What is an avatar? As a virtual character image generated through digital technology, more and more avatars have come into the public eye in recent years, and virtual idols, virtual customer service, virtual teachers, etc. have started to be introduced into relevant industry applications. With the upgrading and evolution of technology industries such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, 5G, graphic rendering and digital twin, as well as the rise of the meta-universe concept, avatars inject innovative vitality into industries such as e-commerce, media, finance, education, cultural tourism and industry. From the conceptual division, virtual humans can be simply divided into two categories: native virtual humans and avatars. Native virtual human does not exist in the real world corresponding to the real person, is a virtual image with human appearance, characteristics, behavior, relying on display devices to display, can be divided into categories such as identity IP type and service assistant type, such as the virtual beauty expert LiuYeXi, the virtual anchor Gogo of People’s Daily, which is hot. Virtual avatars exist in the real world corresponding to real people, and avatars have been around for a long time, such as virtual characters that users can freely control in traditional games (such as third-person role-playing games) or see simulated hands and body and other parts of the image (first-person shooting games). Thanks to 3D immersive visuals and advanced tracking capabilities, an increasingly diverse and refined body vocabulary of location, appearance, attention, posture, emotion, etc. activates the latent social expressiveness of avatars.
What is avatar live streaming? Live virtual human mainly through the concert, e-commerce promotion, short video content creation and other diversified ways to achieve commercial cash, the business model is mainly independent live, live cooperation and guest appearances. Among them, independent live refers to the whole live broadcast by the virtual anchor independent completion, live process involves physical display links may be assisted by the real assistant, such as Watsons “Qu Chenxi wilson”, Racer virtual anchor “Guan Xiaofang”, Jingdong beauty virtual The cooperation live class is by the virtual anchor and the real anchor throughout the live broadcast, mutual assistance, such as animation IP “a Zen small monk”, food IP “I am not white eat “etc. Guest appearance category mainly refers to the virtual anchor as a guest only in the live process for a short period of time, to participate in IP-related product promotion.
The initial formation of the virtual human live industry chain. The upstream of the industry is virtual human hardware and software providers mainly in the IP planning category, tools and content production category; the midstream is the technical capability support platform mainly in the virtual human producers, Internet technology vendors, AI class vendors, CG and XR class vendors; the downstream is the application landing scene platform mainly in the UGC platform, PGC and MCN platform, and brand endorsement class companies. Through capital investment, participants in each link of the industry chain continue to explore technology development and commercialization of landing scenarios. At present, how to reduce costs and achieve efficient production through technological innovation iteration, as well as cultivating systematic IP incubation and operation capabilities has become a hot spot of concern in the industry.
Virtual human live streaming vs. real live streaming. Li Jiaqi’s opponent will be a virtual person? This is the meta-universe concept popular under the part of the netizens of the future development of the live broadcast industry imagination. Compared with the traditional live broadcast of real people, the advantages of virtual human live broadcast are mainly manifested as follows: in terms of anchor image management, virtual anchors can be changed at any time, changing style, so that users retain a sense of freshness. In addition, the virtual anchor will not jump, will not get sick, can be online for a long time, and alternate with the real human, reduce the pressure of live work, and there is no real star due to misconduct and potential risk of live business. The shortcomings of virtual human live broadcast mainly lie in the user experience and development costs. On the one hand, the modeling or reconstruction accuracy is insufficient, expressions and movements are unnatural, and the virtual anchor stays in the “toy-level” live image, except for the static image, which cannot interact and respond flexibly like a real person, and the mechanized and process-oriented behavior and demeanor is difficult to effectively support the fast-paced live broadcasting business. The mechanical and process-oriented behavior and communication methods are difficult to effectively support the fast-paced and strong interactive live broadcast business. On the other hand, the pursuit of photo-quality virtual anchors has a “valley of terror” effect, and the excessive anthropomorphic appearance significantly raises users’ psychological expectations of anthropomorphic virtual human behavior and demeanor, thus reducing the overall credibility. One of the development challenges is how to continuously improve the authenticity of virtual hosts while precisely reconciling the relationship between appearance and behavioral fidelity. For example, the latent social traffic awareness guidelines such as appropriate spacing, gaze and head turn, and gesture expressions required for daily communication are combined to continuously optimize virtual anchors. In terms of development costs, the construction and operation costs of the live virtual human process are high, and there are price and technical thresholds for the hardware and software development links required for rendering and modeling, motion capture, AI algorithms, XR systems, etc. The public lacks the incentive to purchase high-end motion capture equipment or customize the image of the virtual anchor. In addition, the ordinary quality of the real reconstruction cost can exceed one million, the construction period of more than three months. At present, the virtual anchor up and down the industry chain has not been fully opened, virtual human development automation is low, difficult to scale production, affecting the virtual anchor application promotion.
What is the development prospect of virtual human live broadcast? First, the virtual human live market size continues to grow. 2019 China’s virtual human market size of about 223.4 billion yuan, of which the virtual anchor market size of 43.3 billion yuan. By 2030, the overall market size of virtual people in China will reach 270.3 billion, of which, the virtual IP and virtual second doppelganger market size will reach 174.7 billion yuan, the continuous expansion of virtual people market size will drive the development of the live virtual people industry. Secondly, the virtual person live broadcast and real live broadcast or show the effect of mutual gain. Live virtual people and live people are not contradictory, with the continuous evolution of AI technology, modeling, rendering, perception, interaction and other key technical aspects of virtual people will continue to optimize, virtual people or live people will bring better gain for live people show. Thanks to the rise of the metaverse, 3D immersive vision and advanced tracking capabilities, location, appearance, attention, posture, emotion and other increasingly diverse and fine body language, activating the latent social expressiveness of virtual people. Virtual people or live scenes into the meta-universe world, to stimulate the social attributes of virtual people live.
However, the virtual human live industry is still in its infancy, with a developed consumer market in the downstream of the industry chain, a relatively weak upstream technical side, and practical problems such as difficulties in realizing cash in the midstream operation side. Therefore, the prospect of virtual human live broadcast may be bright, but whether this new industry can be transformed into a new dynamic energy for economic growth, it requires the joint efforts of the upper, middle and lower reaches of the industry chain. From the technical point of view, virtual human production enterprises should keep up with the pace of technology iteration, break through technical bottlenecks, lower the threshold and reduce development costs. At the same time, operating companies should continue to improve the business model in the fierce competition and form a mature business closed loop.