Create Your Own Marching Shows

How to Improve Your Shows


Here are 10 essential tips for creating better Micro Marching shows.

#1 Pick a Theme

Instead of random drill, the best MML shows usually have a unifying theme, which can be conveyed in a number of ways: colors, pictures, visual motifs, show title, show description, etc.

Example Show: Snowflakes

#2 Impact Sets

Impact sets are the high points of your show -- usually a large picture or form that fits the theme and gives the audience a second or two to oooh and aaah.

To use impact sets effectively:

  • Use the Halt button or an extra set to make them "pop".
  • The more of a surprise it is, the more of an impact it will have.
  • Start and end your show with an impact set, with at least one in the middle.

    Example Show: Under the Sea

  • #3 Dynamic Transitions

    While forms are important, a good show is mostly about the art of movement between sets.

  • Variety. Use passthroughs, pivots, splits, joins, pods, counter-motion, follow-the-leader, etc. Don't just select everyone and hit "rotate".
  • Short and quick. Multiple quick sets are more interesting to watch than one slower set. To speed up the set, use the "L" key to find the longest path, and then find a way to make it shorter.
  • Constant motion. Keep all sections moving in every set. Everyone should contribute to the overall movement, even if they aren't the current focus.
  • Flow. "Your show should feel like water flowing around the field." -- pedazos

    Inspiration:  Drill Move Library, a large list of "building block" moves.

  • #4 Polish

    Attention to detail is important, just like a real-life marching show.

  • Writing. Your title and show description should be written with perfect spelling and grammar. Show descriptions should be short and to the point -- the longer it is, the less likely people will read it.
  • Clean forms. Once you have the overall set finished, go through and select each shape (line, circle, arc, block) that doesn't look perfect, and fix it with the appropriate shortcut key.
  • Preview Mode. For every few sets you complete, click Menu > Preview Show to see how the show will look in the final 3D view. Because of the change in perspective, some things might look a bit different and you can adjust accordingly.

  • #5 The Crown Method

    To help remember the first 4 tips, visualize your show design as a crown.

  • It has an underlying theme
  • It contains multiple impact sets, with a strong beginning and ending
  • Everything is connected with dynamic transitions
  • Don't forget to add polish!

  • #6 Keep It Believable

    While MML is flexible enough to let you try the impossible, shows that look "correct" usually follow these real-life guidelines.

  • No collisions. It can be time-consuming, but do your best to remove all obvious collisions between marchers. The key: move each marcher into the rough form that you want, while thinking about the paths they will take. *Then* use a shortcut to clean it.
  • Keep sections together. It's okay for the drumline to be split up, but the individual sections usually stick together. Bass drums should usually stay in order of size and face the same direction.

    Note: While you *can* mix and match sections and spread them across the field, you should do so in a way that looks like it was clearly intentional and part of the overall design.
  • Intervals. Give guard members at least a 4-step interval so they have room to use their equipment. Tenors and basses usually need at least 3-step interval.
  • Equipment changes. When switching guard equipment in a Premium show, some people like to have them go to the sideline first, or at least go to the vertical "stripped" pose beforehand.

    Inspiration: Your favorite band and corps videos.

  • #7 Commit the Time

    Becoming a better designer doesn't happen right away.

  • Don't rush. Top MML designers usually spend 5 to 10 hours on every show. So prepare to spend more time per show, not less, as you improve.
  • Be patient. It often takes many months of constant practice to go from scoring 6's and 7's, to scoring 7's and 8's. Very few members ever score a 9 or 10.

    Inspiration: Silverleaf's Videos - Part 1 2 3 -- See an experienced designer at work.

  • #8 Your Fellow MMLers

    The community is a great resource for ideas and advice.

  • Critique. Ask for critical feedback for your Work-in-Progress (WIP) or show in the Critique forum. It's also a good idea to read critiques of other shows and adapt those ideas to your own shows.
  • Mentors. Some experienced members have volunteered to offer personal feedback, via the Mentor page.
  • Friends. As you make friends on the site, it's a great idea to exchange advice via your profile walls and Facebook.
  • Be Courteous. It's good to thank and give credit to anyone who has helped you along the way.

    Inspiration: View the Top Shows on the front page and the Top Shows by Month.

  • #9 Challenge Yourself

    After you get the hang of things, the biggest danger is getting stuck in a rut.

  • Experiment. Try different styles: curvilinear vs block drill, fun vs serious, indoor vs full corps, etc.
  • Xtreme Drill. Try some of the Advanced Challenges under the Tour tab.
  • Push the limits. If "they" say something can't or shouldn't be done, try it anyway!  (within the rules)

  • #10 Have Fun

    It's easy to lose sight of the big picture and start worrying too much about Scores and Likes.

    In the end, the most important thing is to enjoy the journey -- be creative, and design the kind of shows that *you* want to make!


    Thanks to pedazos, who created the list that this page is based on.