Dispatches from TwitchCon 2023: OBSKUR Creator on Accessible Tech For V-Tubers

Haptic hands over anime girl and twitch con logo
Talking to V-Tube software creators OBSKUR at Twitch-Con 2023. Credit: OBSKUR, TwitchCon Las Vegas 2023 (Fair Use)

TwitchCon had a slew of new tech, but none caught my eye like what OBSKUR offered. 

The tools used for live streaming haven’t changed much since the earliest days of Justin.Tv. OBS and StreamLabs have been the go-to software to get yourself started. It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie looking to get their first follower, or a grizzled veteran with 20,000 fans waiting for you to press that “Go Live” button, the free, open-source app has been a must-have. But these softwares have been around for over a decade and they are starting to show their age, requiring hours of YouTube tutorials to get the hang of. 

There are now so many different ways to showcase yourself online, including manipulating a virtual puppet that you control with motion-tracking hardware and software. “V-tubing,” as the kids call it, has exploded over the past few years and went so mainstream that it even made its way into the Morbius press junket.

 (Editor’s note: When in doubt, as the old Jared Leto axiom goes, hit on a Japanese cartoon cat by working in a ham-fisted reference to “ah-GUCCI” like you’re goddamn Mario. Don’t forget to compliment the tail.)

But V-Tubing can be a difficult scene to break into, with custom models and equipment costing hundreds to thousands of dollars and predatory agencies retiring talent overnight. 

OBSKUR, a team of remote game developers with a passion, wants to make going live just a tad bit simpler with their modernized competitor.  Since launching two months ago they’ve had over 57,000 downloads and at TwitchCon they announced a whole new slew of features for V-Tubers including more detailed stream analytics, the ability to purchase assets to design a virtual background, and the tools to make the V-Tubing avatar you can control right in the app. 

The avatar can be controlled with just a webcam and your face, but to add that extra level of immersion, OBSKUR has created its own motion capture set with nine lightweight sensors to catch every piece of movement. The group was purchased by Movella in 2022, which focuses on digitizing movements for Hollywood and traditional sports, and they brought their expertise into this project. 

Passionfruit spoke to the founder and product line director at OBSKUR Andranik Aslanyan about the app, the importance of accessible live streaming, and more. 

What caused you to make OBSKUR?

“We saw a market opportunity to lower the barrier of entry to streaming in general. We want to make it easier, especially in terms of 3-D content.”

Why do you think the barrier of entry to streaming has been so high?

“A lot of the tools used today weren’t built for streaming and have since been adapted over time. Streaming kind of took off and they kept adapting things that people needed but at the end of the day their foundation is 12-16 years old. We come from a background of game development so we were already very familiar with. so we thought let’s just do something different that nobody else can follow.”

Why is it important for you to have streaming and its software be approachable to the average Joe? 

“Everybody knows how to make a YouTube video, just record it and upload it. Once they start trying to get into live streams they realize they need this piece of software and struggle with getting it to work, which can become overwhelming for people. Twitch is awesome for creators who do YouTube and typically shy away from live streams. Bringing that down, we can capitalize on that market that avoided live streaming altogether.”

What makes OBSKUR different from the other programs people use?

“From the beginning, when you launch the app we ask you to login with your Twitch and YouTube. From there, we pull in all the data you would need to go live, like setting up your stream key. We have a bunch of help videos that we make short and concise, some of them are just a minute and 12 seconds and in that amount of time you should be able to use them. Our entire focus is on user experience.”

Do you need to use the V-tubing parts?

“You can avoid 90 percent of the features, even if you just want to have a video with your face on top of it. You can slowly get into putting effects in the background or allow your audience to switch the scenes once you get comfortable with what we do.”

How important was creating the V-Tubing software?  

“We realized how in-depth it has to be for people to want to use it. The character creator can’t just be simple, it has to be so in-depth that you can start somewhere and end up with a character that is so different that you can say that this is your character that if others wanted to copy it would take forever. It also has to be usable enough that you don’t need to be an artist.

How long did the V-Tubing aspect take to develop? 

“It was a very complicated task and it took us about three years to get it right. We spent like two years building the technology and the last just filming the content (like the help videos).”

How did you manage to get the project afloat while in development?

“Initially, I was bootstrapping it by putting my own money into it. Then our team and I got acquired by Movella. It was tough in the beginning.”

Why did you decide to come to TwitchCon?

“This is our audience. We’ve done great and have a full booth the entire time we’ve been here and everyone loves it. It’s probably the best place to be for us. Our app is Twitch first, though we do support other platforms, but when we look at the market, especially for V-Tubers, Twitch’s discoverability is huge, other platforms aren’t so good at it. We wanted to go after the largest target market first and then expand into the constantly evolving space.”

OBSKUR holds a lot of promise and potential, but it’s still in the early days. Streamers can be brand loyalists so could find it difficult to switch over to a new software and their motion capture assortment costs $1,995 and still only works within their app. But give it time and OBSKUR could become one of the best companies to lower that bar to streaming.  

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