Virtual humans expand territory in real world
Han YuA, a virtual artist, attracted over 6 million viewers on YouTube within five days of releasing her debut single ‘I Like That’.
Virtual humans are taking an active part in the real world, expanding their influence in various sectors such as advertising, music, commerce and education. Digital humans are expected to increase their presence further with developing technology predicted to reduce costs to create them, according to industry forecasts.
The first virtual human in South Korea was Adam, a cyber singer created by computer graphics in 1998. Adam enjoyed some popularity, selling more than 200,000 albums, but could not maintain his fame due to inferior technology.
But artificial humans in the virtual space are in the spotlight again as advanced computer graphic technology has made them appear similar to real humans. The metaverse and virtual reality provided more opportunities to experience products and services related to digital humans while the world became more familiar with cyberspace due to COVID-19.
The global digital human avatar market was forecast to surge to $527.6 billion by 2030 from $10 billion in 2020, according to research and consulting firm Emergen Research.
South Korea’s information technology companies are rushing to seize the market, led by game developers that have strong 3D modeling technologies and storytelling capabilities.
VIRTUAL ARTIST DEBUT ALBUM ATTRACTS OVER SIX MILLION
Han YuA, a virtual artist jointly created by South Koran game developer Smilegate and real-time content solution company Giantstep Inc., lured more than six million viewers on YouTube within five days of releasing her debut single I Like That on May 25.
She is gaining huge popularity not only from Korea but also from other countries including Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia, Smilegate said in a statement.
Han,who signed an exclusive contract with an affiliate of the country’s entertainment giant YG Entertainment Inc. in February, dances with crews from 1MILLION Dance Studio in the music video. The studio, led by a renowned choreographer and dancer Lia Kim, has more than 25 million subscribers on YouTube.
Other local game publishers are joining in.
Earlier this year, Netmarble Corp. unveiled Rina, a virtual human developed by its subsidiary Metaverse Entertainment. Rina signed an exclusive contract with Sublime Co., an entertainment agency of Cannes-winning actor Song Kang-ho and global star Jeong Ji-hoon, better known by his stage name Rain. Rina is set to join a planned K-pop girl band consisting of four virtual humans.
NCSOFT Corp. last month appointed Lee Jehee, a Seoul National University professor and expert in computer graphics and animation, as the chief research officer to actively work on the research and development of virtual humans.
Digital humans are expanding their influence in various industries.
LG Electronics Inc., showcased Reah Keem, a virtual influencer, at CES 2021 in January last year. Keem introduced the latest products of the world’s top home appliances maker during its online press conference. She signed a memorandum of understanding with a local entertainment agency to debut as a musician. Naver Corp. revealed SORI, its virtual human jointly developed with Giantstep, during a new cosmetic launch show at its live commerce service.
Rozy, the country’s first virtual influencer, has a voice made by Naver. Its webtoon platform December last year acquired a 52.19% stake in domestic video technology company LOCUS Corp., the parent of Sidus Studio X that created Rozy.
She unveiled her voice supported by Naver’s artificial intelligence technology at a domestic radio show earlier this month, aiming to work as a radio DJ as well as a host for live commerce and other shows.
More industries are expected to use virtual humans as they neither grow old nor have the risk of scandals. They are better for marketing targeted at a specific age group and gender since they can precisely reflect the styles and tastes of certain generations.
“Virtual humans can more effectively manage the corporate image despite the current high costs for production,” said an industry source. “But it is burdensome to differentiate them from others when more virtual humans are created.”
Source: Seung-Woo Lee
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