At the just-concluded 2021 Jiangsu Satellite TV New Year’s Concert, virtual Teresa Teng and singer Zhou Shen sang together on the same stage, realizing cross-era cooperation, and this is not just “Teng Lijun”, Bilibili, Dragon TV and many other Virtual people appeared at the New Year’s Eve party, and the digital host “Xiao Yang” also made a public appearance on Hunan Satellite TV’s new variety show on the first day of the new year.
After the virtual beauty expert “Liu Yexi” gained 8 million followers in a short period of time with 6 small videos and became a phenomenon-level blogger on Douyin, ByteDance also completed its first virtual field in 2022. Financing: Li Weike, the virtual human , the metaverse boom in 2021 has not yet faded, and the virtual human track seems to have ushered in a new climax .
Another thing that deserves attention Occupation, they provide players with avatar face design, and these designers are called “game face pincers”.
But now, with the rise of the concept of the metaverse, these avatars created by face pinch artists have more application scenarios and have entered the lives of more users.
According to the “Virtual Digital Human Depth Industry Report”, the overall market size of China’s virtual digital human will reach 270 billion yuan by 2030 , which means that there will be more virtual human beings with different images, different functions and different scenarios in the future. . Compared with celebrities who have the risk of “rolling over”, virtual people will be more controllable as brand spokespersons, but why are virtual people so attractive and become the hottest investment track in the beginning of the year? For this reason, we need to talk about the source of virtual people. rise.
What is a virtual person?
Generally speaking, a virtual person refers to the construction of a virtual image similar to a real person on a computer through graphics rendering, motion capture, deep learning and other tools, and they have similar performance, movement and behavior as humans.
In a broad sense, virtual human and digital human refer to anthropomorphic images simulated by modern computers. But virtual humans are more realistic in appearance and can also interact, while digital humans exist in a binary digital world. In short, a virtual human is to create a digital image in people’s imagination through high-tech technology .
The virtual person “Teng Lijun” mentioned at the beginning of our article has appeared on the stage of Jay Chou’s concert in 2013; and the well-known Hatsune Miku debuted as a virtual idol in 2007. Therefore, the development process of virtual human can be traced back to the 1980s. So far, we can divide the whole process into four stages.
- The first stage (1980-1999)
Japanese otaku culture emerged in the 1980s, and people began to introduce virtual tasks into the real world after a large number of anime fan magazines appeared . Due to the limitations of the production technology at that time, in the case of hand-painting, the application was extremely limited, and the image was relatively simple.
In the budding stage of this virtual human, the heroine Lin Mingmei in the Japanese animation “Macro Stronghold” in 1982 was packaged by the producer as a singer who sang the animation episode, and produced a music album. It can be said that Lin Mingmei is the number one in the world. A virtual singer.
Subsequently, in 1984, the British George Stone created a virtual human named Max Headroom, which not only resembled humans in appearance and facial expressions, but also participated in movies and commercials, but these were made through special effects of real actors and makeup. Hand drawn.
- The second stage (2000-2014)
In the early 21st century, CG technology, motion capture technology, speech synthesis technology, etc. were developed, while traditional hand-painting was gradually replaced. With the addition of these technologies, virtual humans are more similar to humans in appearance, movement, voice and expression, thus possessing a more vivid and rich image.
From this, virtual people began to enter the film and television entertainment industry , such as the character Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” in 2001; in 2007, the Japanese-made girl idol “Hatsune Miku”; in 2012, the virtual singer “Luo Tianyi” created by Shanghai Henian. However, due to the immature development of CG and motion capture technology, the entire virtual human market has not yet opened up, and the presentation form is relatively rough.
- Phase III (2015-2019)
With the acceleration of the digitalization process and the rise of artificial intelligence and big data, the virtual human driven by intelligence has ushered in further development. Not only has there been further breakthroughs in the technical level, but the forms that virtual humans can present have more diverse scenes.
In 2016, Kizuna Ai opened the first anchor channel on YouTube and officially debuted as the first Vtuber (Virtual YouTuber, ie virtual anchor). This also formally established the beginning of the concept and culture of virtual anchors .
In 2018, Xinhua News Agency and Sogou jointly released the “AI synthetic anchor”, which can broadcast news in front of the screen with a virtual image. In 2019, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Baidu jointly released the digital employee “Xiaopu”. Thanks to the advancement of technology, in addition to providing viewers with richer visual enjoyment in the field of entertainment and film, virtual humans can also play a role in the service industry.
- Phase 4 (2020-present)
Driven by the social entertainment industry, capital has increased investment in the field of virtual humans, and the rise of short video platforms and live broadcast models has highlighted the commercial value of virtual humans. Virtual idol groups, virtual idol KOLs, star avatar virtual idols, virtual brand spokespersons, etc., the diversified development models have also brought considerable economic benefits.
The concept of the metaverse will explode in 2021, and virtual humans are an important part of the metaverse. Many Internet giants take this as an entry point and enter the virtual human race one after another. For example, the Brazilian & Spanish mixed-race girl Miquela Sousa, the Tmall super brand digital manager AYAYI and the national style girl Ling Ling.
It can be said that the “virtual human era” is rapidly approaching with the metaverse, and virtual humans will integrate more scenes and fields in the future.
What is the value of virtual people?
We are very accustomed to the interaction between real people, and the popularity of virtual people will bring a new experience.
Virtual humans can break the time limit and allow users to have more diversified feelings. For example, the Jiangsu Satellite TV New Year’s Eve concert mentioned above used the most advanced technology to synthesize the virtual human of the classic singer Teresa Teng, and performed on the same stage with the popular singer Zhou Shen. This time-traveling concert awakened the audience to the past The memories made people hear the Queen of Sweet Songs sing a new song and experience a novel feeling.
For another example, virtual humans can also allow us to reunite with our deceased relatives, express our sincerity to each other, and even serve as a good means of psychotherapy . In a documentary “Meet You” on MBC Korea in 2020, a mother used VR to meet her deceased daughter, fulfilling her wish for many years.
Not only that, virtual humans can also break through the shackles of space and allow more people to interact together. Virtual concerts are a major use case. In April 2021, the world-renowned musician Travis Scott will join hands with Epic Games to perform in its well-known game ” “Fortress Night” held a grand virtual concert, and at the same time, 27.7 million people participated in this event. Not only did they experience novelty, but also allowed the audience to participate in the interaction at close range, and the communication effect was improved compared with offline concerts. hundred times.
- Virtual idols are less likely to “collapse” than real stars
Recently, some celebrities who have been famous for many years suddenly broke the black material, “collapsed houses” one after another, making many fans sigh, bluntly wasted time, and lived up to the feelings they have paid for many years. The companies and capital parties that cooperated with them also terminated their cooperation to draw a line, but they could only reluctantly accept the huge losses caused by it.
Under such circumstances, virtual idols have begun to emerge, and their interesting, lively and rich images have been liked by many young people. The virtual idol girl group created by A-SOUL, a subsidiary of ByteDance, is quietly becoming popular at station B. Among them, One member Jiaran (ID: Jiaran what to eat today) also won the honor of Bilibili’s 2021 Top 100 UP Master this week.
Although virtual idols are artificially designed images, the real actors behind them will make us feel the unique personality charm behind each character, and the appearance of virtual idols is often planned and arranged, so there is no need to worry about real stars. The collapse of the house happened, so that everyone can feel at ease like these characters.
The characteristics of virtual idols, which are popular and do not have to worry about collapse, have also attracted the attention of capital and enterprises. Some fashionable companies have begun to cooperate with virtual idols for promotion, and capital has also deployed virtual idols. For a while, virtual idols quickly evolved from a niche to a mainstream trend, ushering in a small craze .
- Virtual anchors become the sweet pastry in the field of live broadcast
The number of users in China’s online live broadcast industry has exceeded 600 million, and the users are mainly young people, with nearly 80% of users under the age of 30. Watching live broadcasts is becoming a common pastime for young people, and anchoring is becoming a popular career and a side hustle for many.
However, due to introversion, fear of real people appearing on the screen, and concerns about privacy, many anchors often do not appear in real people, and can only listen to their words and hear their voices, which greatly reduces the interactivity and affects the live broadcast effect.
However, in recent years, some avatar software such as Facerig have become popular quietly, and some anchors have begun to try to use such software to capture their real movements and expressions and present them on the live broadcast page in the form of avatars. Much more fun and more interactive.
With the avatar, many anchors can fully show their interesting soul to the audience without worrying about appearance, privacy and other issues, which greatly improves the live broadcast effect .
This naturally attracts more and more anchors to use avatars. Subsequently, such as Huya and other live broadcast platforms, the editing software of station B, Bijian, also began to provide the function of virtual images, and virtual anchors are becoming a favorite in the field of live broadcast.
- The explosion of the metaverse brings more imagination to virtual people
In 2021, the concept of the metaverse has been widely spread, and many companies and capitals have realized that building a virtual world that can interact with reality is an important direction for future development, and virtual humans are the constituent elements of the virtual world. Therefore, the explosion of the metaverse also brings more usage scenarios and future imagination space for virtual humans .
For example, each of us needs an avatar to represent ourselves in the metaverse, and different avatars may represent our different personalities. Just as there are medical beauty companies and hairdressing companies in reality, we have the need to change ourselves. In the metaverse, there may also be virtual human stylists and so on. Of course, face pinching is just a transitional profession.
Virtual humans may also interact with some well-known brands . For example, Nike acquired a virtual sneaker company PTFKT in 2021. If virtual humans can wear virtual shoes, then by analogy, a lot of virtual machines will be derived around virtual humans. The usage scenario of the product.
Of course, there is not necessarily a real person behind the virtual human. If combined with artificial intelligence, the virtual human may be transformed into an NPC (non-player character) that is enough to look fake. If it cooperates with a metaverse with a unique background, such as the Chinese martial arts background Universe, combined with some intelligent virtual human NPCs, then we will get a more immersive experience when we experience such a metaverse.
The metaverse provides more scenes for virtual humans, and virtual humans can enrich the metaverse. The two complement each other. With the rise of the metaverse, businesses and users around virtual humans will become more prosperous.
Which companies are currently deploying virtual people?
Virtual humans, also known as “avatars” and “metahumans,” play a vital role in the metaverse.
Looking back at the deployment of virtual humans by major companies in the past year, it is not difficult to find that the popularity of virtual humans is not the so-called “unforgettable meeting in a thousand years”, but “Dapeng rises with the same wind in one day, soaring to 90,000.” “In the virtual human field, after several years of accumulation and accumulation, it finally left its name in history in a real sense in 2021 .
Of course, these astonishing achievements are inseparable from the unremitting efforts of pioneers. Let us sort out the well-known companies that have deployed virtual people and get a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg in the world of virtual people.
The most important news in the Metaverse in 2021 is Facebook’s “all in” of the Metaverse. As Meta (Facebook’s new name), which has completely transformed into a Metaverse company, virtual humans are an important part of it. topic. Although the “avatar” we see in Horizon Worlds, which will be released at the end of Meta 2021, is just a cartoon avatar with only the upper body.
But in fact, Meta’s Facebook Reality Labs Pittsburgh branch has been researching virtual human technology as early as 2015, and later launched a virtual human project called “Codec Avatars” , using what is called “breakthrough 3D capture technology” and AI systems” to generate lifelike avatars, providing the basis for the quick and easy production of personal avatars in the future. The addition of Codec Avatars technology to the metaverse in the future represents a major leap in immersion.
When we were shocked by Facebook’s desperate gamble, Chuangyi Technology ignited the enthusiasm of the entire network with Liu Yexi, who has distinct ancient cyberpunk characteristics.
Subsequently, AYAYI of Burning Mai Technology joined Ali and became the digital manager of Tmall Super Brand Day. Nishi Xiaoshi, lmma, and Axi appeared one by one, the virtual human beings loved by everyone, which made ordinary users have a strong interest in virtual human.
In fact, as early as the GDC (Game Developers Conference) in 2018, the Epic Unreal Engine invested by Tencent showed the prototype Siren of Metahuman. And in February 2021 it announced a new Unreal Engine authoring tool “Metahuman Creator” so that everyone can create a foundation within a few minutes of virtual people .
In just three years, from Siren to “Metahuman Creator”, the virtual human has changed from an experimental concept to a “product” that can be mass-manufactured. At present, many virtual humans have been born around the world. Epic Game has contributed greatly No.
And before we have recovered from the huge shock brought by the virtual engine, NVIDIA released the Omniverse Avatar, a technology platform for generating interactive AI avatars, which made us realize again that “the future has come, but we haven’t noticed it yet.” This collection of NVIDIA The platform of the most advanced technologies in speech, vision, natural language understanding, recommendation engine and simulation simulation, etc., gives ordinary people the entrance to the metaverse world.
But whether Facebook, Epic Games, or Nvidia seem to be technology companies, is virtual human just a technology company’s layout for the future? But in fact, it’s not.
XiaoIce, a subsidiary of Microsoft, has created a new interactive form of artificial intelligence XiaoIce, which has captured a large number of fans with the phrase “among hundreds of millions of people, I only belong to you” . Sogou AI open platform creates the second dimension of stars. Taosman, based on Huang Zitao, and AI synthetic anchor “Xin Xiaowei” let everyone see another possibility of idols. Baidu’s virtual host Xiaoling for CCTV makes everyone For the first time, I felt the charm of artificial intelligence.
The elegant and friendly virtual anchor of the Winter Olympics, Li Weike, a new virtual person invested by ByteDance, Hua Zhibing, a virtual student officially enrolled in Tsinghua University, and the virtual idol girl group A-SOUL jointly launched by Lehua Entertainment and ByteDance, Listed companies Tianzhou Culture, Chinese Online and Aofei Entertainment have also launched their own digital virtual people… The endless emergence of virtual people marks the entry of startups and large factories, and capital has also responded.
As of January 2022, there have been 13 investments related to virtual digital people, focusing on companies such as virtual digital people, virtual idols and related technologies in the field of pan-entertainment. There are 10 related investments in 2020 and 6 related investments in 2019. pen .
On the whole, the initial industrial chain of virtual humans has emerged. At this moment, countless virtual humans are still being born, and the companies that develop them seem to be slowly changing the world.
What changes will virtual humans bring in the future?
Although we can see with the naked eye that virtual humans are becoming a hot track in 2022, the vitality displayed by virtual humans may still be just a “glance of green hills”, far from the real growth period, and for the future of virtual humans Development, we can see clues from some of the current changes, from which we see more commercial value and development space. The following is our thinking.
- As the Z era enters the society, virtual humans will usher in a broader market
Just like the “face pinching game” we mentioned above, its users are basically young people (born between 1995-2009) who we call “Z generation”, and this is also the same as Hatsune Miku or Luo Tianyi in the early years. core fans.
Therefore, we can foresee that as the Z generation gradually enters the society and becomes the main force of consumption, along with the development of virtual people, we will see their “time idols” , just like 80/90 still like Jay Chou.
Of course, some people may wonder if virtual idols can really replace some real stars. In the previous Gen Z report, there was such a description: 68% of Gen Z prefer apps to socialize more than real people, and 61% of Gen Z avoid contact Phone, 63% of Gen Z enjoy loneliness, maybe the data has told us what the future will bring, it just hasn’t arrived or popular.
- The Metaverse accelerates the explosion of the industry, and we will all become “virtual humans”
Although we cannot see its relationship with the metaverse from the definition of virtual human, we are habitually attributing virtual human to the metaverse, and even think that the explosion of the metaverse in 2021 has made virtual human red. After all, virtual human Or the virtual idol as the foothold of the metaverse seems to be a more reliable way of expression at the moment.
But if we put the definition of virtual humans into space to broader, like Soul so that everyone has a virtual image of itself represents a virtual person, just a symbol of our own incarnation of this character only, thus want to go through, If the metaverse matures, each of us will become a “virtual person” and will have a new role in the metaverse .
Therefore, the future virtual human is not only a part of the industrialization of live broadcast or star career, but also the incarnation of our entry into the metaverse.
- From the perspective of “Out of Control Player”, AI + virtual human may change the current form of network services
In “Out of Control Player”, the protagonist itself is a virtual person, but the difference is that this virtual person has the attributes of AI (artificial intelligence), so it appears to be closer to real people in daily life. Just imagine, if AI develops to a certain stage in the future, When this ability is given to the virtual human, it will become a brand new “life”.
Maybe in the future, our network service providers will be these “intelligent virtual people”, who have certain thinking ability, have their own image, and can even make some decisions, instead of being a cold customer service image .
During the “two sessions” in 2021, an AI virtual person named “i+” appeared in front of everyone. She served as a virtual assistant for the two sessions and was able to interact with people and answer some questions about the two sessions. , Perhaps this kind of virtual person will usher in a further soaring in 2022, and will become a new form of network service after that.
- Virtual people enter more fields and gradually enter public life
Finally, we will see virtual people enter more and more fields, whether it is virtual human live broadcast, virtual idol, virtual human service, with the accelerated deployment of capital, the presentation of some virtual people will also show different vitality. , especially virtual people like “Liu Yexi” will be known to more people, and even more “Liu Yexi” will be born.
If it is said that at the 2021 Jiangsu Satellite TV New Year’s Concert, the famous singer Zhou Shen and the late superstar “Teng Lijun” sang “Small Town Story” on the same stage to draw an end to 2021, then for virtual people, it is the opening of 2022. beginning.
The Pandora’s Box about virtual humans has been opened, and we can’t close it at present, it will only intensify and enter more of our production and life .
Virtual humans have undoubtedly become another hot topic in the technology circle at the beginning of 2022. We have seen more and more companies joining or entering the virtual human race, and many brands have cooperated with virtual human-related technology companies. People, this is not only an improvement of its own brand, but also a move towards young users. Such a trend has now formed.
Of course, we have also seen some people worry that the appearance of virtual humans will disrupt everyone’s perception of “human”, but when we look back at the development of science and technology, in addition to innovation and creation, we also have an important skill of “bionics”, that is, imitation The functions and behaviors of biological systems are used to build technical systems. Our common planes and ships are created through bionic imitation, and we are just bionic humans themselves.
Therefore, the emergence of virtual humans can be said that we are creating the future, or that we are creating another “self”, which also extends the definition of the metaverse: creating another parallel world .
The torch of the virtual human in 2022 has been lit, and it will not go out for a while, but we should think about where it will go in the end, and how much energy will it explode?
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/the-hottest-investment-track-in-2022-is-actually-what-commercial-value-is-hidden-behind-virtual-humans/
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