Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 9

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 9, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
New magazine features:

In the 4-panel comic, Rana asks for the traditional gift of money for the New Year, and instead receives a giant crab headpiece. In the classroom section, Rana learns about piano chords. The interview is with Reruriri, and the discussion is about “high speed mixture rock” as presented by Wowaka. There’s a two-page section on using the crab mask (in the comic it’s called “XYmask”, while the MMD filename is “ZYmask”) and creating an up-down rhythm dance move for Rana for the demo song. The last page talks about the Gackpoid software package and mentions the featured pop-up artist, Mushi-P.

New DVD Features:
Pop-Up Song: Layla, by Mushi-P
The video is actually just a still from a pop-up picture book. The song itself is a bouncy little J-Pop piece which is dominated by a xylophone back-up. Not bad, but I’m not sure I’d want to listen to it more than once or twice a week. Certainly NOT in heavy rotation play on the radio…

(Rana and the rest of the cast talking about idol dance moves.)

In vol. 7 and 8, nuance and accent were applied to Rana’s vocals on a note by note basis. In vol. 9, we use Divide Selected Part to break Rana’s vocals into two sections, and Settings->Singing Style to apply very short syllable emphasis to the entire first half of the song in one single action. Afterward, Part->Join Selected Parts stitches the two halves back together again. This is followed by instructions to change DYN on Rana’s vocals to soften her voice when the music changes to a gentler tempo.

The main focus in this tutorial is the use of copy-paste to duplicate Rana’s vocals to get a repetition of one word a couple beats apart, and then using the phrase editor to insert drum and tambourine phrases into the demo song. Largely, the demo is a “wall of sound” where little bits and pieces, like a drum riff here, or an explosion sound effect there, are stuffed into blank sections of the music to fill them out much like you would with “bucket fill” in Photoshop. Again, it’s the Japanese cookie-cutter approach to J-Pop composition, where the music often clashes with the vocals due to “dueling” genres.

(Still from Rana’s dance cycle.)

And, we also get a little bit of theory on J-Pop Idol dancing. The idea is that in a rhythmic motion, such as bopping up and down, the dancer can either be standing up on the beat and crouching in between (“up rhythm”) or crouching on the beat (“down rhythm”). Most idol dances are down rhythm patterns. The rest of the tutorial describes how to set the keyframes for a down rhythm dance cycle, and the use of the motion curve window to make Rana’s actions less linear (slowing down at the top and bottom ends of the cycle). The steps themselves are pretty straight-forward, since the “up” and “down” poses are supplied with the DVD, and it’s just a matter of applying them at the given key frames. The last part of the video has you importing the crab headgear and anchoring it so it follows Rana’s movements as she dances.

Again, I can output the video as an .AVI, but not as a bitmap. This indicates that there’s something in the camera or lighting setups that hasn’t been detailed in the tutorials yet. So, to make the above still, I saved the video to an .AVI, then used print screen to copy-paste one frame into Gimp for editing. MMD does allow for adding background pictures and .AVIs, so I’d imported a random image I got from a Japanese beer magazine (image by Jesse Kercheval) to make Rana stand out better.

Additional comments:
The above joke from the 4-panel comic revolves around the word for money. On New Year’s Day, it’s traditional in Japan for older family members to give small envelopes of money (called Otoshidama) to the younger members. The word for money is “kane”, or often “o-kane” with the addition of the honorific “o-” prefix. Rana is trying to wheedle Robo-panda into giving her “O-kane”, and instead receives the “kane” gift, since “kane” is also the word for “crab”.

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