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Miku Miku Dance (oftentimes abbreviated MMD) is a freeware animation program originally produced to make movies for Miku Hatsune and other Vocaloids. It allows the importation of various 3D models and motion data that can be applied to those models, allowing large numbers of characters to be doing the same dance or motion. Miku Miku Dance has oftentimes been compared as The Japanese Equivalent of Source Filmmaker.
Miku Miku Dance has grown from it’s mainly Vocaloid use to include a wide variety of other series including, but not limited to, Touhou Project, THE iDOLM@STER and other Nico Nico Douga (NND) related memes.
Miku Miku Dance (MMD) was first released as a Vocaloid Movie Maker in Feburuary 24th, 2008 by the Japanese programmer Yu Higuchi.
This software was originally made for his personal use, and never planned releasing because the end user license for Miku Hatsune prohibited using her character images in other softwares in those days. Crypton Future Media, the copyright holder of her, changed this license in that month, MMD could see the light.
The first tutorial video by Mr. Higuchi /w English Sub (Original videos on NND)
At the beginning, This software could use only one model at a time from several default character models and a simple background. By approximately 3 years of advancements and upgrades by Mr. Higuchi and the help of voluntary support softwares and many very agressive users, MMD had enhanced its features. Not only user-made materials such as custom character models, stages and accesories, but also physics engine, Kinnect interface, NVIDIA 3D Vision and multiple effects had been added to the software.
In May 27th, 2011, Mr Higuchi retired from further development with the release of ver7.39. As of January 2013, the latest versions are ver7.39(dot) released for bug-fixes in July 2011, and ver7.39×64 optimized for 64-bit OS in August 2012.
The concept of this software immediately magnetized many internet users. 3 days after its initial release, Wiki for MMD was launched to enhance information sharing by 2channel users. By these activities, the user community for MMD was being generated. And since many MMD users had tend to release their data sources and technique to other users freely, the development environment for MMD had been much enriched by their contributions to the community.
The other engine driving MMD phenomena and its community was online competitions/festivals organized by its users. Competitions/Festivals had been held with various concepts since its very early stage, and these streams were gathered to MikuMikuDance cup, the biggest online competition representing this phenomena.
As of January 2013, the amount of videos related to MMD in NND is over 100,000.
Mr. Higuchi noticed the interest to his software from outside Japan by the English subtitled version of his tutorial videos above. He first released MMD English ver. in March, 2008, and he had added English mode to MMD since ver4.03 released in May 25th, 2010. In addition, many English tutorials and tips have been released on the web by volunteers.
By these efforts, MMD user community outside Japan has been grown steadily. As proof of this, the 1st MOMI Cup, MMD contest in English-speaking world, had been held in 2011 and 2012.
Miku Miku Dance Cup
MMD Cup (Japanese: MMD杯) is a twice yearly competition dedicated to the use of MMD, and was designed to push the popularity of Miku Miku Dance. Competitors would be given a theme (Open to interpretation) and sent off to make the best animation/music video they can. As of February 2013, they are in their 10th circulation.
Left: Winner of the 4th MMD Cup | Right: Winner of the 7th MMD Cup
Since its first release, the feature of MMD and its upgrades had gotten much attention from Japanese media. Not only the interviews to Mr. Higuchi, movie making tutorial of MMD was also serialized by magazine. And not limited to IT media, general newspapers had also reported MMD phenomena.
In addition, several reference books written by famous MMD creators for custom model making and movie creation by MMD had been released in Japan.
Furthermore, several Japanese magazines are following up the trend of MMD Cup as a current topic in realtime.
A Japanese original GCI anime series gdgd fairies which started in 2011 has been rendering its main characters by MMD. Besides, a 2013 TV anime series Chokkyuu Hyoudai Robot Anime: Straight Title was the first instance of producing whole of the footage by MMD only. In addition to this, productions officially released their characters modeling data to users, and encouraged user creations to enhance product deployments.
Left: gdgd fairies Ep.1 (season 1) | Right: Chokkyuu Hyoudai Robot Anime: Straight Title Ep.1
On the other hand, those products wouldn’t try producing full-spec animated videos by MMD, but centered dialogic plays and ad-libs by voice actors, and featured MMD’s taste of low-polygon models because the other purpose using MMD in animation products was to cut a budget.
In MMD’s early days, its main use was to simply copy a dance of other Pop or Otaku music. Its users had ported many songs’ dancing motion to MMD. In addition, some of aggressive users also challenge reproducing the whole of music video by MMD.
Jamiroquai’s 1996 music video “Virtual Insanity”
Music Video for Vocaloids
Full original music video for vocaloid song which requires the sense of choreography and camera work is the most intense genre to pursue visual expression. Along with increasing of the popularity of Vocaloid songs in mainstream music market, music video clips utilizing MMD have been making dramatic evolution by many professional video creators.
music video for 8#prince P’s vocalod song “Sweet Devil” by a Japanese professional movie creator/art director Atsushi Wakamura
Many of entries for MMD cup are this style like G-mod. For this usage, huge scale town model and Many non human characters models including vehicle, aero, mobile suit and space battleship are made by MMD users. Like this video below, comedy is the most popular and major genre In this movie style.
“Rage of Miku Hatsune” the winner of the 2nd MMD Cup
In addition, the most watched video in MMD is reenacting a copycat show in a Japanese comedy program.
Parody of Memes
In Japanese web, it’s quite natural thing that the character models for MMD are produced immediately from a current memetic topic. Once it’s made, MMD becomes the stage for the fanfiction/parody of the meme.
Left: El Shaddai and Imaichi-tan | Right: MMD’s Reenactment of moymoy palaboy
However, many lazy users only throw the character model and other existed motion data into MMD to join to its meme’s bandwagon. Therefore, in many case, meme’s icons show the same boring spin on MMD.
Editor’s Note: Registration is needed to browse the original videos listed in this section.
Nico Nico Pedia – List of competitions/festivals for MikuMikuDance in NND