In a nutshell

  • VTubers are computer-generated virtual YouTubers
  • Being a VTuber gives creators a ton of freedom when choosing how they want to present themselves to their audiences
  • VTuber setups can get expensive

Have you ever seen a YouTube creator that uses an avatar persona instead of being in front of the camera? These YouTubers are referred to as VTubers. VTubers use animated avatars to stay anonymous while creating and sharing content on the platform. If we’ve piqued your curiosity and you want to know how to be a VTuber, you’re in the right place.

We’ll cover what a VTuber is, their rise in popularity and how you can become a VTuber too.

What is a VTuber?

A VTuber, or virtual YouTuber, is a creator that opts to present themselves through a computer-generated avatar. These creators use computer graphics and motion animation to create a fully customized avatar, which serves as the point of interaction for viewers.

The avatars created by VTubers almost always look like 3D or 2D anime characters. What’s fun about using an avatar is creators can get quite creative with their content. Some creators form stories and personalities centralized around their avatars. Some creators keep it more simple and create gaming content. Really, the possibilities are endless.

That is the benefit of being a VTuber. You can be whoever you want. You can be a completely different person, a character, a different gender — you can do whatever you want. Likewise, their ideas for content go along with whatever character or brand they build for themselves.

The rise of the VTuber

Image courtesy: Cielwave

The concept of the VTuber gained popularity in Japan — this makes total sense considering most all VTubers create anime-like avatars. Following that, many VTubers are Japanese, so their content is also largely spoken in the Japanese language. However, there are plenty of VTubers in different countries. In the 2010s, VTubers gained some popularity, with a resurgence in 2020.

In recent years, we’ve seen the rising popularity of new kinds of content creation. Not only that, the number of online video platforms continues to increase, giving creators a wide range of places to share their content and grow their following.

VTubers create content beyond YouTube, and you can find them on platforms such as Twitch, TikTok and Facebook Gaming.

How does the tech work?

A common conception with VTubers is that the avatars are AI-generated. This isn’t entirely the case. Although some VTubers may use AI generation to create their avatars, many use motion capture to bring their avatar to life. This creates dynamic content where the creator completely controls their avatar.

Motion capture technology uses cameras and software to record an individual’s movements and transfer that information into computer-generated animation.

How to be a VTuber

Gawr Gura
Image courtesy: Gawr Gura

So, now that we’ve covered the basics, you might be wondering how to be a VTuber. What steps do you need to take? Well, the first thing you need is the right tech. This may seem like an intimidating step, but you can create a simple setup that will allow you to develop motion-captured animation right from home.

Now, creating a setup to create motion-captured animation can get expensive. Of course, there are some cheaper, DIY alternatives. You will need:

  • A powerful computer — ideal specs include 16 gigs of DDR4 Ram, Intel Corei7 3.00GHz and a good GPU
  • A depth camera
  • Dedicated 3D animation software
  • A mocap (motion capture) suit — this is optional. You can create motion capture animation without a suit, but mocap suits can take things to the next level. Mocap suits are typically quite expensive
  • Green screen backdrop — optional but worth considering
  • Microphone

Ultimately, there are ways of creating a more affordable setup; you need to spend some time researching your options.

Once you have your setup, you can begin creating your avatar. This is the fun part. Think about your audience — who are you trying to reach with your content? From there, make your avatar and animate them with motion capture.

Next, you should figure out what platform(s) you want to post your content to. Are you going to post on one or multiple? Figure out what platforms are best for the content you are creating. You can post to YouTube, but Twitch and other video platforms might suit you better.

From there, you can create your channel and start posting your content. Many VTubers also livestream.

Here are some of the most popular VTubers online today:

  • Gawr Gura: Gura is the most subscribed virtual created on YouTube, with over 4 million subscribers. On her channel, she plays games like Minecraft and Overwatch.
  • Ironmouse: Ironmouse streams on Twitch and has over 1 million followers. She plays games such as Among Us and Minecraft.
  • Usada Pekora: Pekora also streams and posts content on YouTube, and she has almost 2 million subscribers. She plays games like Rust and Minecraft.

Virtual creators are on the rise

VTubers and virtual content creation have seen a significant increase since 2020. It seems that the popularity and demand for the content isn’t going anywhere. So, if you want to be a VTuber, now is the time to start.