Virtual YouTuber

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Virtual YouTuber
Other expressions VTuber
Virtual Uploader
Virtual Streamer
Originated from Kizuna Ai[1]

A Virtual YouTuber is an online video creator and/or live streamer who is represented by a virtual avatar generated by computer graphics. It can also refer to the related culture. It is commonly recognised to be originated by Kizuna Ai in Japan in 2016.


In a narrow sense, Virtual YouTuber refers to an online entertainer who uses original, virtual character settings and images to perform activities on video websites and social platforms. Most of the images are displayed in Japanese anime-style 3D models or 2D models, using motion capture technology to control the model's movement and voiced by live-action voice actors. Voice actors are generally not disclosed.


Technical Background

Idols of 22/7 wearing motion capture devices and taking pictures with the staff[2]

Virtual YouTuber requires technical background to display the virtual image on the media, and different levels of technical background will lead to different display effects.

The image can be based on 2D model or 3D model. The 2D model is usually preferred due to its low production cost and hardware requirements, relatively, though with limited performance not supporting complex body movements. The 3D model usually contains the image information of the whole body. With motion capture, a wide range of body movements can be performed, which can better display the virtual image, but the cost of production and supporting facilities is relatively high, thus most of them are used by the corporate virtual YouTuber. Some Virtual YouTubers will upgrade their facilities and model for better presentation as conditions getting better. There are also Virtual YouTubers using both 3D and 2D models, adjusting different equipment and display requirements.

Kagura Nana drawing the portrait image of SpadeEcho during streaming[3]

Generally, the creation of 2D models requires at least one piece of an original character image, expression difference and other information, modelled with software such as Live2D. Making 3D models requires detailed character settings such as complete portrait, three views, and detailed drawings of the characters, modelled with Maya, 3DS MAX, Blender, Metasequoia, VRoid Studio, etc.

To show the real-time actions of a Virtual YouTuber or shorten the animation production cycle, motion capture technology is generally used to record information such as actions and expressions to control the movement of the model. Commonly used motion capture systems are Oculus, HTC VIVE, KINECT, Perception Neuron, Leap Motion, etc. Some qualified companies will also use professional optical motion capture systems such as OptiTrack, Vicon, Motion Analysis and so on. Some software does not require additional motion capture devices but the camera of computer or mobile phone to realise simple motion capture.

With the image model and action data mentioned above, production software is also needed to process the action data and apply to the model to create animations or carry out live events. Common production software in the industry can be Facerig, Unity, MikuMikuDance, VRChat, KiLA, ORION, Virtual Cast, ANICAST and so on. Some companies or associations may also dedicate or develop software of their own, such as Hologram Live System, Nijisanji App, Aien Studio, etc.

In addition, technical preparations such as microphones, OBS Studio and other live streaming software are also required.

Voice Actress

Operation Background



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