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
Now, about today’s theme. Can I ask you about any secrets of the THETA MIKU app?
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?
This is just my basic idea. Computers accelerate and amplify the creativity of people.
In modern terms, it’s like “Augmentation”, right?
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.
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.
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.
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.
And that’s where THETA comes into the picture.
That was sudden. (lol)

Encountering THETA
When did you first encounter THETA?
Before THETA went on sale, I saw 360-degree photos from THETA posted to an SNS website.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
My app started with a name such as “Hatsune Miku AR app (tentative)”. It soon became known by the name “Mikuture”.
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.
When did you start working on Mikuture?
About 3 years ago, it was from 2014.
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.
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.
Which means Crypton, who created Hatsune Miku, Ricoh, and XVI came together in Sapporo.

THETA MIKU project launches
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.
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.
Sorasu, how did you feel when you decided to participate in the THETA MIKU project?
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.
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
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?
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.
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
It’s so convenient to create a mask with my finger. This is important to allow many people to use it.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.



A summary of how to purchase “RICOH THETA SC  Type HATSUNE MIKU”!

[Purchase online]

Orders will start at the official direct sales website from noon on September 1 (Friday).
We plan to start shipping the cameras around the end of September.
* It will be on sale from 9/25 in the USA.

①Registration as a Ricoh Imaging Photo ID member

②Purchase from the official direct sales website after orders start

[Purchase at the Magical Mirai event]

We will have a pre-sale of the camera limited to 39 cameras each day during the event from noon on September 1 (Friday) until September 3 (Sunday) at the Ricoh exhibit booth.
The Ricoh booth is located in corporate booth area 11.

People who purchase the camera at the venue will receive a “deluxe tote bag with a fuzichoco designed art print” as a present. This is an item that can only be obtained at the event!

●Numbered tickets will be handed out to people waiting in line.
●The first person waiting in line on the first day of the event will receive serial No. 0001.
 Further serial numbers will be given randomly. Thank you for your understanding.
●Payment method
 • Cash (JPY)
 • Credit card: VISA, MASTER, JCB, JCB Premo, AMEX, DINERS, DISCOVER, China UnionPay
●Limited to 1 camera per person, returns not accepted


How to enjoy the introduction movie!

Hello, sorry, it’s me again, this is Lemon!
About the photos in yesterday’s blog entry. It appears that I set up the photos with the left and right side in reverse…! I apologize if it looked strange when opening the box. The correct appearance will be that the THETA box will be arranged on the right side.

Well, an introduction movie for “RICOH THETA SC  Type HATSUNE MIKU” was released today! Have you had a chance to see it!?

If you haven’t, please go check it out. The shutter sound has also finally been released for the first time.
They have really done a great job with the movie.

What’s more, it was made using a spherical video! I hope someone will tell you a behind-the-scenes story of how it was created for another day. Please allow me to tell you how to enjoy the spherical video!

●Viewing method using a computer

Check out the YouTube explanation for the latest information.
The information as of today states that “The latest version of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, or Internet Explorer for the computer is required”, so please verify that your computer has the latest-version browser.

If you can see the whole of Miku in the center and she appears small as shown below, please check your browser as stated above.

If the operation button displays in the top left of the screen as shown, everything is good!!

Enjoy rotating the video using a mouse.

●Viewing method using a smartphone

Again, check out the YouTube explanation for the latest information. At this point in time, they say “For mobile devices, use the latest version of the YouTube app”, so before anything else, download the YouTube app.

Then you can enjoy the video from the YouTube app!
For smartphones, in addition to touch screen operations, you can also enjoy the video in VR view mode that allows you to see the movie in the direction the smartphone is being held as long as your smartphone supports this feature! First, open the video from the YouTube app and then try moving the smartphone by rotating it to the left and right a little as you hold it up. I think you should be able to see what is happening.
I think the people using a computer also should try this VR view mode with a smartphone.

Now be careful of your Internet connection here. There is a cog icon on the screen where you can select the picture quality (largest value is best) so if you select it, you can view the video with the best picture quality ♪ (This is the same for the computer.)

That’s it! Please use #miku360 to let us know what you think of the movie.



We were able to take some photos of the boxed set!

At last, the day has come where we can show you this on the blog. I’m excited to see the camera and its accessories all in one place as a boxed set…!
Oh, this is Lemon. Hi. Be sure to use the hashtag #miku360 when uploading photos with Miku!

Today, instead of me talking, here are some photos. So, have a look.

* August 28, 2017 postscript: The package arrangement shown in the photos on this blog differs to the final version. When your camera arrives and you open the box, the THETA box will be arranged on the right side.

The box has a sleeve, which makes Miku look like she is slightly veiled. We also created the delicate colors from fuzichoco so that they would look as beautiful as possible!

Here it is after opening the box ♪ The color of the partition inside the box is Miku’s color!
I noticed that something like Miku fever is happening among everyone involved with the product and there are just so many things in this boxed set to obsess over…

Removing the ABITAX special case on the right…

Reveals a dog tag key holder!! You can just catch a glimpse of fuzichoco’s Miku through the 01 number. The part with the serial number is different to those that will be sold because this is a sample piece.

I think describing it in words is difficult to understand so here is a photo. This is how it looks in the box! Oh, “RICOH THETA SC  Type HATSUNE MIKU” is inside the box on the left.

Here are all the items lined up together (*>ヮ<)

I hope this overall picture of the set will be of use to everyone who is considering purchasing the camera!
Well, that’s all for today.



The entire review!

Hello everyone. This is Lemon! I am glad to see in #miku360 tweets that many of you are looking at the blog each day! Thank you!
Employee sal is completely enthralled by Miku. His example from the other day is worth seeing. Did you check it out? If you haven’t, you really should take a look here!
Also, next week is finally Miku’s birthday and the week of Magical Mirai 2017. More than being nervous…I’m also excited and I can’t get rid of the feeling! We are finally at the final stage of preparing for “RICOH THETA  Type HATSUNE MIKU”.

Well, we’ve talked about various information from time to time, and today I will review and summarize the information!

IMPORTANT! To those people who are considering purchasing “RICOH THETA  Type HATSUNE MIKU”!
Thank you very much! (* >ヮ<) There are 2 ways you can purchase it.

[Method 1] If you come to the Magical Mirai event
There will be a pre-sale limited to 39 cameras per day at the Ricoh booth. So, please come and visit us at the venue. You will need a ticket to enter the venue. Please check out the official Magical Mirai website for details.
As only a limited number of cameras will be sold, we would like to apologize if the camera is sold out. We will prepare the latest information so that we can let you know on our website.

Please take another look at Momopon’s blog entry about important points concerning the Magical Mirai event.

[Method 2] To all people who will not be coming to the event
This is probably most of you! A link to a page where you can order the camera will be shown on this website from noon on September 1, 2017 (JST).
The dog tag key holder printed with a serial number will be given to the first 3,939 people so be sure to place your order as soon as possible.

Also, just a quick reply to some things I saw in #miku360 tweets and such!

How did you get Miku to appear behind the sunflowers? Did the camera automatically detect the sunflowers’ position and hide Miku behind them?
>It’s not automatic. It was done manually using a masking function! Check out Employee sal’s blog entry to see how it was done ♪

The idea of going to the ocean with the camera in a waterproof case
>Fantastic idea!! You must try this! I think those people who intend to try various ways of using the camera can expand the range of how the camera is used if they use Ricoh genuine accessories. I will share this idea with everyone( >ヮ<)b
Please take a look here for Ricoh genuine accessories. Also, for the case’s waterproof performance and usage scenes, have a look at the linked page.

For those people who are agonizing over whether to purchase the camera! Have a look and enjoy the interview article that may be of some use to make up your mind before the day the camera goes on sale.

External interview article: Hatsune Miku is an angel that even now stimulates creators — Asking the “Mikuture” developer about their passion for the THETA MIKU app (from PANORA, in Japanese only)

INTERVIEW 02 Passion for THETA Design

INTERVIEW 03 Passion for ABITAX Special Case

We intend to continue updating information next week and on the day of the Magical Mirai event!
By all means, please keep checking in on this blog ♪