Category Archives: marketing

Vocaloid 2; Value from Efficiency; User-Generated Content distribution

I’m still impressed with the abilities of the Vocaloid 2 software (found via Boing Boing). Put in a melody and lyrics, and the software generates singing.

It sounds pretty good. Try this sample:

The opera sequence from Final Fantasy 6 — one of the most touching sequences from the best RPG I’ve ever played.

Watching this brought back good memories of the experience playing the game, and that’s partly what makes Vocaloid memorable for me.

The singing isn’t perfect — one comment remarked that the singer sounded like she’d a cold — but this is a technological factor. As coding gets better, so will the voices. But it may not matter — most people are willing to accept less-than-ideal quality media in certain contexts, compression codecs affect sound quality, and when you’re listening to music in a subway train, bus or car you can’t tell anyway.

The value of Vocaloid lies in how it flows with the trend for more user-generated content. It fits in nicely with existing distribution chains for user-generated content. Make a song with Vocaloid, overlay on a video file and upload to YouTube.

(Does it still make sense to call UGC a “trend”? Isn’t it already here and a part of our lived experiences?)

I’m also struck by how YouTube has become a music player although it began as a video-sharing site. This serendipitous use has been driven by the sheer ease of use and easy availability via laptops and widespread broadband.

Compare this with how people rarely used CD-based gaming consoles like the Playstation to play music. Clearly it was silly to turn on the player and a TV set to play music when it was much more efficient to use a CD player. Even a Discman with speakers plugged in was a preferable alternative.

So functionality is nice, but if it’s not efficient relative to current alternatives the functionality won’t add much value to the user.

Although Vocaloid is aimed at otaku, there must be similar groups that would buy such software.

Let’s consider characteristics of the otaku audience — predominantly teenagers, tech-savvy, relatively affluent and of course, a little obsessive.

Hmm… has anyone tried packaging Vocaloid for Christian rock fans?

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Itasha – anime-decorated cars

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Itasha are cars decorated with decals and paint jobs depicting anime, game and manga characters. The word itasha, which literally means “painful car,” is derived from the kanji for itai (”painful”) and sha (”car”). The word also appears to be a reference to the Italian sportscar, also known as itasha (although the ita for Italian is spelled with katakana instead of kanji), a conventional sort of chick magnet driven by a different sort of guy.

(via Pink Tentacle – which has more links to itasha pictures)

Invisible City (备忘录)

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Clever advertising for Invisible City at the Arts House — except that if you were already there then there was a good chance you were already going to watch it, like the Better Half and I.

Still, great concept (probably by Mindwasabi) that echoes the subject matter of Tan Pin Pin’s latest documentary very well.

(You’d probably have read all the reviews by now, so I don’t need to tell you that Invisible City is about how people remember and how those memories are recorded or – often – not)

She said, during the post-screening Q&A, that one of the points she wanted to make is that the act of remembering — whether dredging up personal memories, re-recording old footage, or literally digging in old army forts — requires much effort and time. The process is painstaking.

Invisible City is also meant to be a record of its own, as the Mandarin title implies. 备忘录 might be the more accurate title: a record prepared with the expectation that one will forget.

Moreover, it seems clear that remembering is rarely appreciated, in this country at least. In the documentary Han Tan Juan, trying to carve out what he sees as the rightful place of 1960s Chinese student activists in Singapore’s history, remarks after a talk he gave to students that they didn’t seem to care about his story, let alone Singapore’s history.

So at the risk of sounding trite, this work is as much about forgetting as it is about remembering. If I may borrow Alex Au’s words:

By the end of the film, I was slumped in my seat, feeling quite defeated. Ken Kwek, a Straits Times journalist, told me on the way out that far from showing us how history is recorded, the film showed “how big the gaps are”.

(earlier posts on Invisible City)

The realities of virtual marketing

Terra Nova featured a Forbes article that highlights how some companies are grappling with the realities of marketing in Second Life, and asks if this is the start of a media backlash.

There’s a knee-jerk response on New World Notes, but I think its attacks on the reporter’s accuracy are petty. For instance, what’s so wrong with calling Second Life a “Web fantasy world”?

It’s obvious to me that effective marketing in SL isn’t going to be exactly the same as effective marketing in real life. But companies will adapt over time, like they adapted to the internet, TV and radio.

I’d like to know: who’s leading this experimentation and learning? Anyone care to enlighten?

Aren’t games realities too?

Creating a shared experience of a possible future, by using new media tools with mass participation – videos, phone calls and audio, images, and blogs and other writing – in an alternate reality game.

Each contribution helps the game arrive at a larger truth. No team of experts knows better than a given individual what effect an oil shock would have upon that individual’s life, or what action he or she will take to cope. Personal reactions to our simulated oil shock, placed in context with many other points of view, will help us all realize what’s at stake in our oil-fired culture.

Take a look at World Without Oil :: Document Your Life In The New Reality

(From Boing Boing, which also attributes World Without Oil to the astounding
Jane McGonigal.

I still get excited when I recall I Love Bees, where McGonigal was lead designer. What really appeals to me are the interactive, collaborative storytelling, and how the distinctions between fact & fiction, virtual & real dissolve as the participants/characters perform actions.)