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The trend of virtual streamer in Japan is causing fever on YouTube

In Japan, virtual streamer is becoming a phenomenon and even more attractive than real people. There are millions of stream followers on the Internet and the success of streamers has created a new concept in Japan as virtual YouTubers or VTubers.

Kizuna Ai, the most famous virtual streamer in Japan, is a lovely girl with long hair and a pink headband. More significantly, she is a completely bogus character with images and voices entirely created by 3D technology and artificial intelligence.

“What makes VTubers different from traditional anime cartoon characters is that you can believe that they really exist,” said Takeshi Osaka, founder of Activ8 Inc, the company behind Kizuna Ai‘s presence. will. “This has created an irresistible appeal.”

Beyond the time-consuming and labor-intensive processes of traditional animation, Activ8 uses Hollywood-class motion capture devices to daily create exchanges and content for its characters with 8 million followers. But Activ8 declined to disclose the techniques it is using. “The innovation here is a combination of real-time 3D computer graphics, motion recording technology and video streaming sites like YouTube to create two-way interaction with the audience,” the company said.

Kizuna Ai appeared on YouTube for the first time in December 2016. Technology also opened the door for many similar characters to appear that year. With many computer graphics and 3D models from Unity Technologies, anyone can create their own virtual characters.

It is not difficult to understand when VTubers is popular in Japan where anime and virtual reality are highly valued.

Market research firm User Local Inc estimates there are currently about 9,000 VTubers channels in Japan. The most famous characters were created by a handful of professional studios like Activ8. In less than 3 years, virtual streamer has become a cultural phenomenon. Kizuna Ai appears in many advertisements such as food, supplements and television. She even appeared in the Japan National Tourism Organization’s promotional campaign.

Not stopping here, Japanese VTubers are also being exported to China. Activ8 earlier this year introduced a Chinese version of Kizuna Ai and now attracts 820,000 followers on the video sharing service Bilibili.