Yamaha Corporation announces that it has succeeded in reproducing the singing of the late Hibari Misora, a legendary Japanese vocalist, using its own Vocaloid:AI singing synthesis technology in technical cooperation with an NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) television program broadcast in Japan on September 29, serving as both the public debut and first real-world implementation of Vocaloid:AI.
The NHK-led project, which Yamaha assisted with, set out to use modern AI (artificial intelligence) technology to present a live performance of a new song by Hibari Misora—an illustrious entertainer who long stood at the forefront of popular music in Japan—to commemorate the 30th anniversary of her passing. Using cutting-edge 4K 3D video to reproduce her likeness, Hibari Misora took the stage and dazzled viewers with her rendition of the new song.
Yamaha’s role in the project was to use its Vocaloid:AI technology to faithfully reproduce Hibari Misora’s characteristic singing voice and speech for the live performance. Actual recordings of the artist’s songs and speech made while she was still alive were used as machine learning data to reproduce her singing. The singing source data used for machine learning included background musical accompaniment, but Yamaha’s accompaniment suppression technology allowed for the generation of high-quality machine learning data to further improve the quality of the singing voice.
These Yamaha technologies incorporated a relatively new and rapidly developing type of AI known as deep learning to tackle the challenge of bringing back one of Japan’s foremost late singers using modern technology.
Koichi Morita, Senior General Manager of Research and Development Division, Technology Unit, Yamaha Corporation, says “We believe it was the Yamaha technologies and sensibilities cultivated over 130 years of developing and producing musical instruments and audio equipment which enabled us to successfully capture the essence of her singing. Our cooperation in this project with this new evolution of singing synthesis technology has illuminated new possibilities in music by transcending the barriers of time to dazzle listeners with incredible singing.”
Vocaloid:AI is a singing synthesis technology developed by Yamaha which incorporates AI. By using deep learning to analyze singing characteristics such as tone and expression within recordings of singing by a predetermined vocalist in any language, it can synthesize singing which includes the unique mannerisms and nuances of that vocalist with any melodies and lyrics.
Vocaloid is a singing synthesis technology developed and released by Yamaha in 2003 which has since gained wide recognition as a technology that can produce singing using virtual singers. Vocaloid:AI uses AI to vastly improve the vocal expression of tone changes, in particular.
With the public debut of Vocaloid:AI, the Vocaloid label now encompasses all of Yamaha’s singing synthesis technologies, while Vocaloid:AI specifically refers to those which incorporate AI.
Until her passing in 1989, Hibari Misora recorded over 1500 songs, leaving behind a series of hits in her more than 40 year long career as Japan’s top singer. She posthumously became the first female recipient of the People’s Honor Award, one of the highest honors in Japan.
Projection tech transforms retail
By TIMOTHY WILSON, visual imaging business account manager at Epson South Africa
Display designs, such as those found in retail stores, are no longer confined to static visuals on pull-up banners, 2D print and posters. The increasingly popular use of projection technology has ushered in new and exciting ways to create immersive displays using rich media and high-quality visual content to go beyond the four walls of traditional marketing.
In the past, projectors were lamp-based and prone to failure when used in a harsh environment, such as a retail store. Today, newly introduced laser projection technology has unlocked a range of capabilities.
Transforming the way brands engage with audiences
Creative techniques such as projection mapping, which can be described as the projection of video, animation and other colourful displays onto 3D surfaces, have completely transformed the way brands engage with audiences and can live in retail spaces, concert halls and even sports stadiums.
Projection mapping offers venues wide-spread creativity in using lighting in small or large environments, as was the case with Epson’s showstopping kinetic portal, which implemented projection mapping on a 360 degree vortex at the largest AV and systems integration show in the world – Integrated Systems Europe 2019. Driven by a new, affordable generation of projectors, mapping not only covers flat walls and traditional projections screens but also irregular shapes, objects, and even entire building façades.
When projecting on a larger scale, such as at events and music concerts, the process of visually combining several projectors to display one single seamless image might sound simple enough in principle but can prove to be a challenging task in reality. To overcome this challenge, experiential marketers are adopting the use of image edge blending, which refers to the process of stacking multiple projectors to create a single overlapped projection that appears continuous and clear.
It’s due to these advancements that displays in retail and events no longer pivot just on aesthetic appeal but can now deliver immersive consumer experiences that drive engagement and increase foot traffic. This is starting to drastically change the way that retailers, events and even restaurants host, engage, entertain and communicate with their audiences.
Projection is driving growth in experiential marketing
Consumer interest in the transition towards projection has seen this technology take centre stage at leading retailers such as Mall of Africa, events by brands such as ABSA and restaurants like Saint, transforming their environments into immersive spaces through projection that displays captivating imagery and video.
Saint restaurant in Sandton has pushed the boundaries of branding and displays, transforming all surfaces into a visual delight. Patrons entering the restaurant are greeted by a visual experience within a dome, featuring a series of moving, constantly changing artworks – such as a starry night sky or a replica of the Sistine Chapel – projected onto walls and the ceiling.
In fact, EventTrack research, which showcases the current state of marketing around the globe, highlights the continuous growth of event and experiential marketing. It notes that high-quality projection technology, more specifically its ability to emit stunning visual experiences, has grown in popularity to become the go-to tool for event organisers and retailers looking to captivate and engage with consumers.
The future of projection technology
Projection technology has proven to be an outstanding, much more cost-effective and reliable form of marketing collateral – setting an entirely new standard for high-resolution projection.
Sandton City recently embraced this market-leading technology with the installation of a virtual aquarium in its Centre Court. This installation centred on creating a 3D mapping concept that enabled shoppers to select an undersea creature from a touchpad to swim across digitised hoarding.
With capabilities to meet the demands of large-scale projection and the ability to effectively transform the way brands remain visible at shopping malls, restaurants and retail spaces – the unprecedented imaging power of projection technology has set a considerably high bar when it comes to retail and event displays.
Epson, which is not only pioneering imaging technology and innovative projection solutions, is also the market leader when it comes to high lumen laser projection, having recently announced its 30,000 lumens laser projector (EB-L30000U) which will officially launch in 2020. This high-end installation laser projector, complete with 4K enhancement, is aimed at rental and staging companies, hospitality markets and visitor attractions, which is yet another progressive step towards transforming the way marketers engage with their consumers in the 21st century.
GoFundMe hits R9bn in donations for people and causes
The world’s largest social fundraising platform has announced that Its community has made more than 120-million donations
GoFundMe this week released its annual Year in Giving report, revealing that its community has donated more than 120-million times, raising over $9-billion for people, causes, and organisations since the company’s founding in 2010.
In a letter to the GoFundMe community, CEO Rob Solomon emphasised how GoFundMe witnesses not only the good in people worldwide, but their generosity and their action every day.
“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform,” said Solomon in the letter. “Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”
The GoFundMe giving community continues to grow with both repeat donors and new donors. In fact, nearly 60% of donors were new this year. After someone makes a donation, they continue to engage with the community and give to multiple causes. In fact, one passionate individual donated 293 times to 234 different fundraisers in this past year alone. Donations are made every second, ranging from $5 to $50,000. This year, more than 40% of donations were under $50.
GoFundMe continues to be a mirror of current events across the globe. This year, young changemakers started the Fridays for Futuremovement to fight climate change, which led to a 60% increase in fundraiser descriptions mentioning ‘climate change’. Additionally, the community rallied together to support one another during natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the California wildfires, where thousands of fundraisers were started to help those in need.
The report includes a snapshot of giving trends from the year based on global GoFundMe data. It also includes company milestones from 2019, such as launching the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, GoFundMe.org, and introducing GoFundMe Charity, which provides enterprise software with no subscription fees or contracts to charities of every size.
Highlights from GoFundMe’s 2019 Year in Giving report include:
- Global giving trends and data
- Top 10 most generous countries
- Top 10 most generous U.S. states and cities
- Biggest moments in 2019
To view the entire report, visit: www.gofundme.com/2019