Virtual idols are very popular among young people today.

According to iiMedia Research, among Chinese virtual human enthusiasts, young people between the ages of 19 and 30 account for 63.4%.

At the same time, 37.2% of the interviewed netizens spend a monthly amount of 200 yuan or less for virtual characters, and 24.8% of the interviewed users expressed their willingness to spend more money to support virtual characters.

  Chen Duan, director of the Digital Economy Integration Innovation Development Center of Central University of Finance and Economics, believes that the rise of virtual idols has actually robbed the traffic of real idols, and some aspects may even replace them in the future.

"Seeing how cute and beautiful she is every day makes me feel satisfied and in a good mood," said Chen Guo (pseudonym), a post-00s female college student. "It's not easy to chase after 'collapsed houses'."

  According to the "2022 Virtual Human Industry Research Report" released by Sutu Metaverse Research Institute, the three major factors for users to become virtual idol fans are virtual human image, content quality and character setting, and the proportion of the population is 72.8% and 62.3% respectively. % and 59.7%.

What kind of virtual idols are young people looking forward to?

Why do virtual idols "circle fans"?

  Do you love "skin" or "soul"?

  At this stage, when it comes to virtual idols, there is always one term that cannot be avoided, namely "people in the middle" (from the Japanese "people in the middle", which generally refers to the actor behind the virtual anchor - reporter's note).

Generally speaking, the "people in the middle" will wear sensors, and according to the character settings of the virtual anchor, they will perform in the image of virtual idols in the live broadcast, or sing, dance or chat, and realize real-time interaction through motion capture technology.

  The recent hotly debated virtual idol A-SOUL incident has made the debate about "love 'skin' or 'soul'" raging for a while.

This virtual idol group consisting of 5 members was launched in November 2020. Unlike the early digital virtual singers such as "Hatsune Miku", which were created by relying on sound libraries, it adopted the "middle man + leather case" model. It has more than 20 million fans on the whole network every year.

  However, in May of this year, A-SOUL's official account suddenly announced that due to academic and physical reasons, its member "Jia Le" will enter "live broadcast dormancy", terminating daily live broadcasts and most idol activities.

Later, it was revealed that the "people in Jiale" were suspected of having low income, long-term overtime work and even being bullied in the workplace. With the continuous fermentation of public opinion, the key issue of whether "people in the middle" became fans is to leave or stay.

  In the past, there was a popular saying among the fan groups of star artists: "Starting with appearance, focusing on talent, and being loyal to character." Now, this sentence is also applied to virtual idols.

"Using AI to do live broadcasts is ultimately a string of codes." Andy (pseudonym), a post-95s student, is a senior fan. He believes that "people in the middle" have given warmth to virtual idols, and will make fans attracted by their appearance truly "stay".

  Take "Kangai", one of the early representatives of virtual idols as an example. It opened a channel on a video website at the end of November 2016 and gained about 400,000 fans within 4 months. After planning and trying to increase the number of "people in the middle", fans were very dissatisfied and expressed that they only recognized the original "people in the middle". During the year-long dispute, a large number of fans left.

  A reporter from China Youth Daily and China Youth Daily randomly interviewed many fans and found that emotional words such as "accompany", "communication" and "friend" were frequently mentioned. In the eyes of many fans, the "skin" and "soul" of virtual idols "Only by being one can we become a vivid character with flesh and blood.

  "Unlike real idols, the communication between virtual idols is real-time and two-way." Andy said that virtual idols ultimately serve the emotional needs of human beings.

Chen Guo mentioned that it was the virtual anchor who chatted and interacted with her, and accompanied her through the "gloomy moments" when preparing for the postgraduate entrance examination. "I have regarded them as my friends."

  Therefore, referring to the behavior of "opening the box" (referring to the exposure of the actual identity of the "people in the middle" - reporter's note), Andy said: "Many times we naturally know the situation of the "people in the middle", but in order to protect They, everyone will not open it on the table." And for the few acts of publishing the ID information and address of "Zhongzhiren", Chen Yuan, a senior equity partner of Beijing Yingke (Shanghai) Law Firm, said that this is an infringement on individuals. Privacy and personal information security practices.

  Chen Yuan emphasized that the violation of privacy rights is a case of private prosecution. For the above-mentioned infringements, "Zhongzhiren" can first interact and negotiate with fans to let fans stop the above-mentioned illegal acts; If the infringer is required to undertake the cessation of the infringement, restore the reputation, eliminate the impact, and make an apology, and cause losses to himself, he may demand compensation for the losses.

If a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility may be pursued.

  The "ceiling" of virtual idols

  Do virtual idols look more realistic and more popular?

Chen Duan did not agree.

She pointed out that virtual idols are "a combination of high technology and art". In terms of appearance, they pursue hyper-realistic facial expressions, movements and voices to make them closer to real idols and bring users a more natural and realistic immersive experience. It is worth affirming, but this may instead trigger the "uncanny valley" effect of human beings.

  This theory was proposed by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970.

He believes that at first, humans will have positive emotions for robots that are similar in appearance and actions to humans, but when the similarity reaches a certain level, humans will have a stiff and terrifying feeling when they perceive the subtle differences between them and real people, resulting in extremely negative. and disgusting reactions.

Andy also mentioned that the early virtual idol fans basically came because they liked the two-dimensional image like "Luo Tianyi", and the three-dimensional real person image may not be suitable for the fan circle of virtual anchors.

  Chen Jianwen, a professor at the School of Information and Communication Engineering of the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, also mentioned that everyone has different aesthetics and preferences, but virtual idols can provide a possibility to meet "diversified" needs.

For example, you can customize it to look like your goddess or goddess. "It" can completely follow your wishes and taste, have your favorite voice, personality, etc., chat and watch movies together every day, and "it" understands you very well ... Chen Jianwen believes that this is the ultimate expression of human beings at the level of virtual idols, and it is the "ceiling" of virtual idols.

  In Chen Jianwen's view, making a virtual idol that does not require a real person to drive is the future direction, but so far there is no complete and huge database to support various personalized needs, which requires a process.

"Real virtual idols must have strong interaction capabilities and can interact with audiences like real people." He emphasized that the current situation is more like preliminary training, and the core point is to collect data through "people in the middle", so that the system can Better understand users.

  The charm and value of virtual idols lie more in IP development.

Chen Duan said that once the IP of virtual idols operates successfully, it will form a larger effect of breaking the circle, attracting money, and traffic. After that, the continuous injection of new functions into the IP may mean that the social vitality of virtual idols can enter the market. A state close to immortality.

"It has a social vitality that transcends time."

  However, according to the research of Speedway Metaverse Research Institute, it is a challenge to continuously output high-quality content in terms of content operation.

Chen Jianwen said that the effect of IP at the head is significant, but the development of IP at the waist and tail is relatively difficult. Therefore, this model of monetization relying on IP traffic is niche, and more business models lie in the production of "accompanying products" that wrap IP The derivatives of the image are more like spiritual food for them to bring a sense of belonging and companionship.

  China Youth Daily, China Youth Daily reporter Wei Wan Li Ruoyi Source: China Youth Daily

  July 05, 2022 Edition 05