What’s A Vtuber?
You’ve probably heard of vloggers, or video bloggers. These are people who create videos out of their everyday life, and upload it to YouTube. They share things like their daily life, makeup routines, travels, etc. And now there’s a new kind of vlogger: the vtuber. But how do these vtubers work? Well, we’ll get into that in a second, but if you want a brief history of where this all came from first, check out our post on Vocaloid, UTAU, and Vtubers!
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Vtuber is a portmanteau of “virtual” and “youtuber”. A vtuber is a person that streams and/or uploads videos to YouTube or TwitchTV using, mostly, an anime avatar following their movements in real time. The avatar speaks and moves in real-time, allowing viewers both to see the “real” person and their movements. Many times you’ll even see the person’s face on top of the anime body; this is called “camversing”.
The popularity of vtuber has grown tremendously since its inception in 2014 – so much so that vtuber agencies like Hololive and Nijisanji have sprung up from the woodwork. Some people use it as a way to interact with fans more easily than through social media or livestreaming alone. You can now find communities centered around these vtuber where fans can talk with each other about their favorite virtual youtubers, as well as make friends with other fans of these digital personalities.
@nekuclips Reply to @michaelgreco81 @shylilytwitch Twitch.tv/shylily #vtuber #vtuberclips #fyp #shylily #cute #vtubers #xyzbca #tiktok #hololive #trending ♬ original sound – vtuberclips
Their content can vary wildly, but it’s generally light-hearted and entertaining. Common VTuber activities include playing video games (many of them are gamers), doing makeup tutorials, discussing their interests (often related to their hobbies), creating comedy sketches, and showing off their daily lives. Their appeal extends past just watching pretty girls dance around your screen; it’s about being entertained by someone who feels like a friend you’d go out for coffee with. In fact, many VTubers use their channels as another way to connect with their fans—they hold public meetups, create music together, and even travel the world to visit each other in real life!
How Do Vtubers Work?
If you’ve ever wondered how the animated characters used in vtubing work, you’re not alone. I’m sure it seems like a pretty cool job; they show up, they talk to their fans, they get paid. It’s probably one of the most stress-free jobs out there. The truth is, though, it’s not all fun and games—vTube isn’t different from any other normal streaming personality. Regardless of the pretty animated face, you still need to have a personality and interesting content.
There are some people who make an effort to give their vtuber persona its own personality, but most people just deliver content in exactly the same way they would if they were actually playing for themselves. And that’s how it should be: your personality should shine through regardless of whether you’re playing from behind your computer screen or standing in front of it and talking directly into the camera. We’re all used to seeing people go on YouTube and talk about things, so why should a different avatar change that?
In either case, the best way to stand out from the crowd is to develop your own unique style of engaging with your audience—you don’t have to be an entertainer to be a successful vTube streamer, but you do have to be interesting enough to keep people watching long enough for them to find out who you are and what makes you special.
In addition to your personality and sense of style, there is another aspect to vtubing: the technical stuff. There are several different technical aspects of vtubing that you need to be aware of, and it can get confusing—especially if you’re new to both vtubing and technology.
To begin vtubing, you need to have all the necessary software: a program that can do motion tracking, a program that lets you record the video, and a program for creating your model.
You may not know that there are some programs that can do all 3 of these things—like VTuber Maker—and some that do it piecemeal. You also might not realize there are different motion tracking software options for your face or body, each with their own pros and cons depending on what kind of movement you want to make.
But to keep this article short for you, I’ll just talk about VTuber Maker here. If you want to check out other top vtuber software, you know where to look!
VTuber Maker is a suite of tools, which are sort of like the video game development software you would use to create a video game. VTuber Maker lets you create 3D models from scratch, and it imports 2D sprites and shapes, which you can then rig with bones so that they move in VR. You can also choose from a list of pre-made characters, or upload a 3D model that you made in another program, but for this article we’ll only dive deeper into VTuber Maker.
Vtuber Model Creation
Creating a 3D avatar is a little daunting if you haven’t done it before (and even if you have), but VTuber Maker makes it as easy as possible. All you have to do is make a few choices about how you want your avatar to look and then upload it online so others can download and view your creation. The only skills you really need are knowing how to use a computer well enough to operate an image editing program, which most people do anyway.
VTuber Maker also does motion tracking. It can track your face and make your virtual avatar’s face match it, but it can also track your hands and body to make those parts move in VR as well. The tracking is pretty good—for example, I wanted my avatar to be able to hold a microphone up to its mouth (which I could see in VR) so that when I spoke into the microphone in real life, my avatar’s lips would move along with mine. Tracking worked really well! It can also track your hands and body (there’s even an option to have a full-body avatar).
While other programs like OBS Studio give you a plethora of options—which is great if you want control over every aspect of your video—VTuber Maker just lets you set up and go live in a few clicks. If all you’re looking for is something simple and easy to use, then it doesn’t get much better than this.
When you’re done making your character, you can use Vtube Maker’s streaming tool to stream directly to Twitch or upload videos to Youtube. You can even use one of the pre-made avatars as a starting point, or use the in-app camera mode to make a vtuber body with custom animations through hotkeys.
Alternatives To VTuber Maker
So VTuber Maker is a fun program that lets you create your own vtuber… But it’s not the only one, and unfortunately, VTuber Maker is quite expensive—it costs $20. That’s probably more than you wanted to spend on a vtuber-making program, but don’t worry! There are some other great programs out there that do pretty much the same thing and are free!
Facerig works best with a webcam. It also has the most realistic avatars of the three (in my opinion). It was created by the same company as VTuber Maker. However, it costs $10 instead of $20, like VTuber Maker does.
Luppet is an app for Android devices that’s absolutely free! It doesn’t require a webcam or microphone either, so it’s just as easy to use as Facerig! I’m not sure about its facial-tracking quality though.
More Vtuber Software
If you want a more exhaustive list of VTuber software, then check out this blog post about it! I’ve personally used VRoid Studio and VSeeFace, and would highly recommend either.
So What Now?
It’s unclear whether vtubing is the next big thing, or whether it will stay a niche phenomenon. However, one thing is certain: there’s no shortage of virtual characters, both real and fake, for viewers to consume. The question is how many people are willing to put in the effort to be a vtuber. We can see all this effort if we look back at the history of vocaloids and UTAU, so we know there’s no end to the fun stuff the doujin community can make.
Plenty of work goes into creating and maintaining a video channel; only those who are passionate enough about vtubing will stick with it. After all, you need dedication to maintain something as involved as a YouTube channel.
The real question is, are you?