I flew in my first comp in December of 2009, so I thought I'd post what I've learned about creating a routine to music, and how I went about it.Pre-requisites
There really are no prerequisites. Keep your flying in your comfortable zone. If you push yourself too hard you will crash too often, or even worse you may end up crashing during your routine (usually an automatic disqualification)Music
The first order of business is to select your music. You probably want 3 minutes of music, but try not to use too much of any one song or piece. Try to use at least 3 different music sources, any vary the style and or tempo of each a little different from each other. Basically you want stuff that matches your style that allows you to fly big and small maneuvers...
You really shouldn't try to plan your routine just yet, but you should try to think of a few key maneuvers you want to fly and pick music for them. After you get your music set you can figure out other maneuvers and transitions to fill in the gaps.
You'll need something to cut your music together. I'm not prepared to explain how to do this, but I highly recommend learning to do this yourself. You'll gain the skills you need to make changes or create new tracks when you need them, and not rely on someone else to do it for you. There are lots of apps that are useful, but the best free one I've used is Audacity. Take the time to learn how to use it and you'll be mixing your own tracks in no time. Again keep your music to around 3 minutes from start to landing. Tip:
Add about 5 seconds of silence to the end of the track so that if you loop the music it does not re-start right away when it ends.Planning
Now that you have your music start listening to it. Over, and over, and over and over and over and over and over and over... I'm not kidding here. Listen to the music dozens of times. You'll start to pick out timings, or things you may not like or want changed or can remove if your track is too long. This is why you should always arrange your own tracks. You'll want and need to change them.
As you listen find the areas where you will fly your key maneuvers. Work forwards and backwards from these areas to figure how to transition into these maneuvers as well as transition out to the next. Keep listening and eventually you'll be able to visualize all of the maneuvers pieced together. This takes a while...
Being the dork I am I created a spreadsheet with a row for every second of the music. In one column I noted key times in the music (lyrics or beats, etc...) and in another column I entered which maneuver I'll be flying. After a while I eventually had every second filled with a maneuver and a transition/direction for each one.
To some this is probably overkill, but for my first event I wanted a 100% choreographed flight, so it was necessary for me...Practice
Yeah then there's practice. After the hours of listening and planning you eventually have to start doing some flying. Sim it first as much as you can. It's not going to feel anything like doing it for real, but you WILL be able to plan the timing to the music and transitions just as well with the sim. Plus it's free and you can do it all night, etc...
I recommend simming to the music until you really know the entire routine before trying it for real with your music. You really don't want to get confused anywhere and lose your concentration and potentially crash. You should not have to think about what to do next in your real practice, just concentrate on doing it... In the mean time use any real flying to practice the harder transitions or maneuvers in your routine.
Practicing a routine for real is actually a very nerve racking ordeal the first few times you do it. The music can be very distracting, and keeping up with the routine is usually pretty hard to do. The good thing is you'll get more comfortable with it the more you try it. Personally I didn't like the experience of wearing headphones while flying, so I used some powered speakers hooked to my ipod.
Well hope that helps. Good luck to anyone daring enough to try this. If it sounds like a lot of work, it IS. Going through this gave me a whole new level of respect for the pros that do this stuff all the time, and sometimes on short notice. Anyways I'm glad I did it, and I look forward to the next competition