Originating from Japan, virtual YouTubers (VTubers) aren’t exactly new to the content creating scene. They’ve been around since 2010 and their popularity has been gaining traction since 2016 when the pioneers of the genre entered the YouTube scene.
But there are multiple reasons behind their exponentially growing fame, which can differentiate for each viewer. While some people prefer VTubers over regular YouTubers simply because they like anime and the art style, some may be tuning in for the character development.
Each VTuber essentially portrays a character. Whether they’re simply being themselves on the camera or acting according to a background story they came up with, watching a VTuber feels like an anime itself. The avatars or the characters give VTubers a lot of space for creativity, allowing unique content to blossom.
Technically, becoming a VTuber isn’t that much different than being a regular one. It’d help if you still had a decent idea of what you want to do on your channel, though. Despite being theoretically similar, VTubing has a slightly higher barrier of entry due to equipment requirements.
Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a VTuber.
Get a decent gaming PC
While it’s possible to get away with a lot less, you’ll need at least a mid-tier gaming PC if you’re also looking to stream games. The more powerful your gaming rig is, the better the quality your stream will have.
Considering your PC will also need to allocate some resources for rendering your avatar, a high-tier gaming PC will make sure that you’ll have stable frame rates while streaming. Broadcasting your gameplay will also impact your overall performance in a game, so doing the two simultaneously on a low-tier PC can cause your stream quality to suffer.
A smooth watching experience will be key to retain most of your viewers. You aren’t out of options if you don’t have a rig that can do both, however. You can try turning off your avatar when you’re playing a game and turn it back on when you pause or take a break to interact with the chat.
Invest in a decent webcam and microphone
Before you even create your character, you’ll need to get a decent webcam to breathe life into your avatar. Without one, your avatar won’t be able to reflect small gestures and movement you may make and little details like that will matter.
A little smirk as a reaction can make the difference between making a moment on your stream memorable. Combining your webcam with a high-end microphone will also allow you to captivate your audience with your silky voice. Aside from making you sound clearer, a decent microphone will also eliminate most of the background noise and allow you to tinker with voice changing settings while still sounding somewhat natural. Upping your equipment game will also be beneficial when it comes to the business side of VTubing.
As you build an audience and achieve a certain retain ratio, you’ll eventually get on the radar of agencies and sponsors. A decent webcam can help you make an excellent first impression, bringing you one step closer to that partnership you’ve dreamed about.
Create or acquire an avatar
Before you kick off your first recording as a VTuber, you’ll need an avatar that will be the face of your channel. If you’re handy with graphic design, you can attempt to create one yourself through programs like Live2D. Though there are more alternatives on the market, Live2D is still one of the most accessible options among the more advanced avatar-creating software.
If you like the avatar quality and the art style of other programs but you can’t seem to figure out how to use them, you can also hire professionals through freelancing channels. Inform them about what you’d like to see in your avatar and even share some basic sketches that you may have on hand. These professionals can show you how to use your avatars to the best of their capabilities while recording, but asking for assistance during the setup process can also be charged separately.
You can still get an avatar done within hours with more user-friendly programs like VDroid. The quality of your avatar will be noticeably different than the ones created on more sophisticated programs, though. They won’t be worse per se, they’ll just look more default or basic.
VDroid mostly functions with templates, allowing you to do further customization if needed. Despite being more straightforward, you can still make advanced adjustments, like a hair redo, with the program.
There are countless guides on YouTube dedicated to each avatar-creation program. Using one of these tutorials during your first try is a good idea to keep you on the right track while creating your first avatar.
Use a facial cam software to transition your expressions into your avatar
If your avatar were to stand still without doing anything while streaming or in a video, it’d result in a boring experience for your viewers. You’ll need to bring your avatars to life like Pinnochio, and there are multiple alternatives you can try out to do this.
Trying out each of these programs will be the optimal course of action in most cases since they’ll all work differently with your avatar. All of them have different builds and areas that they’re the best at, meaning you may like one of them more than the others, depending on your observations. You can also turn which program you should be using into an event with your audience and create a piece of content with each of them to let your viewers decide which program you should be using in the future.
Facial cam softwares all come with their own tutorials and you’ll need to add your avatar to the program yourself alongside configuring your webcam and microphone. You’ll also be able to adjust your avatar’s posture and other similar settings through your facial cam software.
Set up your recording/streaming tool with your avatar
Once you create your avatar, you’re basically done with all the essentials of VTubing. The rest is basically the same as regular content creation and you’ll just need to start recording with your avatar on the screen.
Depending on the streaming software of your choice, doing this may be slightly different. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is one of the more popular streaming tools on the market and you’ll just need to add your facial cam software’s output on top of the screen you want to capture.
This will basically work as a picture-in-picture situation where you’ll be streaming two screens from your computer: the game or content you’d like to share and your avatar. If you can’t seem to figure out how to do this on your preferred recording platform, you can simply search for guides with keywords like “X recording program VTubing tutorial” or “How to stream two screens at once on X recording program?”
While most facial cam softwares work almost flawlessly, some may behave in unexpected ways when you’re off the screen. Chances are they’ll detect an empty frame and leave your avatar motionless until you come back, but they can also focus on an object in the background that has face-like motives. This may cause your avatar to make faces or jump around the corners of your screen at worst. Despite the fact that they can create clip-worthy moments and be fun for your audience, this may turn into something you’ll need to fix for the long term.
Consider shooting test clips and streams after you have everything set up and run different scenarios to see how your avatar behaves once you’re in front of your audience. Ironing out all the bugs before you actually get busy creating content will help you look more professional.