Last week, I did a sketch. It's not posted, and probably won't be -- just a doodle for a character who's been bopping around in my head for a bit. That sketch is the first art I've done in... months. Literal months. I don't remember the last thing I worked on before it, but it's safe to say I haven't drawn anything in months. I haven't done anything productive or creative, really. I haven't had the desire, or... really, the ability to do anything I love. No art, no voicebank work.
Basically, the last several months have been pretty bad in my house. Everyone's okay -- no one died, no one's gone to jail, I'm fine, everyone I love is okay -- but, it's been a really, really hard time, on everyone I live with, and stress of the situation basically wiped me out creatively. I should have posted something indicating I'm on hiatus months ago, but I couldn't manage to put together the brain power to remember to do that, much less actually do it.
I don't know when I'll be back to drawing and making stuff, but I will be back. Eventually. This, too, will pass. I've made it through some pretty fucked up situations -- I made it through then, I'll make it through this, too.
We all will.
Love and peace, everybody.
- Listening to: nothing
When I first started using UTAU-Synth, there really wasn't a lot out there when it came to help resources for Mac users. More to the point, there weren't many that addressed the hiccups and quirks specific to UTAU-Synth. So, being a Mac user, I decided to try and amend that a bit.
This resource is primarily written for people using Mac/UTAU-Synth, specifically users who want to be sure that the voicebanks they're making are cross-compatible with PC-based UTAU. This resource is also here to answer questions that PC users have about Mac-built UTAU voicebanks, and UTAU-Synth, since they may not be familiar with the program (or the differences between UTAU and UTAU-Synth) for obvious reasons. I'm not an expert by any means, but I hope that others will find this collection of notes and such to be helpful.
About 90% of this article was originally written as a response to a thread about making voicebanks on Mac, with a few additions or subtractions here and there for the sake of editing. All of it is derived from my own experiences I've had making voicebanks and getting them to work on non-Macintosh computers.
PART 1: The Configuration Samba
Let's talk about OTOs. What is an OTO? An OTO is the configuration file generated by UTAU / UTAU-Synth that determines how a voicebank functions. It's a vital part of a voicebank: without it, there is no voicebank -- just a folder full of sounds.
There are two types of OTO: "oto.ini" files, generated by UTAU, and "oto_ini.txt" files generated by UTAU-Synth. What's the difference (aside from the file extension,) you ask? Encoding formats.
UTAU generates it's OTOs as "oto.ini" files, encoded in Shift-JIS format. UTAU-Synth, on the other hand, generates it's OTOs as "oto_ini.txt" files, encoded in UTF-8.
UTAU has no idea what to do with Mac-generated "oto_ini.txt" files. This difference in file name and encoding (and UTAU's complete failure to deal accordingly) is the primary reason a Mac-built voicebank will fail to work on in UTAU. Unless special steps are taken to create an oto.ini that UTAU can read, a Mac-built voicebank cannot function in a PC environment. Even if you simply copy and paste the contents of the "oto_ini.txt" file and name it "oto.ini," without ensuring that the file has been encoded properly in Shift-JIS, the OTO will be a mess of random symbols and such -- garbage characters, also known as mojibake. We'll be talking about that little phenomenon in detail later on.
Right now, let's talk about how to ensure your Mac-made OTO will work translate to PC mojibake-free.
1.1 Converting Mac-Made OTOs
The good news is, converting a Mac-made OTO is fairly simple, though it takes a little bit of effort, and sometimes some trial and error.
- Open the oto_ini.txt file in a text editor, preferably one that's made for coding. I use TextWrangler, and highly recommend it -- it's amazing, and also free (made by the good folks who made BBEdit.)
- Create a new document, then copy & paste the contents of the "oto_ini.txt" file into the new document. Go ahead and remove the top line, "# Charset:UTF-8." (Editorial Note: There's not usually a space between the "#" and "Charset," but I had to put one there, due to DA trying to make it into a tag, or something.)
- Save the new file as "oto.ini," but make sure the encoding type is set to "Shift-JIS."
PC users may be wondering, what about the flip side? Mac-built OTOs don't work in UTAU without some extra effort, so what about the reverse? Are special steps needed to be sure a PC-made voicebank is Mac compatible? The answer, happily, is no -- making a PC-built voicebank functional in UTAU-Synth requires exactly no special effort.
When a PC-built voicebank is loaded into UTAU-Synth, the program can and will load the existing "oto.ini" without issue. If changes are made to the OTO, the program automatically generates a duplicate OTO in the form of an "oto_ini.txt" file (encoded in UTF-8.) Any further updates or changes to the OTO will be applied to the newly generated txt file. The original "oto.ini" will be left untouched.
1.2 Configuring Multipitch Voicebanks
Let's talk about one of the most drastic differences between UTAU and UTAU-Synth: how they handle multipitch/multi-foldered voicebanks.
Every voicebank requires an OTO, usually located in the main folder of the voicebank. However, UTAU requires that each folder inside a voicebank (subfolders) have it's own local "oto.ini" for the files it contains. In short, every folder has be configured as though it's an individual voicebank.
UTAU-Synth users who are unfamiliar with how UTAU runs will probably find this a completely alien concept, because UTAU-Synth has no such requirement. As far as UTAU-Synth is concerned, the only OTO it cares about is the primary OTO located in the voicebank's main folder. It ignores the subfolder OTOs completely.
Creating OTOs for subfolders can be a pain, but it's not much harder than creating an "oto_ini" from an "oto_ini.txt" file. You can either go the long route of creating a new OTO from scratch (and then converting it,) or you can copy & paste what you need from the main file, edit the contents of the new OTO accordingly, and then be sure to save it as an "oto.ini" encoded in Shift-JIS. Be sure to exercise caution when deleting and editing. You'll find that tactical use of "Find and Replace" can and will save you a lot of time. And sanity.
PART 2: Mojibake, Mo' Problems: Compression & Extraction Troubles
It happens to a lot of users, regardless of what operating system they use. You download a Japanese voicebank -- maybe Teto, maybe Ritsu -- only to discover upon extracting it that it won't work. The voicebank just won't sing. When you look at the contents of the voicebank folder, you discover that every file name (as well as the contents of every text file) is nothing but gibberish.
Welcome to the woe of mojibake. "Mojibake" is what happens when a program or operating system tries to display a file that uses an encoding type it's not configured to read.
It's frustrating enough when you download a voicebank you really want to use, only to discover upon decompression that it's broken. It's spectacularly frustrating when you go through all the fun of converting your OTOs so they'll be PC compatible, only to find out that your OTOs broke in spite of your best efforts.
So why does this happen? In the case of voicebanks that use hiragana and katakana aliasing, it can actually come down to the wrong choice of compression or extraction software.
Some programs simply can't handle non-Western characters at all. Others can generally handle Japanese characters, but are incapable of dealing with the characters that specifically contain dakuten and handakuten -- the little diacritics used in Japanese kana to indicate how a consonant is voiced. For example, see the little notation above the kana that differentiates the sound "ba" (ば) from "pa" (ぱ) and "ha" (は).
For Mac users, finding a compression/decompression program won't break your stuff can sometimes be difficult. Here are the two that I use.
- Keka can handle a number of compression and extraction formats. Strangely enough, while Keka doesn't seem to be able to extract files containing non-Western characters without garbling file names and contents, it seems to work perfectly fine for compression. The only downside is that Keka doesn't offer RAR as an archiving format (at least, it does not as of this writing.) Considering that it's free and can archive a voicebank without breaking it's contents, not being able to compress in RAR format is a small price to pay for an otherwise solid program.
- The Unarchiver is an archive unpacker, which can not only handle a large number of archive formats, but is also perfectly content handling file names containing non-Western characters. Meaning, you can unstuff Teto, Ruko, or Ritsu (or any other Japanese-language voicebak) to your heart's content.
Well, that's about it. I hope this tutorial answered some questions! If anyone has any questions or troubleshooting issues regarding Mac/PC UTAU stuff that I didn't address here, feel free to leave a comment! I'll try to help, and depending on the question might add it to this tutorial as a future update. ^^
- Listening to: Nothing.
Here's the deal. I’ve had my domain (amazoness.org) for over 10 years. During that time, I’ve done very little with the absurd amount of space, bandwidth and resources I have at my disposal, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. So, I’ve decided to test the waters and see if anyone would be interested in some low-cost, ad-free web hosting.
Basically, I’d be offering a nice chunk of space, bandwidth, email, and access to all the fun stuff that Softaculous has to offer (WordPress, the ability to host image galleries, wikis, e-commerce stuff, etc.) for a small fee. Pricing would basically depend on disk space allotment and bandwidth needs. Right now, my initial thought is something like $2.50 a month. The only reason pricing would ever change or increase would be if I had to adjust the domain’s hosting package to accommodate disk space and bandwidth needs.
For the curious, I've been using AMS Computer Services (formerly Below10Host) for the entirety of my domain's life. I can honestly say they've been a really solid host, and haven't had a single complaint to make about the service or tech support.
The hosting offer basically extends to anyone who needs some low-cost hosting, whether it’s for a personal site, image gallery, portfolio, blog, media project like a web comic, etc. If you’re interested, feel free to send me a note or reply in the thread.
- Listening to: Nothing.
Sorry I haven’t been super active lately! I recently went back to work (and also landed a new part-time job,) so I’ve been pretty distracted as of late. I’m hoping I’ll have more time for art next week, if not this week.
- Listening to: Nothing.
I don't have a set schedule quite yet, but I'm planning on livestreaming regularly, at least once or twice a week in the evenings while I work on a particular art project. Currently, it's turning this sketch of Maki into a large, full-color piece.
If you'd like to watch, you can check me out here: picarto.tv/mochamoon.
- Listening to: Nothing.
- Listening to: the sound of silence. (Literally.)
- Listening to: the sound of silence. (Literally.)
I keep going back and forth on this idea of using DeviantArt's Commissions platform. On one hand, I suspect it'd probably make it a bit easier for people who are interested in commissioning art from me to do so -- one less hoop to jump through. On the other hand, I'm… not exactly enthusiastic with the way DA's Commissions system is set up.
Most of the work I do (with the exception of sketches) is generally going to take longer than 14 days, which is how long DA holds transactions in review before they can be withdrawn. I'm all for receiving a deposit before I've started working -- that shows that the commissioner is actually serious about the work, and can act as a kill fee, so that I get some compensation for the time I spent working on a project in the event that the commissioner decides to cancel. However, I'm personally not super comfortable with the idea of someone paying me up front for work I haven't yet completed. (Let me be very clear: that's not a knock at people who take DA commissions, by any means -- that's just the anxiety bug biting me a bit, and giving me some preemptive, possibly needless fretting about the what ifs.)
The simple solution would seem to be to set up the Request Commission widget with the prices set at what I'd ask for a deposit, and then have the commissioner pay the rest of the total amount due upon completion of the work. The problem with that idea is that, while I could absolutely withdraw the deposit points as currency with which to pay bills and buy goods and services, I'd be left figuring out how exactly to go about getting paid the remaining amount due. All the reading I've done on the topic thus far would indicate that DA points donated or given ordinarily can't be withdrawn as money. The only option I see is adding a second slot in the Request Commission Widget for people who've had their work completed can pay the remaining balance. Which would be fine. Maybe.
So… yeah. I don't know. Maybe my anxiety bug is justified, or maybe I'm just being a moron. More thought is required here, I guess.
- Listening to: the sound of silence. (Literally.)
You can click here to see the pricing sheet and get more info.
- Listening to: GLIDE - niki feat. Lily
After much consideration, I've decided to start doing art commissions!
I'll be offering sketches, line art, and full-color artwork in the form of chibis, headshots, half and full-body portraits. I'll also be offering coloring commissions, and custom box art for UTAU voicebanks.
My plan is to officially open for commissions towards the end of May/early June, or possibly sooner, depending on an assortment of things.
More info to come soon!
- Listening to: The Set Up - Favored Nations
Speaking of, I recently realized that about 95% of what I draw and post is UTAU-related. Drawing UTAU stuff is fine, of course -- I'm Ichigo's creator and illustrator, and if I don't create art for her, nobody else is going to. The bigger issue, however, is that almost all the art I've drawn and posted for public consumption is UTAU-related.
This realization got me thinking, and I came to the conclusion that it probably wouldn't hurt me to try to get some art time in drawing non-UTAU related stuff. So, I've decided to try (operative word - try) something new: sketching. As in, sketching something non-UTAU related and posting it. It'll be good practice in the art sense, forcing me to get diverse with my poses and character selections. It'll also be good practice in the "getting-away-from-perfectionism" sense by showing my semi-rough bullshit sketches on the internet where other people can see them. They won't all be full character sketches -- maybe I'll do a bust, or a few chibis, or something, but it'll be something, and something is better than nothing.
Anyway, the first sketch is now up. Seeing as it's December, I thought Himeno as the White Pretear would be a good start. I have absolutely no idea what I'll draw for January, but… well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess.
Safe and happy holidays to everybody! ^^
- Listening to: My Favorite Things - Kelly Clarkson
So, I've been gone for awhile. I spent a lot of last year occupied elsewhere, helping out with the aforementioned family situation. If you've had an art request pending with me, I apologize profusely. During that time, things got pretty stressful, and I had to temporarily step away from art and UTAU -- I just didn't have the time or the energy, (or the ability, really,) to sit down and draw, or focus on much of anything except the day-to-day. Over the last couple months, I've been unable to focus, or do much of anything useful. Mostly, I've just been sort of... recharging my batteries, so to speak.
I'm trying -- slowly -- to re-engage and get back into gear. It's proving to be kind of slow-going and difficult, I'm sorry to say, but little by little, I think I'm beginning to come out of the fog.
I sure hope so -- the fog sucks.
A lot's happened since I went on hiatus. I basically stopped drawing for the most part and focused entirely on UTAU. For that, I can now say that Amakune Ichigo's ARIA powerscale voicebank has officially been released. So, yay for that, if nothing else. ^^ (Seriously, though -- ARIA's been in progress since before Ichigo's monopitch ACT1 was released. ><)
I've also had some time to deal with some real-life stuff that was causing me untold amounts of stress. Lots of big changes going on in my life, good and not-so-good. Of course, life being life, if it's not one thing, it's another. Regardless, I think I'm going to try and start drawing again. It's about time, and I need to do it.
One other thing -- I'm temporarily relocating to help with a family situation, and will likely not be posting anything for awhile due to a lack of internet access. As of this weekend, it'd be safe to assume I'm out of contact unless I post something else here saying otherwise. So, people who had requests pending or whatnot -- I'm going to go back to work, but if you send me an email or a note or something and I don't respond, I'm not ignoring you -- I just can't receive your messages for lack of internets.
I'm not really sure what's causing it. I'm certainly frustrated by a number of things right this moment. Maybe I'm just lacking serious inspiration. Whatever's causing it, I know exactly one thing that always works when I creative block -- stop fucking with whatever's fucked up and let it sort itself out. Usually, that means if I'm stuck on a story, work on a different story. If I'm stumped on a drawing, work on a different drawing, then. Don't try to force the thing that's stuck thing, because it will not turn out well.
Since I seem to have no inspiration to write or draw, the only good course of action I can see is to take another hiatus for a bit. I hate to do it with requests pending, but I seriously need a break. To those I'm doing requests for, I'm very sorry, and please bear with me. ^^
I'm a person who owns and uses a lot of Google products and services. I have an Android tablet I love dearly. I use the Google search engine all the time. I have a Gmail account. I also happen to be a YouTube user, and it's as a YouTube user that I now find I have to complain.
Lately, it seems that every time you update YouTube, I find myself being pressured to "upgrade my channel with a Google+ page." Now, it's not just pressure -- in your "upgrade" of the comment system on YouTube, and I am now forced to "upgrade" my channel, the penalty being that I can't comment on videos without upgrading my channel, and subsequently getting a Google+ page.
I really, really, really, really hate that being a YouTube user now means that I'm constantly being pushed to tie all my Google and Google-related accounts together, and more to the point, that I'm being now forced to have a Google+ page to use a service that I was a member of well before Google+ existed. I don't want a Google+ page. I never have, and at this rate, I never will, purely because you now insist on forcing this product that I do not want on me, and punish me for refusing it by reducing my ability to interact with my viewers and commenters on YouTube.
Forcing products and services on me that I don't want just so I can comment on YouTube is ridiculous, irritating, and quite frankly stupid, since all it does is make me dislike you a great deal. If I didn't already have so much time invested in YouTube, I would have already closed my account.
Let me state what it is that I want. I want to watch videos on YouTube, and post videos on YouTube. I want to be able to receive and send email from my Gmail account. I want to periodically do web searches with the Google search engine. I do not want a Google+ account. I do not need a Google+ account. I do not want every service I use through Google tied into one single mass entity of things. I like you, Google, but I am really, really just not that into you.
If you could stop this embarassing practice now
A very sad, dissapointed YouTube user (who is likely to be soon calling myself a former YouTube user.)
* - Someone already has started a petition, not surprisingly.
Anyway, I'm officially back from hiatus, as my carpal tunnel issues have completely cleared up. I meant to post a thing saying I was back from hiatus sooner, but apparently I, uh, forgot. >< In any case, I am once again open for commissions, requests and trades. (All-important note: The speed by which I complete requests varies, but generally speaking, I am *ridiculously* slow when it comes to requests/comissions.)