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We are looking to raise funds in order to license commercial software and plugins needed to power the fourth iteration of UtaForum.net!
We are looking to raise funds in order to license commercial software and plugins needed to power the fourth iteration of UtaForum.net!
33 backers pledged $373 to help bring this project to life.

About

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UtaForum is an English-language message board dedicated to the UTAU singing synthesis software. The forum features 33 different subforums, which range from the UTAU-related (like UTAU Discussion, Reviews & Critiques, and Help & Advice) to the more general (like Art, Writing, Music, and of course Vocaloid, the OTHER singing synthesis software).

Amongst these boards we have +50,000 UTAU-related posts in +7,500 threads. In terms of metrics we are the largest UTAU-related forum in the west with some 50,000 unique visitors and 665,000 pageviews in 2013.

UTAU is a freeware/shareware voice synthesizer that generates singing vocals for music. It was created by an independent Japanese programmer named Ameya and intended to be a free alternative to the popular Vocaloid synthesis engine from Yamaha. 

Due to UTAU’s open nature, anyone with access to a microphone and proper recording software may create their own UTAU library from samples of their voice, saved as .wav format. After a few extra UTAU configuration files have been properly edited, this simple folder of .wav files can then be used as a virtual singer within the UTAU software interface by entering notes on a piano roll and typing in phonemes.

UTAU’s capability is only limited by its users’ imagination; therefore there are UTAU voicebanks in many more languages than current Vocaloid software. Even UTAUs made from instruments that are often comparable in quality and editability to their pricy VSTi counterparts. A popular practice among UTAU users, adopted from Vocaloid, is the creation of character avatars to represent these unique virtual singers.

The worldwide UTAU community is ever-growing: ruto.yu.to, a website dedicated to tracking the number of UTAU voicebanks, reports that there are over 4000 individual UTAU characters by now, and has not yet submitted full data for last year (2013).

Please note that UtaForum is merely a fan community for users of UTAU, we are not associated with any software developers.

Just like the UTAU community as a whole, UtaForum has grown much over the years. From our original 1.0 with a Forumotion of 600 users, to 2.0 with a ZetaBoards of 900 users, and most recently 3.0-3.5 iteration under SMF and MyBB with almost 2,000 users we once again need to change message board software, this time we hope to upgrade to the commercial message board software Xenforo. 

Beyond the license for Xenforo itself, we would also like to purchase a variety of upgrades and plugins that will help improve the quality of life for all UtaForum members. This software represents a significant cost, one the staff will need crowdfunding to bear.

 
As for why Kickstarter in particular, there are a variety of reasons, the first and foremost being that we are looking to raise a relatively small amount: just $200. Though the cost is significant in terms of our community (and acknowledging the fact that the software we currently use is free and many of UtaForum’s users are very young) this amount is not something the staff can raise alone, and other crowdfunding platforms we looked at wouldn’t allow us to start a campaign with such a low goal. Beyond this, Kickstarter is a platform one of our admins (Hentai) was already familiar with, after working with Koda-P to successfully kickstart The BIG ALbum.

 
The advantages of Kickstarter are over traditional donation schemes are many. The first and foremost is that Kickstarter allows us to set discrete goals to fundraise toward, and if for some reason we are unable to reach said goal, no one is charged any money. In addition, it gives us a means to effectively communicate our needs, and provides a level of transparency (and probably most importantly, a level accountability) to the community at large.

The UtaForum staff will NOT be taking a cut of any funds raised. 100% of all contributions will be re-invested back into UtaForum with any funds raised beyond needed minimums going toward future license updates and renewal costs so UtaForum will never have to ask for donations.

 A full account of all funds raised will be maintained at kickstarter.utaforum.net after the campaign has ended, so you will be able to make sure all contributions are being used responsibly.

Our Kickstarter rewards tiers are pretty simple. Every backer who contributes the Kickstarter $1 minimum will receive an exclusive “Kickstarter Green” forum badge to display on their profile to show they have backed our transition to UtaForum version 4.0.

Beyond this for those of you who lack an UtaForum account and just want to support this project, we will have a special “thank you” page listing all our Kickstarter backers.

Every backer that contributes $5 or more will receive a voting token. Beyond the first voting token you will also receive an additional voting token for each additional $5 you contribute after the first $5. For example a backer than contributes $10 will receive 2x voting tokens, conversely a backer than contributes $25 will receive 5x voting tokens.

 
The significance of this voting token virtual currency is detailed in the section below.


Ever since 3.0 the “Defoko Militant” skin has become almost iconic of UtaForum, as for 2 years it was the only skin UtaForum had. If we move to Xenforo, it is more than likely Defoko will once again be our default skin (considering she is the software mascot), but part of the reason we are looking to move is so it is easier to develop new skins featuring new UTAU characters.

 

To help us decide which UTAU should receive new skins and where the staff should focus their development time we will be implementing a Style Voting System where the community will help decide what new styles we should develop and what priority we should develop them in. The full details of the Style Voting System will be posted at vote.utaforum.net but its main features are as follows:

  • Every UTAU that gets a minimum of 5 vote tokens will have style developed.

  • Multiple people may contribute vote tokens toward a single UTAU style.

  • Style development priority will be decided by total number of votes tokens.

  • If the queue of UTAU styles in development exceeds 10 the minimum vote tokens required will be the average of all styles already confirmed for development.

  • No vote tokens will be expended until a style is confirmed for development.

  • You will be able to earn voting tokens for FREE by taking part in forum events.

We want the Style Voting System to be something the entire UtaForum community to take part in. While our Kickstarter backers will get a head start with voting tokens, the entire community will be able to earn voting tokens by taking part in staff sponsored community events. In these events every member that participates will receive a voting token, and if said event is a contest a larger token prize may be available.

 As an example, our very first planned event is a contest that includes making the header art for UtaForum’s new default skin, once again featuring Defoko. Everyone that submits a qualifying entry will receive a voting token and the art used will be decided by a vote from the staff. Additional voting tokens will be awarded to entrants based on the number of staff votes received.

Beyond just art related events we have others planned involving UTAU covers, music production, creative writing, and more! We will be sure to make events everyone can participate in and earn free voting tokens.

There are a variety of reasons we would like to make the move, but the first and foremost is the limitations of our current software. MyBB was supposed to have released its 2.0 update last year; however, it has since entered development hell with no sign of an end. XenForo offers us a chance to immediately move to a more modern board software and offers a variety of features that we feel would be beneficial to our community. 

Our time with MyBB has been quite problematic, to say the least. In order to get many of the features UtaForum takes for granted, a lot of modifications had to be made to our installation of MyBB. These modifications--while fulfilling our needs--also make MyBB hard to update, hard to skin, and hard to fix with certain recurring bugs show their ugly faces, the most recent one resulting in the loss of our mybb_posts database table. The current MyBB environment has grown buggy and increasingly hard to work in, and after its last failure we frankly don’t trust it.

In short: as MyBB stagnates, so does UtaForum. We are hoping a move to a commercial message board software will bring us new features, improved performance, and updates so UtaForum can grow further.

UtaForum has always been a community affair, and as such we invite you--new member, old hand, Kickstarter backer, simple observer, or sapient supporter--to give us feedback either here on Kickstarter, on social media, directly via email, or on UtaForum itself at ks-thread.utaforum.net.

We would like to know what you think of our project, our forum, our stretch goals, and staff. If you have any questions we would be happy to field them and add them to our FAQ below.

Risks and challenges

The action of using KickStarter helps us mitigate most of the risks associated with our product. Due to the nature of our all-digital rewards and how our projected costs are managed, the number one challenge we face is if this KickStarter isn't fully funded. If this KickStarter isn't successful we, the staff, will have to re-evaluate where we will take UtaForum in the future.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Forum Badge - All backers will receive a special edition forum badge as our thanks to you. Every little bit helps and even your small contribution helps make the future of UtaForum a reality.

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    8 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Voting Tokens - For your significant contribution in helping UtaForum we will issue you a 'voting token' for every $5 you contribute. Help decide the future of UtaForum via democracy! Full details in project description.

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    Estimated delivery
    22 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)