China debuts show starring virtual characters
On the hunt for talent
Published: Oct 28, 2021 05:58 PM
Promotional material for <em>2060</em> Photos: Courtesy of Gao Songxin

Promotional material for 2060 Photos: Courtesy of Gao Songxin

Promotional material for <em>2060</em> Photos: Courtesy of Gao Songxin

Promotional material for 2060 Photos: Courtesy of Gao Songxin

China's new show featuring virtual competitors kicked off on Friday - does it have the potential to become the future of talent shows on the small screen?

The eight "performers," or V-life as they are called on the show 2060 starring Bai Jugang and Song Yuqi on China's Jiangsu Satellite TV, showcased their talents on stage while their studios and creators revealed their behind-the-scenes stories. 

Wang Xi, the producer of the show, said he hopes it can test the waters of the virtual character industry as today's variety shows already cover a multitude of themes, from dating to singing and dancing. "Young people aged 18 to 35 are our target audience, so producing something they like is our priority in terms of content strategy," he explained, adding that the first season has brought on China's top animation studios and their virtual images who have a high potential for growth. 

Among these V-life characters, many of them featured Chinese elements such as the red color or a lion's head from the traditional lion dance. 

In an attempt to ensure their popularity with viewers, most of them feature the big eyes that are typical of anime characters. However, some have a more radical design, such as a chicken shape with a small TV screen on its body part. Nicknamed TV Chicken, it can dance and rap as well.  

These cute characters are the product of a huge amount of time and effort put forth by animators. The amount of work they put in over 15 days is enough to make a single 40-minute cartoon, said Wang. 

The producers of the show said they hope that such virtual shows will result in new breakthroughs in technology.  

"We are also handling the aesthetic and viewing experience of the audience in the real world with care. During the first stage, there were 200 judges on site. The producers, the audience and the V-life characters can interact on stage through two screens," he added.

In the future, VR glasses will be distributed to the 200 members of the live audience at the studio where the show is filmed. In this way, everyone will be able to use the VR glasses to watch the V-life characters on stage as if they were really there. The process of entering this virtual world will also be presented on TV in real-time so that viewers at home can also enjoy it.

All in all, the show's goal is to popularize China's outstanding original animated imagery so that they can be exposed to more people. 

"It is a platform to expose and popularize these images on a large scale. Next we have the Chinese animators, who have mastered top techniques and ideas, equal to top animators overseas in terms of artistry and technology," he said. 

After the first episode aired on October 22, the show's V-life characters captured the attention of audiences, sparking hot discussion on Chinese social media.