Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 17

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 17, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
New magazine features:

In the 4-panel comic, Rana has been studying really hard lately, so Robo-Panda takes pity on her and they take a short vacation in the Island Stage room for the Golden Week holiday period. The classroom section introduces the creator of the first Hatsune Miku demo song (Hoshi no Kakera (Star Fragment)), Eiji Hirasawa. There’s a short interview as Rana asks for composition tips from Eiji, and then a brief description of the Island Stage. The featured genre is R&B, and the artist is Sat P. The main article talks about using SSW to arrange an R&B song, and goes into more detail regarding setting up the bass/drum rhythm. The MMD section illustrates the Color Shake effect plug-in. The magazine concludes with a piece on the use of the Maika package in Spain, and a write-up on the pick-up artist, Raven Works.

New DVD Features:
We finally have a new pickup demo song again, “Teisatsuki” (Recon Plane), a peppy little J-Pop piece by Raven Works. Plus, there’s the Island Stage MMD model, and effects plug-ins for Color Shake, Live Laser and Rana Toon.

(The magazine section on R&B arrangements using SSW.)

This tutorial is pretty short and simple, talking mainly about changing the timing and length of Rana’s vocals to get more of an R&B synchopation. The demo song is “涙色” (Namida Iro – Color of Tears).

Vol. 17 marks the start of the SSW tutorials on arranging for various music genres, beginning with the drum and bass tracks for R&B. There’s a bit of theory regarding timing (i.e. – the idea of the note leading or lagging the timing grid by a small amount), but mostly the practice is on copy-pasting existing notes or entering new notes for the drum section. In essence, we’re just being told what rhythms to make.

(Rana in mid-dance on the Island Stage, plus use of the LiveLaser effect.)

Because there are so many effects plug-ins for MMD now, it’s hard to know which one to use, or how to use it. So, the publishers picked 3 post-effects modules (ones that apply the effect after rendering) for illustration. The first one up is ColorShake.x, which, according to the readme.txt file, makes it look like the RGB planes are being hit by an earthquake. The effect is running even when you’re not playing back the video, which makes the screen really hard to look at. The accessory “Si” setting changes the amount of shake, with 0 being “none”, and 0.1 being “a small amount” (the default is 1.0). The suggestion is to put a small amount of shake right at freeze poses to accentuate them, but I consider it too distracting.

ColorShake, being an .x file, is treated as a regular accessory, such as with the dance stages, and microphones. LiveLaser.pmx, being a .pmx file, is more like the Rana and Robo-panda character models, and is treated as a model when dragged and dropped into the workspace. What this does is to give you a particle effect collection of laser beams that can be moved and rotated around the x-, y- and z-axes. The only gotcha I’ve found so far is that when you’re building up a dance video from scratch, it helps to import the motion files when the correct model is selected in the workspace (having LiveLaser selected and then bringing in a dance motion for Rana causes MMD to try to apply the motion keyframes to the laser instead of to Rana. Sigh.) Changes to the laser for positioning and rotation need to be registered as bone manipulation, while colors, brightness, shape and spacing are registered as “facial expressions” (ie. – the “mouth”, “eye” and “eyebrow” sliders are repurposed). Interestingly, you can drag in as many LiveLasers as you want and treat them as separate, multiple “banks”.

The third effect is RanaToon.x, which makes use of ExcellentShadow to render Rana with 2D shading to get more of a comic book look (2D shading on a 3D model doesn’t really look good, in my opinion.) The tutorial ends with a video of Rana playing guitar with every effect so far turned on. It’s a real mess, and highlights the old adage of “less is more”.

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