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DEEP DIVE ARTICLE TIPS & TRICKS YOUTUBE

Are VTubers Fake?

The answer to the question of are VTubers fake really depends on what you consider “real”.

We would hope that most people understand that a cutesy anime girl who plays video games is not real in the sense that, to our knowledge at least, anime girls don’t exist in the real world.

On the other hand, it is entirely possible that there is a real girl who really plays video games behind that virtual YouTube account. So, yes, it depends on what you mean when you say “real”.

Unfortunately, this also muddies the waters somewhat, since there are so many different ways to run a virtual YouTube channel and so many different types of virtual YouTuber. It would be near-impossible to make a definitive statement about all virtual YouTubers, so, in this post, we’re going to highlight a few different types of virtual YouTuber, discuss what being fake in that context might mean, as well as ways you might spot a fake virtual YouTuber where applicable.

We will also talk about whether a given virtual YouTuber being fake should be a problem.

Are VTubers Fake? – VTubers are virtual avatars or personas for online influencers who may not want to show their real identity. Some are powered by real people and some are controlled by businesses. So, are they fake as human beings – Yes. Are they fake as digital intellectual property – No.

Types of Virtual YouTuber

In this section, we are not going to be focusing on the types of virtual YouTuber in the sense of how they look or how they are created, as we have done in other posts.

Instead, we are going to look at the kind of virtual personality that is presented, and we will give you an example or two for you to compare notes with.

For each type, we will explore the ways in which they could be fake, as well as ways you might spot this fakeness.

The Camera-Shy Virtual YouTuber

This type of virtual YouTuber is typically someone who doesn’t want to be on camera for one reason or another but has opted to put a virtual avatar in their place to give you something to look at.

The thing that distinguishes this kind of virtual YouTuber from a character virtual YouTuber is that they are not presenting themselves as something other than what they are.

Whether they are giving commentary, tutorials, or anything else, they will be presenting the channel as themselves; they are just doing it with some visual aids to make things more interesting.

From a conceptual standpoint, there is no difference between this kind of YouTuber and a YouTuber who does not have an on-screen presence at all, such as someone who gives commentary over video clips.

The digital avatar is just a means to assist the YouTuber in not being on camera. They may want to avoid being on camera because they are camera-shy, they may have privacy concerns about showing their face, they could even be concerned about a backlash from the content they make and want to keep their identity separate from their YouTube account.

How Might This Kind of Virtual YouTuber be Fake?

To answer this question, we’re going to give you two examples of this kind of YouTuber.

The first is Code Bullet, who makes entertaining videos around the things he gets up with AI. He presents the videos as himself but has an animated on-screen avatar to be his visual presence.

We do not believe there is any way for a channel like this to be fake in any sense that matters.

Code Bullet could lie about his real name, for example, but that would be utterly irrelevant to the content he is making. He could also lie in his videos, perhaps by cooking the results of his AI experiments, and that would be a reason to not watch his content, but it would not be the kind of lie that had anything to do with his digital avatar since he could do that as a regular YouTuber as well. He would be fake, but not a fake virtual YouTuber specifically.

Our second example is It’sAGundam, a commentary channel that covers a variety of topics from Internet drama to strange human-interest stories and more. This YouTuber will often put a digital avatar on-screen to act as the presenter of the content, though, like CodeBullet, they are not acting as a character, but as themselves.

However, like CodeBullet, It’sAGundam cannot really be fake in any meaningful way. They are not claiming to be anything in particular so they can’t lie about it. And, while they could lie about their stories, it would once again not be unique to the fact that they are a virtual YouTuber.

Spotting the Fakery

Since there is no meaningful way to be fake on the virtual side of things for this kind of YouTuber, there is no trick to spotting the fakery.

Things like being dishonest in the content tends to have a way of coming out in time, but the only way you could spot that would be to independently verify what you are saying, such as doing your own research and fact-checking.

What Are Virtual Influencers?

The Character Virtual YouTuber

These YouTubers present themselves as real characters, meaning that the channel is run as though the digital avatar on-screen is a real person in much the same way that Kermit the Frog does not break character and reference the fact that he is a puppet.

There is a concern among some that this kind of avatar could be fake in the sense of not being human; that the account is actually a very clever AI. Of course, AIs are not that good… yet. This kind of YouTube channel could not be convincingly run by an AI without giving away its true nature. There is also the reverse version of this where virtual YouTubers that present themselves as an AI have their legitimacy questioned.

For example, AI Angel, a virtual YouTuber who claims to be an AI bot, has had apparently serious conversations about her and whether she is really a bot. As we mentioned, AI bots are not on this level yet. But more importantly, the people who consider her not being a real AI fake, or worry that other virtual YouTubers really are AIs, represent a minority.

Where more of the concerns of fakery lie is in the gender of the person behind the digital mask, though it shouldn’t. Many people seem to be put off by the idea that a virtual YouTuber who is female is being run by a male behind the scenes. In this sense, it is certainly possible for them to be fake, though we would question the importance of that. As a natural consequence of the overwhelming majority of virtual YouTubers being women, the gender of the person running the account tends to be the biggest concern.

Spotting the Fakery

If a virtual YouTuber were really an AI, it would be obvious. Stilted conversation, awkward turning of phrases, and generally not-human-like behaviour. If the virtual YouTuber were playing a character of a different sex (or race or age) and has kept their identity private, there wouldn’t necessarily be a way of finding out. You could listen closely to their voice, but that is an unreliable method as many people can speak convincingly in other voices, and vocal effects are becoming more effective at convincingly changing a voice naturally.

Agency Avatars

One way in which you could consider a virtual YouTuber fake is that there are many of them—especially among the top virtual YouTubers—that are not run by individuals as such but owned by agencies. One of the bigger examples of these agencies Hololive, though there are a lot of them and the number is growing.

There tends to be a desire for community on YouTube, and many viewers prefer their YouTubers to be individuals who they can support, rather than faceless corporations who run a virtual YouTuber production line. In truth, the setup is a little closer to a talent agency than a manufactured pop band. In any case, you can usually find out relatively easily if a virtual YouTuber is part of such an arrangement since the agency will often list the virtual YouTuber on their website.

Are VTubers Fake?

Always Assume Catfish

Catfishing, for those unfamiliar, is an Internet term used to describe the act of luring someone into an interaction under the pretence of romantic or sexual activity while presenting yourself as something other than you are. There are many ways in which this can happen, but one of the most common examples that springs to mind (if not the most common examples to happen) is that of a middle-aged man pretending to be an attractive young woman and chatting up other men online.

Now, the dynamic with a virtual YouTuber is different, of course; it is not a private, one-on-one interaction. But it helps to keep hold of the thought that any virtual being can—and often will—not be what they seem.

For the most part, this should not be a problem for your enjoyment of the content. If the cutesy anime girl example we gave at the top was run by a middle-aged woman who was not as attractive (in your opinion) as you imagined, it should not take anything away from your love of the channel; the character was always fictional, regardless of who was behind the mask.

So why, you may be asking, are we saying this? Remembering that literally anyone could be behind the digital mask can help to keep you in the right frame of mind to avoid disappointment from the reality of a channel, and prevent you from building something up in your mind that potentially isn’t there. Unless you have good reason to believe otherwise, it is better to assume everything about the virtual YouTuber is fictional.

Should Being “Fake” Matter?

Once again, it is what you mean by fake that determines the answer to this question. After all, we all know that lycra-clad heroes with superpowers don’t exist in the real world, and yet Marvel continues to rake in the money with their movies and comic books. The fact that you know a thing is fake does not necessarily mean it has to ruin your enjoyment of that thing. Rather than fake, think of it as fictional.

You know that the cutesy anime girl is not really an anime girl, but you can enjoy the fictional character in the same way you can enjoy a James Bond movie, or your favourite zombie-based TV show.

Of course, there are other ways to be fake that do affect whether or not you can enjoy the content being produced. For example, a talking head channel that comments on political matters and tends to be quite controversial. If it turned out that the person behind that account did not hold the views they put out and was perhaps just saying controversial things for the views, it would be a huge turn off for many. People don’t mind—in fact, they even enjoy—being lied to when it comes to fictional characters, but they tend to have a deep revulsion to fakeness and hypocrisy in the real world.

Of course, neither of these examples are unique to virtual YouTubers. A regular flesh-and-bone YouTuber is just as capable of being a hypocrite on-camera as a virtual one, just as they are capable of acting a character. Some of the biggest names in entertainment, such as Sacha Baron Cohen and Stephen Colbert, rose to prominence through playing characters on-screen as though they were real people. Ultimately, it is the newness and, frankly, the strangeness of virtual YouTubers that makes people think twice. Once you get over that mental hurdle, many of these questions answer themselves.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we’ve shown that the question of whether or not a virtual YouTuber is “fake” is not really a useful one. Even if you have established some ways in which you could consider a virtual YouTuber to be fake, none of them has a significant impact on whether you would watch the channel or not, and the types of fakery that are significant enough to put you off of a channel are rarely specific to virtual YouTubers, but apply to YouTubers in general.

Ultimately, if you enjoy the content a channel puts out, and it is genuine, there is no reason to worry about whether a virtual YouTuber is really a person, really AI, the same age/race/gender as their handler, or anything else superficial that could be called fake.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.

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DEEP DIVE ARTICLE HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE TIPS & TRICKS YOUTUBE

How Do Virtual YouTubers Make Money?

When you first come across the world of virtual YouTubers, it can seem a little strange and exotic, and you might be forgiven for thinking that things work a little differently over in VTuber land (that’s not a real place, by the way). In particular, you may find yourself wondering how do virtual YouTubers make money?

The truth is virtual YouTubers operate in much the same way that regular YouTubers do. Granted, the process of making the content is different, but everything that happens outside of the creation process is more or less the same. We’re going to go over the ways virtual YouTubers make money—bearing in mind that these are also the ways regular YouTubers make money—but there is more to explore here, because while VTubers make their money through many of the same methods, there is a noticeable shift of focus when compared to a typical flesh and bone YouTuber.

But let’s kick things off with those money-making methods.

How Do Virtual YouTubers Make Money?

Virtual YouTubers just like standard YouTubers and influencers make money through the YouTube Partner Program, affiliate marketing, merchandise sales, crowd funding sites like Patreon and brand deals. The only difference between Virtual YouTubers (VTubers) and human influencers is their chosen public persona, avatar or face.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of VTuber monetisation, we’ll give you a brief overview of the most common methods available to a typical YouTuber. For a more in-depth breakdown, check this post out.

What is YouTube RPM?

The YouTube Partner Programme

The OG, as it were. This method of monetising YouTube content has been around in some form or another since the earliest days of YouTube monetisation. For eligible YouTubers, you simply opt your channel into monetisation, and YouTube will begin displaying ads beside, over, and during your videos. The revenue generated from these ads is then shared with the YouTuber.

In terms of the amount of money you make, the YouTube Partner Programme is hardly at the top of most YouTuber’s list. You generally have to have a lot of views to make any real money, and even then it is an incredibly unreliable method due to the volatility of the advertising market and YouTube’s own constant tinkering with their terms and algorithms. It is also incredibly inconsistent between YouTubers. Due to the nature of online advertising—which is essentially auction-based—one YouTuber could make many times more than another YouTuber, even if the other YouTuber has the same or more views.

Memberships

For YouTubers with loyal audiences who are either invested in the content that is being produced or invested in the YouTuber themselves, memberships offer a great way to cut out the volatility of the advertising space that we mentioned above.

Unlike advertising, memberships involve your members supporting you directly in exchange for perks that aren’t available to regular viewers. This method is more consistent than advertising. Granted, members will drift away from time to time, but if your content is consistently compelling, new members will replace them, and you are unlikely to see a sudden drop in your earnings—well unless you do something to alienate your members.

This also cuts out many of the issues that have been typified by the “Adpocalypses” that YouTube has brought down upon us. As your members are choosing to support you directly, there is no question of whether the content is suitable, so you don’t need to worry about your revenue taking a sudden nosedive because advertisers have suddenly decided they don’t want their brand associated with your kind of content.

Super Chat

Super Chat is a method that streamers can use to monetise their live streams. Essentially, the live audience can donate a little sum of money (or a large sum, it’s up to them) to get their message pinned to the top of chat for a period. In most cases, the message will also pop up in the video, but that is entirely down to the YouTuber.

Like Memberships, Super Chat has the advantage of not being beholden to changing YouTube monetisation policies and the shifting whims of advertisers. The only real downside is that there is no way for a YouTuber who doesn’t stream to take advantage of it.

Brand Deals, Sponsored Content, and Endorsements

For YouTubers who command enough of an influence in a given area, the prospect of brands coming to you directly (or through an agency) may be on the table. This is where a brand pays you to promote them on your videos, cutting out YouTube in the process.

Though each deal is unique, brand deals are typically more lucrative than the equivalent revenue you would get from YouTube. And, in many cases, you can still monetise your sponsored content through the YouTube Partner Programme, essentially letting you double dip.

Unlike advertising revenue, brand deals are not necessarily predicated on the size of your audience. Of course, the bigger your audience, the more likely you are to get offered this kind of arrangement, but the ultimate value of your content is determined by the conversions generated for the brands that sponsor you. If your videos typically generate a higher-than-average level of interest from your viewers, brands will be willing to pay your more to get their products or services promoted by you, even if you have a relatively small audience.

Affiliate Sales

For YouTubers whose content revolves around products and services—such as YouTubers who review things—affiliate sales are a way to earn revenue from your recommendations.

By signing up for the relevant affiliate programs and linking to the products or services you are discussing in your videos, you earn a commission for every viewer who buys a product or signs up to a service through your links.

You also provide your viewers with a quick and easy way to get to things you are talking about.

Merchandise

For those lucky YouTubers who are able to cultivate an audience that is invested in them, merchandise is another monetisation option.

You could do this through a third-party merch retailer or through YouTube’s own merch shelf. Of course, the success of this is determined by your audience’s willingness to buy your merch.

There is a world of difference between dropping a couple of dollars in Super Chat and buying a twenty dollar shirt from your merch store.

Patreon and Similar Services

In essence, this option is the same as YouTube Memberships, though YouTube has certain restrictions in place—such as requiring your to have at least 30,000 subscribers—before you can make use of that option. Third-party alternatives such as Patreon do not have such restrictions, meaning you can offer your subscribers a way to support you directly much sooner than you would be able to through YouTube itself.

Like Memberships, the basic principle is that your Patreons want to support you directly, but you would generally offer them some incentives, such as exclusive content.

What are VTubers?

What’s Different for Virtual YouTubers?

The most significant difference between a regular YouTuber and virtual YouTuber is, of course, their appearance (in the videos, of course). People don’t typically want to buy merchandise with a human face on it; we tend to prefer designs and artwork. For virtual YouTubers, their digital avatar is the artwork. With the majority of virtual YouTubers being Japanese anime characters, they have artwork ready to go by just taking a screenshot of their digital avatar.

The next area of difference is how YouTube perceives them. YouTube has been cracking down on videos intended for consumption by children. This is due to stricter regulations on what data can be collected on underage viewers, which in turn leads to advertisers being less willing to show their ads on children’s YouTube videos because they can’t be as accurate with their targeting.

This can present a problem for virtual YouTubers because most of them are cartoon characters, and even though their content may not be intended for children, YouTube doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to separating out videos that should be demonetised from videos that look a bit like videos that should be demonetised.

The final main difference we’re going to highlight is the fact that many of the top virtual YouTubers are run by agencies like Hololive, essentially creating a team of popular mascots to generate revenue. This doesn’t necessarily affect new entries into the virtual YouTube space—the barrier to entry for creating virtual avatars and content is relatively low—but it is an interesting aspect of this space that is worth noting.

Virtual YouTube Expansion?

For the moment, the majority of virtual YouTube is sitting comfortably around its place of origin; Japan. Most of the YouTubers in this space are creating Japanese-language content and seemingly have little interest in expanding beyond that sphere.

That being said, the few virtual YouTubers that have ventured into the world of English-speaking content are doing very well, and there is a strong interest in Japanese anime culture in the west.

These things would suggest that there is a potential explosion of interest in this scene on the horizon, as more people see the potential of English-language virtual YouTube content.

What are VTubers? 2

The Creation of Virtual YouTubers

There are several programmes and mobile apps out there that can be used to create digital avatars for use in virtual YouTube content. And, if the above prediction of a boom in interest holds true, it would be reasonable to expect the number of applications available to grow, also.

These pieces of software range from applications for making a digital avatar to applications for animating those digital avatars, with a few options straddling this line and offering both functions in one package. The most useful part of these applications, however, is the ability to animate the digital avatars using things like VR controllers, or webcam-based motion-tracking. Without these techniques, it would be expensive indeed to create the videos, as animating by hand is a lengthy process that requires a lot of skill.

Any financial benefit there is to running a virtual YouTube channel would quickly be erased if the YouTuber were forced to animate their avatar by hand. With motion-tracking technology, the YouTuber can mostly just film themselves as though they were making a regular video, while the software takes care of translating the YouTuber’s movements to the digital avatar.

Should You Become a Virtual YouTuber?

All this talk of a potential explosion of interest may have you wondering if virtual YouTubing is something you could try yourself.

The good news is that there is a very low barrier to entry technologically speaking—you can purchase software that will enable you to animate a digital avatar with a nothing more than a webcam for as little as $15, or even free in some cases. There is also no real restriction on what kind of content you can make. The existing popular virtual YouTubers cover quite a broad spectrum of video types, showing that it is more of a fandom-driven thing than a content-driven thing.

In other words, viewers are coming for the virtual YouTuber more than they are coming for the specific content in the video.

To that end, you should ensure you have something to hang your channel’s hat on. This could be informative or interesting content, or it could be an entertaining personality—ideally, it would be both. As long as you have something to draw viewers interest, you will be fine. Of course, this part at least is true for regular YouTubers, as well.

There are plenty of reasons why you might be interested in taking on a virtual persona rather than getting in front of a camera yourself—camera shyness, privacy, a need to express yourself in different ways—but ultimately that part of the equation isn’t important; you could just do it because you think it’s cool.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, virtual YouTubers make their money the same way as non-virtual YouTubers. The primary differences in that respect are where the focus lays, with virtual YouTubers making more of their money from different areas to regular YouTube. More merch and less Patreon. More Super Chat and less YouTube Partner Programme.

It should be noted, however, that while the top twenty or thirty virtual YouTubers generate a very hefty amount of revenue from their content, there is a very steep drop off after those top channels. There were around 30,000 virtual YouTubers at the start of 2020, and most of them weren’t making much—if any—money at all.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.

Categories
DEEP DIVE ARTICLE LISTS SOCIAL MEDIA YOUTUBE

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use?

Virtual YouTubing has been growing in popularity recently, with many new YouTubers opting to don a digital avatar to make their content rather than record their flesh-and-blood self. Naturally, an increase in popularity in something like this leads to… well, more popularity.

Still, while the reason for exponential levels of interest in virtual YouTubing may be obvious, the way that virtual YouTubing is done might not be. If you are scratching your head about how VTubers make their content, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’re going to take a look at the way these videos are made, and then we’ll highlight some of the most popular apps and programs that are used to do it. So, follow us down the rabbit hole!

What are VTubers? 2

What are VTubers?

Let’s start with the basics for anyone who’s landed on this post without knowing what a VTuber is. This is a topic that deserves an entire post of its own, so, we won’t dwell too long here.

VTubers are digital avatars that are animated by someone, with the videos being presented as though the digital persona is the one making the content. VTubers make more or less the same kinds of videos as their meat-counterparts—vlogs, reaction videos, etc.—with the significant exception that they are not constrained by mere physical reality.

They can look, however they want, they can do things like fly around the screen or spawn items out of thin air, and be in whatever setting they wish without having to go travelling.

There are many reasons someone might choose to be a VTuber, such as wanting to keep their real identity private, being camera shy, or just wanting to express themselves as something completely different to their everyday self.

What are VTubers? 1

How Does VTubing Work?

A common misconception by people who first discover virtual YouTube is that the videos are made similarly to the way that, say, a Pixar movie is made—with someone painstakingly animating each frame of the digital avatar to match up with the audio track and any other events that are happening in the clip. This is not the case. At least, not for the vast majority of VTubers out there.

Instead, the software is employed to capture the YouTuber’s movements through a webcam—or, in some cases, a virtual reality headset and controllers—and translate those movements onto the digital avatar.

In this way, the YouTuber is able to film a video relatively naturally, with them doing their part in front of a camera in much the same way a regular video would be filmed, while the software takes care of all the hard work of making the digital avatar copy the YouTuber.

If you have ever used one of those filters on apps like Snapchat that put a silly hat on your digital head or apply digital makeup to your digital face, this is more or less the same kind of technology.

It is possible that there are YouTuber’s out there animating digital avatars by hand. As good as the motion-tracking software that VTubers use is, it is still not perfect, and an experienced animator would undoubtedly get better results doing the whole thing by hand. Unfortunately, even an experienced animator would require a big ol’ chunk of time to do this, which is not practical for YouTube videos, especially when most of them work to upload schedules that include multiple videos per week. The motion-capture programs may not be perfect, but they are usually good enough.

Now, about those programs…

What Program do Virtual YouTubers Use?

When it comes to software for making virtual YouTube videos, there is a surprisingly large selection to choose from. Granted, not everything on this list was necessarily intended for this purpose, but that hasn’t stopped people from using them.

Many of my clients recommend Animaker to make VTuber videos – its easy to install, easy to learn and doesn’t require too much technical knowhow to master.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 1

Live2D

Live2D can be a little confusing at first as you might see it pop up in several places. Though there are dedicated applications—such as Live2D Cubism—it can help to think of Live2D as a plugin rather than a standalone application.

This is a way of animating digital avatars using layers of 2D artwork. For example, the eyes would be on a separate layer to the head, and by moving the eyes slightly, the technique gives the impression that the head has turned a little. In doing so, Live2D can create an impression of three-dimensional art without actually requiring a 3D model.

Live2D itself does not include a way to track real movements, such as through a webcam. For that, you will need additional software, or you could use an application that provides motion tracking functionality while incorporating Live2D, such as…

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 2

FaceRig

If Live2D is the technology that enables the virtual YouTuber scene, FaceRig is one of the applications that utilise that technology, though there is more to FaceRig than Live2D.

Using your webcam, this application tracks your head and facial movements and translates them to an onscreen digital avatar, which can be chosen from a wide selection of 3D and 2D characters. You can put your digital character in front of a selection of backgrounds, or just leave them over something plain or even green for future greenscreen effects. You can also process your voice so that the recorded video comes out with a voice to match your digital avatar.

FaceRig is limited in the sense that you can only control facial expressions and some limited head and upper body movement. That being said, the results are stunning, with some incredibly realistic visuals being possible through the app. There is also a budding community around the software, with many new digital avatars being created and shared.

FaceRig is available for a relatively modest sum—around $15 or £13—though there is a pro version that you will need to upgrade to if you make more than $500 per month from the content you make with the app.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 3

VTube Studio

Like FaceRig, VTube Studio is an application that provides head tracking functionality and makes use of Live2D technology. This application only provides the 2D style of digital avatar animation, but where it shines is its multi-platform nature.

VTube Studio is available on Android and iOS as well as Windows and macOS, adding an air of convenience to it. How practical it would be to make full-fat YouTube videos using the mobile app we couldn’t say, but many YouTubers make the occasional video or piece of content using their phone, and with VTube Studio, VTubers can do the same.

The app is free, though there is a watermark on any video produced by the free app. You would have to purchase the pro version to remove that watermark.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 4

Wakaru

Wakaru is essentially the same as VTube Studio in terms of features, though it has a different pedigree. Wakaru emerged out of the Japanese culture that brought about virtual YouTubing in the first place, and as such, has a special place in many VTuber’s hearts.

You can animate your 2D digital avatar using a webcam and via several in-app controls that will allow you to make your avatar do things like blink. There is no mobile app, though you can use your phone as a camera with the use of third-party apps that essentially turn your phone into a webcam.

Wakaru is free, though it should be noted that many users feel like the software has been abandoned at this point. That is not to say it is not useful, but don’t expect any cool new features to be added to it.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 5

VTuber Maker

The name, VTuber Maker, is a little misleading (and has led to a number of negative reviews as a result). It does not allow you to “make” VTubers—indeed, you have to pay to be able to import your own digital character—but it does allow you to animate digital avatars using your webcam, and it is free (importing avatars aside).

You can switch backgrounds, perform several predefined gestures, and the app even comes with a widget that creates a draggable version of your avatar that you can drop in the corner of the screen on top of whatever you are doing. Perfect for gaming streams.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 6

VRoid Studio

Unlike the above VTuber Maker, VRoid Studio does enable you to make your VTuber avatars. It is heavily geared towards the Japanese anime styles of avatar that dominate the VTuber space, but it has an incredibly easy to use interface that makes creating a professional-looking avatar attainable for even the most un-artistic of us out there.

It should be emphasised that this app is just for making the avatar, not animating it, and certainly not animating it with motion-capture technology. Currently, it is in beta and free to download, though we are not sure if it will remain free when it comes out of beta.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 8

VKatsu

VKatsu is a solid offering in the realm of animating digital avatars. It lets you create your avatar, choose from several predefined avatars, set the background, and more.

Now for the downsides. It is designed to work with VR headsets for motion-tracking, meaning you will need to own an expensive VR system to animate with your body. Also, it is Japanese-language only, which is fine if you’re Japanese, but most people who read this blog are not. And finally, it is in Early Access, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but if you check the FAQ about the game, it states that they hope to come out of Early Access in… 2018.

Still, it is free and very capable. If you have a compatible VR headset and speak Japanese (or don’t mind fiddling around with the controls to work out what they mean), this could be a useful application for you.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 9

VRChat

As the name suggests, VRChat is a virtual reality chat application, allowing users to assume the digital appearance of an avatar of their choosing and interact with other users in a virtual world.

The useful part here is that it features full lip-sync and eye-tracking functionality, as well as a range of motion-tracking. You can also use a range of gestures. VRChat isn’t designed for VTubers as such, but it can certainly be used that way.

What Programs do Virtual YouTubers Use? 10

Unity

Our last mention is a little unconventional. Unity is a popular free game engine that is used to make video games. Which is to say that it is geared towards video games—it is a very versatile platform that can be used for a wide range of things. The idea behind it is that you can develop your game or application taking advantage of Unity’s built-in capabilities, rather than having to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, be writing your own graphical rendering code. It is not something that the average computer user can just pick up and run with, but if you have any experience coding in C# or Javascript, or you have tried your hand at game development before, there are libraries available to handle things like lip-syncing and head tracking.

This is a niche option, but for those who can make use of it, you will have far more control over your digital avatar than any of the options above, since you will be able to add literally any feature you are capable of coding. It will also allow you to custom-tailor the features you have to suit your needs, rather than making do with the way someone else’s app works.

Unity’s free version is fully-featured, but the licensing states that you must purchase a license if you make over a certain amount of money per year from your projects made in Unity.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several options when it comes to picking out software and apps to help you bring your VTube dream to life. You may notice that most of the options on this list are either free or have a free version, so don’t be afraid to try them all out and find the one that works best for you.

Remember to check any licensing information regarding the software you choose, as the “pro” model—where you can use the app for free as long as you are not making more than a predetermined amount of money from your use of the app—is becoming increasingly popular.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.

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DEEP DIVE ARTICLE MARKETING SOCIAL MEDIA YOUTUBE

What are VTubers?

There have been several YouTube trends over the years, most following the same basic pattern of exploding onto the scene, being everywhere for a hot minute, and settling down into another corner of the platform. We’ve seen it with everything from Let’s Play YouTubers to Reaction YouTubers, and now we’re seeing it with VTubers, but what are VTubers?

A VTuber—or Virtual YouTuber—is a YouTuber that uses a digital avatar as their main onscreen persona, often using motion tracking software to directly translate their movements onto their digital avatar. This allows the VTuber to film themselves naturally as any regular YouTuber would, while still using the digital persona they have created.

Of course, we’re going to take a much closer look at this YouTube niche, as well as considering the reasons you might want to become a VTuber yourself – including a great way to make videos without showing your face.

What are VTubers?

A Brief History of VTubers

Originating in Japan, VTubers tend to present themselves as anime girls, using the likenesses of popular online artist’s work.

The earliest instance of what would become virtual YouTubing came from visual novel makers, Nitroplus, who started uploading videos that featured an animated 3D version of their mascot. This mascot would essentially make vlog videos about her life while also throwing in mandatory information about the companies upcoming releases and other news. It was a marketing ploy, after all.

However, VTubers were not a thing way back in 2010 when Nitroplus started making these videos, and the official first VTuber is widely considered to be Kizuna AI, who first appeared on the scene in 2016 and was the first to refer to herself as a virtual YouTuber. The main difference between Kizuna AI and the various similar channels that had come before her was that Kizuna AI was operated more like a typical YouTube channel in the content of the video and the fact that she responded to fans. It would take less than a year for her to reach two million subscribers.

The popularity of Kizuna could be put down to the fact that YouTube was wall-to-wall vloggers in front of webcams at the time, but whatever the reason, the immense popularity of the channel naturally led to a lot of similar channels popping up, and thus the VTuber trend began.

These days there are thousands of VTubers, and seven of the ten biggest Super Chat earners were VTubers. Clearly, there is a big market for this kind of video.

Is this sounds a little too weird for you but you still want to make videos on YouTube without showing your face, here are 12 YouTube Channel Ideas without showing your face without needing to be a cute, creepy anime animation.

What are VTubers? 1

How Are VTuber Videos Made?

As touched on above, VTubers do not manually animate their virtual avatars in the way that a company like Pixar might for their movies. That kind of thing had been done on YouTube before VTubers came along, but it is a lengthy process that requires a lot of skill and patience and is really not practical for something like a YouTube video, especially if the video is quite vlog-like in nature and intended to be uploaded on a similar schedule to those vlogs.

The majority of VTubers use motion capture applications like Live 2D, or FaceRig. These applications monitor the subject through their webcam, tracking facial and body movements and manipulating the digital avatar so that it, in turn, copies the movements. In this way, the VTuber can record their video naturally as though they were recording a regular on-camera video and use the footage outputted by the application for their video.

Why Anime?

Even a brief look into the world of VTubers will reveal that it appears to be almost entirely anime characters—a style of animation that originated in Japan. There may be some complicated social or psychological reason for this, but we’re not aware of any studies. Our best guess is that it is a kind of snowball effect—the first VTubers were anime characters, so it appealed to people who liked anime more.

That being said, the definition of a VTuber—if something like this can be said to have a definition—does not necessarily restrict the video content to Japanese anime characters. For example, AI Angel is a VTuber whose digital persona is that of a caucasian woman. AI Angel makes a range of types of videos from the perspective of being a real AI interacting with people on the Internet and trying “human” things, and has, at the time of writing this post, amassed over seven hundred thousand subscribers.

Granted, AI Angel is something of an outlier in the VTuber community, with the vast majority being firmly in the anime camp. But she does help to illustrate the fact that VTubers are not limited to anime if they don’t want to be.

What Kinds of Content do VTubers Make?

The type of content made by VTubers, unlike the visual style of the videos, is relatively open. For the most part, VTubers make videos in the style of whatever is popular—just like regular YouTubers. They do vlogs, reaction videos, gaming videos, etc.

There is, of course, a considerably lean towards the kinds of content that Japanese people are interested in, but that is only a byproduct of the space being predominantly made by and for Japanese people. As AI Angel has proved, you don’t need to limit yourself to that particular box.

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Is Being a VTuber Expensive?

When the prospect of specialist software is floating around, the question of cost is never far behind it. In terms of the software itself, the news isn’t too bad. You can find very inexpensive—even free in some cases—applications that will let you animate virtual avatars using your phone or computer. Of course, the more features and quality you want to incorporate into your videos, the more you will find yourself needing one of the more expensive apps. Still, even FaceRig is only around £13, with that price going up to £50 if you make over a certain amount of money per month from the use of FaceRig.

Where the real expense may come from, however, is the required hardware.

Video production is already an intensive thing as far as the required computer power goes, and it is even more demanding if you stream. Adding a layer of realtime motion capture and digital animation can put a real strain on your computer if it was only just keeping up before. This will especially be the case for people who are making gaming videos.

You may find that your recording computer needs upgrading or even replacing. Or you might find switching to a dual computer setup is necessary. This is where one computer handles the streaming and recording side of things, leaving your main computer free to do whatever it is you are doing.

Another area that might cost you is your recording setup. Motion capture software is improving all the time, and the degree to which software can track and replicate your three-dimensional movements from nothing but a flat video is, quite frankly, astounding. That being said, the motion capture software is only as good as the video it is capturing from.

If you have a cheap webcam or poor lighting in your recording space, you will probably find that the avatar animation software you are using struggles to accurately track your movements, and certainly your facial expressions.

It is somewhat ironic that to make videos where you are never onscreen; you may well need a more sophisticated and expensive recording setup to capture your image more accurately than you would need if you were just pointing a camera at yourself and talking to your audience.

How to Make Money on YouTube Without Showing Your Face

Is Being a VTuber the Right Choice for Me?

The first thing you should ask yourself is why you are considering it at all. Making YouTube videos just for the sake of making them will usually end up in failure. The good news is that the scope for what constitutes a good reason to make a YouTube channel is quite broad. You might just like playing with technology like the motion capture software VTubers use, and a YouTube channel could be an outlet for that passion. You could even have very little interest in making videos but like doing something that there is an audience for regardless. For example, there are many successful channels that play video games without any commentary or additional flavour, and people just tune in to watch them play.

Once you have decided what your channel is going to be about, the next step is deciding if the VTuber route is right for you. There are a few reasons you might want to throw on a digital avatar;

  • You are camera shy and don’t feel like you can get over it any time soon
  • You want or need to keep your real identity private
  • You want to express yourself in ways you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing as yourself.
  • You just think it’s cool

As the last point hopefully illustrated, there really is no limitation to why you might choose this method of making videos. Sure, if any of the above reasons apply to you, then you have additional reasons for taking the VTuber route, but, at the end of the day, you don’t need a good reason. It’s an artistic choice. It is far more important you have a good reason for making videos in the first place.

Copyrights and Trademarks

It probably doesn’t need saying, but in the interests of being thorough, we’re going to say it anyway. Trademarked and copyrighted characters and art should be avoided. It will only get your video struck by YouTube in the long run—especially if your videos become popular. This includes artwork by relatively unknown artists online. No matter how obscure the art, if it is not Creative Commons or Public Domain, and you have permission from the artist, you should steer clear.

Remember, the relationship between your digital persona and your audience is very similar—if not perhaps identical—to the relationship they would have with a regular flesh-and-bone YouTuber. If you have to change your digital avatar because of a copyright dispute, it will have a similar effect to how it would go down if a regular YouTuber just gave their channel to someone else and that person started making videos. People become attached to their favourite entertainers, even when those entertainers are digital.

If it is a somewhat unknown artist’s work, you want to use, ask for their permission, and be sure to keep a copy of their email in your inbox. If a large company owns the likeness you want to use, you may as well accept that it is not going to happen. You could still try, just don’t expect a favourable reply—if any.

What is YouTube CPM?

Is This a Passing Fad?

Keeping in mind that this is a guess based on the way things usually go down on YouTube; yes and no. Yes, it is almost certainly a trend that will die down a bit once it has peaked, but unlike a fad, it probably won’t go away once its time in the spotlight has passed. YouTube trends, as we mentioned above, tend to explode onto the scene, dominate everyone’s recommendations for a time, and then settle down into being another sub-community on the platform.

It is unclear how big this trend can get—perhaps it has already reached its peak—but it is worth noting that there is nothing inherently Japanese about the concept of a VTuber, and yet the majority of VTubers are Japanese. Now, this could speak to some sociological reason that western audiences aren’t interested in VTubers, but it would seem more likely that this disparity is because the western audience hasn’t caught on yet, which would, in turn, suggest that VTubing would be in for another big surge when they do.

Given that this is an English-language blog companion for an English-language YouTube channel, we’re going to assume that the majority of the readers are western. So, has this post inspired you to go out and start a VTube channel? Perhaps you could be in the vanguard of western VTubers, cementing yourself as one of the leading channels in the English-speaking VTube space.

Or perhaps you think it’s all a bit silly. Why not let us know in the comments?