- 3D VTubing has always required a lot of expensive equipment to work well
- Sony’s device will instead use just a smartphone to track the streamer’s movements
- The new device is expected to hit the shelves early next year
Sony’s new affordable motion tracking device, Mocopi, promises to give indie VTubers an easy entry-level way to track their motion in 3D.
What Are the Challenges of 3D VTubing
Ever since Kizuna Ai debuted on YouTube in 2016, VTubers have grown in popularity from an interesting novelty to a mainstay of the online content creation sphere. The last couple of years saw an explosion in new VTubers debuting on various streaming platforms, thanks in large part to the expansion of agencies like Hololive and Nijisanji on the wider world market. The VTubing movement became so large that Twitch even made a special VTubing category for its Streamy Awards.
There are many ways a VTuber can be represented, with both Live2D and 3D technologies being represented. Even the talents from the big companies often use the simpler Live2D models for their streams, often relegating full-body 3D tracking to special streams like concerts. This is because the latter types of models need a lot more specialized motion tracking technology, and often full mocap studios, in order to work properly.
Meanwhile, Live2D models only need a face-tracking app on the user’s phone to work. This has made it easier for newer and indie streamers to take up VTubing, but the challenges associated with 3D VTuber models have barred many from using 3D models.
However, a technology recently unveiled by Sony might help close the technology gap between tech for Live2D and 3D motion tracking.
How Is Sony’s Device Solving These Problems
Mocopoi is Sony’s vision of what could allow streamers to use 3D VTuber models without any specialized studios or expensive equipment. It’s been hyped as a game changer for VTuber motion tracking, making 3D models more accessible to even indie creators.
This gadget is essentially a miniaturized version of the larger tracking devices often used in other 3D mocap works. The gadget is a series of small sensors that a user has to place on their head, two arms, hips, and two legs respectively. Weight in at just 8 grams a pop, the sensors are being tracked by a dedicated smartphone app allowing users to record their movements to a model inside the program.
This can then be sent to external software like VRChat and Unity, which is the building block for many tracking programs. The sensors do not use external base stations, and if the promotional video is to be believed, the gadgets provide a relatively good motion tracking quality.
The device already caught the attention of some influential figures in the VTubing community, like VShojo Chief Technical Officer “MowtenDoo”. “We use enterprise-level tracking stuff mostly, but this (assumedly) lowers the cost of entry for mocap / 3D VTubing by a lot and makes it more accessible,” he wrote, pointing out this device can be a game changer for indie VTubers, who do not have the financial and tech support of big companies like Hololive or Nijisanji.
Mocopi is expected to be released on the market very soon in late January 2023 and will be sold for 49 500 Japanese Yen, or about $360.