As a followup to nostraightanswer (Kenji-B)’s YouTube reveal covered in New Zero-G Vocaloid 4 “Dex” and “Daina” Revealed in Live Stream & Convention Panel AkiGlancy took to livestream to take questions from the community regarding Zero-G’s upcoming Vocaloid 4.
For those of you that missed it, or arrived in time but did not make it before the room capped out at 50 viewers, don’t worry Engloids.Info has you covered.
Table of Contents
- The Introduction
- Kemonomimi Story
- Their Current State
- Release & Yamaha Approval
- A Look Behind the Curtain
- Couldn’t Be Answered
- Tidbits Not Yet Covered
- TL;DR – Things to Take Away
Editors Note: This is a ‘summary’ of a +2.5 hour event. This post is quite long as a lot was discussed but I believe I covered all the important parts. This report is not chronological, related details have been condensed into common headings.
Stream started promptly at 10PM EST, with the LiveStream room already to capacity before the broadcast started.
The stream opened with AkiGlancy introducing herself and immediately apologizing for how disorganized the previous day’s stream was. She said there was a miscommunication between her and Kenji and due to poor cell coverage and texts not being delivered properly he didn’t properly receive instructions about what they had been OKed to reveal, leaving many in the community with more questions than answers, explaining how the purpose of the night’s stream was for her to address and answer any of the concerns the community may have had concerning Zero-G’s upcoming Vocaloids.
From there Aki went on to explain that the simultaneous stream and convention panel was meant to be a “teaser”-like event, not a true “reveal”, and went on to explain that they didn’t think that Dex and Daina were ready to be truly revealed as they are still very much in development and how she was hesitant to even call their current state a “beta”. From there she talked a bit about about the panel she hosted at Anime Mid Atlantic and how heartfelt of a reaction she had from all the positive reactions she got from those attending the con. From there she opened the stream to questions from the chat.
As expected, the first question was about the kemonomimi art by SteelEmmisary. The viewer wanted to know where the idea for kemonomimi came from and the background behind it. Aki explained that the kemonomimi was chosen because they wanted something that had never been attempted before, a unique twist on the nekomimi in past. These weren’t simply cute headphones with a cat ear shape, these were characteristics taken from animals, the tail included.
Aki expanded on what Kenji mentioned earlier about “The Fox and the Hound” theme, how it wasn’t the only concept that was pitched, but it was merely the one that stuck. She explained how, for her, the film was something she grew up with and remembered fondly before going on to elaborate that for Zero-G, being based out of Manchester UK, foxes and hounds was something that resonated with them. Initially it was something they laughed about, but after some consideration they thought it was different and worth trying, before absolutely falling in love with Steel’s early pre-sketches.
When someone asked if there were plans to modify the shown designs Aki replied with a hard no. She was adamant that it was the ‘final’ art, apologised for those that may not have liked some of the design decisions, but did not think that they would be changing in the immediate future. She explained that ‘different’ was a goal, that they knew going in that some wouldn’t like it, and how they with the goal of matching their designs matched Dex and Daina’s voice types, their primary goal, they felt they had succeeded.
Drawing from her previous experiences with Avanna and her concepted ‘elf ears’ as an example Aki highlighting how whenever she drew Avanna as a fan it was always with said ‘elf ears’, despite that concept having been vetoed. If people weren’t comfortable with the kemonomimi she welcomed them to draw Dex and Daina with more human traits if they wanted, she encouraged everyone to use, draw and enjoy the Vocaloids however they saw fit, without need to limit oneself to the ‘official’ design.
Their Current State
The next question involved the current state of the voicebanks. To this AkiGlancy was quite blunt. She admitted that many things needed to be fixed and that many things were already planned to be re-recorded. She reminded everyone about how this wasn’t meant to be a “debut” and reiterated that they were still in VERY early beta.
When asked about her experiences working hands on with the two vocaloids she highlighted how she felt Dex was definitely the stronger of the to, saying that while Daina was softer, she was still her favorite of the pair, explaining how Daina has a ‘mischievous’ quality to her that she found quite charming. Overall she said the two “hold pitch very well” and when asked what she meant by ‘holding pitch’ Aki opened up Vocaloid 4 and showed a live example using a currently released voicebank.
Following this Aki addressed several specific questions about their Vocaloid capabilities. She confirmed that both Dex and Daina would have additional phonemes over Yohioloid, but she wasn’t able to go into specifics of exactly what was added. When asked about the scripts that would come with the pair would come with Aki was able to reveal that they would be customized to bring out more of an American accent.
After being inquired about the current progress Aki highlighted that not all vowel extensions were used in the ‘demos’ as that was an aspect that was still being worked on, and growls are something that hadn’t been recorded yet, but WILL be implemented in the future, detailing that she did not think growls were something that V4s could be launched without.
Concerning XSY (Cross-Synthesis) she stated that it was not something the voicebanks would have at release, but, like Kenji the day before, didn’t rule it out as a possibility in the future.
Release & Yamaha Approval
Speaking of the release AkiGlancy was able to further narrow down the “Summer” planned release to a “Mid or Late August”, stating that there was still much work to be done, if re-recording were done they definitely wouldn’t make July, but barring any technical difficulties they were planning to submit Dex and Daina for final approval to Yamaha in August.
Asked for details concerning the approval process and what it entailed Aki explained that her primary role in the project was as a contributing producer who created demos and beta tested the voice bank, with additional responsibilities as a consultant that gave suggestions, creative, and marketing advice. With such a limited role she stated that she really didn’t know, but she was willing to offer some insight as far as she understood it.
She confirmed previous speculation that Yamaha has final approval on all boxart and has some sort of certification process for voicebanks pre-release. Apparently this Yamaha approval is the final step in Vocaloid production and as far as she understood Yamaha doesn’t get involved until the voicebank itself is actually complete. Everything they have shown will be at the whims of Yamaha… just that time won’t happen until sometime August.
Beyond that if VocaRant: Avanna’s Release Date? taught us anything its that Yamaha isn’t above injecting their own editor update delays to a Vocaloid’s release process.
A Look Behind the Curtain
One thing that the crowd was very interested in learning about was the view behind the curtain. They wanted to know more about the voicers, more about how everyone got involved and for some, how they, too, could get involved in Vocaloid production.
To the first question Aki was unable to name names, simply wasn’t authorized by Zero-G to release that information at this time. That being said she was able to give us some insight into the voice providers. She revealed that both voice actors were natural Altos, detailing that Daina’s could sing Soprano and Dex’s could sing Tenor. When questions were asked about Dex’s bass ability Aki compared him to Yohioloid and Kaito, stating Dex would be bassier than Yohio, but not as much as Kaito.
Further insight was given into the voicers when a viewer asked whether the American voicers had been flown to the UK to record in Zero-G’s studio or if they had used local equipment. Aki stated that the voice providers were professional musicians and already had their own equipment. Tests were done and Zero-G felt what they had was sufficient and didn’t feel that they needed to be recorded in their own studios. When asked how said voice providers were chosen Aki revealed highlighted that the VPs were approached by Zero-G and were people who had experienced working with Vocaloids in past.
As for artists Aki stated that Zero-G started initially with a large pool of potential artists that had submitted portfolios in past, as well as artists that those involved had suggested from Zero-G. From this large pool it was eventually narrowed to a select few, with Steel being the one who was finally chosen. When asked how she herself got involved Aki stated she joined the project sometime in December of 2014, with Zero-G reaching out to her as a consultant after her work with them for Avanna.
Amongst the final questions asked was how others could get involved with Vocaloid, how they could create demos and the like. To his Aki answered that if you would like to get involved in demo production you should probably message Zero-G themselves. She explained that Kenji was brought to beta test and produce demos upon her recommendation and if anyone wanted to get involved at her level they must first establish a relationship with Zero-G.
She explained that it wouldn’t be easy, due to leaks (Read: Yohio Vocaloid’s Art & Voice Samples Leak) and a certain illegal piece of software Zero-G wouldn’t be quick to trust, and the best way to start is to simply keep using Vocaloid. Build your skills, get your name out there and just get out there do it. For aspiring producers she gave tips on where to begin and recommended a solid base in music theory.
Engloids.Info Recommends: UtaForum’s Music Theory, Mixing & Musicianship Resources
Couldn’t Be Answered
Amongst the questions asked there were many that couldn’t be answered. Most of them were outside the purview of AkiGlancy and Kenji-B and were related to the pricing, publishing, distribution, and marketing of the voicebanks at and post release.
Concerning a possible physical release Aki reasoned that Zero-G has had a physical version of all their previous Vocaloids and didn’t think Dex and Daina would be any different expecting them to be available through Zero-G’s distribution arm Space+Time and others who have stocked Zero-G’s products in past.
She wasn’t willing to comment on a possible bundle but soothed that they shouldn’t worry too much about pricing as Zero-G has always been reasonable about prices in past. Likewise when asked if Zero-G was going to sell the full Vocaloid 4 Editor or a possible ‘Starter Pack’ Aki was again unable to comment.
Needless to say Aki was unable to comment on many things. Topics that couldn’t be commented on included:
- Marketing efforts on western music blogs and forums.
- Name, character, and image licences for Dex & Daina.
- Many things in the chat outside of her preview.
Tidbits Not Yet Covered
For the sake of organization and to break up this wall of text I broke up my summary into related headings. Here are some interesting tidbits from our personal notes that we felt were worth noting, but couldn’t be organized nearly into anywhere above.
- Pants were an important design decision.
Aki stated that from very early on pants for Daina was something that all parties wanted. She said Steel was given a lot of leeway in creating the designs, but pants along with the colors blue and white were things that were suggested early.
- Favorite part of Daina’s design is the eye makeup.
Feels that the eye makeup makes Daina appear “spunky” and reflects well with the “mischievous” sound that Aki had earlier associated with the Vocaloid.
- No plans for extensive character bio.
She didn’t think it was was something Zero-G would do. More likely than not they would prefer to let users and producers to use their own imaginations on things like personality or backstory.
- Zero-G is dedicated primarily to good English.
This early in development the only language Dex and Daina have been actively tested with is English. Zero-G’s first and primary goal is to make a really good American English voicebank.
- Much of Zero-G’s internal marketing is focused at the UK.
Even though Dex and Daina are slated to be American Vocaloids Zero-G is still a UK company. As such a lot of their internal marketing efforts are targeted at the United Kingdom.
- Daina’s name derives from the cat in Alice in Wonderland.
No, not the cheshire cat, the other one. Name was supposed to inspire a fantastical sense of wonderment. Dex’s name was later chosen as one that would be complementary and manly.
- Aki and Kenji are collaborating on a post-release Dex and Daina album.
Aki and her Empathy Studios have a lot planned for August, sometime post release they plan on releasing a Dex and Daina album and after that she announced some vague details of another collaboration.
- This article’s featured images is #FlufferPuffer Dex and Daina.
Midway through the stream Aki showed an image of an incredibly cute animal form Dex and Daina. A screenshot taken from this part of the stream was converted to this article’s featured image.
TL;DR – Things to Take Away
As a chance to recap what I already talked about, or for those that don’t want to read a +2,000 word ‘summary’ here are the things that we could take away from the AkiGlancy livestream:
- They are happy with initial reactions, feels they were generally positive.
- Aki joined December 2014, actual project started much earlier.
- Pending Yamaha approval the names and art are fairly final.
- They wouldn’t release anything not approved by Zero-G.
- Zero-G and makes all the final decisions.
- Yamaha has final approval on everything.
- Both voicebanks are still in active development.
- They are slated for a Mid-Late August release.
- There will be growls, no XSY support yet.
- If there are delays, blame Yamaha.
My own personal note seeing a lot of the same questions being asked…
- Stop asking questions you know they can’t answer.