Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 10

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 10, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
One of the interesting things about the Vocaloid concept is that the characters representing the voices, such as Miku Hatsune and Rana, are virtual robots. As robots, they’re supposed to have serial numbers, generally displayed on the cheek just below the left eye. This means that Rana specifically, in my case, can have a unique serial that shows up in whatever video or still image I create, marking that product as mine. In fact, I did follow the instructions in volume 1 to get my assigned number, which I wrote down, but I didn’t see anything telling me how to implement it in the model. A couple days ago, I got tired of seeing the black bar under her eye in my classwork, so I went back to the first magazine to try again. This time, I figured out what I should have done – download the .png file generated by the online number assignment page, rename it to “number.png”, and save it in the Rana directory, overwriting the existing black bar file. There was a new version of the model data announced in volume 7, available online, and the number.png file needs to be copied into the correct directory with each upgrade. But, I am happier with how Rana looks now.

New magazine features:
In the 4-panel comic, Rana visits a new class room – the Dance Room, where she exhausts herself in the first 30 minutes. Robo-panda tries bribing her into exercising longer, and the bribe is to be revealed in the next magazine. The classroom chapter has Rana learning about piano intervals and perfect chords, plus we’re introduced to a new accessory – the Brownie Sax. The interview section is with song-writer/animator and speed Pop master cosMo@暴走P (CosMo@BousouP). The magazine describes the highlights of the DVD-ROM tutorials, and goes into additional discussion of motion curves for the Jasmine and Rana animation cycles. The final page talks about the Zola Project software package and introduces the Pickup Artist, Kuroma.

New DVD Features:
Pickup Artist: Kuroma. Song: Boku da (It’s Me)
“It’s Me” is another plain sound file with no video or stills. The opening has a very strong retro-video game feel, with 8-bit style beeps and boops. The song settles down into more of a J-Pop format while Rana sings, but her voice has been tweaked to sound filtered or auto-tuned. As described by the magazine, this is an example of the “speed Pop” genre. It’s interesting, but all of the game sound effects are very distracting.

There’s one MMD accessory this time – the Dance Room. According to the magazine, the conceit is that there are 12 rooms heading off from the main warp room. The dance room is the third one, and is specialized to have motion capture cameras in the ceiling and walls, 8-speaker surround sound, and wide screen HD TV monitors for video playback to allow the Vocaloid to review his or dance moves. The accessory directory includes a new door skin with the number “03” on it, to replace the old skin in the Warp Room directory.

(Page on using motion curves to give Jasmine a “bouncing ball” movement.)

The past few tutorials demonstrated the use of the vocal style controls, including Velocity and Dynamics. In vol. 10, the remaining controls are described, and three of them – Gender, Clearness and Mouth Opening – are used to make Rana sound more boyish for the lyric “honki dashitenai” (I haven’t gotten serious yet”). The full set of controls are: Velocity, Dynamics, Breathiness, Brightness, Clearness, Opening, Gender, Portemento Timing and Pitch Bend. Most of them are self-explanatory. Then, as with the other tutorials, the remaining time is spent replaying the full demo song, titled “Vocaloid no Yuuwaku” (Vocaloid’s Temptation/Seduction). Because the finished songs are supplied with the DVD-ROM, it’s really not necessary to put them in the tutorial as well. It’s just to pad it out past the rather short 4 minutes and 30 seconds…

(MMD dance cycle stills.)

sort of builds on what we learn in the Vocaloid tutorial, with the introduction of Distortion for the base guitar and Rana’s vocal track, and the use of the Maximizer on the final mixer output. Distortion acts kind of like a frequency filter, while the maximizer/cut-off is apparently a volume amplifier, clipper. Again, the tutorial ends with a replay of the finished song.

Vol. 10 builds on the up-down dance cycle, discussing motion curves in more detail and just suggesting what the student should do in applying all the concepts to the other three group members (Teacher Robo-panda, Teacher Jasmine, and the speaker box, Satchan). You can apply a motion curve to any keyframe, for x, y, z and rotation inbetweens. A straight line indicates linear movement from the previous key to the current key. An s-curve means you’ll start the movement slowly, speed up in the middle, and slow down at the end (or vice versa). Convex and concave curves can either give you a circular movement, or if mirror-flipped to be concave for one key and convex for the next, a bouncing ball effect (fast movement on the bounce, slow at the top of the arc).

The tutorial spends a lot of time showing the different motion curve approaches, but almost no time on the steps needed for importing Robo-panda, Jasmine, Satchan or the dance stage, into the project, or for positioning the new characters and setting key frames. The assumption is that anything not explained in the magazine has already been covered in the previous tutorials. The last few minutes of the tutorial consists of the finished music video created by the publishers, if you want to take their hints and make your own movie with camera movements and lighting effects. The tutorials have all been ending with “please experiment with the controls and upload your own works to niconico douga”.

Additional comments:
The demo song for the Vocaloid tutorial is an example of speed Pop. The music itself is a somewhat faster pop piece, but it’s the vocals sections, which consist of bursts of nearly unintelligible words packed into short spaces, that sets this genre apart from normal girl idol pop.

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