Insights about the Current and Potential Faceless YouTubers
Have you ever imagined your life as a YouTuber? What is the biggest concern you would have about starting your channel? For some people, the answer would be the burdens of revealing their faces in public. We all get it — it’s not an easy decision to make considering how brutal the internet can be.
When you search under ‘becoming a YouTuber without showing your face,’ more than 5 million results come out on Google. The search result below implies how many of us have been looking for a way to show their talent all over the world without revealing their faces.
To specifically understand the desire for being a faceless YouTuber and the current market situation, we conducted internal research by cross comparing 64 YouTube channels without a face reveal. In this article, we will share some insights we got from the research about current and potential faceless YouTubers.
Keep in mind that the approach was qualitative rather than quantitative due to the lack of public research in faceless YouTubers that we could find. If you know of any good resources, let us know to supplement this article!
Edit(Aug 24th, 2020): Along with the researches, we finally released an avatar video-chat/streaming app for potential faceless content creators! Currently, the app, Hyprmeet, is free to download as a beta app so check it out and let us how you think.
It contains a built-in avatar customizing tool, a virtual webcam feature for streaming/video call software such as OBS, and our real-time facial mocap technology. We are planning to add more features such as VRoid 3D model support, button-triggered animation, etc. so stay tuned!
Based on the research, we divided current faceless YouTubers into five different groups in consideration of their types of content and their ways of covering their faces.
The five groups are listed below:
1. No Face or Avatar at All
2. Game Streaming
3. Kids & Education
5. Virtual Anime YouTubers
Looking into them one by one, we found that each group has shown distinctive trends in methods and motives to become faceless.
No Face or Avatar at All
Let’s say that you are searching ‘unboxing’ on YouTube. Eventually, you will find a channel called TheRelaxingEnd that features a distinct and uniquely encaptivating filming style. The screen is minimal with gloved hands and unboxing products — somewhat different from other unboxing videos. Nevertheless, this channel has over 5 million subscribers.
Interestingly, there are quite a few faceless YouTubers who don’t show their faces at all and only show some objects or body parts like hands and upper body. We named this kind of YouTubers ‘No Face of Avatar at All’.
This way is actually very helpful for viewers to focus on the topic at hand (no pun intended) without bodily distractions. By only showing their main objects as the subject, it also helps the creators to build and maintain their distinctive visual aesthetics and lure the viewers’ attention.
Of course, not revealing a face does not mean that they have completely stayed out of the limelight. FunToys Collector Disney Toys Review, one of the most famous toy review channel, has 11.6 million followers, and CreamHeroes has the most popular pet videos with more than 10 million views.
These creators’ success proves that exposing faces is not a prerequisite for becoming a famous YouTube channel. Even though the viewers may wonder about the creators’ appearance, not showing faces is accepted as their unique characteristics and identities.
If you are into games, you are probably familiar with this gaming YouTuber, ExplodingTNT, who makes videos about Minecraft. He is another good example of a faceless YouTubers who is famous for both his gaming skills and keeping his personal identity anonymous. Along with him, Ceeday and H2ODelirious are also the most popular game YouTubers who do not reveal themselves.
What sets these gaming content creators apart from the previously mentioned faceless YouTubers is the application of in-game characters as talking avatars. ExplodingTNT and Ceeday express themselves through Minecraft or Fortnite characters, and H2ODelirious modified the white hockey mask from Grand Theft Auto V into his own character.
So, why do a lot of gaming YouTubers not want to show their faces? By the nature of game streaming, the screen easily fills up with graphically vibrant images allowing faceless streaming to be accepted.
Kids & Education
When listing up the top 10 YouTube videos with the most views, you would be surprised at how often animated videos for kids appear on these lists alongside popular music videos. The Baby Shark Dance video by Pinkfong! Kids’ Songs & Stories is the second most-viewed YouTube video with more than 5.2 billion views, and an episode of Russian children’s show Masha and the Bear is ranked the fifth with almost 4.3 billion views.
To maintain the children's’ fantasy while staying in character, a lot of YouTubers targeting kids chose to show full 3D characters or 2D drawn animation in place of real human beings. An article by Fatherly introduces “the 10 best YouTuber channels for kids”, and 4 of them are animated shows and story-telling.
Using 2D or 3D characters for children, the YouTubers can expect to draw their attention successfully and to connect on their level. For this reason, TED-Ed, which is for young students, makes illustrated videos unlike the original TED YouTube channel with conference style videos. Some YouTubers even wear a physical character mask as a character instead of the full animated content. As they express themselves as a character, the YouTubers and their viewers can more easily reach out to one another and interact with each other.
Rags is one of the YouTubers who covers numerous controversial topics dragging a significant amount of attention, whether it be good or bad. Some of his videos with less than five hundred thousand views can receive more than ten thousand comments, often leading to heated discussions.
Along with Rags, we grouped faceless YouTubers with political, gossipy, commentary, and informative content as the Talk-Centered group. This group of people generally deals with hotly debated issues followed by extremely controversial comments. Evidently, they have strong needs to hide their faces to protect their privacy from the possibly toxic internet communities. Additionally, by talking through an avatar, the YouTuber is able to convey their message without any visual prejudice the viewer may hold, such as racial bias.
To maintain focus on their talks, many of the creators in this group took inspiration from the commonly seen TV news anchor style of composition (centered or off-centered with relevant graphics on the side) for their own videos. The ease of production for these news broadcast format videos allows the faceless YouTubers to quickly release videos, as the topical nature of their messages is often time-sensitive, all the while remaining anonymous in the process.
Using a particular mask can bring positive effects to the YouTubers in the group by differentiating themselves from others. Compared to the other groups, the content of the Talk-Centered is not as visually stimulating, therefore wearing a mask can be impactful to grab attention in a second and to become memorable, though it may look bizarre.
Virtual Anime YouTubers
If you have read our previous articles about virtual celebrities, you would probably be familiar with what virtual YouTubers (VTubers) are. For those who haven’t read them yet, let us briefly explain. VTubers are video content creators who chose not to identify as their human self but as a fictional computer-generated character. Usually, they stream live while playing games and talk with their viewers interactively. VR content is also a common topic for them since they can be seen in virtual spaces as a digital human. As the virtual YouTuber shows oneself as a 2D avatar or 3D character, the person can interact with viewers more comfortably.
Related article 1: ‘How Many Virtual Celebrities Are There?’
Related article 2: ‘How to Become a Virtual YouTuber/Influcer’
Related article 3: ‘Is the Virtual Celebrity Industry Still on the Rise in 2020?’
The rise of VTubers is deeply rooted in anime fandom since the beginning of the trend. VTuber fandom and Japanese anime fandom share the same fan demographics — Japanese manga fans and VR fans, who have an interest in these specific animation types of characters.
As most of the virtual anime YouTubers connect through live broadcasts and receive donations from their viewers, live interaction is an essential factor for the majority of their income. By using real-time animated characters, they can show their expressions more effectively and have better interaction with the viewers as well.
Using a physical mask is the simplest way to cover your face. Once you find a satisfying mask, all you have to do is wear it whenever you film a video. The problem is that it is difficult to show your facial expression, which is one of the critical elements of nonverbal communication. If you value the messages conveyed through facial expressions, you can choose an AR mask instead.
Some people have already started using AR masks to hide their faces. However, since only a few mask creation tools are currently available and used — Animoji and FaceRig. Fortunately, facial tracking technology has been advancing and more and more AR mask services are coming out in the market.
Game YouTubers commonly utilize their game characters to express themselves — Minecraft and Fortnite are great examples. However, when they simply talk about games instead of showing their gameplays, they can only use their voice or motionless still images of the characters. For some viewers with shorter attention spans, the lack of a motioned avatar means reduced visual engagement, thus causing them to quickly move on to a different channel.
3D character customization services for non-professional content creators are a solution to the problem. If a gamer creates a 3D version of their original game characters, they can diversify scenes and content within their videos.
2D Simple Image & Full-screen Animation Video
YouTubers who simply use a static image have difficulties in showing diverse emotions and reactions through expressions. To overcome this issue, some creators draw numerous images of their characters with different facial expressions. However, this manual process takes a considerable amount of time and work.
This category represents 3D avatars used as an alter egos of virtual YouTubers. To bring their characters alive and control their movement, the VTubers apply either a button-based tool like Wakaru or face/body tracking technology. However, especially in terms of current real-time body tracking, the movements of the avatars can be unnatural and jittery. To avoid this, some high-quality VTubers use button-based VTuber tools in combination with camera-based tracking solutions.
In this article, we examined the numerous groups of YouTubers who prefer to be featured on-camera without revealing their faces and the motivations behind their choices.
Being a YouTuber means to interact with their viewers actively. To communicate correctly, it is vital to utilize nonverbal languages such as facial expressions and body movements. Yet, when you use a physical mask or a still image, it is tricky to express facial emotions. AR and 3D solutions help remedy these communicative issues but due to current limitations in resources available for content creators, not everyone can benefit from the technologies.
Thankfully, according to a report by Orbis Research, “the global 3D motion capture market is expected to reach a value of USD 232 million by 2024”. As the industry is promising, we can anticipate real-time facial and body tracking solutions with accelerated performance in the future. It will increase accessibility for the public to allow widespread adoption of mocap technology. Ultimately, this will enable current or potential faceless YouTubers to express themselves more effectively while attracting new viewers.
Hyprsense develops real-time human sensing technology. Hyprface is our product-ready software fully built in-house to track expression values and remap them into a 3D character in real-time. The SDK supports iOS, Android, Windows, Unity, Unreal, and Linux. If you are interested, sign up for a free 15-day trial SDK right now!