Monday, December 3, 2012

Rant: Avanna's Release Date?

This is a question that has been asked continually over the last month, looking at my Google Analytics alone all of the my top 5 Google search keywords are different combinations of 'Avanna' and 'Release'. As we have no official news from the powers that be I figured I may as well rant and speculate on the topic.

Personally I am placing the blame on squarely on Yamaha, as for their motivations, and how I came to this conclusion, we will go over through the course of this article. Before we begin speculating let us first let us establish what we do, what official statements have been made, and the 'facts' of the situation. First we will have a look at Avanna, her artwork redesigns, what progress has been made on her vocals, and then we will look at the past with Oliver's release last year. Once we have established what we do know, then I will go into my speculation, and the conclusions I have drawn from the situation at hand.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rant: Avanna's Upcoming Release

I have been following the Avanna discussion on VocaloidOtaku for quite a while and have wanted to blog about her upcoming release. This isn't really news, more speculation and educated guessing, so I can't post it on the main blog, so instead I post it to my (not so new) VocaRant column/sideblog and share my thoughts on the matter with you.

With Avanna's release right around the corner, many people have become impatient, some even doubting if Avanna is going to release at all. I can say, with almost 100% certainly that Avanna is going to happen, things have been in motion too long to stop now. Its the dates and details where things begin to get murky.

Zero-G has suffered many technical difficulties in Avanna's development, what they were specifically, your guess is as good as mine, but as long as nothing has changed (and I don't think they have) they told us to prepare for a 'Summer' release date.

While the informal end of Summer is Labor Day, the actual end of Summer this year is September 20th, because September 21st is the first day of fall. So with that date in mind, I fully expect final details to begin rolling in sometime within the next 2 weeks, with the actual release following shortly in the fall, some time before Christmas.

This sort of Big Al Syndrome should be nothing new to Engloid fans, neither should a rapid info release schedule soon after those technical difficulties are overcome. If you don't recall Oliver's release and his many delays, the actual release took many by surprise as the date was not revealed untill the day before, not even a full 24 hours, he was set to go on sale.

I fully expect that if is releasing it will come by surprise, in a great wave of activity, a gigantic dump of information, and a physical edition & bundles some months later. I see her release as a great dam, now that the normally tight-lipped Zero-G is finally opening up we can finally see cracks in its great surface and feel the pressure building up.

She may, or may not, make that September 20th not-deadline, but I am willing to bet she will be coming out sooner, rather than later...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Kit Kat Challenge

When developing Otakune Weeaboo's English VB "Otakune Extenzed" one of the goals was for him to be able to sing in "passable" American English.

One of the questions that popped up during his development was how would we define "passable". I proposed this question to Laura, Koda, Myst, and anyone with an ear for UTAU, or interest in linguistics.

Together, in the end we developed a simple phrase, one that we like to call "The Kit Kat Challenge". Is that voicebank, UTAU, or Vocaloid's English "passable" or is that "Engloid" more of an "Engroid" than anything?

Koda-P covers our little test as part of his most recent Koda's Kolumn entry "The Kit Kat Challenge". For those interested you can read the full article on Engloids.Info as part of the latest entry in Koda's Kolumn.

Along with overviewing the challenge itself Koda included examples using the PowerFX Engloids he owns. Check it out, try it yourself, discuss it, post your results. It might be fun to try out on your UTAU!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just A Fansite, Not Affiliated With Yamaha

Sometimes I am amazed at the kind of support Engloids.Info gets. It continually ranks on Google, gets cited by foreign language wikis, has articles translated and re-blogged by THE Vocaloid Blog. While I'm quite proud of these achievements and thankful to all our editorial staff this popularity is not without its downsides.

Our issues arise from the takedown of the Official English back in September. We covered it in "Yamaha Updates Official Vocaloid Site, Snuffs English Version" back when Yamaha revised their website for Vocaloid 3 and took their dated English language site down.

Without an English language site their website fails to rank on English language search engines. When their site fails to rank on English Google my site takes top spot and I end up fielding a variety of technical support questions.

If its something simple I usually try to help, and usually have to stress than Engloids.Info is not in any way associated with either Yamaha, PowerFX, Zero-G or VocaTone. If it is something more technically involved, usually concerning serial keys, I usually try to direct them to the proper place to seek help.

I know my blog is awesome, thats why we rank in Google, but we shouldn't be ranking before official resources. I mean we are a fan-site that is structured to be as 'professional' as possible. Though its a blog I use a custom theme where you wouldn't be able to tell it was Wordpress powered at first glance.

I am not sure if they actually think we are affiliated with the pro-companies or if its out of desperation because they can't find proper English language resources. Judging from the Google search results that direct people to my site I am willing to bet it is the latter.

Recently got an email where a guy gave me his serial key asking me to help him troubleshoot his Vocaloid 2 activation. Looked into my records and found that he found my site by Google-ing "Yamaha Vocaloid Email".

The other search terms where my site was found with yesterday included "how does work", " english", & "vocaloid english website" and those were just the searches from one day!

Thankfully Yamaha finally got around to working on their English language site again. We covered it a bit in "English Vocaloid Official Returns, Calls You a Dummy" when an enterprising VO user correctly guessed the password to the beta version of the site. While it is still a work in progress, and isn't open to the public, it is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully Yamaha will get their English site up soon because I know their fans are waiting. Till then I will try my best to help who I can, and redirect those to the proper channels to seek help from when I can't.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rant: Vocaloid Popularity Contest

People keep saying things like "bad character design" or "bad boxart" but at the end of the day these are vocal synthesizers. The popularity of a song or character has nothing to do with the images or Vocaloid publisher. Its all about the music and the producers behind them. How skilled is the producer and how much EFFORT is he or shee is willing to put in?

The popularity of the music is entirely on the music producer's shoulders, not the fandom, and certain't not the Vocaloid company. You can't publish a 'medeocre' or hell, even 'outstanding' song, fail to market it, and then blame the fandom/person you bought the software for the lack of the song's success. I am not going to buy FL Studio and then blame Image-Line that my original song only has 500 views.

If you want your song to be popular you need to put the work in, that is something most people aren't willing to do. There are of course shortcuts of course, shortcuts many people aren't shy from taking. If you want views, suck at marketing you work, then the obvious route to take is cover something already popular, like Linkin Park, or cat songs, since they are already popular they almost market themselves! [/sarcasm]

I will give you two examples of 'proper' marketing from Western producers, one who uses Miku, Gumi, & Gakupo amongst other JP-loids and the other, an early adopter of VOCALOID1 Engloids, which have no official character images or art, and created an entire virtual singer & mythos, from scratch, to represent his work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rant: anaROBIK vs Fanmades

I have been talking about anaROBIK a lot on VO, particularly because she is a great example of Vocaloid being used as an 'instrument' rather than as a 'character'. Recently she was brought up in a discussion about fanmades.

For those that don't know about her, I have coverage on Engloids.Info

Now personally, I dislike fanmades, I think the idea around them is stupid, and now that there is over 40 different Vocaloid 1-3s, not even counting the various appends, I see little use for them outside of the headcanon of the the fandom.

In many ways she is similar to fanmades: She is a non-canon character, developed by a fan, derived from a Vocaloid voicebank. Despite her origins I don't consider her a 'fanmade'. I point you to why I like her so much. She is an example of Vocaloid being used as an 'instrument' rather than a character.

You must keep in mind that anaROBIK is derived from Zero-G's LOLA voicebank, one of the earliest VOCALOID1s and Robert Hedin (anaROBIK's producer) was one of the earliest adopters. This was a different era, the era before Miku, before Vocaloid2, an era where the concept of fanmades hadn't even been conceived.

Hell, even today the 'concept' of LEON & LOLA that comes to mind when you think of their characters is entirely fanon. If anything the modern ideas of Leon & Lola's characters are all fanmade. The only official art is the one that graces their boxes.

But alas, we are getting sidetracked. Lets get back to anaROBIK...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Vocaloid: The Fan Phenomenon

AnimeLA was some of the most fun I have had at a convention. Mainly because I usually go to conventions as 'work' as an exhibitor so going to one 'for fun' is bound to be more fun than working one. I was able to attend a bunch of panel and "Vocaloid: The Fan Phenomenon " was one of them.

Vocaloid: The Fan Phenomenon
Presented by Russell Chou & Derek Chou
January 7 2012 @ Anime Los Angeles 8

Synopsis: What is vocaloid?  No, not just the software, but the whole ecosystem that has become “Vocaloid”.  How did it come to be, and what will become of it?

I will be honest with you: I expected the worst and in the end it was not bad. Sure we giggled a bit at his 'English Websites' slide, and disagreed a bit about music monetization, overall it was a pretty good overview on Vocaloid, as a fandom.

For the most part he focuses near exclusively on Crypton Future Media & the Crypton-loid. I don't blame him since the focus was on the "fan phenomenon" and the fandom very much revolves around the Crypton-loids. He wasn't totally ignorant of the others, even name dropped the Engloids & UTAU a bit, but Crypton seemed the focus of the panel.

Even though he focused on the fandom he drew particular attention to Vocaloid as a software, and various producers behind many of the most popular songs. He even covered oft overlooked but very important aspects of the fandom like the 'doujin culture' and the 'fan works' concepts.

He also drew attention to the 'perfect storm' of things going on that helped make Miku a success. Pointed out the early adoption by people who would later become 'pro' producers, the timing & importance of Nico Nico Douga's founding in December of 2006 and how NND & Vocaloid would grow together, till Vocaloid gets an entire section dedicated to it on the site.

Probably the most controversial thing Russell brought up was his section on "Commercial Adoption" (18:55) where he went into PiaPro, creation of KarenT and other labels, and the commercialization of arts and music, a topic he would return to multiple times throughout the panel.

Props to Russell for also covering, albeit briefly, not just the Engloids, but the Spanish, Korean, and Chinese versions of the software as well. He also didn't forget about the other JP-loids and really spread the Gumi love at one point.

In conclusion...
With the panel's title in mind it wasn't terrible at all. It focused on the fan perspective, and while not overly useful for the experienced fans, it is certainly informative to the casual fan or random convention attendee.

For those interested Russell has given me a copy of the slides he used. You can find the slides, along with a timeline of the video after the jump.