First, some background on the Nico Nico Douga video sharing site. Like YouTube, you can upload videos to Nico Nico Douga for others to watch. And like YouTube, you can post comments on other people's videos. But unlike YouTube, you must specify the point in time during the video that your comment refers to. Subsequent viewers of that video see all the previous viewers' comments at the specified times; some comments scroll by, and some appear and disappear in one place. Here's what it can look like when several comments are visible at once:
You can read a little more about Nico Nico Douga on Wikipedia; on this page there's some more description and a guide to registering; here's another page with more description and examples of the site.
On October 31, 2007, a subscriber to Nico Nico Douga posted his first movie, a scrolling score of a piece of music, made using my Music Animation Machine player. The response was positive, and during the next few days, he posted four more videos which were likewise very popular. What make these videos special is that they do something that has not been done much before (with the MAMPlayer, that is): they contain music composed (or arranged) to contain both musical and graphical elements: there are shapes, text, and other patterns that make as much sense visually as musically (or, in many cases, more sense). For example in his first posting, based on the catchy tune from the Cheetah Man II video game, the word "Cheetah" appears (watch it on Nico Nico Douga or on YouTube):
Later on, there are question marks and the word "BOSS" (note also the tildes imitating the music):
In his second video, based on a Mario Brothers tune, he added some purely decorative elements (watch it on Nico Nico Douga or on YouTube):
The third video is based on the game Kirby of the Star SDX; it has some stars, text, and something I'm guessing is a locomotive because the sound of its notes are the choo-choo of a steam whistle (watch it on Nico Nico Douga or on YouTube):
It also has Kirby's picture:
There are more decorative items added too, and even the user comments get more visually adventurous:
His fourth video does not have as many visual tricks (watch it on Nico Nico Douga or on YouTube). A person helping me understand the Japanese on the Nico Nico Douga sites writes:
I think this needs some explanation. The tune of Rockman II is famous for 2 parody songs in NICO NICO DOUGA, "Okkusenman" and "Can't defeat the Air Man". He remixed both songs in this MIDI, he knows users would sing the song while they watch this movie. "Okkusenman" is loved by its sad lyric. He arranged this MIDI with some melancholic feeling to fit the sad song. This is the reason why users love this MIDI despite the lack of gadget. There're some people indicating the nightscape of the buildings in this movie, however I believe it's not a intention of the creator.
In his fifth movie, The Creator returns to the use of pictographic elements (including Japanese characters) in his arrangement of the tune from Final Fantasy IV (note: the image to the right of the vertical blue line is not part of the animation; it stays there through the whole song; watch it on Nico Nico Douga or on YouTube):
Nico Nico Douga viewers of these videos have called the techniques employed in them a "breakthrough," and have said "Here comes a brand-new genre!" That isn't completely true (more about this later), but there does seem to be a positive reaction, both on the Nico Nico Douga site and elsewhere. When these movies first appeared, the number of visitors to the Music Animation Machine site went from about 1000 a day to about 3000, and the number of people downloading the MAMPlayer software also shot up; my per-page statistics are not by day, but at the time of this writing (halfway through November), 2091 people have downloaded it this month versus 737 for the whole month of October. So, we may well be seeing more of this kind of thing — or, who knows, something completely different!
This morning I received this note from my Japanese interpreter correspondent:
I'm writing to inform you about his latest video:
The movie begins with the Tetris tune, then Dr. Mario -->SpaceInvaders -->gradius--> DonkeyKong -->Pac-man. I can't believe my eyes at the gradius part! He recreated the game completely with MIDI! For your understanding, watch this movie of the real gradius (this person plays the game in a funny way, though: it is a shooting game, but the player rarely shoots).
The arrow marks and AB (you'll find this in the gradius part) is a famous "Konami code."
For an example of what he means by "recreated the game completely with MIDI," here is a scene from the original Gradius (on YouTube) ...
... and here is that scene in the MAMPlayer/MIDI version (as before, the image to the right of the vertical blue bar is not part of the animation, just a static image; watch it on Nico Nico Douga or on YouTube):
Here's the end of the Konami code section he mentions (notice the comment echoing the code):
Today, I found that a link to this page had been added as a comment on the Gradius animation (NND):
Looking through the other movies, I found several other links to this page, the MAM home page, and the MAM MIDI file player page. I'm guessing that this is the reason for the increase in the number of Japanese visitors (Nov. 10 is when the first video was posted, and Nov. 19 is probably when the links to musanim.com were added):
I also learned that some of my own movies had been posted to Nico Nico Douga (Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and Claude Debussy's Clair de lune), and that other people had been using the MAM MIDI player to render their music. Here's a list of all the MAM-related videos on Nico Nico Douga (I'll try to keep this up to date):
|Cheetahman II — catchy tune||???||???|
|Mario Brothers — first decorative elements||???||???|
|Kirby — first pictorial elements||???||???|
|Final Fantasy IV||???||???|
|Gradius et al. — images from video games||???||???|
|Clair de lune||Debussy||musanim|
|Toccata & Fugue in D Minor||Bach||musanim|
|LUPIN THE THIRD||???||???|
|Utawarerumono — jazzy||???||???|
|Ashitaka Sekki — good use of the tonal weight mode of the player||???||???|
|Gypsy Dance from Dragon Warrior 4 — Spanish, with castanets||???||???|
|Circus Gallop — crazy piano music!!!||Marc-André Hamelin||???|
Please contact me if you can help me fill in the ??? (and thanks to Muu!)