The first ever virtual soul singer has been created and a virtual band is just round the corner, according to the makers of a new piece of music software, writes Sam Espensen.
Yamaha has been working in conjunction with two UK companies to develop Vocaloid, a package that allows the user to create "virtual vocalists". Virtual TV specialist Tim Child, whose company Televirtual made cult show Knightmare, has created the first virtual starlet, Lola, to be used with the Vocaloid software.
Developed at Yamaha's Chiswick R&D department with Cornish music production specialist Zero-G, the technology is a protool for professional musicians. The makers said it will have dramatic implications for the way the broadcast and music industries use singers and Vocaloid has already won a Popular Science Award for Innovation.
Child described Lola as "the first ever real-time character to be built using the FACS (Facial Action Coding System) used in Lord of the Ringsfor Gollum". He added that it would soon be possible to create a band without any real humans in it. It is rumoured that Simon Fuller's 19TV has already approached Yamaha in Chiswick about Vocaloid and Zero-G managing director Ed Stratton confirmed that interest had been huge.
According to Child: "The impact of such computerised creations are endless. Dedicated music channels whose output and cost base remains dominated by pop video transmission, will be taking a very close look at this latest technology bonus".
Vocaloid goes on sale for£250 at the International Music Products Association's trade show, NAMM, which takes place in January in Los Angeles.