Saturday, May 30, 2009


A couple months ago on an art site on the internet I stumbled across a picture in a category called "Vocaloid." The picture was of what appeared to be a robot that looked like an anime-inspired young woman. It was kind of interesting, so I started googling the term and found out that it was way more than just a picture. It turns out that Vocaloid is a piece of voice synthesizing software developed originally by Yamaha Corporation, but popularized by a Japanese company that produced a series of releases featuring different "characters" with different voices. The following video does a great job of explaining the basics.

As can happen when things get posted up on the internet, Vocaloid seems to have completely taken off in certain geekier areas of the web. I do find the basic concept fascinating, especially as someone who has written and home-recorded songs before using Guitar Tracks software. Software like this lets people who can't sing, but can play an instrument (especially a synthesizer), produce songs and even entire albums on their own. Then, people who know animation software can produce music videos of the songs. They then hit YouTube (generally after hitting Japanese video-sharing sites), which has hundreds of Vocaloid videos, of varying quality and scariness.

One of my favorites, created using the freeware MikuMikuDance (MMD) software mentioned in the documentary video posted above, is posted below. As a guitarist, I am amazed that all of the guitar work in this video is completely accurate. That had to take many hours to do, but the results are totally cool.

Some creators are more into traditional animation, though, and use standard key-framing techniques (mixed with CG background work fairly often). This probably takes more time than just using existing animation software like MMD, but provides for a greater range of creative expression. I really like the video below, just don't ask me why the lady is choking a younger version of herself halfway through the video, because I have no idea why she would do that. Or why she flies through the middle of some kind of strange construct. Remember that music videos aren't supposed to make sense, or MTV would be a center of logical, constructive discourse on the nature of society.

Edit: No, I don't know how to widen the column on this thing, so that the HD videos don't span too wide and look stupid. We're just going to have to live with it.

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