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Jul 25 2009

Playing With Dance×Mixer

dance-mixer

In the course of looking for references and ideas for the iDOLM@STER picture that I am currently working on, I somehow found myself on Niconico Douga watching a video featuring iM@S music but with different characters dancing to the music. With the tag “Dance×Mixer” as a guide I did some research and found out that it is a program just released a month ago used to choreograph 3D characters and make videos. Being a huge fan of otaku music I had no choice but live out my idol-coordinating fantasies by giving it a try. Of course I ended up wasting half of yesterday just playing around with it instead of drawing like I had planned.

dance-mixer-chara

Dance×Mixer is divided into three modes: Character, Dress and Dance. The first two modes are for character customization while last one is of course for planning out dance routines. Under character mode the player has the ability to customize a character’s body, face and hair. Unfortunately the body option only allows for the character’s chest size to be changed which is pretty disappointing. I would have liked the ability to alter height and waist and hip sizes at the very least. I know it is possible in some fashion judging by some user-uploaded videos though I have no clue how that is done so I’ll have to look for updates and mods later. Fortunately the face and hair options fair much better and make up for the lack of body customization. Eye shape and color, brow shape and color and mouth shape can all be changed allowing for a good deal of variety though it would have been nice to be able to alter face shape and facial feature positioning as well. In particular I was impressed by the hair customization options; instead of having predetermined hair styles the player dictates it by choosing individual independent parts to create a whole hair style. These parts include the front, back, side and even ahoge all of which can be given different colors.

dance-mixer-dress

Dress mode features a similar level of customization as character mode. Yet again dress mode is subdivided into three categories called inner, outer and accessory. Inner of course refers to underwear while outer refers to outerwear of which there is a decent number of garments to play with. There are a load of accessories to choose from including funny hats and drills and multiple items from the same subcategory can be equipped simultaneously assuming that they do not interfere with each other. Most of the clothing and accessories come in multiple color presets but it would have been nice to also have complete control over clothing color in the same vain as hair color.

dance-mixer-dance

Of course the actual meat of Dance×Mixer is the dance mode. Anyone familiar with video editing software such as Adobe Premiere should feel at home with the Dance×Mixer GUI which features preview and options windows and a time line. By default up to three individuals can be loaded in at once with each having their own separate time lines allowing for independent action. Each character option can perform 3 things at once corresponding to dance routine, facial expression and lip synchronization which can be assigned via the options window. The dance tab features dozens of different dance moves ranging from still poses to much more complicated routines. Under the face tab are a mere 6 different facial expressions to assign to your virtual idols but you can make your own custom expressions making this option very useful for getting the perfect look. Within the lip tab are 6 different syncing options corresponding to “a,” “i,” “u,” “e,” “o” and “n” which in Japanese is all you really need.

Dance×Mixer comes with a decent number of nice stages to perform on and all stages can be set to day, evening and night lighting with additional effects such as snow and confetti. Speaking of which in addition to the persistent stage effects as mentioned, there are numerous temporary effects that can be used while arranging performances for that extra wow factor like fireworks, fog and spotlights. Interestingly enough Dance×Mixer has a text overlay feature which is sure to please karaoke fans as well as people such as myself who want to imitate iM@S videos. Lastly is the option to coordinate the camera in numerous ways from basic still shoots to dynamic sweeping actions. All this together means that it is possible for an amateur with enough patience to create beautiful performances.

I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with the program. I used Fuwa Fuwa Time Yui Version as my test bed but limited myself to only one character to keep the complexity down. The choreography itself isn’t really that well made since I was focused on testing the features rather than creating the perfect performance. I also tried lip-syncing but it got really tedious so I quit. However I really liked how the effects and camera worked out and if I spend a little more time on the choreography and tweak a few things it could look pretty decent. I also added the lyrics at the very bottom for that delicious iM@S-flavor. Check out the video below to see my test run,

Honya's Test Run of Dance×Mixer
Temporarily took down video since it interferes with my Gallery for some reason or another

Of course Dance×Mixer is not without it’s drawbacks. One minor complaint I have is that the program by default only accepts wav and wma files for the BGM which meant that I had to convert my mp3 files in order to load them. It would be nice to see expanded audio format support in an update. Of greater concern was the more frequent than normal rate of crashing I got while using this. Dance×Mixer would sometimes hang up requiring me to quit and restart the program and at worse resulted in at least a few bsods which was especially amazing to me since it was the first time I have blue-screened in years. At the very least the developers had the foresight to implement an auto-save feature which prevented any of my work from being lost. While I was testing the video rendering feature I would at times not be able to initialize it so I had to reload before it started to work again. It would also occasionally quit partway through the rendering process but I suspect this could be a encoder problem rather than a problem inherent in the program because certain encoders would give consistent bad results while others would not.

Despite such problems Dance×Mixer is overall a pretty good program that does something novel in a fairly easy to use package filling a similar niche as the Vocaloids except with dancing rather than voice synthesizing and I truly hope that Dance×Mixer achieves a similar level of success. Anyone yearning to be the next great choreographer or just anyone with an interest in music need to give this a try.

PS My favorite videos (Niconico account required):

Permanent link to this article: http://honya-ch.com/2009/07/25/playing-with-dance-mixer/

32 comments

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  1. animaker9

    Awsome software! I also tried this program out, is really fun to make characters and clothing, and the choreographies also X3 but I got a question… when I tried to render the video it’s… to heavy (over 1000 MB… or so I think because I can’t read japanese)…. is there any way to make it a little smaller? I tried reducing it to 320×240 but it only made it 759 MB, is it al I can do tu reduce it?

    Sorry about the question but I didn’t find any more info about this program

    1. dancemakerlover001

      hey how do you make an account on it i forgot what the secret qustions are!

  2. animaker9

    I found a way via windows movie maker so thanks anyway, your video is great compared to mine, I still don’t know how to make the camera effects…. I tried to but the result was… wel it made mi dizzy so, thanks for commenting about this awsome software and sorry about that question (Again) =3

  3. Honya

    Sorry for the late answer but like you said one way to reduce the size is to lower the resolution. A much better way is to go to the options that say 動画圧縮コーデックの選択 and 音声圧縮コーデックの選択 which refer to the video and audio codecs being used and selecting and testing different options.

    If I’m reading your second comment correctly then you re-encoded the video using windows movie maker. Although this also works it would probably be faster to only encode the video once in the way I answered above.

  4. animaker9

    Yes, that’s what I did, It reduced to 18 MB after the re-encoding… great difference X3 well, thanks for the answer, I’l try those options and see what I can get, I’ starting to get hooked! =3

  5. Rev

    Hello!

    Well, the thing is, everybody writes about this, but nobody wants to share this… I heard there was a limited download time of it. Please, any of you would be kind and generous to share the Dance×Mixer installer/package with me? My email address is rev01yeti(at)gmail.com
    Thanks in advance! :3

  6. Laco

    Help me please. Where in EUROPE maybe get possession of Dance Mixer.
    Thanks Yu

  7. Goshe

    How do i download!? im a major otaku, i have to play this game! please tell me where to download this! TT^TT

  8. Goshe

    nevermind i found it lol

  9. Goshe

    help, i cant get it to download/install T~T

  10. Protobot21

    I semi finished my 1st vid, semi in that I couldn’t complete the lip sync. I was windering if anyone knows ifs there’s an tutorial or anything of the likes around that can help me refine the dance routines? heck even a low brow english menu translation or mod would help. LOL

  11. moko-chan

    How can I have it????? Please tell me!!!!!!! T.T

  12. someone

    Hello,I have a question. I got this software today, but I can’t read Japanese so I’m stuck at the registration part. Could you please help me?

    1. Honya

      If you could post an image of the registration screen I could help but for now I can’t really tell what you need.

  13. Reza

    Just use google Translate,that really help

  14. Carly

    ; u ; i cant find a download link anywhere..

  15. pucca

    how do you sing up to dancemixer

  16. maynara

    como faz pra instalar isso

  17. MakaChann

    I cant render it! Why?

  18. LOLman

    How do I convert a saved dance file into a video? Thats my problem.

    1. Honya

      There should be an option under File called Output Movie (ファイル>動画出力) from which you can render your saved dances.

  19. ANIME )?

    PORFAVOR RESPONDANME! NECESITO ESTE JUEGO ENCERIO! PORFAVOR ALGUIEN DEME UN LINK PARA DESCARGARLO O MANDEME UN ARCHIVO, MI E-MAIL ES: Mufinsypastelitos@hotmail.com

  20. Dovet

    hey can someone tell me were i can get this I want it so bad plzzz

  21. Nadeshiko

    Auf Deutsch :
    Wie kann ich es Spielen ? q.q
    Bitte Hilft mir weiter und sagt mir wie es geht ich verstehe das nicht q.q Pls >-<

    Englisch :
    How can I play? q.q
    Please Help me on and tell me how it goes I do not understand Paul q.q

    Deutsch:
    oder wie es heißt

  22. Nadeshiko

    Antwortet bitte schnell ^^ ich gucks mir jetz jeden tag an bitte Helft mit schnell q.q

  23. Sivia

    Where to download the installer?

  24. sherly

    PLEASE GIVE ME THE LINK!!! WHERE I CAN FIND TO DOWNLOAD THIS PROGRAMM!!! :”)

  25. AMEI

    HMMMMMMMMMM

  26. Nadeshiko

    Pleas, help me q.q
    When I go to http://www.hongfire.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111746, then stands there always I must signt me. But when I sign then I doesn’t have the rights to go in.

    Is there another way to go on this page or another page where I can download it? Q_Q :< :(

  27. layan

    help me i need to download this!

    1. Honya

      Sorry but I can’t help you with that request

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