Four major challenges of virtual human: technology, product, market, and people in the middle

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Source:New list

Author: Yun Feiyang 1993

Onγ€ŠFrom 100 yuan to 1 million yuan, what is a virtual human?γ€‹γ€Š90% of the players are in the early stage. What does the virtual human rely on to make money?》In, we successively discussed what virtual human is, why virtual human is popular, and the business model exploration of virtual human companies.

From a commercial perspective, virtual human represents a possible business opportunity, and all players are exploring and betting. However, just as the Millennium War in 2016 buried countless entrepreneurs, the virtual human industry also hid countless pits. This article will try to discuss several major problems in the virtual human industry at this stage, and how practitioners should view the opportunities and future of virtual human.

Drafted by: Hechuan

"The virtual human industry is an industry with more entrepreneurs than users."

Xiong Ge, the president of the research institute of Xigu Direct Broadcasting E-commerce Group, believes that some heads in the industry are super realistic and imaginary, which seems to have received a lot of endorsements, but in essence, they are self propagation and mutual praise of small circles. Without the resources of the operating company behind them, virtual people are just a picture. "Virtual people may not make money, but they are easy to finance."

This represents a typical view of virtual human:Virtual human is just like the O2O and unmanned retail once, which is just another concept hype.

In fact, many practitioners also admit that virtual human is a very young industry. Most companies have started their projects less than a year ago, and many problems have not been solved.


Virtual human, where is the difficulty?


Virtual human is the entrance to the next generation of Internet meta universe. Virtual human is an unmissable outlet, which is the original intention of many practitioners to become virtual human. However, at this stage, virtual human still faces several problems that are difficult to solve in a short time.

1. Technology: user experience is still in its early stage

The sense of science and technology is one of the biggest stunts of virtual human, but the technical threshold behind it has also become one of the problems that limit the development of virtual human.

Whether it is the grand occasion that various classic IPs come together in the movie "Top Player" or the intersection of real world and virtual world in "Blade Runner 2049", users have a lot of imagination and expectations for virtual people.

The stills of Blade Runner 2049 show a virtual human on the left. Source: Douban

However, the reality is that the experience that Meta, Greece and other so-called meta universe platforms, as well as various virtual humans, can provide to users is quite limited. Even the head virtual human is faced with "ugly" and "silly" roast.

"The movie has raised everyone's expectations too high, which has led to the fact that the current virtual human cannot give users too much surprise." Analysis by Li Tian, partner of LA.WK Li Weike Technology.

Liu Wei, the founder of Hualian AI, believes that,Rapid generation and AI driving are two major technical difficulties in the virtual human industry.Only by realizing the rapid generation of virtual human, solving the two problems of low-cost massive replication and high-frequency content output, and at the same time getting rid of the shackles of people in the middle, can virtual human have universal commercial value.

But the reality is,The production cost of high-quality virtual human is extremely high, the production cycle is extremely long, and the effect cannot be guaranteed。 At this stage, using virtual people to do content is a matter of great risk.

"We can also improve the fineness of Kumquat 2049, but from the perspective of cost performance, we still hope it can be short and smooth." Jinju 2049 creation team said.

To a large extent, the market value of virtual human depends on the progress of virtual human related technology. As for whether virtual human will usher in a technology explosion similar to that in Three Bodies, or experience a long technological climb like AR/VR glasses, we can only wait and see.

Since the beginning of this year, companies including Tiktok and Kwai have successively released virtual human related technologies and support plans. Source: Kwai

On the whole, only when virtual people have a sense of reality and immersion that rival real people, and the cost is lower than real people, virtual talents will have more general business value.

It is worth noting that there is a typical technical trap in the content industry,The higher the technical difficulty of virtual human, the better the user feedback。 Xu Jiufeng, CEO of Windfish Animation, believes that with the current technology, it is difficult to avoid wearing models when virtual people live, but users have lower tolerance for hyper realistic virtual people.

2. Product: Lack of differentiated competitive advantage

Luo Yonghao once said in the public sharing that, except Huawei, domestic mobile phone manufacturers are solution integrators, which is also applicable to the virtual human industry.

Several practitioners revealed that most of the domestic virtual human companies are developing and applying virtual human based on open source technologies such as UE5, which leads to few companies with crushing technological advantages, and most practitioners can only be involved in content, operation and creativity.

Wang Boxuan, the founder of Quantum Craftsman Star, believes that the biggest problem of virtual people at present is insufficient depth and value recognition."Turning a picture into a virtual person is just an expensive show, which has no meaning in itself."

There are two reasons for the virtual human industry to fall into low-level content competition:

The first is the problem of talents.Virtual human is essentially a content driven product, but at present, virtual human companies are more from the perspective of industrial layout, business needs, technical production, etc., lacking the participation of more excellent content talents.

Take Zhongzhi as an example. Because it is still in the early stage of the industry and lacks talent accumulation, high-quality Zhongzhi is very scarce. Liu Zhuli, the founder of Duodoule, said that the people in Fang Xiaoguo had been screened for several times before they found a relatively suitable candidate.

The second is the concept.Wang Boxuan believes that being a virtual human can't be "the body is doing web3.0, but the brain is still doing web2.0".

Just like the text-based official account and the video based Tiktok need completely different content playing methods, as a new content form, virtual people must match the new content playing methods. However, the reality is that the current playing method of virtual human is more to virtualize the cargo anchor, entertainment anchor and traffic idol, and has not really released the content value of virtual human.

Of course, with the development of the industry, a number of interesting virtual human play methods are also emerging in the industry.

Recently, "Zhu Tiexiong", a blogger with tens of millions of fans across the Internet, started the yuanuniverse live broadcast of Guofeng School of witchcraft and wizardry in Kwai. "Zhu Tiexiong" incarnated as "K cosmic planet ambassador" to help fans "make an appointment" online in the virtual world.

Source: Kwai

Of course, fromSqueeze the subway, YuntiaodiUp to now, what is the difference between this kind of meta universe live broadcast and the previous online games in Guofeng Magic Academy? It still needs practitioners to continue to explore.

"In the early stage of the virtual human industry, content creativity will be the focus of competition." Li Tian said.

It is worth noting that some practitioners believe that the technical level of virtual human products in some companies is very low, which will damage the external image of virtual human and "make people think that virtual human is very low".

3. Market: lack of real business value, more conceptual dividend

Wang Zhiwu, CEO of Yuanjing Technology, said in an interview with "Every Headline" that the super realistic digital people are now an industry with more than 90% water content in China.

Just likeγ€Š90% of the players are in the early stage. What does the virtual human rely on to make money?》As discussed in the article, at present, virtual human has explored a considerable number of business models. From the perspective of endorsements, virtual people are even easier to unlock big name endorsements than real people.

Source: Entertainment Capital

But more realistically, although the B side is enthusiastic and the C side is curious, the virtual human still lacks enough landing influence.

In terms of b-end users, Da Zhuo, co-founder of Tiktok DP magic fan luma, revealed that with current technology, virtual anchor with goods is just another form of intelligent customer service, and most brands prefer live anchors with higher conversion rate and better experience.

Dazhao said, "From the perspective of product promotion, brands are willing to try virtual people to attract eyeballs, which is true.". But a more realistic situation is that,The cooperation between a considerable number of brands and virtual people is more a gimmick, which is the peak when starting out, and lacks continuous operation.

The reason is that, on the one hand, the brand's expectation of virtual human is the concept of science and technology, trend, etc., and lacks the will and experience of in-depth operation; On the other hand, the high operating costs of virtual human make it particularly difficult to produce continuous content.

In an interview with "Blue Whale Muddy Water", Yuefu, the founder of the Magic Girl Company Project, said that "to be a virtual UP owner with 100000 fans, it may cost ten times the price of a real UP owner with the same level".

As a new thing, C-end users still need a process to accept virtual human. Virtual human lacks both wider traffic influence and experience accumulation with users.

At present, it seems that most virtual people cannot escape the fate of "going out is the peak": Little Red Book

A virtual person published grass planting ads for beauty products, which was generally disliked by users, who believed that virtual people could not experience beauty products like real people. "The virtual anchor is actually a pseudo demand for food, cosmetics or some products with strong interaction." Wang Zhiwu said.

Liu Wei, the founder of Hualian AI, believes: "In the final analysis, helping customers make money is the core. At present, the virtual human industry is still in its early stage. It is unclear how to play. But if there are more industry benchmark cases like Liu Yexi, it will give the outside world and the industry more confidence."

4. Person in the middle: who is the soul of virtual human

The birth of virtual human comes from the distrust of real people and the pursuit of commercial efficiency. The virtual human company hopes to create aNo rollover, no termination, cheap enough, diligent enough, unlimited lifeThe perfect content creator for. Although many practitioners believe that AI drive is the ultimate solution for virtual human, at least in the foreseeable future, people in China are still an important part of virtual human.

At first, many operators thought that the person in the middle would be a more stable and cheaper solution than the real person, but the indefinite dormancy of Trip Love and the graduation of A-SOUL member Jia Le seemed to prove that the person in the middle was not as useful as expected.

Xiongge believes that human beings are always the ceiling of emotional interaction. For virtual people who need strong emotional interaction, such as cargo anchors and virtual idols, the middle person is the soul. The personality charm and user attraction of virtual human need to be endowed by the middle man.

Chen Jian, CEO of Guangzhou Chuanghun Digital Technology Co., Ltd., said in an interview with "All weather technology": "In the past, people were too naive. Someone always told me that virtual idols can be ignored. I have always firmly opposed this view. I have always stressed:The virtual image is skin, and the talent in it is the soul of the virtual idol.”

As of the time of submitting the prospectus, the number of applicants for the audition of Zhongzhi in Rainbow Society has exceeded 45000, with an average pass rate of 1%. Source: Network

According to the views of many practitioners, "the problem of" people in the middle "objectively exists, and there is no perfect solution" is the current situation of the industry. Virtual human not only needs to "activate" virtual human by the person in the middle, but also must accept the instability of the person in the middle. There are mainly two solutions for people in China:

First of all, we should reach good cooperation with the Chinese people.

Liang Zikang, CEO of ChuangYi Video, said in an interview with "Chopping Peppers TMT" that "the real binding cannot be bound by agreement, otherwise no matter how you empower him, he will definitely want to be free once he is big. To do things in China, it is necessary to bind close relatives to trust, followed by a common vision, followed by a common organization, and finally an agreement."

The problem of tripping love and A-SOUL is rooted in fans' belief that the operator is squeezing the right person, which arouses sympathy and anger among fans. Previously, CCTV commented on the A-SOUL incident, saying that "transforming human efforts into cold 'data' assets is a disguised destruction of individual dignity".

"Entertainment boss Wang Dafa" once disclosed in the video that entertainment brokerage companies prefer to hold idols with low academic qualifications and empty heads, because these people are more obedient and better controlled. From this perspective,As a content creator in essence, due to the lack of direct interaction with fans, the Chinese are also very easy to control.This is also the reason why many operators like virtual people.

However, at present, the birth of virtual people is more from the needs of operators, but whether content creators need and are more willing to complete content creation through the middle people is a question mark. If the rights and interests of both parties are not equal, a series of problems will inevitably arise.

"It is necessary to set up a healthy cooperation mechanism between the operator and the Chinese people, and at the same time, strengthen the IP attribute for the virtual human image, which can solve the problem of Chinese people to some extent." Fan Shiyu, founder of Jiguanmiao, an operating company of Xu'anyi, said.

If the operator can appease the right person, let the virtual person become a way for the right person to magnify personal talent and obtain fair benefits, or reduce the potential risk of the right person.

Secondly, let the virtual human have richer content support.

Fan Shiyu believes that there are some famous IP actors like Spiderman and Superman in Zhongzhi. Although changing the actors will cause some fans' dissatisfaction, as long as there is enough content support in the IP itself, this may not cause a fatal blow to the IP itself.

Three generations of Spiderman in Spiderman: Heroes Have No Return are in the same frame. Source: Douban

Let the middle man no longer be the only soul of the virtual man, and let the rich play, story and world outlook dilute the dependence on the middle man, which is the direction of some virtual man companies. Taking Jinju 2049 as an example, in the case of limited computing resources, the operator has devoted considerable energy to the construction of virtual scenes such as live broadcast room game system and weather system.

In addition, unlike the performance oriented virtual human, the service oriented virtual human, such as the delivery anchor, is less dependent on the person in the middle. Many live studios even regard the virtual human as a special effect prop, and the person in the middle will change at will.

Pang Bo, Marketing Director of Snow Claw Technology, believes that from the perspective of industry development,The virtual human industry is divided into three stages: creating people, fostering people, and employing people; Fostering people refers to incubating virtual people with flow and influence; Employing people means putting virtual people into real application scenarios to create value.

Self owned IP incubation matrix of Snow Claw Technology. Source: interviewees

"At present, the first stage has just ended. We are all exploring the way to raise and employ people, and no one has an accurate answer." Pombo said.

It is reasonable to speculate that when there are more and more virtual people next year, virtual people will experience a cruel escape.


Is virtual human worth doing?


The famous consulting company Gartner once gave a "technology hype cycle curve", which is in turn the innovation germination period, the expectation peak period, the disillusionment trough period, the recovery climb period, and the mature and stable period.

Source: Network

According to this concept, the virtual human industry is at the peak of expectations. The product is not ideal, the content is not good enough, the market is not mature, and the cashing channel is not clear... Virtual people are more driven by capital and media. As Pombo said,Now most virtual human companies spend the money of investors and earn the money of concept dividends.

It is reasonable to speculate that the low ebb of virtual human disillusionment will not be too far away.

But it is certain that, as the industry cools down and gradually returns to rationality, the competition in the whole industry will be about the understanding of virtual people, the grasp of user needs, and the real product and operation capabilities. At the same time, in this new track, entrepreneurs and giants stand on the same running line, and will have the opportunity to obtain more fair market competition opportunities.

Virtual human is not so much a wind outlet as a reward for people who focus on content and technology. Those who can really succeed in gold mining need to persist in going through the cycle.

authorΒ |Clouds flying

edit |Zhang Jie

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