With the advent of modern technology, creating content online has become more and more popular. The emergence of the first VTuber transformed content creation online by improving how people look, sound, and act. The phenomenon of anonymous influencers is not new. For example, consider Marshmello, Gorillaz, or Corpse Husband continually charming the world with talent and an anonymous online persona.
Online platforms like Twitch and YouTube and the whole international market have been flooded with popular VTubers, a new breed of online influencers. By presenting themselves in their content as avatars, these influencers avoid showing themselves in person. The era of a public figure's influence centered on their physical appearance is over. What's the big deal with virtual, anime-inspired avatars lately? How do most VTubers fit into today's age of content creation, and what is actually a VTuber?
As we examine in this article what VTubers are, how they became so popular, what their influence means in the age of digital media, and how you can become one, you’ll get a chance to learn all about them.
What Is a VTuber?
Let’s start from the beginning: What is a VTuber?
Virtual YouTubers, or VTubers, are online entertainers who use digital avatars to disguise their real world appearance. Through the use of computer graphics and motion capture, the virtual avatar interacts with the audience.
Avatars typically resemble anime characters that have large eyes and loud personalities - typically in 2D or 3D. Moreover, the online content creator provides the voice for their avatars.
Some of these characters have complex and mythical backstories, while others are simply artists who can sing, dance, and play video games.
The VTuber trend originated in Japan in the mid-2010s, when some people began using digital avatars to present themselves to an audience. Despite the trend fading for some years, it regained popularity in early 2020 and has since grown to become an international phenomenon featuring all kinds of virtual celebrities of various nationalities and even computer-driven artificial intelligence able to perform human-like tasks.
Even though the term virtual Youtuber suggests these digital personalities can only be found on YouTube, they may also be seen on other platforms like Twitch, TikTok, Facebook Gaming, Niconico, and Bilibili.
The majority of VTubers are Japanese, and most of their content is in Japanese. Even so, any Japanese VTubers create content that can also resonate with an English speaking audience. After all, there's a global audience of millions of people watching anime and reading manga, meaning that VTubers have an audience that can extend far beyond Japan.
The phenomenon has equally gained traction in other Asian countries like South Korea, becoming a big part of popular culture.
What Do VTubers Do?
Before we dive into the technical aspects of the genre, it is good to know that VTubers aren't completely built by AI. They are controlled by a human who mainly uses motion capture to control their anime avatar.
In most cases, motion trackers are used to record the creators' movements and recreate specific actions. In the end, the actions are mapped onto an animated character, rendered on a background, via a live stream.
Youtubers and VTubers produce similar content. A range of activities is possible, including playing games for hours, hosting live broadcasts, participating in challenges, and collaborating with others.
A VTuber develops a persona for their own brand and creates original content based on that persona. Choosing the most appropriate personality and speaking style for the audience is the main objective. These factors influence their content as well as their relationships with their fans. The possibilities for VTubers are endless: they can be male or female, fictional or real.
The VTuber industry shares a lot of similarities with Vocaloid idols in Japan, which are a popular form of virtual pop stars. Using computer-generated music, these virtual pop stars often appear as 3D avatars. There are a lot of technologies used in Vocaloid that have been adopted by the VTuber industry as well.
How to Become a VTuber?
Virtual Youtubers are an emerging trend with lots of potential. The high level of competition makes traditional YouTube channels hard to make it to the top in 2022, while being a content creator in the form of a Vtuber can help you stand out.
Virtual reality video blogging continues to capture the attention of many people across multiple platforms, all while keeping their identities a secret. These characters have a voice, a heart, and a life behind their avatar, and are often referred to as modern-day unicorns. Many VTubers used a form of motion capture technology also commonly seen in CGI-based films.
A virtual YouTuber can use this technology to capture and track the motion, shapes, and various proportions they may want to use in their video or streaming.
Those who want to become a virtual YouTuber might have to spend a lot of money on resources or equipment. While buying such things may get you better results if you know how to use them appropriately, you can become a VTuber for very little money or even for free.
Whether you've been considering becoming a virtual YouTuber for some time now or only recently, there’s no doubt that 2022 is a great time to get started. The best part about VTubing, after all, is that it's accessible to just about anyone with a smart device and a camera.
Step 1: Design Your Avatar
It is necessary to have your own avatar. You can create your own character in several ways. Even if you're not particularly creative, you will be able to get a great design from an artist. It is very important to keep in mind that when working with an artist, you are not only paying them for their artistic skills, but you are also paying for the time they need to make sure that your VTuber model is of the highest quality and is ready to be used.
Or, if you'd rather design everything from scratch, that's fine as well. When you have an idea of what your avatar will look like, it's time to code your model in order to make it a functioning entity. If you prefer to do everything yourself, you may find this quite a challenging task. In addition, beginners also have the option of making a model with more user-friendly avatar creation software, but keep in mind that the quality of your avatar will be drastically reduced. Although the models are not terrible, they are too simple and not complex enough.
Step 2: Animate Your Avatar with Motion Capture
Models need to be rigged to be able to move. An animation rig is created by creating and attaching a bone structure to a model, which can then be manipulated for animation. Usually, in 2D work, you divide an image into the different parts you want to move. Unfortunately, rigging does not have a universal workflow.
FaceRig, VTuber Studio, Wakaru, and Luppet are some of the common software used by the most popular VTubers. Many others can be downloaded for free. Find out which one works best for you by piloting your model with multiple softwares. The tutorials and videos available online vary by program, but you can find a lot of useful content on YouTube.
As a beginner, you should do your homework and review tutorials on how to get started with mocap. Content of higher quality means more views and more views equate to more subscribers.
Step 3: Set Up Your Studio: Microphone, Green Screen
It doesn't matter if you're a virtual YouTuber or a regular streamer; you'll need an efficient setup to be able to make and stream content. This will allow you to work with better equipment and allow your viewers to observe your content more smoothly. When you become a VTuber, you need to be able to shoot your face as well as render it in real-time. You will need a motion-tracking camera for this. A simple webcam that has a decent feed is enough to get you started.
When VTubers are designing their models, they tend to make them automatically move their mouths when they detect sounds coming in. This is referred to as lip-syncing. This part does not require you to pay any attention to what you might or might not need. Focus on getting your voice across clearly. By using a good microphone, you can reduce background noise and explore the possibilities of how you will use your voice.
Video creators, including YouTubers, benefit from having a green screen as a background. Post-production can be used to create the illusion that everything is taking place within an empty environment. You can boost the quality of your videos by investing in a green screen.
Step 4: Launch Your Channel
As far as your platform is concerned, YouTube is a good option for having a good place to grow, but there are also other notable platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram, or Twitch. Virtual YouTubers don't need just to pick one. Additionally, they can create accounts for all the platforms they use, then set up the main channel so people can follow them regularly.
Step 5: Produce Quality Content
Once all the setup and designing have been done, it's time to make the videos themselves. Be creative, experiment, and build a VTuber community. The time to become a VTuber is now. Moreover, many VTubers keep a calendar of their content. Using a content calendar, VTubers can decide what kind of videos they want to release or how many streams they'll do on any particular day. A consistent upload schedule or streaming schedule promotes audience growth and optimizes the algorithm for VTubers. Even agencies specialize in VTuber talent, such as Hololive production. Hololive production offers interviews and auditions to prepare VTubers for idol-level training.
VTuber Monetization: How VTubers Make Money?
The level of popularity that VTubers enjoy is what attracts sponsorship deals. As part of a publicity stunt, Vtuber Kaguya Luna broke a Guinness World Record in June. Using helium balloons and a camera mounted on the phone, she began streaming a live video stream at an altitude of 30 kilometers above sea level to promote a cup noodle.
In addition to viewer donations, merchandise, and collaborations for large advertising campaigns, VTubers and content creators like Kizuna Ai, who became Japan's culture ambassador at the Japan national tourism organization, earn income through donations, merchandise, and campaigns.
Most VTubers rely on donations, merchandise sales, and sponsorships to generate income. VTubers mainly generate revenue through advertising on their channels. A portion of their income is also derived from hosting Super Chats or collaborating with other VTubers.
Pros and Cons of Being a VTuber
As opposed to regular streaming, VTubing lets your motion be interpreted as a digital avatar. VTubing and the tools that enable it are now more accessible than ever. Before starting the journey to become a virtual YouTuber, consider these pros and cons that can affect your decision.
- Endless possibilities exist on the internet for expressing your creativity.
- Having fun with this project will allow you to learn more about business and management.
- Keeping your identity and privacy protected is your right.
- It is possible to choose or create your own avatar.
- Affiliation with a streaming community that makes sense to streamers with a conscious body image.
- Changing or reincarnating into other characters for enhanced expression and deeper character depth.
- Having a Twitter account is a must for better engagement with your audience.
- The cost of designing your avatar will range from $50 up to hundreds of dollars. The price varies depending on the design you want and the artist's rate.
- The software and other assets needed for VTuber creation may be pricey, especially for novice VTubers.
VTubers: The Future Of Content Creation?
VTubing blurs the line between artificial intelligence and reality and opens the door to a world of endless possibilities for internet creators. The interaction of fictional characters with real people has been popular for years. Tons of video games and films have been created using motion capture, and VTubers have emerged as a result of that technology becoming more accessible. As underlying technology becomes ever more sophisticated and easy to use, we expect to continue seeing VTubers and animated influencers gain widespread popularity.