Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 3

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 3, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
One reason I expect that this series is going to stop coming with the DVD-ROMs is that their instructions for cutting the proof-of-purchase seals, for use in getting the full-version serial numbers at the end of the series run, states that the seals are on the inside of the hard cardboard cover sheets for volumes 1-3, and then on a different sheet for the remaining volumes (meaning that the packaging is going to change). Since the “training course” relies so heavily on movie files and editing the supplied demo songs, I’d expect that the files for the later volumes would have to be provided some other way to make up for the absence of the DVDs, or, that they’d all be zipped onto the third DVD. However, the DVD-ROM that came with this issue just has the regular demo files, plus copies with the edits already made so you can compare what you did against what you were supposed to do. That, and there’s a “pick-up artist song” by Hachiko-P, and the next MMD model, this time for “Satchan” (Speaker). Vol. 4 will hit Kyushu around the 23rd, so I’ll find out then what’s going on.

The movie files have been covering the usage of the different apps in small bits and pieces. For Vocaloid, we’re taught how to change the lengths of different vocal components and add new phonemes to make Rana sound more natural. Unfortunately, my version of Vocaloid Lite seems to be slightly different than what’s in the video, and I couldn’t insert one of the phonemes as demonstrated. And in fact, part of the starting demo file already had some of the edits in place before I opened it.

(Pick-up Artist interview with Hachiko-P.)

With Singer-Song Writer, we’re treated to more of the mixer functionality, specifically, adding reverb, and playing with compression and the maximizer-limiter. SSW is very powerful, yes, but so far all the work has been on modifying finished songs. I’d like to go into the process of composing music from scratch pretty soon.

The really impressive package, though, is Miku-Miku Dance. The lesson this time is to take the Rana model from volume 1 and change the pose to match the volume 3 cover. There’s a lot of twisting and pulling on specific joints, but the connections are designed so that the rest of the model stretches or bends in a fairly natural way in response. You don’t have to adjust every single joint individually, which simplifies the operations a lot. The video is 8 minutes long, but because I was pausing it to work on the model, the entire lesson took an hour. When you’re done, you’re instructed to import the bird-like speaker creature, Satchan, and fix its pose on your own. As kind of a cheat, rather than adjust Rana’s fingers to make a fist or curve them somewhat, we’re given “pose” files to import for both the right and left hands.

Again, the magazine mirrors the movies on how to use Vocaloid, SSW and MMD. Additionally, there’s the interview and introduction of Hachiko-P’s Vocaloid songs, some joking between Rana and Robo-Panda about what reverb is, and a couple pages dedicated to some of the other Vocaloid products. I’m looking forward to the next issue to see what else MMD can do.

A few days ago, I got to wondering if I could find English user manuals online, given that both Vocaloid and MMD are running on my PC in English. Turns out that Yamaha has been packaging the English PDF with Vocaloid Lite, and that’s found by going to the help menu. I haven’t located anything for SSW, but there’s a dedicated website called Learn MMD that has a number of tutorials for Miku-Miku Dance in English, which makes up for the lack of a manual for MMD on the DVD-ROM.

About Japanese phonemes:
The Japanese alphabet is comprised of consonant-vowel combinations, rather than the smaller components we see in English. That is, we have “ah”, “ee”, “ooh”, “eh”, “oh”, “kah”, “key”, “coo”, “keh”, “co”, “sah”, “she”, “sue”, “seh”, “sew”, etc. You can double up on some of the consonants to emphasize the “t” or “s” sounds, and you can lengthen the time you hold the vowels. Usually, a lengthened vowel (“to” compared with “tou”) is just one sound, rather than separating them into two individual sounds (“to” + “u”). This is relevant to Vocaloid because it doesn’t recognize certain sounds. You can extend a note, so that the vowel part sounds like it’s longer, but many times you need to enter “to” + “u” as two individual letters, as if they’re separate notes. On top of this, Vocaloid doesn’t recognize kanji, so all of the lyrics have to be entered in the phonetic alphabetic system called hiragana. Having a Japanese wordprocessor like NJ-Star, or the Japanese IME character entry software is important here.

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