When I was a child, we’d often play by drawing our own characters on paper. None of the heroes and villains we drew were really any good, since we were all children, but I had quite a lot of fun like that back in the day.
Have you had any experiences like this?
Today, technology has spread to the point that terms like VR and AR no longer seem so extraordinary, and boundaries are blurring between the real and digital worlds. While the entertainment association is prevalent, with Pokemon GO still going strong in Japan, VR also sees use in surgery training and long-distance surgery, as well as VR trips for the elderly who have difficulty living their homes, and seeing distant family. In real estate, it’s used to check the premises before a purchase, while education uses it for such things as a life experience of the Edo period or seeing jungle animals up close.
Today, I will introduce a service in the entertainment field where you can create your own 3D character easily. Specifically, I refer to VRoid, provided by Pixiv.
Pixiv, by the way, is a business that provides ’illustration and communication services’, essentially a social media site where you can post drawings and comics. Some of you may have used it before.
Making a 3D Character
I tried to actually make a 3D character. On PC, you have a service called VRoid Studio that lets you handle this at a much finer level, going into a lot more detail. Now, let’s hop over from 2D to 3D!
- VRoid Studio https://vroid.com/studio/
The Easy Way: Making a VRoid on your Smartphone
If you think ’I wish this could be simpler’ or ’getting on the PC is a hassle’, there’s also a smartphone app. VRoid Mobile is compatible with both iOS and Android.
- VRoid Mobile for iOS https://apps.apple.com/jp/app/id1469346321
- VRoid Mobile for Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.pixiv.vroid.android
The smartphone app lets you combine a number of parts with some degree of variation to create a 3D character. Even if you’re careful with the details, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
Choose hairstyle, facial shape, body shape, clothes and name, and you’re done. The character you make (mine is called Koharu Nanjo) can be shared on a communal platform called VRoid Hub. Additionally, virtual characters can be distributed on such services as the previously introduced SHOWROOM and SHOWROOM V, so this can be spread as well.
- Showroom: The live-performance sharing app Japanese young people love! life/showroom-the-live-performance-sharing-app-japanese-young-people-love/
Additionally, you can use AR to take a picture (I was quite impressed by the amount of control here).
- Summer Wars http://s-wars.jp/
Until now, the internet was filled with avatars — a virtual self — but from now on, we will see AR and VR showcasing what only 3D characters can do. Taking your own character into AR and showing them in the real world is quite fun, and I believe that spreading them through SHOWROOM and Youtube, as well as building communities this way, will become more and more mobile.
AR/VR in Japan
According to IDC Japan’s ’Worldwide Semiannual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide 2018H2 ’, the AR/VR market is growing at an astronomical rate of 78% per year, and is expected to be a 17 trillion yen market by 2023. In Japan, that growth is a mere 21.5%. This is quite low compared to the rest of the world, which I believe to be a sign of Japan’s conservatism. Certainly the bulk of this may be done by China and the USA, but surely making a unique Japanese spin on it is work only Japan can do. I think it could be quite fun competing with the world in bringing something special to the world!
VRoid is an example of using the service in a unique way. Japan, as seen by the Japanese and by foreigners, must be quite different; I believe that gap is where our chance lies. We can realise our creativity through a perspective other than that of the Japanese, and create something in a 17 trillion yen market to present a Japanese service we can be proud of in front of the world. For those who have an interest in the field, it must be an intriguing prospect.