VTubers are shaping up to be the future of online entertainment. They have a rapidly growing community with dedicated fan bases all over the world. Big-time VTubers get millions of views per video or stream which as we know in the internet generation equates to lots of money. With technology advancing and becoming more available to the public, independent VTubers are popping up all over the place.
However, nothing is free. So many people wonder how much it actually costs to become a VTuber. Today we’re going to break down what expenses and investments will look like to get a VTuber career off the ground.
What Are VTubers?
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A good place to start is at the beginning. For those who are unfamiliar VTuber stands for Virtual YouTuber. This term was coined by the first VTuber Kizuna AI who created the formula for success in this industry. The virtual part describes their appearance and existence. They are virtual avatars that are controlled by a person using motion-tracking software. This enables the avatar to mimic their movements, mannerisms, and expressions in real time to appear more lifelike.
Similar to any other YouTuber personality, VTubers have polarising personas that millions of people tune in to watch religiously. They make content such as Let’s Plays, vlogs, and reaction videos, and stream various different activities. The freedom that VTubers have is quite remarkable which is why many content creators are opting to go down this route.
Being a VTuber has essentially allowed people to remain anonymous, and have more confidence and self-expression in videos, whilst still receiving the adoration and money that a real-life internet personality would.
If you want to start your VTubing career you will have to make an initial investment. Some people choose to invest long hours into learning how to create everything themselves. This is certainly a rewarding and cheaper approach. Especially as the old saying goes “You want something done right, you have to do it yourself”. However, not everyone has the time and energy to invest in learning all of the various skills that it takes to set up a VTuber stream. This is when expenses come into play.
Without any further ado let’s get into the costs.
1. VTuber Model
A VTuber model is the avatar that appears on the screen when the creator is performing. As you can imagine, a lot of time and money goes into creating these VTuber models as they are essentially the online identity that the VTuber will be known as. Creating a VTuber model requires a number of skills like graphic design, 3D modeling, and animation which the average Joe might not have experience with.
Because of this, acquiring a VTuber model is mainly done by commissioning a professional artist to create one. VTubers pay artists to work closely alongside them and create a fully functional VTuber model within their specifications. Commissions can be found in places like Fiverr and Etsy where you can hire freelancers. Sometimes, you can run into scammers on these sites who will provide you with broken or plagiarised avatars.
On the other hand, places like VTuberArt and Twitter have been known to be a lot more reliable. Independent Twitter artists can be very talented but their commissions often fill up quickly due to high demand. This means long waiting lists for you. However, VTuberArt has a dedicated team of artists which cover all commissions without charging an arm and a leg.
This brings us to the actual cost. A 2D VTuber avatar can cost anywhere between $200 – $2000 depending on the specifications of the commissions and the artist that is designing it. There are many variables to consider like animations, expressions, outfits, and the size of the avatar which can all incur additional costs.
For a 3D VTuber model, however, we’re looking at $500 – $3000. Some 3D VTuber models have been known to go for as much as $5000 but this is obviously the exception. The reason why 3D avatars cost so much more is they require 3D modeling and rigging which can be extremely infuriating and time-consuming. Given that 3D models have movement in three-dimensional space they’re often more complicated to animate.
2. Streaming Equipment
Running VTuber software and streaming isn’t the most intense thing for a PC to run. However when we couple this with high-intensity video games with lots of rendering, then we might need a more solid build if we want to maintain a steady 60fps. The last thing that viewers want to tune into is a laggy, glitchy VTuber stream. There are plenty of guides out there on building the perfect streamer setup, most of them explain that you can get a decent build for around $600 – $700. If you’ve got money to blow then you can pick up a high-end pre-built system for $1200 – $1500.
Being a VTuber might give off the impression that you need a fancy state-of-the-art camera. But on the contrary, most motion tracking software that VTubers use is compatible with a simple webcam. Something like a NexiGo N60 1080P which can be picked up for $30 is perfectly fine for facial tracking, upper body movement, and lipsynching. The only downside is that it will require good lighting but ring lights are around $10 on Amazon.
The only time that you’re likely to run into additional costs is if you plan on having full-body tracking for your VTuber or individual digit control. This is more common amongst 3D VTubers and requires equipment such as Leap motion controllers which cost roughly $160.
3. VTuber Software
Image source: https://ignitemedia.blog/
For the most part, VTuber software is free to use and most creators can get away with using the free versions. VTuber software generally includes things like motion tracking, background rendering tools, and even certain things for the creation and editing of your VTuber model. However, the high-end tracking software the professionals use tends to come with monthly subscriptions or even require payments depending on your channel revenue.
The popular VTuber tracking software Luppet charges their users 6,000–209,800 JPY for various versions of the application. This averages out to be around $40 – $1400 so it’s not as bad as it sounds. VTuber Maker, another big VTuber application great for streaming is completely free but charges their users $7.30 to remove the watermark whilst streaming.
VTubing is a fun and lucrative hobby to get into. There are always ways to cut corners and reduce costs but ultimately you get what you pay for. If you want to create a high-quality VTuber stream it will cost an initial investment but the rewards can be tenfold if you can make it big time!