2017.08.30

The THETA MIKU app is a creation tool

This is ubu369.
Finally, we are getting close to the start of the camera sale online and the pre-sales at the Magical Mirai event on September 1 (Friday). All our staff are getting nervous.
Well, this blog was created with the plan to unlock the secrets of “RICOH THETA  Type HATSUNE MIKU” (abbreviated as “THETA MIKU”), the dedicated app developed for “RICOH THETA  Type HATSUNE MIKU”. I, the Ricoh writer Ubukata (ubu369), had a tripartite talk at XVI Inc., the center of developing the app.

Ricoh writer Ubukata (ubu369), XVI Inc. representative Kondo (GOROman), and programmer Sorasu Aoki
ubu369
Now, about today’s theme. Can I ask you about any secrets of the THETA MIKU app?
GOROman
I’d first like to say that I think Miku is a symbol that accelerates creators. And the computer itself also accelerates people’s creativity.

What is a creative life using computers?
GOROman
This is just my basic idea. Computers accelerate and amplify the creativity of people.
ubu369
In modern terms, it’s like “Augmentation”, right?
GOROman
People who can’t play a musical instrument can use DTM (Desktop Music) to give a musical performance, people who have bad writing can use a word processor to create exceedingly beautiful writing, and you can use CAD to create drawings. All of these are examples of augmenting a person’s abilities.
In 3D modelling, people who are unable to actually draw a picture can create really amazing models.
GOROman
People who were not creators in the past borrows the power of computers to become talented as a creator. One example of this is vocaloids. People who cannot sing are able to make a vocaloid sing a song using the lyrics they wrote.
ubu369
The song was the Achilles’ heel for people composing DTM. They wanted to write songs but who on earth would they get to sing them.
GOROman
I used MIDI to make music from when I was in high school but, yes, the song was the Achilles’ heel. I could never think about singing myself and recording it.
So, the vocaloid is a very important example of accelerated creativity using computing. You could say that we can now accomplish something that we could not do before.
GOROman
And that’s where THETA comes into the picture.
ubu369
That was sudden. (lol)

Encountering THETA
ubu369
When did you first encounter THETA?
GOROman
Before THETA went on sale, I saw 360-degree photos from THETA posted to an SNS website.
ubu369
In 2013, when THETA was released, we had ultra-trend-conscious people do initial field tests. We asked quite a few people to do this at that time.
GOROman
So, at that time there were 360-degree photos from people who were spending their time taking photos with the camera and posting them to blogs. I thought it was amazing. I felt like I could do something new with this and it had amazing potential. However, I felt that THETA was missing something.

THETA was missing something
ubu369
THETA was not created with the purpose of shooting 360-degree spherical photos. We wanted to convey the atmosphere of a place to someone over SNS and if we could do this, we wanted to capture the entire place, not just a photo of it. This is the concept of a “photographic scene” and not a photograph.
We created THETA with the purpose of conveying a “photographic scene” to create an experience for the user to stir their emotions by sharing the feeling of the mood in the place.
GOROman
I think the part about sharing is really interesting. At the time, I was using SNS and such. I believed the 360-degree world would gain popularity in SNS. However, I came to feel that something was missing, which was the fact that people could quite easily take photographic scenes but there were so many photos uploaded as they are taken. The advantages of photographic scene were not being fully utilized.
So, while I was actually trying to use the camera and giving my support for it, I thought it would be interesting if I could have a character with me in the photographic scene. I thought this would create a new sense of life that had never been done before within the photographic scene.
ubu369
I see. The concept of stamps was around from the start but you wanted to create a new photographic scene arranged with characters by yourself.
GOROman
That’s where “Mikuture*” comes in.
* “Mikuture” was developed personally by Sorasu Aoki and is a popular smartphone app available free of charge. You can use it to shoot photos together with Hatsune Miku appearing in them. iOS and Android versions are currently available.
Sorasu Aoki, the creator of Mikuture and main programmer of the THETA MIKU app, makes an appearance
Sorasu
My app started with a name such as “Hatsune Miku AR app (tentative)”. It soon became known by the name “Mikuture”.
GOROman
I was supporting and cheering for Mikuture from way back when it first started. In my own way, I also had a vision of creating a new world with characters inside photos using AR (Augmented Reality) so I saw you doing that and was impressed.
ubu369
When did you start working on Mikuture?
Sorasu
About 3 years ago, it was from 2014.
GOROman
I was always keeping an eye on Sorasu’s development. Last year in October 2016 there was a large event in Sapporo. It was an event called “No Maps*”.
Ricoh was exhibiting its products and XVI was also exhibiting their VR experience demonstration. This was the main reason for starting this project.
* “No Maps” is a creative convention for pictures, music, and the interactive (IT cutting edge technology, etc.) held by Crypton Future Media, Inc. and WESS Inc. playing a central role.
ubu369
We were developing spherical live technology so we made a prototype and went there to experiment with spherical live broadcasting idols. Oh, and we also set up a booth to showcase THETA.
GOROman
Which means Crypton, who created Hatsune Miku, Ricoh, and XVI came together in Sapporo.

THETA MIKU project launches
GOROman
Since Crypton, Ricoh, and XVI had come together, I thought it would be a good idea to collaborate. (lol) From that moment, I wanted to make a Hatsune Miku app similar to Mikuture for THETA.
ubu369
I see. As you said earlier “THETA was missing something” and “It would be nice to create your own photographic scene using a character”. You were aware of these issues.
ubu369
Sorasu, how did you feel when you decided to participate in the THETA MIKU project?
Sorasu
I was happy because I could connect my personal activities to official work. I was quite surprised when I heard because it is in a different field to illustrations and musical composition.
ubu369
We officially talked to Crypton for the first time after that. We went to them and said “THETA is this type of product and we are thinking of collaborating with Hatsune Miku.”
Of course, we told them “We don’t want to create a camera model with a simple color change. We want to offer a new experience to users that would further expand the connection for creation with Hatsune Miku.”

The essence of THETA MIKU
ubu369
The base technology was there in the form of Mikuture but you constructed it from scratch on the program side. I believe the THETA MIKU app is a culmination of your work. What is a major advancement from Mikuture?
Sorasu
From a technical point, it is the function to create a mask by tracing with your fingers.
* Author’s note: You can hide Miku behind objects at the front by creating a mask.
GOROman
You could use masks in Mikuture using 3D polygons. Normal people cannot understand this intuitively so we talked about whether it would be best to create masks by tracing with your finger.
This is where Employee sal, the miku.ricoh blog writer, barged in unexpectedly on our talk.
Employee sal has used the THETA MIKU app the most at Ricoh and created many examples of work.
Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
View at theta360.com >>
Example of work by Employee sal
sal
It’s so convenient to create a mask with my finger. This is important to allow many people to use it.
ubu369
I also like the Hachune Miku stamps. I think it is very important that Hachune Miku stamps are used instead of normal Hatsune Miku stamps.
GOROman
This feature is really important, using mosaic or blurring doesn’t leave a good impression. Using Hachune Miku stamps makes it more casual and can also be used for further expression.
11 types of Hachune Miku stamps
sal
You can also adjust the lighting to make it fit with Miku in the spherical image and you can gradually understand how to use shadows. For example, you can also have Miku reflect in a mirror placed somewhere in the spherical image.
Instead of blurring a person at the time, you can bring out the mood by blurring a character.
ubu369
You’re so good at this, you’ve been using it so much. So you mean that I can create an image that I’m thinking about for myself.
sal
Until now with Mikuture, it seems that taking the photo is the main thing even after placing Miku on top of the photo. However, with the current THETA MIKU app, you can enjoy playing with the image after taking it.
So you take a photo and then later can freely make Miku appear in the photo. This is like making art because you are molding it into a form you prefer after taking the photo.
GOROman
That’s right. It’s art. Let’s just go back to what we were discussing. “RICOH THETA SC  Type HATSUNE MIKU” together with the THETA MIKU app produces creators. Combining the THETA MIKU app with THETA allows anyone to become a creator.
ubu369
That’s exactly the new user experience we were aiming for this time.
This is a “creation tool”. Using this “creation tool”, you can not only take spherical photos but also make a work of art that includes your own expression. Using it feels good.
Miku from THETA MIKU with various facial expressions
GOROman
The user creates the content. And I believe this is the world’s first tool where you can take a 360-degree spherical image alongside a character.
ubu369
Today, even though we asked you about the secrets of the app, we ended up talking about conceptual matters. This is the essential part of it.
GOROman
Don’t you think it’s more fun to talk about that? (lol)
What’s important is that it can produce new creators, don’t you think? Anyone can become a creator.
GOROman
Something I’ve always thought since first using a computer was that everyone can become a creator with the power of computing, and I think this is interesting.
When THETA changed to a creation tool this time, I no longer felt that something was missing. Create a spherical image with Miku appearing, share it with everyone, and have them like it. Create a work of art with your favorite character and distribute it over SNS.
ubu369
I really hope to see everyone posting their work as creators! We have talked for some length so I would like to thank you all for letting us hear in detail about your vision.
Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
View at theta360.com >>
XVI: GOROman and Sorasu Aoki, Ricoh: Employee sal and ubu369, and also... Miku!

We talked for an hour and a half (someone barged in during conversation lol). I summarized the talk around the app this time. We also talked about the future and some off-record topics, and it would be nice to release these sometime in the future.


(ubu369)

   
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