a follow the leader (FTL) transition.  Then click the SET command to finish the set.  This way, all the cast members will be moving at the same time.

If you finish creating a set and you don't like what you did, type 'X' ( capital X ) to delete the last set.  You have to click SET to finish the set before you can delete it.

To create a float transition, move the cast members to their new positions.  That's all you have to do.  Move all the cast members you want to move before you click SET.  This creates a transition from the previous position to the next set of positions.  To create more transitions, just keep moving the cast members and clicking the SET button.

Creating a follow the leader (FTL) transition is easy. First, start the FTL by clicking the FTL button on the menu. Then use the mouse to draw a path from the last member in the FTL, through each member in the group up through the leader, and then continue the path to where you want the leader to end up. Double click to finish making your path. The FTL is recorded as a transition when you press the SET button after drawing an FTL path.   You will see the cast members that participate in the FTL outlined in white.  There will also be a path drawn on the screen that shows the outline of the FTL.  Both of these markings go away when you finish and commit the set.  You can have more than one FTL in a set.  If you start an FTL and mess it up by clicking on the wrong person or missing a person, just click the FTL button again ( without double clicking to finish your FTL path ) and this will cancel the FTL and you can start it over again.

To create a rotation command, you have to first select the group of members you want to rotate. Then click the ROTATE button on the menu. A pivot point will appear near the center of the group. Use the mouse to move the pivot indicator to the point you want them to rotate around. Then use the '[' and ']' keys to pivot the members to their new positions. Finally, click the ROTATE button again to finish the transition. The transition is recorded when you click the SET button after setting up the rotation.   Cast members that are part of the rotation will be outlined in yellow, until you complete the set by clicking the SET command.

You can combine all three kinds of transitions in a single set. Starting with an initial position, just use the mouse to move those cast members who are floating to their new positions, but do not click SET just yet. For those members you want to rotate, use the steps above to set up the rotations for each group of members you want to rotate. You can set up as many rotations as you want, but don't click SET yet. Finally, to set up the FTL transitions for the set, follow the directions above for each FTL path you want to draw through the different groups of members who are doing FTL transitions for this set. You can set up as many FTL's as you want, but don't click SET.

Finally, when you are finished setting up all the floats, rotations and FTL's for the set, click the SET button to finalize the transitions and record them in the show.

When you move cast members in setting up a set, you will notice path lines are drawn which connect the cast members to their last known position on a set.  These lines are to help guide you in designing the motion for the next set.  They disappear after the SET command is used and are not seen during animation of the show.  The path lines are not drawn for cast members who are part of an FTL or a ROTATE, they are only for ones who are floating directly to their next set position.

Cast members who are in a rotate for the set you are currently building, are outlined in yellow.  Cast members who are in an FTL are outlined in white.  Cast members who have been floated are outlined in green and show paths to their previous position.  You can't have the same cast member participating in a float and an FTL or a float and a rotate or a rotate and an FTL.  Each person has to be in one kind of transition, per set.

If you try to move cast members with the mouse who are already part of an FTL or a rotate, they won't move.  This remains true for those cast members until you finish the set.  If you don't like the way a set is going and feel like you messed it up, just finish the set by clicking the SET command.  Then type the 'X' ( capital x ) command which will erase the last set you added, and you can start over again.  Pressing the '7' key will play back the last set you just added.

To transition props, you transition the cast member who is holding the prop.  Each prop is held by one cast member.  You can select or move the cast member holding the prop even though you can't see the cast member behind the prop.  When you move your mouse over the middle of the prop the cast member is highlighted with a blue rectangle.  Drag the rectangle to move the cast member the same as you would any other cast member.


How to animate your show

As you add sets to the show, you will notice that buttons will be added to the toolbar at the bottom, one button for each set in the show.

To go to a set, click on the toolbar button for that set.

To go to the beginning, click the first button on the toolbar at the bottom, or press 'w' on your keyboard ( see the list of applet keystrokes below ).

To see the show animate, click the START button on the top menu, or press the spacebar ( spacebar also stops the animation ).  You can press the STOP button on the toolbar to stop the animation.

You can advance a single step by typing 't' on the keyboard, or type 'r' to go back one step.

To make the animation play faster, press the '>' key and repeat until the animation is as fast as you want it.  To make it slower, press '<' as many times as desired.

You can also add special animation features such as flag spins and rifle tosses to your show.  For more information about how this works, see the list of applet keystroke commands below.


About the top menu

Here is a summary of what all the commands on the toolbar menu at the top of the applet are for:

START  

Starts the animation of your show.  The animation starts from the previous set of where you were when you stopped.

STOP

Stops the animation on the current step.

SET

Add a new set to the show.  Remember you have to click SET after first setting up your initial positions.  Ever other set is added when you set up your transitions after the previous set, and then click SET again to add another set to the show.

FTL

Click FTL to begin an FTL transition, then draw a path through the members and double click to complete the FTL path.  You can draw as many FTL transitions as you want for different groups of cast members, add float and rotate transitions as desired, then click SET to combine the whole thing into a set.

ROTATE

Click this button to begin setting up a rotate transition ( you must first select the cast members you want to rotate ).  Set the pivot point with the mouse, rotate the selected members using the '[' and ']' keys, and click ROTATE again to finish the transition.  A rotate transition is not the same thing as just rotating selected cast using the '[' and '[' keys, because that merely produces straight-line motion, while the ROTATE transition produces true rotation around a fixed point of your choosing.

CAST

Allows you to define your cast.  You will see a form appear and you can enter the desired number of each type of cast member.  You can further customize the appearance of your cast members using the keystrokes that cycle through the available uniform styles.  When you start a show, always do this part first - if you choose new cast, you lose all the previous cast members and transitions and basically start with a brand new show.

3D

Click this menu item to show a 3D perspective view of the field or switch back to the overhead view.

ZOOM

The normal view of the field is a portion between the 20 yard lines.  Confining the show to this area allows the cast to be viewed larger and therefore easier to see and work with.  If you click the ZOOM button, you go to a full view of the entire field.  This makes your cast appear smaller ( because they have to be in correct proportion to the field ) and therefore harder to see and work with.  Click ZOOM again to go back to the partial view of the field.  If you decide to use the full field view, you have to stay in that view the entire time you are working with and viewing your show, or else you won't be able to see all of your cast.  When you save a show in full field mode, the show can only be viewed in full field mode.  When you save a show in partial field mode, the show can only be viewed in partial field mode.  So, it's best to decide before starting a show whether you want to use the partial field or the full field and stick with that view the entire time you are making the show.

SAVE

Click SAVE to save the show to an online database.  The first time you save, you will be prompted to give the show a title.  Try to choose something creative and interesting that will make people want to watch it.   When you open the show to work on it some more, the software will prompt you with the original title the show had when you opened it.  If you are saving an existing show you have opened and then save it under the same title, it overwrites the previous show.  However if you started with a new show or opened a different show and happen to choose an existing title to save it under, the web site automatically appends a number onto the end to make the file name unique and prevent it from over writing your other shows.

It is a good idea to save your work often, to prevent from losing work.  Remember, if you click on a web site menu or a bookmark or link or otherwise move to a different browser page while working on a show, the applet goes away and you will have lost any work that you did not save.

NEW

Clicking the NEW button clears the existing show and starts you over with a default cast.

HELP

Clicking this button starts the Help portion of the web site in a new browser.  This allows you to view the help without changing to a different web page, which would cause you to lose your work if you were working on a show.


Many functions in the drill applet can be accessed with keystrokes. These functions let you animate your show, customize your cast appearance, and move and group your cast members into formations. Some of these keystrokes are shortcuts for menu choices on the top menu, and others can only be accessed through the keyboard. Here is a list of what the keystrokes do:

Space   Stop / Start

x   (lower case x) Delete selected cast members

X   (upper case x ) Delete the last set

+   Scale selected cast larger

-   Scale selected cast smaller

"   Scale selected cast larger by height only

:   Scale selected cast smaller by height only

'   Scale selected cast larger by width only

;   Scale selected cast smaller by width only

l   (lower case L) Group selected cast into a line.    This command automatically
    chooses as endpoints those 2 cast members which are farthest apart.  It does not 
    matter what order you select the cast members in.

L   (upper case L) Group selected cast into a line and make it vertical or horizontal
       depending upon original layout of the selected cast.  This command automatically 
       chooses as endpoints those 2 cast members which are farthest apart.

b   Group selected cast into a block.  This works best when you have already moved the
       cast roughly into a block.

B   Group selected cast into a square block.  This works best when you have already
       moved the cast roughly into a block.

) and (   Group selected cast into an arc ( repeat to change depth ).  To use this 
     command, it does not matter what order you select the cast members in, but they
     should already be arranged in a roughly linear type of shape where it is clear who
     the people on the ends are.  The 2 endpoint people will be used to determine the
     endpoints of the arc.

c   Group selected cast into an open curve.  This command only equals out the spacing
      of the cast along an imaginary path joining their current positions.  This command
      automatically chooses as endpoints those 2 cast members which are farthest apart.
      It does not matter what order you select the cast in, but they should already be
      grouped into an open form such as a line, curve, or arc with two people who are
      clearly the endpoints.

C   Group selected cast into a closed curve.   This command finds an imaginary closed
      path joining the selected cast and evens out their spacing along that curve.  It does
      not matter what order you select the cast in, but they should be grouped in a
      roughly closed shape such as a circle, oval, square, kidney, amoeba, or the like.

u   Change uniform style

f   Cycle through flag styles of selected cast ( F to go backwards ) on the current step.
     You can choose different flag styles for different cast members, but the cast you 
     select must be flags to use this command.   If you don't select any cast members
     the command has no effect.  The flag style change takes effect on the step you are 
     on when you use the keystroke.  To begin with a flag style, choose the flag style
     while sitting on step one of the show.   To change flag styles mid-show, go to the
     step you want the change to occur, and use the 'f' command to chooose the style
     change.


p   Cycle through props for selected cast ( P to go backwards ) on the current step. 
     Each prop belongs to one cast member.
     You can choose different props for different cast members, but the cast you 
     select must be flags to use this command.   If you don't select any cast members
     the command has no effect.  The prop change takes effect on the step you are 
     on when you use the keystroke.  To begin with a prop, choose the prop
     while sitting on step one of the show.   To change props mid-show, go to the
     step you want the change to occur, and use the 'p' command to chooose the style
     change.


d   Change equipment style ( includes equpment other than flags - rifles, instruments,
      percussion, etc.

o   Group selected cast into a circle

[   Rotate selected cast 5 degrees clockwise

]   Rotate selected cast 5 degrees counter clockwise

{   Rotate selected cast 1 degree clockwise

}   Rotate selected cast 1 degree counter clockwise

k   Skew selected cast members horizontally ( K to change direction )

j    Skew selected cast members vertically ( J to change direction )

z    Reverse the positions of selected cast members.  You can select any number
       of cast members. 

v   Cycle the positions of selected cast members.

7   Replay animation from the last set

>   Increase animation speed

<   Decrease animation speed

w   Go to beginning of show

t   Go one step forward

r   Go one step backward

s   Stop

Up Arrow   Move selected cast up 1 pixel ( if Shift key is down, 1 step )

Down Arrow   Move selected cast down 1 pixel ( if Shift key is down, 1 step )

Left Arrow   Move selected cast left 1 pixel ( if Shift key is down, 1 step )

Right Arrow   Move selected cast right 1 pixel ( if Shift key is down, 1 step )

3   Turn the 3D view on or off

a   Animate selected cast.  You have to select cast members that are all of the same
     type ( section ) and then type 'a' to choose the available animations ( such as rifle tosses and flag spins ) from a list.  The animation will be applied on the current show step that you are on.  This does not have to be on a set, it can be between sets.   You can apply animations after all your sets are added.   Just stop the show on any step to apply animations that are to begin on that step.

A  Select all cast members

s   Change equipment position for selected cast.  You can select any cast members and
     typing 's' will cause it to cycle through the available equipment positions ( flags,
     horns up/down, etc ) which will then take effect on the current step of the show.