Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 12

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 12, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
New magazine features:

The 4-panel comic has Rana handing out homemade chocolates. Unfortunately, she used Tabasco sauce with white chocolate to make the pink coloring. The classroom section has Rana panicking over how to start out writing her own music, so Jasmine and Robo-panda tell her to pick an “image” first, such as an up-tempo piece that makes people smile. Jasmine adds that there’s a walkthrough PDF tutorial in the Singer-Song Writer program install directory that she can use as well. There’s an overview of 80’s retro “chip tune” music and an interview with Sasakure.UK. The tutorial section goes into the synthesizer plug-in for SSW in some depth. Then finally there’s a mention of the Vocaloid 4 Editor, and a brief talk with the pick-up artist, Takamatt.

(SSW section covering the main features of the Alpha 3 plug-in.)

New DVD Features:
The only accessory for MMD this time is a new room model, for the Chocolate Room.

The pick-up demo song is “Zenga”, by Takamatt. It’s a relatively subdued J-pop piece that sounds like it’s been slowed down by 50%, and has kind of a Euro-Latin feel. I like this one better than most of the other demo songs so far.

The main task is to change Rana’s enunciation of specific syllables. Unfortunately, this highlights a flaw in my version of Vocaloid, which might be connected to it being the 32-bit package (the install directions said to use 64-bit, which my little laptop doesn’t support). The problem is that I can’t select small sections of the piano roll (16th notes(?)) to do what the tutorial says to do. When I try, I get an error message indicating overlapping notes. The task is to insert a new phoneme between two existing syllables and use Note Property to change Phonetic and Lyric to “Sil”. The last part of the video is just the playback of the work song, “Morning Discussion”. This has that retro “chip tune” video game sound going for it, along with a perky, bouncy lyric track.

Finally, something that grabs my attention from the get-go.
As mentioned above, the SSW section of the magazine talks about the synthesizer plug-in. Specifically, this is the Alpha 3 module from the German company LinPlug. The first portion of the tutorial walks through the steps for changing the regular base guitar track to the Alpha 3, then loading preset patch files to get the 80’s retro video game sound that represents the chip tune genre (i.e. – lots of squarewaves). After this, we change three more tracks to synth variants, and the demo song is done. The second half of the tutorial is a brief overview of the OSC, Filter and Amp sections of the main interface. The LFO section is skipped, and the student is directed to the Japanese manual in the SSW VSTPlugins folder. Personally, I wanted the English manual, so I went to the LinPlug website for that.

(The Alpha 3 interface. Much coolness.)

If you’re familiar with synthesizers (or if you read my blog entries for my Java app) then you’ll recognize most of the controls here. The interesting things are that Osc 1 and Osc 2 both have A and B waveforms, balance and detune controls. Then, there’s the mixer for Osc 1 and 2, so essentially you’ve got 4 waveforms to play with, not just 2. The Filter has 3 low band cutoff switches, band pass and high band cutoff, as well as resonance and an envelope generator. Amp has volume and velocity, and its own EG. The enhancements are in the form of depth (how big the filter EG envelope is, spread (size of the amplitude envelope) and fade times. There’s a good 30 Osc waveforms (not just the plain square, triangle and sawtooth waves) as well as a noise generator. I haven’t done much with the LFO, and what little I did try didn’t have much of an effect, but that’s only because the notes for the sample work song are all so short. I need to start with a different song, probably something written from scratch. Overall, the Alpha 3 is a fun little toy in the same category as the HackMe Rocket, but without the Drone and Loop modes.

One more comment about SSW – all of the instruments from Sonar (I’m assuming these are VST instruments) are showing up in the SSW VST plug-in selection window. Meaning that the Cakewalk products might be compatible with SSW (I haven’t even started learning how to take advantage of Sonar yet) and vice versa. I really wish I had more time to mess with this stuff.

Ok, I’m cheating a lot here, but the tutorial says it’s ok and I’m not going to argue with the tutorial. The DVD comes with 2 motion files, one is the cleaned up version of Rana’s lower half sidestep dance, and the other is the completed upper half arm swing. The tutorial uses the pre-created keyframes to demonstrate how Rana’s motion was determined, specifically to make her look cute. There’s a discussion of what motion curves to use where, and then instructions to copy-paste the keyframes to the end of the song. There are some suggestions of how to add a few variations to her movements, and then having her finish the dance with a “victory pose”. I’m considering whether to start work on a new project, which isn’t a dance video, so I’m ducking the “homework” for this volume in favor of spending the time on this new thing. But, I did move some of the accessory files around on the hard disk to make them easier to find in the future, and renamed a few others for the sake of readability. And I figured out how to delete accessories from an MMD project to replace them with something else (deleting Rana’s Room to use the Chocolate Room).

One thing I finally realized is that the room door texture files are intended to be used both in the Warp Room AND the room the door comes with. That is, all of the doors have two sides, one facing the interior of the warp room so you know where you’re going, and the other facing the interior of the room you’re in. Technically, it makes more sense for the inside of the door to say “Warp Room” so you know you’re looking at the exit. If you’re in the Chocolate Room, and the door reads “Chocolate Room”, how likely is it that you’ll look at the door and say, “OH, THAT’S where I am!”? Anyway, each of the door textures have to be copied from the folder of the room they come with, and then renamed to “dor1b” or “dor2b” in the Warp Room folder. So far, there are 5 rooms, but only 4 door texture files. Rana’s Room apparently isn’t accessible from the Warp Room (yet).

I’m really hoping for a desk accessory in an upcoming volume. There should be 8 more rooms before the series ends, but there’s nothing in the magazines saying what the future sets or instruments will be. Speaking of which, the sax model mentioned in the magazine a couple of issues ago still hasn’t been included on the subsequent DVDs. I don’t think I missed it, so maybe it will be on a later DVD. I hope so, because I want more instruments for Rana to play with. I’m really looking forward to a keyboard accessory.

Additional comments:
Note to self – To activate the Rana voice bank, go into the Program Files->Vocaloid3Tiny folder and run the Activate3 program. This is necessary about once every 2 or 3 months to input the next serial number.

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