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What is a VTuber? Why Everyone's Talking About Them


 A pink haired VTuber livestreaming with fans’ comments popping up

Virtual YouTubers, widely known as VTubers, have experienced a significant surge in popularity over the past few years, captivating audiences with their unique blend of digital artistry and engaging content. These creators use virtual avatars to represent themselves, allowing for a diverse array of characters and personalities that transcend the limitations of traditional live-action content. With the rise of AI, AI-powered VTubers are also gaining traction and are worth checking out.


Differences between VTubers and YouTubers


VTubers operate in a virtual space where they can interact with their audience in real-time, often using motion capture technology to bring their avatars to life. This innovative approach has revolutionized the online entertainment landscape, attracting fans from around the globe who are drawn to the creativity, anonymity, and versatility that VTubers offer. 


From gaming streams and musical performances to educational videos and interactive live chats, VTubers have carved out a niche that combines the best of animation, technology, and personal connection. YouTubers, on the other hand, typically use their real-life identity and appearance to connect with their audience, offering a broad spectrum of content styles. Their content can be recorded or streamed without the need for additional tracking or animation tools.


How to Become a VTuber


photo of 2 female VTubers live streaming with live comments popping up

To start, you'll need to devise a concept and craft a persona for your VTuber, focusing on aspects such as appearance, personality, and backstory.


Next, bring your VTuber to life by designing their 2D or 3D avatar using a VTuber model maker, then add physics with bones and joints using VTuber rigging software.


Then, prepare your setup by ensuring you have the necessary equipment, including a robust computer with a powerful processor, a top-notch webcam, and a high-quality microphone.


After that, install and configure your face-tracking and streaming software to synchronize your VTuber model with your facial expressions. Don’t forget to test out a voice changer to ensure it matches the persona you created.


Finally, actively engage with your audience while streaming the content you’ve planned.



Understanding the Differences: 2D vs. 3D VTuber Options


cover photo of How to Make a VTuber Model: A Beginner's Guide Featuring Top 2D and 3D Makers, VTuber avatars created with VIVERSE and VRoid Studio

2D VTubers are typically more affordable and simpler to set up, requiring just a webcam and facial tracking software. They are perfect for anime or artistic styles with detailed facial expressions, drawing in viewers who enjoy expressive faces and intricate designs. If you have a limited budget and a preference for 2D art, this option is highly practical.


The Best VTuber Software for 2D VTubers:


.Live2D Cubism


screenshot of modeling an anime female character with Live2D Cubism Editor

Powering over 300 commercial titles worldwide, Live2D Cubism is the industry-standard software for real-time 2D expression in VTuber creation. Widely embraced by professional creators, Live2D Cubism allows for the direct animation of drawn illustrations, capturing dynamic expressions while preserving the original artwork's authentic charm.


VTube Studio


a screenshot of VTube Studio’s website, with a Live2D VTuber on a smartphone

VTube Studio is designed for a broad audience, available on iOS, Android, and Steam. It offers versatile face-tracking options, using either webcam integration with OpenSeeFace or connected iPhone/Android devices. The software provides extensive control over Live2D models, allowing users to manipulate features such as eye-tracking, winking, and hand tracking.


3D VTubers typically involve higher costs and complexity, as they require 3D modeling software and motion capture equipment. They provide dynamic full-body movements, making them ideal for activities like dancing and other performances. This format caters to audiences looking for immersive and interactive experiences. If you have the necessary resources and aim to produce highly interactive content, 3D VTubing is the better choice.


The Best VTuber Software for 3D VTubers:


VIVERSE Avatar


A girl with purple double ponytail hairstyle, accessorized with a black chocker

Among the many 3D VTuber model creators, VIVERSE stands out with its free VIVERSE Avatar Creator. Regular updates allow users to customize every aspect of their avatars, including outfits, cosmetics, and accessories. The models are formatted as VRM files, ensuring compatibility and easy export to various social VR platforms.


VSeeFace


a screenshot of adjusting light settings on a short golden-haired female avatar with bangs on VSeeFace

VSeeFace is a free VTuber software suitable for both non-commercial and commercial use, offering precise face-tracking capabilities that include eye gaze, blinking, eyebrow, and mouth movements. With just a webcam, users can easily control the camera's rotation, zoom, and movement using mouse buttons.



FAQ


1. Who is the most popular VTuber?


As of 2024, the most popular VTuber is arguably Gawr Gura. She is a member of Hololive English, a branch of the Japanese VTuber agency Hololive Production. Gawr Gura debuted in September 2020 and quickly rose to fame, becoming the most-subscribed VTuber on YouTube with 4.4 million subscribers. Her charming personality, entertaining content, unique character design, and impressive singing talent have all contributed to her massive popularity within the VTuber community and beyond.


2. How much does it cost to become a VTuber?


Avatar Design


Based on Rokoko's survey in 2022, here are the estimated costs:


2D Avatar:

Art: $35 to $1,000+ (depends on the artist’s skill and complexity of the design)


3D Avatar:

Modeling: $500 to $15,000+ (depends on the modeler's skill and complexity)


VIVERSE offers customized 3D avatar for free. Create your avatar and export with a simple click.


.Hardware


Computer:

A high-performance PC: $1,000 to $3,000+


Webcam:

Standard webcam: $50 to $200

High-end webcam or DSLR setup: $200 to $1,000+


Microphone:

Basic USB microphone: $50 to $150

Professional XLR microphone with audio interface: $200 to $500+

Green screen: $20 to $100 (optional, for background removal)

Lighting: $50 to $200 (for better visual quality)


Software


Face Tracking Software:

Basic options: Free to $50 (e.g., VSeeFace, PrprLive)

Advanced options: $50 to $300 (e.g., FaceRig Pro, VTube Studio)


Streaming Software:

Free options: OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS

Paid options: $50 to $150 (for additional features or premium versions)


Voice Changer:

Basic options: Free to $50

Professional options: $50 to $200+


Miscellaneous


Commissioning Backgrounds and Overlays:

Custom backgrounds: $50 to $500+

Stream overlays and alerts: $20 to $200+


Music and Sound Effects:

Royalty-free music: Free to $100+

Custom BGM and sound effects: $100 to $500+


3. How do VTubers track their faces?


VTubers rely on a combination of cameras, facial recognition software, motion capture technology, and virtual avatar software to track their faces and bring their virtual personas to life during live streams and recorded videos. In some cases, AI-driven algorithms are used to enhance facial tracking accuracy and automate certain aspects of avatar animation.

4. Which country has the most VTuber fans?


Japan dominates the VTuber fanbase scene. As the birthplace of VTubers, Japan has woven this phenomenon into its pop culture fabric, driven by a strong affinity for anime, manga, and virtual idols. Major agencies like Hololive and Nijisanji, headquartered in Japan, have fueled the rise and global reach of VTubers. Even as the fanbase expands worldwide, Japan continues to be the largest and most influential market for VTubers.


Recap & Summarize


Becoming a part of the VTuber community is now within reach. We outline the steps to enter this world, from selecting an avatar to setting up software and equipment. We also discuss potential expenses, offering options for different budget levels. By addressing common questions, we aim to dispel doubts and enhance understanding of VTubing. Ultimately, we highlight VTubing's inclusive and dynamic nature as a platform for creative expression.



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