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Will AI voices replace real actors?

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Zeena Qureshi

CEO & Co-founder

June 3, 2021

The short answer is no: AI voices will never replace actors

If game, animation, and film studios can access extremely realistic, expressive AI voices, will real-life actors lose their jobs? The short answer is no: AI voices will never replace actors. And in fact, the development of AI voice models and the use of those AI voices by studios benefit not only the studios but the actors as well. 

It's no secret that the lives of working actors can be extremely challenging. Even actors with the skills, dedication, and fortune to land good roles must work constantly to find the next projects. They have to be ready at a moment’s notice to audition and always be available to take on a new part. And of course, between projects, they must have a way to pay the bills.

The studios and production companies that hire actors might seem to have a surplus of talent to choose from. But finding the right actor for each part is no small feat. Game developers and animation studios have added challenges. Their projects would benefit from working with actors intermittently over extended periods of time, continuously modifying lines and experimenting with different inflections. Unfortunately, actors are not always immediately available for the short sessions that these creative teams need to keep projects moving.

Empowering actors and studios with AI voices from Sonantic

At Sonantic, we understand the challenges facing both actors and studios. With expertise in speech and AI plus backgrounds in Hollywood sound production, we saw an opportunity to develop technology that could change the paradigm for voice acting work to the benefit of all industry participants. 

By providing hyper-realistic, captivating AI voices, we offer game and film studios a way to accelerate creative workflows and scale storytelling while drawing on the talents of experienced voice actors. Just as important, our AI voices enable actors to expand their careers, improve work flexibility, and gain another fully compensated outlet for their work.

Partnering with actors to build cutting-edge tech

Our product would not be possible without talented voice actors. AI voices learn from the recordings of real actors performing specific dialogue. As Sonantic CTO and Co-Founder John Flynn explains it, “The goal is to teach these algorithms with the highest-quality performances. I saw how important that is firsthand in my work on Hollywood films. Once you hear a fantastic actor perform, you know this is the only way to create a truly realistic voice model—an AI voice that the actor can be proud of.”

At Sonantic, we and our actors see our collaborative work as a partnership. According to Taylor, one of our voice actors, “The idea of having an AI voice that could work for me was equal parts thrilling and satisfying. I’ve never had this level of control in a project before. I know that my input is valued and has shaped the tech, which is very cool.”

Another Sonantic actor, Weston, agrees: “Working with Sonantic, we’re still collaborating and trying new things when it comes to building a voice profile. It gives the actor a voice—no pun intended—in the literal building process.”

Generating new sources of income

From the moment we started building our product, we wanted to ensure that our actors would benefit financially from their partnership with us. Each time a client uses an actor’s voice model, the actor receives a profit share. Since multiple Sonantic clients can—and often do—use the same actor’s voice simultaneously, each actor could potentially gain a substantial passive revenue stream.

Creating new career opportunities, enhancing flexibility

Contributing to the Sonantic platform can also help actors land roles for which they might not have been considered otherwise. By creating models for AI voices, actors can lend their voice to games and animated productions where the characters look completely different than the actors. As a result, actors can avoid typecasting. “I was tired of getting cast in ‘young blonde’ roles and excited about the possibility of not being limited by my physical appearance or ‘type,’” says Taylor. 

Actors can also avoid geographic restrictions. They can contribute to productions that are thousands of miles and multiple time zones away from where they live. Without having to fly to a new location for work, actors do not have to make difficult choices between projects or struggle to resolve conflicting schedules.

In addition to reducing travel, working with Sonantic provides greater work flexibility. Actors can capture their voices in recording studios that are distant from production teams or even work from home. The importance of work flexibility was clear during the pandemic. Looking ahead, the work flexibility of contributing to AI voices will continue to benefit actors. 

As Taylor explains, “[Working with Sonantic] offers a more flexible way of working that not only allows but also encourages actors to seek out other pursuits—be it different work, pleasure, familial duties, etc. It encourages alternative ways of thinking about and executing performance.”

Avoiding vocal strain

An actor’s voice is their greatest asset—and vocal strain is often a top concern and limiting factor in accepting jobs. Before taking on roles, actors must consider how gruelling their performance schedule might be. They also need to determine whether a job one day might make it impossible for their voice to recover in time for another job shortly after.

By contributing to our AI voice platform, actors preserve their voices. Actors can have their AI voices used by multiple projects, all running simultaneously, without taxing their vocal cords. Production studios can even have those AI voices shout, repeatedly, without pushing the physical limits of actors. 

Simplifying actor participation

We are committed to making it as easy as possible for actors to contribute their talent to the Sonantic platform. We provide audio equipment and other resources to the actors who need them. We also walk actors through the recording setup to ensure they can deliver clear, high-quality audio. 

To make sure partnering with Sonantic is beneficial for our actors, we also continuously implement actor feedback. We want to provide the most seamless, user-friendly process and recording portal possible. 

Envisioning a hybrid future for acting work

We see a future in which actors continue to do traditional acting work while their voice models enhance studio workflows. Just as CGI has become an essential technology for developing creative visual ideas, AI voice models will become indispensable tools for experimenting with scripted dialogue, exploring different approaches to vocal performances, and even producing personalised content. 

Actors, meanwhile, can focus their time and effort on real-life work: going to auditions, taking classes, participating in theatre productions, accepting jobs in commercials, and more. The AI voices will help provide the freedom and flexibility to engage in all of that work while generating a supplementary income. 

In this hybrid future, AI voices will not replace real humans in the entertainment industry. Studios will gain new creative options and actors will be able to pursue fulfilling, career-defining roles—while choosing how they work: virtually, in person, or even both at the same time. 

Ready to learn more about how AI voices can help your studio? Contact our team to get started.

Want to contribute your voice to an AI model? Contact us.

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