Bokaro P ni Naritai, vol. 19

(Images used for review purposes only.)

I want to be a Vocaloid Producer, vol. 19, 1,500 yen, plus tax.
New magazine features:

In the 4-panel comic, Rana has gone into another panic. This time it’s because she can’t compose original music. Up to now, she’s been following the instructions from the class texts, but she doesn’t know how to write from scratch. The classroom section then introduces more concepts for writing melodies, including the C-Major scale, tonics, and dominant and subdominant chords. The discussion section for genres talks about the Bossa Nova. Then there’s another overview of amateur vocaloid music videos. The MMD tutorial describes a new accessory – a hook for Rana’s regular guitar along with a new set of clothing (winter jacket version of the vocaloid school uniform). The last page highlights two pairs of real-world headphones (the Yamaha HPH-MT220 and HPH-Pro500, and the Sony MDR-7506 and MDR-CD900ST) and looks at the gear used by this issue’s pop-up artist, Kanna Mute (can’t find a URL for him/her).

New DVD Features:
The pop-up song: “Hitorishizuka no Yoru” (Solitary Quiet Night). The vocals are for a soft love song, but the instrumental backing is for a louder j-pop piece with an over-driven electric guitar. Just off-hand, I’d say this was mixed wrong, with Rana being drowned out by everything else. Any sense of a “quiet night alone” is completely lost.

There’s the one accessory file for the “torsoAndHook”, a support text file for the MMD demo, and a pre-rendered version of the standard music video that has been used for the last few issues for the MMD tutorials. Which brings me to a point that I’ve been kind of trying to ignore up until now. Every time I render the MMD work files to an .avi, the resulting video is so big and bulky that it won’t play in Windows Media Player (if there’s an embedded audio track); it bogs the computer down and the video won’t sync with the audio. I had thought it was just me, and that I should be running the file through the free MMD compressor that was discussed way back around issue 3 or 4. Now, though, the demo on the DVD-ROM has the exact same problem (none of the tutorial videos have ever done this). It was just completely unwatchable, so I dragged it over to the compressor batchfile (tde277) and waited about 10 minutes for it to do its magic. Even though the original file was only 640×480, at 1 minute long it was 1.6 gig. The compressed file was only 18 meg, but very jaggy. It did play correctly, though. I guess the moral is that MMD produces bloated avi’s that MUST be run through tde277 before they can be viewed correctly on my laptop.

Note that the “torsoAndHook” file contains Rana’s winter jacket, and a hook for her guitar (White-kun)., both of which are intended to coordinate with the “Rana’s Room” stage. The hook is actually a wall mount for holding the guitar when it’s not in use. Doesn’t look like they can be isolated and used independently of each other.

The goal this time is to write chords to generate a Bossa Nova-like sound. The demo song only contains Rana’s vocals, and the first four notes on a piano. There’s a bit of a walkthrough on how to pick chords, and an example of using a dominant chord. At 4:43, this is one of the shortest tutorials so far.

The video starts out with a short history of the Bossa Nova style and how it relates to jazz, then introduces the idea of a backing guitar as styled by Joao Gilberto. There’s really nothing that the student is directed to do in terms of following along with the instructions in the tutorial. Instead, it’s pretty much all lecture and discussion of what the different instruments do in a Bossa Nova song, and examples of several approaches to composing music in this genre. The video ends with “but feel free to experiment on your own” (the publisher’s version of “the details for the exercise are left to the student”).

(Rana’s Room set, with the guitar hook and Rana’s winter uniform. Oddly, they seem to be one unit. I can’t separate them to have Rana wear the winter outfit without the hook floating alongside her.)

This volume introduces AviUtl, a Japanese freeware video editor package available for download from Spring-fragrance.mints, among other locations. It’s going to be used more extensively in vol. 20, but the idea is to become familiar with it now by doing the install and then adding lyrics subtitles during the song and a credits roll at the end of the demo video. I’m not really happy with the idea of grabbing random freeware off the net from untrusted sites, but the tutorial video specifically uses I have to assume it’s safe, but I wish there were more reliable sites to choose from. There’s an English port at, but again, I don’t know if I can trust it.

Assuming you unzipped AviUtl to your desktop, run it, and then drag the 640×480 demo .avi file from the DVD-ROM into the main window. Change the aspect ratio from 640×480 to 640×360. You’ll see that there are two tracks, the avi video plus the audio track. Right click on the third track to add a text box, and copy paste in the lyrics from the DVD-ROM teroppu (Telop) text file. Near the end of the song, paste in the credits text and edit the main settings to make the credits scroll over the video. When done, export to .avi and compress using tde277.

Additional comments: As mentioned above, I’m extremely leery of downloading and running AviUtl in any shape or form. The tutorial video doesn’t mention security concerns at all, and I can’t read kanji well enough to know if the magazine discusses this problem. On the other hand, comments in various English DVD forums on the net do talk about how powerful AviUtl is, and how it does things Microsoft’s Movie Maker can’t. I wish I could make up my mind one way or the other here…

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