In case your entertainment means include YouTube, perhaps you’ve heard about the most recent trend (coming from Japan) called Virtual YouTube content. Or VTubers. It will be a while before we see these guys and gals performing their talents outside Japan, but still. This is a phenomenon that might very well change the rules in entertainment and business areas such as influencer marketing.
A bit of background
VTubers depend on and embrace technology. Nothing new here. But instead of exposing their own face (and sometimes voice), like regular YouTubers/vloggers do, they turn to virtual avatars. Basically, the person’s movements are captured and digitally replicated. Even grimaces can be quite accurately delivered, but the quality of the content usually depends from one VTuber to another.
Recently, these virtual talents have been getting more and more traction, gained followers & views and last but not least, they created a niche in the blue ocean. Popular VTubers are mostly in Japan, but we can expect to find them elsewhere as well soon. Most characters/avatars are female characters at the moment – it’s expected that male avatars start appealing to enthusiasts as well soon enough.
Some stats and figures
According to the research available in Japan, there are currently between 5000 and 6000 VTubers that are building content for approximately 3 million viewers. Granted, far from the rooftop figures other types of content are generating. But obviously this is just getting started. And actually it’s not the figures themselves that are impressing, it’s the speed to which they are doubling in value, from one trimester to another.
A few examples
The most popular VTuber out there is probably Kizuna AI, who has around 2.5 million subscribers. The best episode in terms of views so far has ”Playing a game using only your voice challenge”. It has 4.5 million views and for 7 minutes the character is playing a game. Here it is below.
Kaguya Luna is yet another example of a popular VTubing account. It’s not clear what it it is she’s saying in the latest episode (our Japanese is a bit rusty), but what is clear is that it managed to get 1.7 million views in there.
Coming up 3rd in our top is a certain Mirai Akari, who has rounded up so far 740.000 subscribers. Furthermore, as we’ll see in a second, this particular account plays an important role in this new industry of what is virtual.
There are basically two reasons for which VTubers have emerged and gained in popularity.
- Technology. For the first time, software and hardware have advanced and gotten cheap enough so that such content can emerge at a good quality.
- Human nature. Shyness has always been a part of us. VTubing is allowing shy people to show their creativity without showing their faces. Sure, there were other options for them, but an extra one is great news.
Business is looking good
The potential for business, especially in influencer marketing, has already begun to be noticed. For example, agencies that are dedicated to representing the interests of VTubers are slowly appearing. Entum is one of them. It was founded by the same people who are behind the Mikari account mentioned earlier. This is how Entum describes its business model
ENTUM helps its endorsed VTubers with the creation of content, planning collaborations and events, serving as spokespersons for the media and providing a physical address for fans to send correspondence
There are currently 12 VTubers in ENTUMS’s portfolio. You can read about them in the link above.
Perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that VTubers are already stepping out of the online environment for deals and opportunities. Kizuna AI for example has been named ambassador for the National Organization for Tourism in Japan. This while Gree Inc., a Japanese gaming company, is on track for investing billions of Yens in the production of VTube content. Thus, Reality has recently become the first livestream platform dedicated to VTubers.
Go for it!
Finally, after some research we will let you have a look at what you need if you’re thinking of turning to VTubing. According to XSens.com, these are some options:
- An PhoneX with face recognition, attached to some sort of helmet. Not too complicated thus far.
- A ”motion capture”system. We can get it from various sources. Here is a link with features
- Special gloves. Link.
- A 3D animation software. For example, Unity 3D is good, but there are several other options.
(Pentru varianta in romana a acestui articol, dati un click aici)
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