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Movella, a maker of sensors and digitization software, has launched Obskur, an all-in-one broadcasting application built in Unreal Engine 5 to make it easy for streamers to create their own VTubers, or virtual YouTubers.
Obskur also makes it easy for streamers to create compelling 3D streams, build a community, and efficiently interact with their audience. I saw a demo where Andranik Aslanyan, cofounder of Obskur, scanned himself into a computer using an ordinary webcam and then started creating his own VTuber. In an interview with me, he said it was a lot easier to handle these tasks with Obskur than creating custom animations for very high costs.
“We started building this application about three years ago. And our main goal was to improve the lives of streamers and make it easier for them to stream and also engage with their audience,” Aslanyan said.
Aslanyan said it normally takes an army of experts such as technicians and animators to bring something like Code Miko — who not so long ago got a big makeover with better 3D animation — to life. You can use Obskur to handle every part of the production, from setting up the character and scanning its motions, to content production and engaging with the audience.
So yes, you too can be a VTuber like famous stars in Japan or Code Miko, one of the hottest streamers on Twitch who has drawn a lot of followers with comedy routines. She lets users buy items that cause her to fart on screen or get blasted by an atomic bomb while she’s interviewing someone. Such VTubers like Code Miko now account for a huge chunk of hours watched on Twitch, Aslanyan said.
Movella, based in Henderson, Nevada, has also partnered with Xsens to create The Mocap Box, which streamers can use to add motion to their avatar. The full kit with sensors and software costs $1,995, which is kind of a bargain in the world of streaming gear.
The global live streaming market is booming, with experts predicting the market to reach $247 billion by 2027, according to Market Research Future. Viewers are taking note as well, with 23% of global viewing time spent watching live content and 44% saying they watch less TV as a result of live streaming, according to IAB.
Getting scanned for an avatar
The scanning process took a bit of time. Aslanyan initiated the software on a PC and waited for it to calibrate. Then the webcam on the PC captured his movements. He had to stand up straight and walk back and forth while wearing a bunch of Xsens sensors strapped to his body. He chose a generic female VTuber body with a pink coloring and within a couple of minutes she was moving on screen just as he moved his hands and upper body. It seemed like an easy process, and it works with typical webcams.
Once scanned in like that, he could have started his own streaming show with the VTuber character. Obskur makes it easy for you to mouth the things that the VTuber says, and for the character to mimic your movements. Aslanyan also showed how you could buy objects in a store and bring them into the virtual environment of the VTuber’s streaming set. You could place the streamer in realistic rooms or animated fantasies, as you wish.
Simplifying the VTuber life
Obskur is designed to simplify the lives of streamers, enabling them to focus on their passion for streaming, connecting with their audience, and producing engaging, interactive content. The all-in-one suite takes the pain points out of streaming, so users can focus on creating great content instead of technical difficulties.
As an example, it can screen out all of the repetitive silly messages rushing by in the stream chat and focus on the ones that seem more important, like new subscribers paying money.
“Essentially, we built this to make what Code Miko does available to basically everyone,” Aslanyan said. “The main goal of the product is to lighten the technical load.”
You can do things like film yourself in front of a green screen and have the avatar adopt your motions. Then you can insert the avatar into a scene built with Unreal Engine 5, which can render extremely realistic environments. Aslanyan grabbed a beach ball and inserted it into a scene in seconds. You could also import something like Ready Player Me avatars.
“If you wanted to do that on your own right now, you would have to either hire a team of game devs that know how to do this stuff for virtual production team,” Aslanyan said. “Or you could go learn Unreal, and then you go and figure out where to get all your 3D assets and put it all together. In our app, it’s as simple as just getting assets from the marketplace. So, we have an integrated digital asset marketplace. And there’s already more than 500 items there.”
And Obskur includes everything needed for the perfect stream, ensuring those with no technical 3D skills can produce 3D content independently on day one. The 3D Environment Creator allows streamers and VTubers alike to create limitless, dynamic environments with top-tier rendering, interactive physics, real-time lighting, and animations. Those looking to bring in their own VTuber model can do so seamlessly with the VRM Character Importer.
The software had to deal with issues unique to streamers, who often stream for 12 hours. During that time, the sensors can drift, and the software has to handle that.
The Obskur Twitch Extension allows streamers to engage their audience via live interactivity. Streamers can create custom 3D, physics-enabled interactions to interact with their audience in new unique ways, increasing engagement and boosting monetization opportunities.
The product’s flexible streaming options integrate with iPhone or VMCP face tracking and allows creators to stream from their webcam or as a VTuber by inserting themselves in a 3D environment, where they can edit materials, particle effects, and props to easily make a 3D scene.
The Mocap Box
Additionally, Obskur has partnered with Xsens to create The Mocap Box, which streamers can use to add motion to their avatar. Xsens makes the mocap suit used to animate dozens of Hollywood blockbusters like The Avengers, Avatar, and Black Panther. It redesigned its sensors especially for streamers. StretchSense provides mocap gloves for the kit.
The Mocap Box by Obskur includes the Obskur Upper Body Mocap set with nine Xsens sensors and customized gloves built by StretchSense. Suits have 12 hours battery life to ensure support for long streams. Obskur also integrates with other mocap hardware.
“Our mission with Obskur is to simplify the lives of streamers, enabling them to focus on their passion for streaming, connecting with their audience, and producing engaging, interactive content,” said Andranik Aslanyan, director at Obskur, in a statement. “We’re proud to give people a way to pursue their dreams of becoming a full-time streamer and look forward to empowering individuals by providing powerful monetization opportunities through Obskur.”
The OBSKUR application can be downloaded for free, while The Mocap Box by Obskur is available for purchase at $1,995.
The VTuber life
Now that the basics are done with the kit, Aslanyan is looking at other opportunities to expand into the full ecosystem of digital characters, 3d environments, the connection to the creators, and the connection to their audiences.
Will this VTuber existence become a way of life for the denizens of the metaverse one day? There are some VTubers on the small team that made the Obskur tech, and Aslanyan said he hasn’t actually seen them in real life.
“With Code Miko, you can sometimes see the person behind it. But with some VTubers, they live in their own fantasy world, and they don’t really ever connect in real life,” Aslanyan said. “They stay who they are with their digital character.”
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