“I will never have to work out again!” Twitch streamer Imane “Pokimane” Anys said on her stream Sunday. She zoomed the camera out to show her full form: waved brown hair, enormous teak eyes, and a cropped purple top showing a flat tummy. Anime as hell, all of it.
In lieu of her face, Anys had commissioned a 3D anime model of herself that tracked her words and movements, enacting them live. Anys was scrolling through Reddit and chatting with viewers, as usual, when one asked what in God’s name was going on. “Usually I stream with a cam,” said Anys matter-of-factly. “Sometimes if I don’t want to use a cam, maybe I’ll just use this! Nyah!” Her 3D model’s eyes closed, looking like a complacent cat’s.
Anys was debuting “Vtuber Pokimane,” adopting a form popularized by the Vtuber communities of YouTube, Twitch, and other video-based platforms. Technologically adept operators use face- and voice-tracking systems to dance, sing, chat, play games, and emote like any other online personality—only through these 2D or 3D anime avatars. Their mouths move as they talk; their eyes widen with curiosity and narrow with anger. (Anys tested her hand-tracking tech by successfully giving the middle finger.) Often the operators are anonymous, their voices modulated onto kawaii frequencies.
To get started, Vtubers commission virtual, interactive models with a variety of animations and facial expressions. Then they map their facial expressions and mouth and body movements, using a camera along with motion capture and voice analysis software. (Anys said she used Luppet, body-tracking software from a Japan-based company.) Around 10,000 of these channels exist globally across YouTube, Twitch, Bilibili, Weido, Niconico, and other video sites; there’s even a Vtuber agency called HoloLive that represents over 50 anime models. In 2019, the number of combined views on Vtuber channels increased by 99 percent, according to AI firm Hyprsense.
Kizuna AI, who has millions of subscribers on YouTube, claims to be the first virtual YouTuber. With thigh-high socks and an oversized pink bow, Kizuna, who started her channel in 2016, is voiced by a human Japanese actress. (For effect, she tells viewers she’s an artificial intelligence.) Fans speculate that her underlying software is the same as that used by virtual, 3D pop stars voiced by synthesizer software—known as Vocaloids—like Hatsune Miku. On YouTube, Kizuna does the same things any other online personality might: plays the horror game Inside, draws cat pictures, debates controversial topics, chats with fans. Now, she’s a culture ambassador for the Japan National Tourism Organization and has appeared in commercials.
In line with trends in anime, some more popular Vtuber channels have strong lewd undertones. Models often boast exaggerated anatomies (with exaggerated “jiggle” physics). Earlier this year, Projekt Melody, who describes herself as “the first … 3D-rendered hentai camgirl”, launched her Chaturbate stream, where she networks her fans’ donations to an internet-connected vibrator. In March, Twitch welcomed her with immediate Partner status, demonstrating the streaming site’s full buy-in on the trend.
Absurdist streams are massively popular, too. A blonde, Sherlock Holmes–looking anime chick named Watson Amelia debuted on YouTube over the weekend with 474,000 views. Over 45,000 live viewers tuned in for shark-girl Gawr Gura’s debut stream Sunday. “You’ve heard of Atlantis?” she asks viewers, wearing a shark costume. “Have you been? Shaaaaaark!” Later, she sings karaoke. Both performers are part of Hololive EN, the English-language branch of the agency.
“Like anime, it once started as a very niche thing and has been slowly growing,” says Vtuber Iron Mouse, a pink-haired girl with devil horns who’s been streaming since 2018. “I think it will only get better and more exciting from here. The more the merrier, I say!”
‘This Is Us’ NBC Premiere Date Moves Up Two Weeks
NBC has moved up the Season 5 premiere date for “This Is Us” to Oct. 27, the network announced Wednesday.
The family drama was initially scheduled to debut in November, but the announcement of the date change was made Wednesday during the season finale of “America’s Got Talent.” It will be one of the network’s first scripted dramas to return with new episodes this fall, following the returns of “The Voice,” “Superstore” and the social distancing comedy “Connecting…” next month.
The 20th Television-produced series is set to begin filming on Thursday.
Series creator Dan Fogelman tweeted last month that the new episodes would address COVID “in present day” and incorporate the pandemic into the planned storylines for the season.
“We’ve decided to attack things head on,” he wrote. “Very proud of @ThisIsUsWriters – Same planned ending. Same route to get there.”
The end of “This Is Us” Season 4 took place in the spring of 2020, right before the pandemic hit and included a far off time jump to decades into the future — but also one to Aug. 31, 2020, where a small group of the Pearson family were all alone together in a cabin — which could easily be worked into a story about how the Pearsons are living through COVID-19 just like the rest of us at that point in time.
The series stars Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Chris Sullivan and Susan Kelechi Watson. Dan Fogelman, Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger, John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, Ken Olin, Charlie Gogolak and Jess Rosenthal executive produce.
The series is coming off five Emmy nominations for its fourth season, with guest star Ron Cephas Jones taking home his second award for his role on the series on Sunday.
Superhero Bits: ‘Marvel’s Avengers’ Game Patch Fixing Tons of Problems, ‘Ms. Marvel’ Casting Details & More
What did Melissa Benoist have to say about Supergirl coming to an end next year? How many problems does the new patch for Marvel’s Avengers need to fix? Did you hear the process for getting Marvel and DC Funko POPs exclusives for NYCC next month? What do relationship therapists think of the relationships in Guardians of the Galaxy? Why did John Glover play both versions of Dr. Sivana in the Shazam! movie? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.
Melissa Benoist posted this to Instagram after the announcement that Supergirl would be ending next year.
If you want any of the Marvel or DC Comics exclusive Funko POPs from NYCC, you’ll have to enter a lottery.
Hasbro announced a new line of retro style Marvel action figures designed after classic comic character looks.
A new patch for Marvel’s Avengers is apparently fixing over 1,000 problems that players found in the game.
Alex Ross discusses his history working on Earth X and developing the story for the new Marvel’s X series
Supergirl co-star Nicole Maines wrote a thank you to fans and the creators of the series now that it’s ending.
Aritst Jackson Caspersz created a poster for a Spider-Man: Sinister Six movie and even cast the villains.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw confirms that she’s back to work shooting Marvel’s Loki series on set down in Atlanta.
Due to the amount of graphics and images included in Superhero Bits, we have to split this post over THREE pages. Click the link above to continue to the next page of Superhero Bits.
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RANKED: The 12 Best Designs by the Late Ron Cobb
RANKED: The 12 Best Designs by the Late Ron Cobb
Comingsoon.net is taking a look at the best designs by the late Ron Cobb. Check out our picks below! Legendary underground cartoonist turned production designer and concept artist, Ron Cobb, passed away on his birthday Monday at the age of 83. Star Wars, one of the many franchises he contributed to, paid tribute to Cobb on Instagram,
“We were saddened to learn of the passing of Star Wars: A New Hope conceptual designer Ron Cobb, who designed one of the most – if not the most — memorable characters in the Mos Eisley cantina… Cobb’s illustrious career contributed to several iconic films, including E.T The Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, Back to the Future, and many more.” He will be missed.”
The aesthetic of numerous sci-fi and action films were achieved through Cobb’s inimitable talent. Pivotal objects like Back to the Future‘s DeLorean, Conan the Barbaian‘s sword, and numerous space ships stick with us because of the imagination and subsequent work of Cobb. In addition to design, Cobb also served as a director and writer. Honoring the prolific career (which began in 1956) of one of the best illustrators of all-time, we’ve ranked some of Cobb’s most memorable designs (and films). Check them out below.
RELATED: CS Video: Back to the Future’s Bob Gale Remembers Designer Ron Cobb
All concept images via roncobb.net
12) Dark Star’s Spaceship
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Cobb’s first production design job was John Carpenter’s debut film, 1974’s Dark Star. Cobb designed the exterior for the film’s main space ship—which went on to heavily influence the ships/special effects of Star Wars and other space operas. It was on this film that Cobb would meet writer Dan O’Bannon, which would lead to jobs working on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune and Ridley Scott’s Alien.
11) The Abyss’ Deep Core Rig
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Cobb designed the massive underwater drilling rig in James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) as well as the helmets, suits, and breathing tanks used by the crew. He also helped to create the two operable submersibles used in the movie.
10) Robot Jox’ Mech Suit
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Cobb served as a concept artist on Stewart Gordon’s Robot Joxs (1989), designing every inch of the 180 ft. tall, multi-mode robots, their support systems, and their worlds. Most of the costumes, automobiles, and other devices were also done by Cobb.
9) The Last Starfighter’s Spaceship
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In addition to the Gunstar, Cobb designed the enemy space crafts, the planet Rylos, Starcar, aliens, and costumes for 1984’s The Last Starfighter.
8) Total Recall’s Memory Implant Chair
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Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 classic, Total Recall’s entire plot revolves around one machine’s ability to plant false memories into people’s brains. Not only did Cobb design the “Rekall” machine, but he created the look for the Mars colony (mine complex, mining machines, taxi cabs, etc.), the Marsliner spaceship, and all of the vehicles on the futuristic Earth.
7) Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Nazi Airship
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After meeting Steven Spielberg at Universal while working as a production designer on Conan The Barbarian, Cobb landed a job as a production artist on Raiders of the Lost Ark. Cobb ended up designing the Nazi Flying Wing from that film, on which, Indiana Jones fights that large Nazi in what is one of the greatest fights in cinematic history. Cobb and Spielberg maintained a close relationship for the remainder of his career.
6) Star Wars’ Momaw Nadon (“Hammerhead”)
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Initially unaccredited, Cobb served as a conceptual designer on Star Wars: A New Hope. He designed most of the elaborate aliens in the famed Mos Eisley cantina sequence. Momaw Nadon AKA “Hammerhead” is considered by many to be the most memorable.
5) The Rocketeer’s Jet Pack
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Cobb contributed an early design for the rocket-powered jet pack in Joe Johnson’s Rocketeer (1991).
4) Conan the Barbarian’s Sword
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Not only did Cobb serve as a production designer on 1982’s Conan the Barbarian, but he was an uncredited director of second unit photography. That said, in addition to Conan’s iconic sword, Cobb was responsible for all of Conan’s weapons, armor, architecture, and scenery.
3) Aliens’ Drop Ship
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As a concept artist on James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), Cobb designed the “Drop Ship,” the armored personnel carrier, some of the weapons, the interior/exterior sets, and vehicles of the earth colony complex.
2) Alien’s Nostromo
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As a concept artist on Ridley Scott’s Alien (1978), Cobb conceived the interior and exterior of the infamous Nostromo ship—the film’s setting. That said, the ship’s aesthetic has influenced countless other sci-fi projects and the Alien franchise as a whole. Cobb was also the one to suggest the titular Alien’s blood be corrosive so that the crew couldn’t just shoot it dead.
1) Back to the Future’s DeLorean
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Cobb created the initial design for the Back to the Future’s (1985) time-traveling De Lorean. Spielberg, a producer on the film, asked Cobb, “how he would make a DeLorean into a time machine?” He told Spielberg to make it look homemade like Doc Brown made it with stuff he picked up at Radio Shack.
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