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The "behind the scenes" of my newest video: Happy Birthday Miku!

September 15, 2015  by Silent Headset

*Ahem…Do you guys still remember, a few days (weeks?) ago, when we celebrated Miku’s birthday?”… and Vocaloid and MMD fans from around the globe were very enthusiastic about the event… that websites like YouTube, NicoNicoDouga, and DeviantArt were literally overflowing with everyone’s creativity, ranging from simple dance videos, to beautiful pictures, or even highly complex dramas and many other fun things?

The heat most certainly reaches us at’s editorial desks, too! Some of the writers jumped into action and give it their all for this annual event. And although we unfortunately had to cancel the idea of a video compilation due to time constraints, it’s been a fun moment for all of us these past few days!

And…yeah, I think I’m speaking, in this article, on behalf of all the newcomers to our MMD world… specifically those who have ZERO experience at anything related to making an animation before, who are compelled to enter the world of MikuMikuDance with nothing but sheer passion for Vocaloid or MMD related stuff (… and an internet connection, of course); those who are dazed by some of the “Great Videos” out there and having dreams that someday, they, too, will be able to make a creation on the level of “Pro”… but then, reality smacked them in the head! It turns out they feel that making a decent video is too much for them.


Not at all, my friend...

Everyone is a novice at first. The only thing that makes a difference is whether you run away, or wade through the sea of challenge, slowly but surely making yourself into a better MMDer.

I… sometimes laugh at my own work from a year ago. Well, I’m not a pro right now, either, but looking back at those early works, I can tell that I’m gradually getting better!

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

Prambanan Temple however, does ;P

Picture source:
Prambanan Temple, Indonesia

Okay, that’s enough pep-talk for now. What will we learn today?

Well, first off, we’ll take a break from my usual model-making article because I want to show you the “behind the scenes” of my most recent video, which I made to commemorate Miku’s birthday. Second, I’ll throw in some advice, here and there, on how to make your videos look more “well made”.
Do acknowledge that I, myself, have never received any sort of education regarding art or animation or film-making… so my advice may not always be 100% spot-on, and therefore, I’m open to any advice, myself. Leave a comment on my article on if there’s something you have on your mind!

Okay, let’s get it started!

And here’s the video I made for Miku’s Birthday…

I came up with a nice little plot about giving Miku a birthday present… in this case, a surprise concert dedicated to her. It’s still nowhere near a pro’s production, but I’m satisfied.

But I can’t just leave them!

I’ll admit it, I’m a Touhou fan. What can I say ^^?

“So I’ll be putting Touhou characters into this video somehow”… that was my thought as I started making this video. And all of a sudden, they’re everywhere!

Decide what elements you like, and just put them there!

A hobbyist animator has a lot more freedom than those who work for a company. You’ll be able to put anything you like into your creation. Just be yourself!

What? You’re afraid the mix won’t work well? Then it’s up to you to make it work!

Mixing Vocaloid with Touhou stuff is not a new thing, but most of the time, vocaloids are just used as voice actors. It’s pretty risky to put them head-to-head in the same story. Why? The “impossibility factor.” They’re from a different universe. It’s the same as mixing Gundam and Power Rangers, or Popeye with One Piece!

A solid plot is a good plot, so stick with it!

Don’t forget what your video is supposed to be. If you started with making a “birthday video”, but got too carried away during the animation-making process and the video is starting to become a World War XVI’ish kind of video, well… it usually doesn’t turn out well!

Maintain a good state of health and mind!

No, really! Nothing will come out good when you’re angry or sad! Or if you kept sneezing all the time!

As for myself, I only do about 20 seconds-worth of animation, about 600 frames, per day. It’s slow, but I get tired easily (I have a weak body like Patchy’s). But it’s better to go slow than to get sick or stressed-out… because if you are doing something for the sake of “having fun” but get stressed out in the process… well… That’s just wrong, isn’t it?

Camera positioning is vital!

Many other authors have already pointed this out, but I’ll say it again since it really changes everything!

One more thing you can do with the camera is called camera tricks, by manipulating the camera you can do many neat things!

I like the one spot where Chen is spinning as she flies, but actually, the one that is spinning is the camera! And, I attached the skydome to a dummy bone so I could drag it backwards, too. I also manipulated the gravity setting into a “storm” (Speed 200, Y=0.1, Z=1). This creates the illusion of moving forward, when in reality, Chen never moves an inch… it’s the camera that’s moving.

Make multiple segments!

Your FPS plunges into the abyss? No problem!

Just turn off the Physical Operation! That’ll net you some FPS (frames per second)… reducing the “computer lag” as you try to play your animation... Just make sure to turn them back on before you start recording! Also hit that display checkbox to make your “heavier accessory” (or in most cases, heavy effects like AutoLuminous or Diffusion) disappear! Turn them on later when everything is ready to be recorded.

Something doesn’t work? Improvise!

Well, a lot of issues may arise when you’re using outdated hardware ^^

I’m also having a lot of trouble when using certain effects, especially in this instance: the “fireworks effect”. It just won’t show up! Now that’s a problem! You can’t have a firework show without fireworks!

If you can’t navigate through the minefield, then just take a detour! If my VGA card won’t tolerate the effect, then I’ll just use something I have that actually works!

And this resulted in a hilarious twist for my story, in which Hiiro suggested to replace the fireworks with….a barrage of anti-ship cannon-fire?

Now that’s hardcore ^^

Another improvisation I made during this animation was regarding Trackdancer’s Stage assembly.

Isn’t it neat? Instead of showing everything as one complete set of stage, I actually made the Kappas assemble it! (I did not edit the stage in anyway, however! Respect the rules others put up for their creation!)

There’s also Rin’s magic glass tube, which serves as a dummy for the self-burning effect.

And finally, we have Aya’s camera,

I made it in PMXE, because I’m too lazy to actually find a camera accessory and download it. This is a simple piece of accessory made from a bunch of “primitives”

After-render editing?

Why not? A lot of authors on LearnMMD already covered which video editing software you should have. Good software will really give that “professional” look to your video!

Too confusing you said? Well, that might be the case. But you can use a bunch of “low-end software” which may give less quality and “WOW” factor, but still be adequate enough to get the job done... and of course, be less confusing to those without prior experience.

I myself use Windows Movie Maker for primary editing. It’s simple, free, and it gets most of the job done. The effects I regularly use are transition and fade in/out. I also use it to merge together those scattered video parts I mentioned earlier!

I’m currently running Windows 8.0 (yeah, not going to upgrade it any time soon) and one thing I noticed is that the Movie Maker always crashes whenever I load an .avi file. And since I can’t figure out the cause (and it seems that I’m not the only one with the crash issues!) I tried to convert my .avi files into .mp4 and load them on Movie Maker, it works fine!

And for that converting purpose I used Freemake Video Converter. It can convert the format of almost any video file into even more formats. I also used the sister software, Freemake Audio Converter for converting to .WAV. It does not give a wide range of editing tools like Audacity, but at least it can process many files at once.

What else do we have here….Ah yes, I used Aegisub to add subtitles. Apparently it also can generate a nice “karaoke text” effect, but I don’t know how to do it yet. I’m still quite satisfied by knowing how to change the subtitles’ color, which is neat.

And lastly, I used Ms. Paint for simple picture edits because you don’t actually need Photoshop or GIMP for simple tasks like combining multiple transparent .png pictures or adding a bit of plain text.

Take a look at the picture here. Do you honestly think I loaded all those 33 models at once? Heck no, my laptop would explode! What I did was I made multiple transparent pictures with 3-5 models and combined them all together with Ms. Paint.



Models (other than OCs):
Reimu by Ki
Aya by Flick
Sanae by Sabakan
Youmu by Nya

LearnMMD’s Auditorium Stage by Reggie
Trackdancer’s stardome

Effects (by Beamman)
Self Thunder

Learn to be a GOOD MMDer... Keep the Faith-MMD!