Hi, you can call me CaterinaKitten, and I’m a VTuber.
Vtubers have been rapidly growing in popularity over the past few months, and like many others I’ve dipped my toe in the water to try it out. If you don’t know, VTubing is essentially creating an avatar to portray yourself during live streams or recorded video, instead of filming yourself in real life.
Since I had some extra time on my hands, I decided that that I would look into what it took to set up a VTubing avatar and give it a try. On a whole I’m pretty introverted, and during covid especially I’ve pretty much just been staying home, with only my partner to keep me company. I figured that streaming on twitch would give me an opportunity to chat with people without any social pressure while I do what I love, and play games. It seemed like the perfect solution to some isolation fatigue.
I’ve streamed online in the past with mixed feelings. I always found that I was more comfortable streaming with audio only, as it let me focus on my viewers and the game I was playing without worrying about what I looked like, or how I was coming across on camera. If I was streaming with video, I would always start the day by getting ready in full makeup, with my hair done and a well thought out outfit. After all, if this was going to be online indefinitely, I felt like I should probably look my best.
After a while I found that doing this was really exhausting, and it took away from the enjoyment of interacting with people and playing games. With that realization, I ended up taking a long break from streaming, but then I heard about VTubing, so here we are.
After doing some light research, I decided to make my model in VRoid Studio, and use the 3Tene application for managing my avatar during the stream. I’m pretty familiar with 3D avatars, rigs, and textures from my work in VR, but regardless I feel like if you’re interested in VTubing, these tools are definitely easy enough for anyone to learn to use. It felt a lot like designing a Sim, and I accessed all of these tools through Steam to simplify any update/access requirements. Overall, a few hours later (ok, quite a few hours later), I had a model designed and rigged, and tracking with my webcam.
Using the base features in VRoid studio, I’d designed my model to be a version of CaterinaKitten that I liked, including vibrant pink hair, bright grey eyes, sparkly cheeks and my pink WhimsicalKitten hoodie, logo and all. I have to say, the hair was probably the trickiest part to get right, but I’m actually really happy with how it came out. For anyone else who's looking to create a VTube avatar, I would also highly recommend going to the website BOOTH for some clothing or textures to really bring your model to life. I used wonderfulp store textures for my sneakers and they’re absolutely magical.
After I had the model the way I wanted her, I exported her out of VRoid and opened up the 3Tene application. As far as user interface is concerned, it’s pretty minimalistic. Once you change the language settings to English (it defaults to Japanese), you pretty much click through the menus until you’ve set everything up the way you want. I ended up mapping 3 camera angles to hotkeys, along with a few animations and emotions that I could use quickly during gameplay. Once that was done, I took a deep breath... and went to bed. Yeah at this point I was exhausted and it was like 3am.
The next day however, I got back into it and started setting up my 3Tene scene. 3Tene doesn’t just let you animate your model through your webcam, you can also import 3D objects into the scene. I investigated this a bit, and using some FBX assets I downloaded from BOOTH, I ended up creating a little office setup that worked in my Just Chatting scene on OBS Streamlabs. I set it up so that in between games, I could jump into this little room and interact with my viewers. The setup isn’t super fancy, but I like how it came out, and I can always add to it later.
At this point, it was late afternoon, so I ate some dinner and went live with my first VTuber stream on Twitch. Since I only have one monitor to work with, it took some getting used to, since I needed to adjust my game windows so I could click out into 3Tene to fire my hotkey emotions. But after some time I got the hang of it, and I could just relax into my game. I never had to worry if my partner was in frame on his way to the kitchen, or if there were dishes on my table. Just pure gameplay - it was awesome!
Overall I’m really happy that I took the time to make my VTuber avatar and actually get her setup with my Twitch stream. Now going forward, if I’m in the mood to play some games, I can load up my Stream and get right into things. I really hope that as time goes on, my viewers will grow, and I’ll get to interact with more of you and make some new friends. Even though I have a variety of creative passions to explore, I’m going to continue streaming on Twitch as a way to wind down and add some variation to my days. If you’d like to join in and chat with me on stream, make sure to follow me on Twitch here and turn on notifications for the next time I’m live.
See you soon!