Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 15

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 15, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
Well, we’re finally half way through the planned series of 30 volumes. Be interesting to see what the publisher has in mind when we get to issue 25.

New magazine features:
In the 4-panel comic, Rana happily announces that her first song is done, and therefore she is now a Vocaloid Producer. Robo-Panda reminds her that you can’t be a producer until you actually have something uploaded to the net. Rana panics because she has no idea how to do that. The classroom section then goes into a little more detail, talking about using movie editing software like Microsoft’s Movie Maker to add the song title text and closing credits, and explains the differences between Nico Nico regular accounts, Nico Nico Premium and youtube. There’s a feature on the Mixture Pop genre, and an interview with Pinocchio P. The MMD tutorial section breaks down the video you’ll be making into song segments, identifying where each motion file will be copied into the MMD keyframes chart. Finally, there’s a highlight on the Lily package (which came out in 2010), and a comment on the pop up artist for this volume, Takashige Tsukada.

New DVD Features:
The MMD model file is for the Outer Space dance stage. The comment on this stage in the magazine states that you can change the gravity settings in the room to allow for high jumps and fluttery landings. In actuality, you’ll have to handle this level of detail yourself, but that’s just a matter of how you set the keyframes, and the Gravity setting in the options menu (the Gravity setting will affect how long it takes clothes and hair to come to rest after the character moves).

The pop-up song is “Donna Fuu ni Sayonara wo iena Yoin Darou” (What’s the Best Way to Say Goodbye?) It’s a simple pop ballad with a melancholy edge. Audio track only, no dance video.

(4-panel comic, and one-half of the classroom section.)

There are a number of plug-in apps that are available for Vocaloid. One of which is Job, apparently based on the English word for “to do a job”. It is used as another interface to the automation tools. The first part of the tutorial just talks about the need for making Rana’s voice louder in the demo song. Rather than adjusting Dyn manually, you can use Job just by clicking on Execute Job Plug-in from the Job menu tab, and the option you want is Adjust Gain. Enter a positive or negative integer to change Dyn from its current value for the song time range you want, and you’re done. The next section is to use Job to change the type of Vibrato used in the song. This is followed by instructions on how to get Job for free from the online Vocaloid plug-in store, and then the tutorial finishes with a playback of the full demo song, “Chikyuu no Kaiten” (The Earth Turns).

The main focus of this lesson is on taking an analog MIDI track, saving it to file, then chopping it up into pieces and rearranging them as you like. The target is an existing drum rhythm track. To make the task easier, we’re also shown how to go into the properties menu and assign a short-cut (Alt-D) key to the “Split Track” command. Along with pasting in the desired bits of the track you want, you can shorten the bit so the full phrase plays in less time; with the drums, the result is what sounds like DJ scratching. This seems like a lot of work for what you get, but it is one approach to making something with a techno or House feel.

(Rana in space.)

Time to make a video. The publishers have included a series of pre-built poses and walk cycles that you can stitch together. First, load the Rana model, and the demo song wave file. Each of the cycles is based on a 1:8 beat pattern, and the song is divided up into an intro, the A and B melodies and the ending. Based on this information, you can write out the approximate start points for each set of pose or motion keyframes, and then copy them into the project file. In some cases, the keyframe data includes keys that you don’t need for the work you’re doing, so identify them in the preview stage and delete what you don’t want. When you get to the ending, just paste in the pose you want to close on. After that’s done, pick the stage(s) you want to use, and register it (them) as desired. All that’s left is putting in the camera and lighting effects. The editors suggest coming up with your own ideas, tweaking some of the keyframes to personalize the motions for each cycle, and then uploading the finished video to nico nico douga. The tutorial is only 7 minutes long, including the finished demo video, but you could spend weeks on this one project to create something really polished. Me? I’m just going through the motions prior to starting my own project.

Additional comments:
The sections on Vocaloid and Singer-Song Writer are pretty rudimentary and are “nice things to know”. If you already compose your own music, you’ll probably glance these over and decide what you want to keep in mind for later. However, the MMD tutorial is pretty much a “must-see” if you’re going to do animation in the future, because it’s all about creating a library of stock motion cycles to be reused when the storyboard calls for them, and includes the steps for stitching the separate cycles together to make them transition smoothly. Good stuff.

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