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Developed by Yamaha Corporation
Initial release January 2004
Latest release Vocaloid2
Type Musical Synthesizer Application
Website http://www.vocaloid.com/en/

Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer application software developed by the Yamaha Corporation that enables users to synthesize singing by just typing in lyrics and melody.


[edit] Development history

Yamaha announced its development in 2003 and on January 15, 2004, Leon and Lola, the first Vocaloid products were launched. They were not released as Yamaha products, but as Vocaloid Singer Libraries, developed by third party developers, the products were powered by the Vocaloid software, under license from Yamaha. Leon, Lola, and Miriam (Miriam using the voice of Miriam Stockley) have been released from Zero-G Limited,[1] UK, while Meiko (released on October 5, 2004 and using vocal samples from the Japanese singer Meiko Haigo[2]) and Kaito (released on February 17, 2006 and sampled from Naoto Fuga) have been released from Crypton Future Media, Japan.[3][4]

In January 2007, Yamaha announced a new version of the software engine, Vocaloid2, with various major improvements in usability and synthesis quality. Zero-G and others announced products powered by the new software engine in early 2007. PowerFX released the first Vocaloid2 package in June 2007, an English product named Sweet Ann. This was shortly followed in August 2007, when Crypton released Hatsune Miku, the first in a series of Japanese Vocaloid 2 character voices. The second package Kagamine Rin/Len was released on December 27, 2007 and the updated edition "act2" was released in July 2008. The first Vocaloid 2 product from Zero-G, Vocaloid Prima, an English classical voice, was finally released on January 14, 2008 in the UK[5] and February 22, 2008 in Japan. It was originally scheduled for release in the Sping of 2007. Prima was introduced at the NAMM Show 2008;[6]. The third Vocaloid 2 product from Crypton, Megurine Luka, went on sale on January 30, 2009, she is the second bi-lingual Vocaloid product, but the first one to be capable of singing in both Japanese and English.

[edit] Products based on Vocaloid

[edit] Vocaloid

[edit] Vocaloid 2

  • Character Vocal Series
  • Hatsune Miku: Japanese female
  • Kagamine Rin/Len: Japanese female (Rin), Japanese male (Len)
  • Megurine Luka: Japanese and English female
  • Kamui Gakupo: Japanese male
  • Sweet Ann: English female
  • Prima: English female
  • Big-Al: English male

[edit] Character Vocal Series

The Character Vocal Series is a computer music program that synthesizes singing in Japanese. Developed by Crypton Future Media, it utilizes Yamaha's Vocaloid2 technology with specially recorded vocals of voice actors. To create a song, the user must input the melody and lyrics. A piano roll type interface is used to input the melody and the lyrics can be entered on each note. The software can change the stress of the pronunciations, add effects such as vibrato, or change the dynamics and tone of the voice.

The series is intended for professional musicians as well as light computer music users. The programmed vocals are designed to sound like an idol singer from the future. According to Crypton, because professional singers refused to provide singing data, in fear that the software might create their singing voice's clones, Crypton changed their focus from imitating certain singers to creating characteristic vocals. This change of focus led to sampling vocals of voice actors.[7]

Each Japanese Vocaloid is given an anime-type character with specifications on age, height, weight, and musical forte (as in the type of music, range and tempo). The characters of the first three installments of the series are created by illustrator Kei.

Any rights or obligations arising from the vocals created by the software belong to the software user. Just like any music synthesizer, the software is treated as a musical instrument and the vocals as sound. Under the term of license, the Character Vocal Series software can be used to create vocals for commercial or non commercial use, as long as the vocals do not offend public policy. In other words, the user is bound under the term of license with Crypton not to synthesize derogatory or disturbing lyrics. On the other hand, copyrights to the mascot image and name belong to Crypton. Under the term of license, a user cannot commercially distribute a vocal as a song sung by the character, nor use the mascot image on commercial products, without Crypton's consent.

[edit] Hatsune Miku

The cover of the first release.

Hatsune Miku (初音ミク ?) is the first installment in the Vocaloid2 Character Vocal Series released on August 31, 2007. The name of the title and the character of the software was chosen by combining Hatsu ( First?), Ne ( Sound?), and Miku (未来 Future?).[8] The data for the voice was created by actually sampling the voice of Saki Fujita, a Japanese voice actress. Unlike general purpose speech synthesizers, the software is tuned to create J-pop songs commonly heard in anime, but it is possible to create songs from other genres.

Nico Nico Douga played a fundamental role in the recognition and popularity of the software. Soon after the release of the software, users of Nico Nico Douga started posting videos with songs created by the software. According to Crypton, a popular video with a comically-altered Miku holding a leek, singing Ievan Polkka, presented multifarious possibilities of applying the software in multimedia content creation.[9] As the recognition and popularity of the software grew, Nico Nico Douga became a place for collaborate content creation. Popular original songs written by a user would generate illustrations, animation in 2D and 3D, and remixes by other users. Other creators would show their unfinished work and ask for ideas.[10]

On October 18, 2007, an Internet BBS website reported Hatsune Miku was suspected to be victim of censorship by Google and Yahoo!, since images of Miku did not show up on the image searches.[11] Google and Yahoo denied any censorship on their part, blaming the missing images on a bug that does not only affect "Hatsune Miku" but other search keywords as well. Both companies expressed a willingness to fix the problem as soon as possible.[12] Images of Miku were relisted on Yahoo on October 19.

A Hatsune Miku manga called Maker Hikōshiki Hatsune Mix began serialization in the Japanese manga magazine Comic Rush on November 26, 2007, published by Jive. The manga is drawn by Kei, the original character designer for Hatsune Miku. A second manga called Hachune Miku no Nichijō Roipara! drawn by Ontama began serialization in the manga magazine Comp Ace on December 26, 2007, published by Kadokawa Shoten.

Her first appearance in an anime is in (Zoku) Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei, where she (and various other people and characters) try out to be the voice of Meru Otonashi. For online multi-player games, the Japanese version of PangYa started a campaign with Hatsune Miku on May 22, 2008 in which she is included as one of the characters.[13][14]. Her first appearance in a video game is in 13-sai no Hello Work DS (13歳のハローワークDS ?) for the Nintendo DS where she is included as one of the characters.[15][16] Hatsune Miku will be given a PlayStation Portable game called Hatsune Miku: Project Diva to be released on July 2, 2009 by Sega.[17] Hatsune Miku made a cameo appearance in the Lucky Star OVA in the form of Kagami's cosplay in her dream. She made a vocal appearance in the finale ending theme of the anime Akikan!. Hatsune Miku received the 2008 Seiun Award in the free category.[18][19]

On August 27, 2008, Victor Entertainment released the album Re:package which contains a collection of songs performed by Hatsune Miku and composed by a pair of dōjin artists named Livetune. The album sold over 20,000 copies in its first week and successfully broke into Oricon's charts by placing fifth for the week.[20]

[edit] Kagamine Rin and Len

Released on December 27, 2007, Kagamine Rin/Len (鏡音リン・レン ?) is the second installment of the Vocaloid2 Character Vocal Series. Their family name was chosen by combining Kagami ( Mirror?), Ne ( Sound?), with the first syllables of their given names a pun on "Left" and "Right". They are not actually brother and sister, but are reflections of a mirror. According to Vocaloid's official blog, the package includes two voice banks: one for Rin and another for Len, both provided by the voice actor Asami Shimoda. Despite the double voice banks, the package still sells at the same price as Hatsune Miku.[21] Their only cameo appearance in an anime is in (Zoku) Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei, where the two and Miku (and various other people and characters) try out to be the voice of Meru Otonashi.

On June 12, 2008, Crypton announced the updated edition, named "act2", will be released in early July 2008. Users who had bought the old version will get an expansion disc free of charge. On June 18, 2008, beta demonstration songs using the new version were released on the company's official blog.[22] The expansion disc is an entirely different software and does not affect the original Kagamine Rin/Len installation in any way, giving the user options to either use the old or new voice sets exclusively or combine their usage.

[edit] Megurine Luka

The third installment in the character vocal series, Megurine Luka (巡音ルカ ?), was released on January 30, 2009.[23] Her surname combines Meguri ( Circulate?) and Ne ( Sound?). Luka's voice is that of a twenty-year-old female and she can sing in both Japanese and English. Her voice bank was sampled from Yū Asakawa. The manga artist Kei, who illustrated Miku, Rin, and Len, also designed her mascot. However, unlike previous mascots in the series, her costume is not based on a school uniform.

[edit] Involvement in Super GT Series

The Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4 competed in the 2008 Super GT season.

In the 2008 season, two cars competing in the GT300 class adopted images and color schemes involving characters in the Vocaloid series. The first car, named "Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4" (#808), was used by Studie (a tuning shop for BMW). [24] It used Hatsune Miku's image and color scheme, and has its debut in round six in the Suzuka Circuit. It marked the first so-called "Itasha" to participate in international class races under FIA. Though it never qualified in the qualify session mainly due to fuel problems that season (including the miss of its Suzuka debut due to a misunderstanding of the rules), it was allowed to race in the final round at Mt. Fuji, and completed the race in eighteenth place. Crypton fully supported the process of participation. The car attracted many motor sport and non-motor sport fans not only because of its color scheme, but also marked as a testing point of BMW's return in the Super GT series, since Z4 has already dominated in the Super Taikyu series in Japan. After the final race at Mt. Fuji, it is known that Studie will continue to adopt Hatsune Miku's image in the following season.[25]

In the final round at Mt. Fuji, one of the leading teams, Mola, adopted images of Kagamine Rin and Len in their "Mola Leopalace Z" (#46); they finished sixth in the race. Unlike the previous car, it did not change its name in the process.[26][27]

On top of that, Studie was one of the few teams that adopted color designs from the general public, rather than a professional designer in international motorsport history. When Piapro (official fansite which is in charge of collecting designs) was collecting designs of the Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4, they did not announce the designs would be used in Super GT series, instead most of the designers expected it would be racing in the lower-level Super Taikyu Series, or as display cars in autoshows or Comiket (the plan was disgusied as a model-car design contest), so many of them chose #39, the number which usually belongs to Hatsune Miku. However, in the Super GT series, the #39 belonged to Toyota Team SARD (Now known as Lexus team SARD) in the GT500 class; this fact was reflected in Goodsmile Racing stickers for Z4 car models released after the 2008 season, which they provided both for #39 and #808. Like the previous season, Piapro picked a design from the public and it was revealed in February 2009.[28]

[edit] Kamui Gakupo

Musician and actor Gackt lent his voice and stage name for the creation of the Vocaloid, Kamui Gakupo (神威がくぽ ?). Yamaha wanted to utilize the voice of a musician but felt it would be difficult to acquire cooperation. They consulted Dwango (new owner of Vocaloid publisher Internet Co. Ltd.), who suggested Gackt, as Gackt had previously provided his voice for Dwango's cell phone services.[29] Referred to alternately as Gakupoid or Gackpoid, the most recent release includes a new program, OPUS Express, for mixing vocal parts with accompaniment and phoneme data.[30] The new software will be available for download for users with registered copies of previous Vocaloids. Besides the new program, Gackpoid will include two of Gackt's songs and three example songs.[31]

The product was originally intended to be released in June 2008, but although Gackt existed as a model for the Vocaloid, it lacked an illustrated avatar to match the previous Vocaloids. Popular manga author Kentarō Miura, famous for his dark fantasy epic Berserk, was approached. Due to Miura's affection for Nico Nico Douga, he agreed to offer his services as character designer for free. As a fan of Berserk, Gackt was more than happy with this arrangement, and requested Miura's sketches be faxed to him as well as the developers, even though he was on location for the filming of Guy Moshe's Bunraku.[32] Gackpoid was released on July 31, 2008.[31]

Miura's design for Gakupo has a samurai aesthetic—the Vocaloid is clad in a hakama and haori, and carries a katana that somehow acts as a musical instrument.

[edit] References

  1. ^ "NEWS: ZERO-G announces first 3 Vocaloid titles". http://www.zero-g.co.uk/index.cfm?articleid=803. Retrieved on 2008-07-17. 
  2. ^ "Vocaloid's English official website". Yamaha. 2004-11-09. http://www.vocaloid.com/en/index.html. Retrieved on 2008-09-01. 
  3. ^ "Crypton Future Media Vocaloid MEIKO". http://www.kvraudio.com/get/1368.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-17. 
  4. ^ "Crypton Vocaloid KAITO" (in Japanese). Crypton. http://www.crypton.co.jp/mp/do/prod?id=27720. Retrieved on 2008-07-17. 
  5. ^ "Zero-G shipping Vocaloid PRIMA". 2008-01-14. http://rekkerd.org/zero-g-shipping-vocaloid-prima/. Retrieved on 2008-09-01. 
  6. ^ "EASTWEST Introduces Zero-G Vocaloid Prima At NAMM 2008". 2008-01-23. http://namm.harmony-central.com/WNAMM08/Content/EastWest/PR/Vocaloid-Prima.html. Retrieved on 2008-09-01. 
  7. ^ "How Hatsune Miku was born: Interview with Crypton Future Media" (in Japanese). February 22, 2008. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/0802/22/news013.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-28. 
  8. ^ "Exceptional sales of Hatsune Miku" (in Japanese). November 12, 2007. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/0709/12/news035.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-08. 
  9. ^ "How Hatsune Miku opened the creative mind: Interview with Crypton Future Media" (in Japanese). February 25, 2008. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/0802/25/news017.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-29. 
  10. ^ "DTM in the boom again: How anonymous creators are discovered by Hatsune Miku" (in Japanese). September 28, 2007. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/0709/28/news066.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-29. 
  11. ^ "Hatsune Miku images disappearing from the Internet" (in Japanese). October 18, 2007. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/0710/18/news040.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-21. 
  12. ^ "Google and Yahoo "investigating the problem" on the disappearance of Hatsune Miku" (in Japanese). October 18, 2007. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/0710/18/news065.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-23. 
  13. ^ "Annoucement of PangYa season 4" (in Japanese). 2008-05-05. http://www.onlinegamer.jp/news/4750/. Retrieved on 2008-06-06. 
  14. ^ "PangYa cooperation with Hatsune Miku" (in Japanese). Famitsu. 2008-05-22. http://www.famitsu.com/pcent/news/1215366_1341.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-06. 
  15. ^ "Hatsune Miku appears in 13-sai no Hello Work DS" (in Japanese). Famitsu. 2008-02-15. http://www.famitsu.com/game/coming/1213533_1407.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-06. 
  16. ^ "Composing music with Hatsune Miku in 13-sai no Hello Work DS" (in Japanese). Famitsu. 2008-03-03. http://www.famitsu.com/game/coming/1213865_1407.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-06. 
  17. ^ "Hatsune Miku: Project Diva official website" (in Japanese). Sega. http://miku.sega.jp/. Retrieved on 2009-03-15. 
  18. ^ "Seiun Award: Long Novel Goes to Toshokan Sensō, and Hatsune Miku, 20th Century Boys, and Others Win" (in Japanese). Mainichi Shimbun. 2008-08-25. http://mainichi.jp/enta/mantan/news/20080825mog00m200023000c.html. Retrieved on 2008-08-31. 
  19. ^ "Library War, Dennō Coil, 20th Century Boys Win Seiun Awards". Anime News Network. 2008-08-24. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-08-24/library-war-denno-coil-20th-century-boys-win-seiun-awards. Retrieved on 2008-08-31. 
  20. ^ "Album featuring "Hatsune Miku" enters Top 10" (in Japanese). Oricon. 2008-09-02. http://www.oricon.co.jp/news/rankmusic/57783/. Retrieved on 2008-09-13. 
  21. ^ "Vocaloid2 info: CV02 "Kagamine Rin/Len" announced" (in Japanese). December 3, 2007. http://blog.crypton.co.jp/mp/2007/12/vocaloid2_cv02_3.html. Retrieved on 2007-12-04. 
  22. ^ "Rin/Len act2 beta demonstration songs released" (in Japanese). Crypton. 2008-06-18. http://blog.crypton.co.jp/mp/2008/06/vocaloid2_act2_1.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-24. 
  23. ^ "Megurine Luka Announced as Next Vocaloid 2 Character". Anime News Network. 2009-01-06. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-01-06/megurine-luka-announced-as-next-vocaloid-2-character. Retrieved on 2009-01-07. 
  24. ^ "The Rumored No. 808 Hatsune Miku Studie Glad BMW Z4 Latest News" (in Japanese). Super GT.net. 2008-08-18. http://ww2.supergt.net/gtcgi/prg/NList02.dll/Code?No=NS010942&List=13. Retrieved on 2008-08-21. 
  25. ^ "Itasha storm in Super GT. Report of Final Race at Mt. Fuji (Page 3)" (in Japanese). ASCII. 2008-11-11. http://ascii.jp/elem/000/000/187/187441/index-3.html. Retrieved on 2008-11-16. 
  26. ^ "Itasha storm in Super GT. Report of Final Race at Mt. Fuji (page 2)" (in Japanese). ASCII. 2008-11-11. http://ascii.jp/elem/000/000/187/187441/index-2.html. Retrieved on 2008-11-16. 
  27. ^ "2008 Super GT Champions" (in English). Super GT. 2008-11-11. http://supergt.net/supergt/2008/08series/index_e.htm. Retrieved on 2008-11-16. 
  28. ^ "Hatsune Miku BMW Z4 comes back stronger to GT 300 for 2009 season!". Super GT. 2008-02-16. http://ww2.supergt.net/gtcgi/prg/NList02.dll/Code?No=NS012104&List=13. Retrieved on 2008-02-18. 
  29. ^ Michiko Nagai (2008-06-20). "Gackt to Sing and Kentarō Miura to Draw Gackpoid" (in Japanese). CNET Japan. http://japan.cnet.com/news/tech/story/0,2000056025,20376132,00.htm. Retrieved on 2008-06-29. 
  30. ^ "Kamui Gakupo, Debut At the End of July! "Gackpoid"" (in Japanese). Barks. 2008-06-20. http://www.barks.jp/news/?id=1000041036. Retrieved on 2008-06-29. 
  31. ^ a b "Gackpoid" (in Japanese). Internet Co. Ltd.. 2008-06-20. http://www.ssw.co.jp/products/vocal/gackpoid/index.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-29. 
  32. ^ "Gackpoid to be Sold in Late July; Kentarō Miura to Illustrate" (in Japanese). ITMedia. 2008-06-20. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/0806/20/news043.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-29. 

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