[Press]The reason why more than 1,000 people gathered at the theater to see the avatar on the screen

14 Nov 2022


Audiences are lining up to watch the showcase "REVOLUTION HEART 1ST SHOWCASE: TRIGGER" of the virtual idol group "Revolution Heart" held in CGV Wangsimni, Seongdong-gu, Seoul on the 29th of last month. Provided by Caron Universe

"Oh, my! Let's hurry up and go in!"

CGV Wangsimni, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, at 1:30 p.m. on the 29th of last month. More than 600 people began to line up in front of the entrance to the theater at once, with the announcement, "We are entering the showcase for Revolution Heart." They are fans of the four-member boy band Revolution Heart, which debuted in July last year. Fans who rushed into the theater were busy taking proof shots by holding up the cheering stick high against the background of the screen where the members were displayed. After the start of the showcase, whenever the members' faces were close-up on the screen, cheers erupted from the audience, and when the member Gemini acted cute, saying, "I love you," there were fans screaming, "So cute!" When the fan song "Superstar" was released to mark the first anniversary of their debut, fans sang the chorus together.

CGV Wangsimni, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, held the first showcase of Revolution Heart on the afternoon of the 29th of last month. All 608 seats are full. Provided by Caron Universe
At the showcase held on the 29th of last month, the four-member virtual male idol group Revolution Heart is explaining the single "Trigger."
From the left, Onew, Gemini, Jack, Ryu. Provided by Caron Universe
The Revolution Heart Showcase was held at CGV Wangsimni in Seongdong-gu, Seoul on the 29th of last month.
Fans are cheering for the introduction of the new digital single. Reporter Kim Jae-hee: jetti@donga.com

It was a fan's enthusiasm, not unlike any other showcase, but the difference is that there was never a real human being on stage at the showcase. Revolution Heart is a "virtual idol" with a virtual character at the forefront and met fans on the theater screen for an entire hour. More than 1,000 fans flocked to the first showcase ahead of the release of the first digital single "Trigger." According to CGV, all 1,103 seats in three theaters, CGV Wangsimni, CGV Yongsan I'Park Mall, and CGV Yeongdeungpo, where the showcase was held, were sold out in three minutes.

A four-member virtual idol group, Revolution heart. Provided by Caron Universe
"Virtual Idol" with virtual characters is gaining huge popularity among the 10s and 20s. Virtual idols are different from the "virtual humans" created by AI, not only their appearance, but also their voices, movements, and conversations, such as "Rosie," "Sua," and "Han Yoo- The virtual idol hides a real person who plays an avatar. It uses "tracking" technology that detects facial expressions and body movements made by real humans and reflects them in virtual reality (VR) images.

The virtual girl group that debuted last year, "Idol in the World". Parable Entertainment Delivery
The most popular group as a virtual idol is the six-member girl group "Lee Se-gye Idol" (Lee Se-dol), which debuted in August last year. Lee Se-dol, who was made up of six members selected through auditions in the virtual world by the video streaming service "Twitch," topped the music chart with his debut song "RE:WIND" in December last year. Kakao Entertainment is also planning to introduce survival entertainment "Girls Reverse" on the 28th, where actual girl group members participate in auditions as avatars.

The strength of virtual idols is their active communication with fans. Usually, idols have limitations in communication because they have many schedules such as live broadcasting only at the time set by their agencies, appearances on broadcasts, and concerts. Virtual idols do not have to go to the physical space, so they have time and often serve as "streamers" who do online live broadcasts, so they actively communicate with fans.

Jeong Se-min (19, female), who met at the showcase, said, "Revolution Heart does live broadcasts every day and reads all the comments from fans. He said, "It is different from the actual idol group that broadcasts live every one to two weeks." Lee (23, female) said, "It was originally an ARMY (a BTS fandom), but a few years ago, the frequency of turning on V-app (a real-time communication platform) was irregular and almost no entertainment was available." "I had a one-on-one conversation and switched to a revolution heart that felt like an 'idol in my hand'."

Sofia, a humanoid robot that is often referred to as an example of an "unpleasant valley." The features, facial expressions, and electronic circuits in the back of the head that are similar to humans but look somewhat awkward. Delivering Hanson Robotics
It also has the advantage of reducing the "unpleasant valley" when humans are behind avatars. The theory is that unpleasant valleys do not feel repulsed by virtual humans that are completely different from or the same as humans, but they become repulsed when they see a clumsy virtual human in the middle stage. In the case of virtual idols, the reluctance is reduced because humans become the subject of conversation. Kim Myung-joo, a professor of information protection at Seoul Women's University, said, "Virtual idols are friendly because they are not perfect fakes, but have a human appearance to some extent. Until a virtual human comes out, there will be transitional beings that can reduce the discomfort of encountering awkward AI."

Rather than wondering who the human beings behind the avatar are, the 10th and 20th generation accept and enjoy the characters and worldviews as they are. Shin Ye-ji, CEO of Caron Universe, which includes Revolution Heart, said, "Virtual idols can create a worldview that gives each member a clear personality and unique ability, so there are many fans in their 10s and 20s who fall in love with the worldview," adding, "Fans such as webtoons and web novels using characters are also making secondary works active."



Reporter Kim Jae-hee: jetti@donga.com



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