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Netflix has recently joined Japan’s rising virtual Youtuber or V-tuber bandwagon in an attempt to promote its growing library of anime streaming content via an animated character.

The character goes by the name of N-ko, a ‘sheep-human lifeform”, is Netflix’s creation in line with the growing trend of V-tubers, characters that are animated by motion-capture that have an appeal similar to human Youtubers with dancing, singing, and interacting with audiences.

According to a video uploaded on April 27, the character is a motion capture of an employee and created to introduce weekly anime content on Netflix’s YouTube channel. 

Streaming Services Competition

Netflix and other streaming services giants are continuously scavenging for new content which turns them into anime because the global market is saturated with anime-lovers and the streaming services want to exploit this by spoiling local subscribers with anime content to secure them.

straits times spoke to Netflix Co-CEO Theodore Sarandos, “Japanese anime and Korean drama “play really well around the region as well as in-country and occasionally could be very, very global in their interest and desire.”

Anime is one of the industries that benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic because of the people relying on streaming services for entertainment. The horror fantasy show Demon Slayer broke domestic records and has a reported strong opening weekend in the United States.

Most Popular V-tuber

Probably the most famous V-tuber right now is Kizuna Ai, and she is a digital anime-style Youtube personality amassing two million subscribers in her channel. She was deemed as the most-watched virtual Youtube personality.

Kizuna Ai is only a part of the growing trend of V-tubers on Youtube, replacing human influencers with 3D avatars to promote brands and becoming celebrities themselves amassing fanbases. 

The popularity of the technology even prompted one company to invest millions in “virtual talent” and talent agencies will handle these avatars. This trend clearly has a huge impact in the future as it will change the way we promote brands and products and how we will be the user experience in the future market will be like.

Another company that joined the 3D avatar phenomenon is Apple with its launching on its Animoji feature where people can scan their faces and can create an animated avatar that utilizes their facial expressions.

Behind The Technology

The technology behind the V-tuber phenomenon is kept secret by some companies while others are more transparent. So here’s how it works, an actor is hired as a stand-in to be filmed with motion trackers on his body. While the actor is moving, the software is recording his body movements and facial expressions and translating them into the movements of an animated character, which can be rendered with a background from a green-screen studio.

A professional voice actor then voices the character or a human vlogger can voice his speech. 

Rising Concerns

There are some concerns that this technology might replace human influencers in the future. American YouTubers Rhett & Link addressed these concerns over the virtual Youtubers in their vlog with 2.5 million views. They voiced their concerns that these avatars might replace human vloggers in the future. 

This may not be far fetched but it may not be happening soon as vlogging is the cheapest form of advertising. All you have to do is open the camera, speak, and post, as opposed to the more complex studio process in creating Youtube 3D avatars.
This trend may not be a global trend yet as it is mostly isolated right now in Japan but who knows what will happen next. With the rise of this trend attracting global companies like Netflix with their N-ko V-tuber avatar, this might have a domino effect in the future like casino royale.