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.
Avanna, what we know.
Yamaha has taken particular interest in Avanna, and has been quite hands-on with her development, to the level we haven’t seen (or at least heard of) before. Yamaha went so far as to completely change her art direction and order a complete redesign of her then completed artwork. Avanna was stripped of her ‘fantasy’ theme, elf ears removed, eyes enlarged, made to look younger, and pose made much cuter. As a whole she was ‘moe’-washed in much the same way most modern Japanese media is these days.
We covered Avanna’s various design changes and artwork related delays in our previous news post Zero-G’s Vocaloid 3 Avanna Official Artwork where Aki Glancy chronicled the various design iterations in her development diary “Aki tells the tale of Avanna”. There might have been other instances of Yamaha’s hands-on approach, but it has never been documented in such detail before. They might have always been like this, or it may have been a recent change with Vocaloid 3, but no other company has given us quite the look into the design process of a Vocaloid as Aki Glancy and Zero-G have.
As far as Avanna’s vocals are concerned it was stated in the VocaNoIro: Vocaloid Producers Panel Preview that the Avanna they debuted was approximately 80% completed, that it had since been revised, and voicebank configuration was finally completed by October’s end. While there is of course a lot of tweaking to be done to assure the best product possible, for the most part Avanna has been ‘done’ for about a month now… which is why the vague release information and delays on what info we did receive have been a big question as of late.
Oliver, what came to pass.
Though we know that Yamaha has been meddling with Avanna’s release and in general development details are pretty vague, this is hard from the first case of Yamaha intervention in a Vocaloid 3’s release. I need only remind you about the debacle that was Oliver.
Initially slated to release October 1st, 2011 in PowerFX Gives VOCALOID3 Release Date and Cost Estimate. When October 1st came and went he was later pushed back to ‘early November’ in PowerFX VOCALOID3 Release Date Rolls Back. Oliver didn’t get released in October but eventually his artwork, and later his voice, all debuted over the course of that month.
After multiple delays PowerFX became vaguer and vaguer about Oliver’s immanent release till eventually they would only ‘no comment’ on the matter when asked. When we did finally get a solid date and time for Oliver’s release it would be the day before, less than 16 hours notice before he was to go on sale on PowerFX’s website.
Coincidentally December 21, 2011, Oliver’s release date, would also be the date that Yamaha would release a major Vocaloid 3 Editor update, Vocaloid Editor v188.8.131.52. It was never explicitly stated what caused all the delays with Oliver’s release, but the fact Yamaha packed a major update on the same day ended up being a huge coincidence… one almost too large to ignore.
Yamaha, cause of delays?
Ever since Vocaloid 3 has come out Yamaha has taken quite the interest in the developing Vocaloid 3s. Granted, we have a limited number of English releases to draw information from, as I haven’t been able to keep up with the Japanese, Korean, Chinese, or Spanish release information, but from what we have seen we can tell that Yamaha has taken a keen interest in the voicebanks of the most recent generation.
Yamaha has proved that they were willing to order a complete redesign of a Vocaloids artwork, going so far as to scrap the ‘fantasy’ concept it was built around and order everything made in a more ‘moe’ manner, beyond the delays they caused in the art department we are seeing a repeat of the events of PowerFX in Zero-G when it concerns their Vocaloid’s final release date. We have received multiple dates, each pushed back, and now release information is strangely quiet, with all parties involved suddenly becoming extremely tight lipped.
The fact that PowerFX didn’t know its own release date till some 16 hours beforehand tells me that the actual release date was out of their hands. Similarly Zero-G just can’t seem to get a date down, as a software company your release date isn’t something that is left to ambiguity. When you release you usually build an entire PR and marketing campaign around it and things like when your software actually comes out is no minor detail that can be easily overlooked.
Its almost as if not even Zero-G knows their own release date! If Zero-G isn’t in control of the release then who is? Yamaha seems to be the only party I could come up with. The root causes could be anything from vocal refinements, licencing negotiations, to hell, maybe even another major Vocaloid 3 Editor update. If someone does know they certainly aren’t talking.
So with all of the above in mind, go easy on Zero-G… its probably not their fault.