I hadn't ever heard the term "Vtube" before I read this post on Polygon about a Twitch streamer experimenting with Vtubing.
But midway through September, the popular Twitch streamer debuted a pastel-colored 3D anime model of herself, which was rigged to follow her real-life movements.
Vtubing is just that - using a virtual software generated bot in place of your face on a webcam. It moves like you move thanks to tracking software on your phone.
A quick Google search lead me to VTube Studio which looks to be free, open source software designed to allow anyone with a Face ID equipped iPhone and a Mac to use it as a camera to track their faces movements. Eyes, mouth, and head movements all seem to be trackable with some pretty advanced options for customizing tracking.
I right away thought of my experience using Reincubate's Camo as demonstrated in this video on my YouTube channel and how software like that could easily* integrate with VTube Studio to provide the best of both worlds.
If your first reaction to this is something along the lines of "that's creepy and weird - why would someone want to look like a anime character?" then you've never had the experience of being a woman online trying to just do the creative, fun things guys can do without harassment or comments on their looks. From the Polygon article:
...in the past, Pokimane has been criticized for daring to do livestreams without any makeup, an expectation that lays bare just how much pressure livestreamers face when it comes to looks. For some, it’s not enough that a Twitch streamer is entertaining; you have to show your face, and you have to look good while doing it. The demand is especially excruciating for women, who are frequently judged on sex appeal.
I was helping a friend with some questions she had about live streaming - want to hire me to answer questions about podcasting or live streaming? Go here! - and she frequently asked questions about how to moderate comments, and how often she gets comments on her looks when what she's doing is teaching on a topic she's extremely knowledgable about. Something that her appearance has zero bearing on. A virtual character representing the streamer's actual appearance seems like a great way** to get rid of that issue.
- *Easily being relative to someone's ability to program of course.
- **An even better way would be for dudes to stop commenting on a woman's appearance. But we all know that's not happening anytime soon.