'Virtual YouTuber' Hoonie coming to Hong Kong

November 15, 2018 16:20
Ko Wen-je (L), mayor of Taipei, is seen in a video frame with VTuber Hoonie. As the virtual character gained popularity in Taiwan, it started appearing on TV programs and events in the real world. Photo: Oath

Of late, we have seen a new wave of virtual talents making their presence felt in the online entertainment scene in the region.

Called “virtual YouTubers,” or “VTubers”, the entertainers, represented by digital avatars that look like Japanese anime characters, are gaining traction on popular video-sharing websites.

Communication media company Oath, born out of Verizon's Yahoo! and AOL merger, introduced virtual celebrity Hoonie in the Yahoo TV Hoonie program last year.

With the character gaining huge popularity in Japan and Taiwan, plans are afoot now for capturing new markets.

Among other initiatives, the company is working on creating a Hong Kong version for VTubers, according to Bull Hsu, producer of the program.

Hsu told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that VTubers work quite similar to human YouTubers, such as recording themselves playing video games, singing and dancing, as well as interacting with viewers in live shows.

On the making of the VTubers, Hsu said he has to assign staff to set up devices and software systems to capture and control the voices for VTubers, and to operate the VTuber’s social media platform and monitor netizens’ interaction.

In addition, dynamic motion-capture and filming devices are deployed to construct smooth gestures and complex movements, he added.

While VTubers like Hoonie feature in YouTube as their main playing field, Hsu said Hoonie also holds live events such as comic expo in the real world and has started appearing on advertisements.

Hoonie has now cumulated about 30,000 followers on online social platforms. The monthly number of viewers is about 50,000, with half coming from Japan, according to Hsu.

Pioneering in the virtual key opinion leader (KOL) phenomenon, there are about 5,000 VTubers in Japan, according to Hsu.

When a VTuber reaches a certain pool of fan base, we will see the character endorsing larger brands, he said.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 9

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal