San Jose, California’s OffKai Expo was a first-of-its-kind event—the first VTuber con outside of Japan. It set out to make a big splash with lots of events, panels, and attractions, and we actually had so much to cover that we couldn’t fit it all in just one piece.
The first part of our OffKai Expo coverage focused on the big-ticket panels that attracted VTuber fans – however, OffKai had many other panels aimed at VTubers looking to learn a thing or two!
How to Go From a 2D Reference to a 3D Model
In an hour, legendary 3D artist Yoolie led the audience through the process of creating a client’s 3D model. He explained the decision between Live2D models and 3D models, noting that it was far easier to convert a Live2D model into a 3D one.
Yoolie cleared up a common misconception with 3D modeling: You do not need to know how to draw. Because the vast majority of his modeling comes from working around existing 2D reference, he offers the following: “Tracing in art is very bad, but tracing in 3D is very encouraged!“
In a Q&A segment of the panel, Yoolie was asked what innovations in the 3D field he would like to see. After some thought, he talked about the most common filetype (.vrm) and its limitations, such as being too rigid and lacking squash and stretch that would be commonly used to make animation look smoother. He also pointed at hair and skirt physics as major issues to be overcome.
Game Design on Paper and Screen
Next was a panel on designing both video games and tabletop games, by noted tabletop RPG (TTRPG) veterans DiceQueenDi and Leaflit. They talked about the state of the TTRPG industry, the JRPG industry, and how VTubers interact with both spheres.
Notably, Di had some salient points about TTRPG streams – keep it short. She sees many Dungeons and Dragons streams that proclaim the 53rd session of a long campaign, and poses a question—who is the intended audience? If a TTRPG stream isn’t short and sweet, new fans cannot enjoy it.
Domo followed this up with a more relevant question—what was the secret to being a successful VTuber? Leaflit immediately quips—content is king. She asks the audience to look at the top VTubers, and really pay attention to the skill and production quality that they employ. Additionally, Leaf mentioned that shorter videos have significantly better retention rates.
Di’s response was about YouTube: She notes that practically every successful VTuber got their growth from YouTube clips. It’s important to leverage YouTube’s impressive search algorithm—and to this end, it’s important to make content that isn’t just focused on only you. Di mentions that educational content can be something that is naturally shared, and is naturally appealing to a wide audience, not simply people that are already fans of you.
The Process of Drawing a 2D VTuber Model
Wanilmith’s panel on Saturday was to share many of the lessons she’s learned as an illustrator for Live2D models. She explains that there is a great difference between digital artists and 2D modelers due to the extra attention that a Live2D illustration needs – lots of extra layers for mobility or to show the backsides of clothing. Indeed, Wani explains that the average illustration can have well over 500 layers, and she offered an example of her most complicated model, which needed 900.
One tip that Wani imparted was that artists should consider drawing a nude base model of the character – though this decision should not be taken lightly. While it is a lot of extra work, a base model will dramatically speed up any future upgrades or outfits, for both the illustrator and the rigger.
Shurelily: VTubing Origins (OffKai Expo Reunion)
Day three kicked off strong with a blast from the past—a reunion of Shurelily. Shurelily was a content creation duo composed of Shurelya (now Leaflit) and LilyPichu. Both creators connected over League of Legends in 2011, and many older fans will fondly remember their Shurelily Adventures animated series.
They were early examples of VTubers, being represented by anime illustrations. When asked why they wanted to be virtual all those years ago, Lily explained that she didn’t want to show herself, noting that the internet can be a rough place especially for women. Leaflit simply stated that she wanted to live out her chuuni dreams.
While the two drifted apart over time, VTubing was what brought them back together, with Leaflit continuing to experiment with Live2D and Facerig before branding as her current self. LilyPichu admitted that she wasn’t aware of the rebrand and had found Leaflit randomly, noting that her voice seemed very familiar. As LilyPichu herself is increasingly doing streams as a VTuber, the two reunited to walk down memory lane.
Lily talked about streaming on justin.tv, the predecessor to Twitch. Much of the panel would be them cringing at the past, such as the original Shurelily introduction with Lily’s singing. As Leaflit showed us a complication of Shurelily Adventures, she mentioned that the episodes were originally lost in a YouTube channel wipe—and it was all thanks to a fan that recorded them that the episodes still exist. To this, LilyPichu said they should have never been saved, sinking further into her cringe.
The duo talked about what could have been – including a Lily body pillow that was in the works, and LilyPichu herself has the only one. As the panel came to a close, the two promised each other to collab more in the future, as they had missed hanging out.
The Ins and Outs of Merch Creation
Techycutie was ecstatic to share her knowledge accumulated from a decade of selling merch. She went through the lessons she learned the hard way—mostly, that enamel pins are a nightmare to work with, and can sink thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it.
She had several tips for people that wanted to dip their toes into merch-marking, such as to go to Vograce, as they’ll take in your designs and create a plethora of merch for you.
She ended the panel with some sneak peeks—she’s planning a revamp of her design this summer, and she’s working on manufacturing a clutch bag that she says “will be super badass”.
VTuber Dating Game
MC Domo Arigathanks hosted a VTuber dating game starring friends Sanagi Yuzu, Bada Neko, and Ori. In it, three members of the audience were brought onto the stage and given the chance to ask the three guest stars romantic questions to see who their dream date would be.
Our first question got deep quickly—”Where do you see yourself romantically in five years?” Yuzu responded that she actually wouldn’t want to consider a long-term relationship anytime soon—she wanted to focus on her streaming career. Neko felt that she wouldn’t have much time to spare either between her streaming and college, but if the right person showed up, she wouldn’t fight the pulls of fate. Ori was more forward—she’s been yearning for a special someone!
Another question asked the contestants what traits they were looking for in a partner, to which Neko said she was looking for men that were open to… experimentation. Numi was a special guest, cosplaying as herself. She took the place of fourth speaker.
OffKai Expo was a convention for all things VTubers – reminiscing about the past, celebrating current success, and preparing future VTubers. We can’t wait for what they have in store next year!
This is the second part of our OffKai Expo coverage on Anime Corner’s VTuber Section. Look forward to the final part, which showcases the venue itself, shines a spotlight on cosplayers, and more!