Creation of a CG Idol

What is the software that HoriPro must develop today on the threshold of the multimedia age? One of the answers we reached led to the creation of the virtual idol DK-96.

In the beginning of 1995, a team of staff at HoriPro engaged in a heated discussion and exchanged their ideas on the development of new software suitable for the age of "multimedia". They concluded that HoriPro, with this experience in the various areas of entertainment business, should create an character in computer graphics and develop that into a teen idol exactly as if it would do with a real person.

A special project was organized consisting of professionals from each department in the company: artist management, TV commercial production, TV show production, promotion etc. Visual Science Laboratory (VSL), one of Japan's leading computer graphics soft houses whose executives also shared a dream of creating a "human" with CG technology, was recruited for the actual computer programming of the first "virtual idol" in the history.

Code Name: DK (Digital Kids)

In the process of creating a "human character," each member of the project presented an idea on the type of artist sought after in his or her professional field. Since there were no limits to what this new "character" can be and do, all of these ideas has been incorporated as "data" for the plan.

The actual work was begun by choosing the female gender and defining the detailed image for basic parts such as her face, hair, figure, and eyes. Based on this image, the designers at VSL spent days and nights on research and development. For the body movement, "Motion Capture," the technology most commonly used in computer games, which with special cameras and reflectors converts movement of body and facial muscles into computer data, was utilized.

With this technology, facial expression and lip movement while singing and talking were captured and converted into data so that they can be synchronized with actual voice data. This project was one ofthe first in Japan to use such method. At this point in development ofthe first CG idol, the project decided give her a code name DK-96.

DK stands for "digital kids" and has later been adopted as initials for her stage name "Kyoko Date."

Approaching the 21st Century...

18 months of hard work and a large sum of money brought the virtual idol "Kyoko Date DK-96" into reality. However, this project is not yet complete. In few years, technology will enable Kyoko to appear on a live TV show and chat with other artists. A motion picture and TV shows with virtual talents will no longer be a dream.

Also, the existing computer program for Kyoko can easily be applied to the second and third generation CG characters. In a sense, Kyoko Date DK-96 is the result of creativity combined with the latest technology and is the beginning or "sample test" of the new genre of media personalities -- "Virtual Idol".

© 1996 HoriPro Japan