Published on Sep 22, 2022
What is a VTuber? Why are they so popular?
What is a VTuber? Why are they so popular?
Have you ever come across an anime-style character that talks like a human and replicates human movements in a YouTube video? If so, then you have already encountered a VTuber.
There is a huge probability that many viewers these days have come across the VTuber trend since the popularity of VTubers like Kaguya luna, Kizuna AI, Gawr Gura, and many others has boomed in recent years. If you aren't one of those people you need not worry.
I have crafted this article with everything you need to know about VTubers trends and explained why they are so popular. Let’s get digging without further ado.
What is a VTuber?
A VTuber or a virtual YouTuber is simply an online content creator who uses digitally manipulated virtual avatars with motion capture abilities for representing an anonymous online persona.
The animated avatars usually resemble the appearance of anime characters from famous anime series and mangas. They have typically large eyes, colorful hair, and a loud personality. They can be either 2D or 3D characters.
The real person (indicating to the VTuber) hides behind the character and provides a voice-over. These virtual avatars are programmed to replicate the motion of the person behind the camera which has motion capture capabilities.
It depends upon the content creators (indicating virtual YouTubers) if their avatars have mythical and complex character backstories or none. Anyhow, the purpose of the avatars is to disguise the VTuber’s real-life appearance.
VTubers are the next generation of influencers. They use their creativity and storytelling skills to entertain the viewers tuned in to watch their videos.
What Do VTubers Do?
VTubers create videos on live streaming websites or platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and other social media channels and make a living from them. These content creators have a YouTube channel dedicated to their VTuber persona, which they have built over a certain period.
It is important to understand the concept of this particular genre of YouTubing and the basic starts with VTubers not being a complete AI creation. The virtual YouTubers behind the motion-capturing avatars are called virtual YouTubers or VTubers, not the avatars.
By now you must understand the concept of VTubing and VTubers, so let's explore the possibilities of VTubing and what VTubers can do. Like regular YouTubers, Twitch Streamers, or any other Social Media content creators, virtual YouTubers also create similar video content.
A VTuber can stream his or her activities, like live vlogging, playing games online and streaming live or recording them and uploading after edits, can run a podcast, hosting live interactions with fans and followers, collaborating with other content creators, participating in challenges, and whatnot.
Their main goal is to create interactive, attractive, and alluring videos and other content for their audiences to enjoy. These contents range from simple singing videos in an enclosed room to live vlogging in the streets.
Where did the virtual YouTuber trend start?
The virtual YouTuber trend started in Japan in the mid-2010s. In the initial stages, this trend was limited to Japan only and it didn’t have many audiences. The trend peaked for a while in Japan and slowly plummeted for years.
However, the VTuber trend somehow revived from its sorrows and started gaining popularity in the early 2020s. Since then, the VTuber scene has been on a constant rise in the entertainment scene.
Most of the VTubers are from Japan, indicating that these YouTubers and streamers are English-speaking VTubers. According to the data published by UserLocal on October 19, 2021, there were about 16,000 VTubers globally.
These numbers have definitely grown in 2022. It is all down to the fact that the VTuber Scene has been booming worldwide. The interesting fact about it is that both adult male and female viewers are equally into the VTuber content.
Who was the first VTuber?
Despite the VTubing trend starting in the mid-2010s in Japan, it didn’t make its mark on the entertainment scene until late 2016, when a Japanese VTuber named Kizuna AI burst into the YouTube scene and instantly gained popularity.
As she was the first person to inscribe the word “Virtual YouTuber,” we can say that Kizuna AI is the first VTuber.
Kizuna AI has 3.07 million subscribers on YouTube with 1132 videos at the time of writing. This YouTube Channel is the first VTuber channel and one of the most popular VTuber channels today. However, it is not the most popular.
So, let's see which other VTubers are the most popular VTubers at the current time in the following section.
Who are the most popular VTubers?
For this comparison and ranking of the most popular VTubers, I have only considered a single platform, YouTube. It does not concern any other content-sharing platforms so your opinion may vary accordingly. This ranking is totally based on the number of subscribers each channel has on its YouTube Channel at the time of writing.
Number of Subscribers
Gawr Gura Ch. hololive-EN (Hololive production)
Pekora Ch. 兎田ぺこら (Hololive production)
Note: These VTuber Channels in the above table are ranked based on the number of million subscribers on YouTube. It may or may not change with time and the ranking might not be relatable in due course of time.
How to Become a VTuber?
We now know that VTubing has revived from its years of downfall and is getting more popular throughout the world. It carries a massive potential in the content creation scene, not necessarily dedicated to a single platform, YouTube.
VTubers can create and share content on numerous platforms, like TikTok, Twitch, Bilibili, Facebook, Niconico, and more.
With a vast range of playing fields and the scene booming globally, 2022 can be your year to start VTubing and grow yourself as a VTuber. VTubing can be a viable alternative to regular YouTubing since there are big dogs in the game and you might remain invisible or may take you years to gain popularity.
In contrast, VTubers have a limited number of competitors in the scene and you can easily stand out from the rest if you are creative enough to create quality content that people can relate to.
So how can you become a VTuber? In the following sections, we shall discuss the requirements of VTubing and how you can establish yourself as a VTuber in the current scene.
First, let us briefly talk about the equipment or resources that you need to start VTubing. A high-quality camera with a motion sensor and a smart device (laptop or PC) to store and edit your content are some things you can start with. You can add other accessories on the go.
Now let us go through the steps on how to become a VTuber.
Step 1: Creating your own avatar
Your own virtual avatar is the essence of everything you are in the virtual YouTubing. Your avatar represents and defines you so it is important to put thought into it and create a unique and attractive virtual avatar to start with.
If you have the ability to design your own avatar then go for it. If you don’t possess such creativity then do not think less of yourself, most VTubers today didn’t do it themselves. You can always hire an artist to do it for you.
It is important that you have a clear visualization of your avatar so that the artist can design it within a short space of time. Why? Because artists charge you per hour basis so you can do the math here.
It is up to you to create a 2D or a 3D avatar and the details you want in your avatar. Whatever the dimension, your avatar should be unique and represent you in every way possible (meaning, your avatar can represent your culture, dress codes, and whatnot).
Many companies and applications also allow beginners to create their avatars from the application today. However, you might not be able to create unique ones from them and the quality and details might not be of the level you require.
Step 2: Motion Capture and Avatar Animation
This step can be quite tricky for beginners and might be overwhelming at times since you have to animate your avatar with near-perfect facial expressions and make it as human as possible. However, you can make it over the line if you have sheer determination and willpower.
You should always consider researching on various platforms like Google and YouTube to collect ideas that can help your cause. Research and learn about different types of VTuber software that are being used by already existing VTubers and try them with your avatar.
VTuber Studio, FaceRig, Luppet, and Wakaru are some popular VTuber software amongst the current VTubers and one of these can be your ticket to Avatar animation. The only way to figure it out is by testing and using them. So go for it.
If you think you aren’t made for such tasks then you can always hire people who can help you animate your avatar to replicate your movements using motion capture. Hiring experts can cost you extra money, increasing your initial investment.
If you have the resources (money), then hiring experts will give you the best results you can hope for. So, it is up to you to do it yourself or hire an expert, either way, we progress to the next step.
Step 3: Studio Setup: Green Screen, PC, Microphone, Camera
Once you have your animated avatars ready to get into the action you will require a playing field, which is your studio setup. You will need a space to work and create videos and extra content. A standard Studio Setup will help you work with ease and efficiency without having to face resource deficiencies.
You should be aware that setting up a proper studio requires some monetary expenses. Why invest in quality resources? Because they help you create high-quality content that drives audiences to your channel and generates views.
It is evident that audiences do not take interest and waste their time on low-quality content unless it is their last resort.
High-quality equipment also helps you render your live streams smoothly, especially the avatar animations and proper replication of your movements. It is important that your voiceovers should properly sync with your avatar’s mouth movements, which might require a good microphone. Not to mention the noise canceling abilities.
A proper studio with a green screen will help you in post-production. You will have the luxury to manipulate your background and virtual environments easily and effortlessly.
You should set up your studio with as much high-quality equipment as possible for better content outputs and results. Once you set up your studio, we shall move to the next step, creating a channel.
Step 4: Start Your Content Sharing Channel
When it comes to launching your content-sharing channel, there are lots of platforms you can venture into. It is important that you select a platform to create your own channel like YouTube, Twitch, or some other social platform that will eventually help you monetize your content.
It doesn’t mean you have to stick to a single platform to create and share your content. You can create and run accounts on all available content-sharing platforms. However, you should be able to manage content on all those platforms for better results.
Once you grow big and start monetizing your content you can solely focus on creating content and hire a content manager who can track your progress and manage all those platforms for you. Well, that is for the future, for now, let's move on to the next step where you create your content.
Step 5: Quality content production
This is the final part where all of your work gels into a single unit to allow you to create the content you have been planning from the get-go. All you should focus on is creating quality content that your audiences can enjoy and get addicted to.
Once your viewers start watching and liking your content they come back for more and this is where the recommendation algorithm comes into action. These algorithms recommend to your viewers all of your content if they have watched and liked your production. It is how your channel grows.
You should be clever enough to research the trending content and present a unique version to your audiences. Being experimental helps you understand your VTuber community and its expectations.
Creating quality content isn’t enough once you are invested this far. You should be able to deliver them on a timely basis, might be daily, twice a week, weekly, or even monthly. Once you become their favorite streamer, many viewers expect your content on time so you should be transparent with them and provide them with content to stay connected.
As I mentioned above, you can hire a content manager once you grow big. The content manager will take care of all the dates and content genres and provide you with the ideas of content you need to create on time.
This will keep you updated with the content calendar and, more importantly, you will live up to the expectations of your viewers and audiences. Keep in mind your audiences are the most important aspect in both standards YouTubing and VTubing.
If you follow these five steps on how to become a VTuber then definitely you will be able to achieve greater things in life through VTubing.
Are VTubers safe for kids to watch?
Either a long or short version of the answer to this question is yes and no. Confused? Let me explain. You cannot generalize the VTubers and say if they are safe for kids to watch or not.
Not all VTubers create the same type of content. As mentioned above there are a lot of areas and concepts on which a VTuber can base his or her content. It is like a movie; you cannot say all movies are not safe for children because there are movies that are child-friendly.
Exactly like the movies, there are VTubers that create and share child-friendly content which is evidently safe for kids to watch. And there are many VTubers that aren’t child-friendly since they freely curse on their videos, and even play games that aren’t meant for children.
So, it is up to parents or guardians to monitor and decide if a VTuber and his or her content are safe for their children.
VTubers are the next generation of online entertainers who create mostly video content and share them on various platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, Bilibili, and many others.
You can also become a successful VTuber by following the steps on how to become a VTuber in the above section with sheer determination and willpower. Not to mention the monetary funding required to start the content creation process.
VTubers have a massive playing field and a great potential to boom in the near future since everything is leaning towards the virtual world. Entertainment is evidently already migrating.
The popularity of VTubers is all on the shoulders of VTuber fans. The recommendation algorithm recommends viewers these types of content and viewers also enjoy them. It is a trend and no one can do anything about it. It grows or plummets with time and audiences’ preferences.
Last, but not least, it is better not to generalize VTubers, and as a parent or a guardian, you should monitor what VTuber content your kid watches and block it using parental monitoring apps, like fenced.ai, if you feel unsafe or age-inappropriate about it.
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