Metaversal is a Bankless newsletter for weekly level-ups on NFTs, virtual worlds, & collectibles
Dear Bankless Nation,
I am my penguin, and my penguin is me.
Now a famous quote and copypasta in NFT lore, this rallying cry was birthed during a 2021 Twitter Spaces discussion when a Pudgy Penguins NFT holder got emotional about their beloved pengu PFP.
Today the humorous saying continues to seriously resonate because at the crossroads of digital life and social media, an NFT really can be a powerful way to express your identity and build a personal brand online.
Yet the PFP you use for, say, Crypto Twitter is a static 2D image. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could virtualize and link up with your NFT so you could assume its form in 3D video content, Zoom video chats, etc.?
Well, you actually already can do such virtualization for a handful of NFT collections and counting courtesy of Hologram Labs’s tools. Let’s get you up to speed on the basics of this tech for today’s post!
👉 Add MetaMask Learn to your onboarding guides for your community ✨
A VTuber is a “virtual YouTuber” or just a virtual video streamer in general who uses a digital avatar with motion capture (mocap) tech to interact with their audience.
The popularity of these virtual entertainers has skyrocketed in recent years, particularly in Japan, as creators have flocked to the anonymity and self-expression possibilities of such avatars as well as to the new sorts of metaversal experiences they open up, like virtual events and virtual merch.
All that said, VTubing has existed since the early 2010s, but the rising contemporary NFT ecosystem is similarly charged with immense potential at this same crossroads of digital identity and virtual presence, and that’s where Hologram comes in.
Created by Hologram Labs, Hologram is a young but growing tech stack designed to help people assume the forms of their favorite NFTs for their video content needs. You don’t have to take my word for it either, you can head over to the Hologram Web app right now and use a webcam to test out the mocap avatar system for yourself:
To go deeper, though, Hologram currently offers two main downloadable products: the Hologram Extension and Hologram Studio. As its name suggests, Hologram Extension is a Chrome browser extension you can download in order to readily take calls on Discord, Google Meet, Zoom, etc. with face-tracking mapped onto your selected NFT.
Since Hologram is still relatively early on and has to develop integrations case-by-case, here note that you can’t just use any NFT you own for face-tracking yet. Hologram does already offer support for a number of partner collections, however, and the team has many further integrations in development. The projects that are compatible now or that will be soon include:
For example, StarCatchers support was nearly finished at the time of this post’s writing, but if you have some of the other projects above you can already dive in with Hologram Extension today. I tested out the flow with a Chain Runners XR NFT and found it straightforward to get everything started and set up.
If you’re interested in diving in here, I recommend checking out the Hologram Extension quickstart guide to learn the basics of changing your avatar’s placement, background, and voice. But maybe you’re more interested in making your own VTuber-style video content rather than taking calls. For this you’ll want to check out the other main product, Hologram Studio.
Simply put, Hologram Studio is a desktop app that makes it easy to create general videos or livestream with your PFP NFT. For instance, check out this short informative video about Cool Cats Fractures created by Hawkward in Cool Cat form via the Studio app:
So whether you want to make similar educational videos, livestream a playthrough of a new NFT game, or make personally-branded promotional content, Hologram Studio is certainly one of the simplest NFT mocap tools around right now, and its capabilities are poised to grow further from here.
Looking further ahead, the Hologram team plans to next rollout the Hologram Hub, which they aim to become creators’ “homebase in the metaverse” where it’ll be possible to “access your digital closet, customize your hologram, create PFPs or stickers with your latest look,” and more. Sounds interesting, so be on the lookout for this in the months ahead.
In the meantime, if you do have an NFT from one of the already compatible collections, consider testing out the Hologram Extension or Hologram Studio apps in these early days to get a leg up. Why? Because these VTuber-style systems are absolutely poised to become a lot more popular going forward, and you can get easy experience with them now!
William M. Peaster is a professional writer and creator of Metaversal—a Bankless newsletter focused on the emergence of NFTs in the cryptoeconomy. He’s also recently been contributing content to Bankless, JPG, and beyond!
Subscribe to Bankless. $22 per mo. Includes archive access, Inner Circle & Badge.
MetaMask Learn is an educational resource to help people understand what web3 is, why it matters, and how to get started. While you may understand core concepts of this decentralized technology, many don’t—consider adding MetaMask Learn to your onboarding guides if you’re a dapp developer or NFT creator to give your community the welcome they deserve.
Not financial or tax advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.
Disclosure. From time-to-time I may add links in this newsletter to products I use. I may receive commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. Additionally, the Bankless writers hold crypto assets. See our investment disclosures here.