Friday 31 January 2014

Knitting a Miku Doll

This quick demonstration of how to make an Amigurumi Miku (as it's called in Japanese, meaning a 'crochet Miku') is of necessity limited in its detail, but gives the general idea of how it was done, and the step-by-step method.

Although I got into knitting when I was young, so have some idea about what's going on here, unlike (say) Rock Hudson I didn't persist with it into adult life. Just in case you were wondering...


This is the intro song for the imminent (but delayed for three weeks for quality improvements to be made) Project Diva F 2nd game. The song, by kz (livetune), features all six Crypton Vocaloids who also appear in the game – which will now appear (all being well) in late March, at least in Japan.

Meanwhile, we can enjoy Decorator, in a typical setting and style of video for this series of games...

Labour Poll Lead Vanishing

I have recently tweeted about the real polling situation, as there have been polls all over the place and all sorts of unrealistic conclusions being drawn (I'd say assumed in some cases) from them. I said that the trend was ever downward and was now around four and a half percent.

Just in case there were any doubt, here's a graph of the Labour lead percentage from all the polls from the last twelve months. This came to me indirectly, so I do not know who kindly put all this (admittedly public) data together...

Probably the most interesting part of the chart is the trend line, which shows that just a year ago that lead was ten and a half percent. It is indeed now effectively around four and a half points – less than half what it was just twelve months back – and the underlying trend has been consistently downward.

My own expectation, however, is that the rate of decline will slow during this year and perhaps a little beyond, but I am still expecting a Conservative lead of around three or four percent by election day in May next year. Actual voting will, I strongly suspect, result in a modest Conservative overall majority of around ten to fourteen seats, unless something very strange and completely unexpected occurs in the meantime.

Essentially, all the pieces are already in place, and it's mostly day-to-day and detail stuff that will fill the next fifteen months. Thus I am now sufficiently confident to make this prediction public now (I have known it for a little while) and it will be interesting to find out in May 2015 whether I am anywhere near right.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Tell Your Universe

In a busy week in the Vocaloid world, we have already seen IA's second 'birthday' a couple of days ago, and now we have Luka's fifth such anniversary today (actually in preparation for the day itself, tomorrow), and also today confirmation that Miku's Wake Up, Rosetta video-and-song message will be among those to be sent out into space.

Miku only just scraped through, though, in tenth place – and that was only because another of the original ten winners was disqualified. Her voice will be telling Rosetta to wake up, and the listening universe will also be able to hear and see her.

Regarding that contest, it was supposed to have a ninety-second time limit. That was in the rules. Several of the winning entires are significantly longer in duration than the limit, one almost doubt and another over double. What is the point in having rules and then letting some participants ignore them, especially when others have stuck to the rules.

Okay, an odd second or two doesn't matter (there are technical oddities with videos than can  make the 'count' not quite match the video's actual length, overstating the length, as I have seen a number of times) but noy the ones we have in the winners' list.

As far as voting is concerned, it is notable that four of the winners, including three or the four highest voted for, are by schoools, which must have helped (all those parents, teachers and governors for a start). Nothing wrong with that, of course: it's just worth noting in passing, just in case anyone wondered why this was.

Anyway, here's a short video featuring IA, Luka and Miku together, which seems fitting...

Monday 27 January 2014

Konata's Song For Her Dad?

The song here has the slightly dubious title of I'm Glad You're A Lolicon, which I gather is a term for someone who likes the younger ladies perhaps a little too much to be entirely healthy. In the anime series Lucky Star, Konata had long realised that her dad was one such, though in practice he seemed to be harmless enough.

It seems to be not all that uncommon in Japan, possibly caused by all the 'cutesy' outfits worn in and out of school. Anyway, it's all well beyond me, so let's just enjoy fairy Lapis and her dancers (Mayu and a shorter-haired Miku variant) performing the song of that title in a brand new video.

There are no English words provided – and for all I know that might be just as well, as I might not have felt comfortable posting this otherwise, depending what the lyrics mean (and no, I don't wish to know, so don't anyone tell me!) This is just a musical and visual feast, and I rather like it on that basis. Besides anything else, it is rare to encounter those wonderful Saboten eyes on Mayu and Lapis together – which, if I'm being brutally honest with myself, was the final straw that made me want to share this here. Predictable, I know...

Their colourful outfits, both at the start and after the first change, are somewhat reminiscent of the psychedelia-inspired fashions of the 'sixties that one could find in places like Carnaby Street and Camden indoor market. Although they might be thought almost garish, they do actually work very well in these settings and with this quite tuneful song...

Miku Is New Born

This song, by the hugely talented Aura Qualic (lyrics by Seri Suzuki), was recently released after a two-year delay which seems to have been, in the end, down to the wait for Miku to be ported to the Vocaloid-3 software version.

It has been well worth the wait: New Born is one of those very special songs, as you will realise when you hear it, that will really touch you . The English translation is generally very good, with just a few minor 'oddities', and the still image is of Mamama's Appearance Miku...

Saturday 25 January 2014

Is a Mac a BAD Apple?

Well, Macne Petit is here singing Bad Apple, so one can't help but wonder(!)

Anyway, I thought visitors might like to know how the little 'un of the Macne family sounds solo, after the previous video, so here she is. I notice that some people are calling these 'Macloids', I gather after the name of the plug-in that enables a producer to use them natively rather than as sort-of UTAU.

I know relatively little about this as yet, and am still learning the technicalities and terminology, so apologies in advance if it should one day turn out that I have any of this incorrect.

Anyway, here's Macne Petit, with her green curls flying all over the place, a few costume changes, and a cute look right at the end that says "Have I forgotten something?"

Freely Macne

Sort of:...

It's some of the Macne 'family' performing Mitchie-M's famous Freely Tomorrow, with Macne Nana taking centre stage and lead vocal. Backing is provided by her dad (Macne Papa) and also little sister (Macne Petit) with her cute but slightly mischievous looking eyes(!)

Macne, as I have mentioned before, means 'Mac sound', and refers to the fact that these voice synths were created specifically to work on the Apple Mac range of computers, with the software that exists on that platform such as GaragaBand, and able to transfer files in a small range of formats that allow use as if they were UTAU.

Anyway, it all works well; and though Nana's voice requires work to make it sound natural (it can tend to sound slightly robotic), it is possible to achieve good results...

Friday 24 January 2014

Exploring Chuggington

I wonder how many visitors to my 'blog have any real idea of just how extensive the 'map' of Chuggington actually is. It's an amazing creation, and in this short (under two minutes) clip Koko takes the town's mayor and a visiting king and his entourage on a tour that takes in just a few of the places that have always been there since the series began.

Indeed, those of us who have followed the programmes will have encountered these places before, such as Old Chuggington, the mountains, the mine and the icy place – just not all together at Koko's express speed. "Go Koko! Go Koko!"...

Happy Galaco

Uploaded just a couple of days ago is kagomeP's I'm Happy Girl, performed by Galaco. It's a sheer delight, even though the only English words are the few actually within the song. Hopefully one day it will be subtitled.

It's fun, happy and upbeat; and it is certainly good to hear Galaco sounding like this, accompanied by some nice simply-animated illustrations. My favourite image appears at 2 mins 10 seconds...

Miku Wing Shops

There are two of these at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, the main one in one part of the airport and a smaller 'international' version in the so-called Cool Zone. They are there only until the end of March.

The theme of these shops is of courae Miku merchandise, but they are based around the idea of a winged Miku, of which there is a life-size model in the centre of each shop, as well as other indications such as the store's door-side signage.

This video from the always-useful (if a little basic in terms of presentation) Sub-Tokyo duo gives us a good look inside each shop, and shows us the Miku Miku Hockey game about which I have been reading in several places recently, as well as a very interesting 'welcome mirror'. Trust me: it's worth sticking with this to the end...

Thursday 23 January 2014

Nervous, by Kokone

This is another demo song for new vocaloid Kokone, whose name means 'heart-sound'. It still doesn't utilise her full capabilities, but is a useful (and pleasant) addition to her as-yet very limited repertoire.

Kokone, you might recall, is notable for a wide – three-octave – compass, and for her soft but fairly versatile voice. There are indications (from comments to these videos) that producers who are watching and listening have their own plans to stretch her further in their own compositions, so the future is looking very interesting...

Teto and the Bicycle

...and the wasp, and a rafflesia flower, and Akita Neru (who has Len's undies with her!) and several other ingredients as well. Not a song this time, just a fun scenario of what some of the Vocaloid/UTAU characters might get up to if they were doing everyday stuff that the rest of us could perhaps be seen doing.

This short (just over four minutes) clip was produced by one Doronuma-P...

Wednesday 22 January 2014

My Soul, Your Beats

This is a song from the anime Angel Beats, sung here by IA. You should read the complimentary comments at the YouTube page, and I'm not surprised! The general view is that this is better than the original, which itself was really good.

Okay, so we don't have any English words provided here, but this is one of those experiences that transcend the words anyway. It is also a very good reminder of just how good IA's voice is, if used well with good 'tuning'. It could make for a very good demo, but would definitely benefit from having more than a static image if it were ever to be thus used...

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Wood Is Mine

Yup, even wood can be turned into Miku sculptures, as Jason-san (complete with Friday the 13th-style mask!) demonstrates. His work might not be all that good facially (which is obviously near-enough impossible to do all that well anyway), but the rest of it is really good – and it's all done with chainsaws...

EU Exit Film – The Trailer

This two-minute trailer to what is to be a full production fronted by David Campbell Bannerman regarding the question of Britain's possible exit from the EU – 'BRExit' – gives the flavour of what is to come. It is my favourite kind of production is this kind of arena: myth-busting, factual, and dealing with the vested interests and other scaremongerers quite effectively.

I am pleased that non-EU countries within continental Europe, such as Norway and Switzerland, have contributors in interviews, as this really helps to set the record straight. Indeed, those two countries are prospering while the rest of the EU is in general decay and widespread crisis.

I have said before, on quite a few occasions both privately and in public, that timing is crucial when it comes to the ultimate decision regarding Britain's position within or outside of the European Union – and it looks as though I have been on the right lines. With what has been happening within the EU, the UK Government's plans for re-negotiation and a referendum, and this new film, all the requisite ingredients are coming together in correct sequence and at the proper times to maximise the probability of our getting this right – which is to choose to leave that Union.

Here's the trailer...

Monday 20 January 2014

Wake Up, Rosetta!

The European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta comet-chasing probe has been asleep for three years, conserving its resources until it approached its destination. It is intended not only to follow the comet it is chasing, but also to land upon it.

There has been a contest for people to submit a 'wake up' message to accompany the signal that was due to wake up Rosetta earlier today. The winner would be decided by voting. This one featuring Miku English was one entry out of what seem to have been hundreds of entries, and it just seems so appropriate!.

In fact, I have only just discovered all of this in the past few minutes, so it's too late to vote for it anyway (UPDATE: The closing date for the voting has been extended until 28 January). We can simply enjoy the entry, and imagine what it would have been like to send this message out into space...

Happy Zunko

Actually, Happy Synthesizer by EasyPop, with Zunko Tohoku providing the (really delightful) actions and Empath-P providing the voice – as Zunko's full vocaloid voice-bank isn't yet ready. This song becomes a bit repetitive after a while, with no real development; but I doubt you'll even notice while Zunko is performing! Somehow you (probably) just want it to go on and on...

This video has been produced by no less than neutrinoP, who is another fan of Zunko, and he offers this to the world i, as he says at the video's YouTube page, "to show everyone something really CUTE!" – and there can be no denying that he has done exactly that...

Puchi Miku Birthday Festival

Well, that's what the preamble to this video says at YouTube, but I'm not completely convinced. It doesn't really matter, though, as ultra-cute Puchi Miku – complete with pop-up cat ears – performs Daniwell's Electric Parade.

Although this is a speeded-up remix version, the Daniwell stylistic trade marks are there, so even if one didn't already know this tune/song – which is used by Disney, by the way – its composer is an easy enough guess!

The only 'complaint' I might level at this is that the facial movement and expression is more-or-less fixed... though this might be a limitation of the model for all I know (I don't know which one it is, so can't research this). It doesn't stand out too much, though, so enjoy the show...

Thursday 16 January 2014

Cry For The Star

New vocaloid Kokone's second demo song has been uploaded today; and I think it is a better demo – more conventional, yes, but genuinely better too, without taking anything away from the first demo. Put together, they are showing at least some of her promise.

This video also treats us to several of the static images of her avatar that now exist. The casual observer will no doubt think that her appearance is simply another variation upon the generic theme of all of these – and at a first-level appraisal, such a judgment would be correct.

It is, nevertheless, a worthwhile exercise to engage one's higher mental functions and at least begin to perceive the individuality of each and every one of the Vocaloid avatars. It's there, and many of us in the world have already 'clicked' in this regard.

There is a special moment when one reaches that very point, and Kokone – whose avatar is perhaps less distinctive in some regards than many others – is perhaps the best catalyst for some folk find that realisation for themselves.

In the meantime, here is the new song. Her softer, though quite grown-up, voice works well with this material, which wouldn't be so good (if one imagines how it would be) with some of the other, higher-pitched voices. There are no English words provided as yet, but I shall keep alert for them for the future...

Daydream Flight – New Video

This is, in effect, the video of that Vocafarre Augmented Reality (AR) performance by little fairy Lapis, but with a few extras now added. For example, the blue studded AR 'target' that we saw on the guitarist's shoulder for Little Wish makes an appearance here. It went up on YouTube just twelve days ago.

It is also good to get a closer-in and clearer (despite the low resolution) view of more of what was going on, and from different camera angles this time, including going up the steps at the start. Obviously the tech issues with that starting sequence during the Vocafarre live performance don't exist in this version either.

There are no English words this time, so just enjoy the spectacle and the music. The words are subtitled in the version I posted here not so very long ago (just search for Vocafarre in the 'blog's Search box) so are easy enough to find here, and of course from the usual external sources, if desired...

Tuesday 14 January 2014

The Lonely Shepherd

I check early each year to find out whether the definitive performance by Gheorghe Zamfir with James Last, performing the latter's composition The Lonely Shepherd, has come back onto YouTube somewhere. This was the live performance with James Last's orchestra in London way back in 1978.

As it turns out, this video was uploaded nine months or so ago, after my previous check, so I missed it until now.

Those who know the version of this on albums and at other live performances will, I am sure, be freshly moved by this performance, which is really special – and which lodged itself firmly in my memory when that concert was broadcast on television all those years ago...

Monday 13 January 2014

Sonic Mania 2013 Concert

I have just discovered this excerpt from an event of which I had been completely unaware. It really is very good, and the Miku base model works so well with this kind of lighting – absolutely enchanting, as one might expect ever since Miku and the others raised the bar in this regard, by several notches.

The three songs are familiar enough, but easily warrant a re-visit: Tell Your World (kz/Livetune), Torinoko City (40mP), and Yellow (kz/Livetune again). I am hoping that the rest of this concert will appear on-line one day soon...

Friday 10 January 2014

The Snow White Princess

This is a great outing for Snow Miku, whose models back through the years are featured here, starting with the 2014 'magical' design and working backward.

It is when watching them all perform here that one realises just how beautiful they all are: most of the time they are depicted as static images on posters or as figurines. This video brings them all to life – even if that sounds odd in regard to something that isn't really alive as such...

Thursday 9 January 2014

A Young Generation Will Create Such New Things

Thus spake Keiichi Sakata at this school where he is the Principal, and where Vocaloid composition is being taught as part of their music education on a trial basis.

With the assistance of teachers including Ayuchi Takahashi and guest Vocaloid producer Ashin Kuroda, the class featured in this clip produced a number of basic themes using Miku as the singing voice. Although nothing was outstanding – hardly surprising in their first-ever attempts – there was a lot of promise in what the class produced.

This is a valid and important part of humanity's cultural future, and it is good that at least one nation is utilising the capabilities now available in pursuance of tomorrow's music and its composers...


Gynoid is what this type of humanoid robot, this one being code HRP-4C, is being called. Others are being called actroids or simply androids, and no doubt other terms will be coined over time. The video below shows a few of its (her?) movements including walking, gestures and facial expressions, some coordinated.

Her normal stance and walking mode has her arms in what these days might well be termed the 'MMD pose' (MikuMikuDance), as MMD models are invariably pictured in the same pose.

This is one of those that have been made to appear almost startlingly human-like, and there are several others that have been shown in public over the past two or three years – also Japanese. One can see that the concept of the (so far) fictitious human-type Cylons isn't at all far-fetched, when one realises just what could become possible within just decades from now...

Ievan Polkka – the Junior Version

Here's little Yuki Kaai singing a very cute and calming version of both the original (Loituma) and 'nonsense' (Miku) words to Ievan Polkka. The visuals are just a range of cartooon representations of the performer.

There are no English words, but this is just two minutes or so of fun and delight, so understanding the words is unnecessary. Indeed, it's probably better this way, for two reasons (they'd be a distraction, and they are a bit 'adult' in tone).

Yuki (meaning 'snow') is the youngest Vocaloid to date, pitched around nine or ten years of age; and her voice just works so well for this song – although as I hinted above, the original song, if translated, isn't quite the sort of thing one might expect someone of such tender years to sing...


Monday 6 January 2014

Una Furtiva Lagrima

Yes, it's time for some opera, for a change – and here we have an early outing for the then-new (in 2010) Tonio male operatic Vocaloid, doing what most commenters (including native Italians) have judged a really good job, if one goes through the 176 comments at the video's YouTube page, as I have. Strictly speaking, this was his first demo, but now is just part of his repertoire.

Tonio is effectively the male counterpart to Prima, so the quality of the voice, if used properly, is not really a surprise – though it requires good tuning to achieve the best possible results. The ever-dependable Guiseppe knows his stuff, and has done what was needed to hone this to a very high standard.

The visuals comprise the by now familiar Vocaloid editor display in playback mode, which is fascinating to watch if not exactly the most adventurous concept for a video...

Carry On Vocaloid

No, this isn't a saucy British comedy, but a Vocaloid version of the Donna Summer (co-written with Giorgio Moroder) song. This is performed here by that most impressive of newcomers, Maika, masterfully produced by 'VocaloidMaster Guiseppe' who has been doing some great work with Maika, a couple of examples of which I have already featured.

This has previously been done (I think in its original form/language) by Sonika, I understand, though I haven't heard that version as yet, so cannot comment further.

There are no English words provided in or with this Spanish-language video; but the lyrics to the original are easy enough to find, and the subtle changes in this version are obvious, as you'll pick up on as soon as your hear them...

Saturday 4 January 2014

White Dove

This jolly 3-minute song features a pirate-attired Miku, different settings, and even has a little Irish dancing here and there. Apart from the seemingly slippery ground during some of the walking sequences, this is very nicely done and is especially clear, bold and colourful in its highest resolution setting, full screen.

There are no English words, which is a shame, though there is still much enjoyment to be had from what we have here as is, so don't be put off by that. If a subtitled/captioned version appears, I'll put that up...

Thursday 2 January 2014

Raven – Series 3 Way of the Warrior

While you're probably still reeling from the sheer of that last post, here's another superb clip, this time from the third series, where Worjo very carefully and with great intelligence (though also with a few wobbles!) takes on the Way of the Warrior eliminator – and isn't eliminated!

As always, the staging, effects, music, Raven himself, and even the characteristic map at the start, all add to the atmosphere of this wonderful series. Once more, viewers found themselves on the edges of their seats, eyes wide, willing Worjo on to success.

It was a pity that – as his Standard shows – he had only one life left (Jaddo, on the left in the early part of the clip, had four lives, and Brena had three at this stage), and didn't ultimately triumph at week's end. He'd have made a good champion.

For me, this is probably the best of the (very few indeed) successful negotiations of this very challenging obstacle course, and makes a good study piece for how to deal with such challenges...

Raven – Series 9 Last Stand

For those who never caught the excellent CBBC series Raven – you missed something very special! Okay, the first series was a bit shaky, and the spin-offs were poor... but essentially, from series 2 they were edge-of-chair brilliant and completely gripping, from James Mackenzie's masterful portrayal of Raven, and including those wonderful maps, David Brockett's hauntingly evocative music, and the superb effects; right to the challenges themselves (including Way of the Warrior and The Last Stand), this was an exceptional concept and production.

I had my favourites among the challenges, including where pairs of the six competitors each week would try to knock each other off rickety towers using long, soft staffs; and putting out fires by catapulting 'ice rocks' at the flames. Some challenges required a more delicate touch, such as not spilling green liquid carried on a wide hand-held contrivance, or were against the clock as the exit door notched its way closed or a volcano was about to erupt. The programme was a real gem. and all involved deserve huge praise for something of which they can be truly proud.

Here we have one of the best Last Stand contests, where Dyrel and Bertar (not their real names) face the evil Nevar and his demons, working flat out to be the first toreach the portal and success. Bertar starts at a two-lives disadvantage, affording him a time penalty so that he has to catch up if he can. Watch his spirited efforts here and see just how close the eventual outcome was...

La Chica Ye Ye

On the morning that many folk will be going back to work after New Year's Day, how's about a bright, bouncy but measured song to get everyone going?

This is La Chica Ye Ye and it's in Spanish, so you don't need to listen to the words – but feel free to be impressed by their clarity, for this is the excellent Maika performing here. It is said that the Sonika version is 'cuter', but this one surely cannot be beaten for its clean sound and clear pronunciation...

Telling My World

I have decided that one of my missions this year will be to tell my part of the world about Vocaloids, and to contribute to the body of works by producing my own material. Of course, if I find that my efforts aren't much good, they'll never appear in any public place; but I'm hoping that with a little practice some usable tracks can be produced.

This is due to kick off in those two directions later this month: one by getting Miku English as already promised, the other by being a kind of freelance publicity agent. I shall say no more about the latter until and unless I am able to achieve at least something in that direction – and here I am going way beyond what I can achieve here and on social media – but I should have some news toward the end of this month.

Meanwhile, here's Miku with kz/Livetune's classic Tell Your World, with English subtitles, and set in a planetarium of all places...

Wednesday 1 January 2014

London New Year Fireworks 2013–2014

Especially for those who missed it at the time: this was last night's fireworks display in central London as midnight struck and for ten minutes thereafter, courtesy of the BBC...

Lapis is in my Fluffoughts

New year, new versions of old favourites, and here's delightful fairy Lapis (in her 'natural' size) performing this little song Leave In Summer, Yet You're In My Fluffoughts on a kind of staggered piano keyboard.

It's yet another nicely done video, with good motion, an excellent model, and an interesting stage. Although there no English words provided, this really isn't one of those songs where words are all that important, and one can simply enjoy it as is – in High Definition too...