AI technology could replace actors – here’s how they think about it

Today, EVERYTHING is being automated, from self-service checkouts to self-driving cars, jobs are being taken away from real people.

One job that always felt safe was acting. It’s not easy for humans, let alone robots, to convey human emotions.

The Ascent uses AI technology for its voice acting.


The Ascent uses AI technology for its voice acting.Photo credit: Neon Giant

But a company Altered AIhopes to break that barrier, promising to give game developers the tools to “create compelling, professional voice performances.”

Around 20 professional voice actors have currently lent their work to the database, and hundreds of other ‘joint’ voices complement the library.

Developers can submit a recording of what they want to say and the AI ​​will create a “performance”.

Similarly, you can enter an actor’s performance and then change the tone or voice type—this includes changing a male actor’s voice to make it sound female.

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Speaking to GLHF, Ioannis Agiomyrgiannakis, the company’s CEO, says: “I never believed in a human replacement.”

Rather, he likens the technology to a tool that can be used alongside real human professionals.

However, games like The Ascent are already being created using AI voices.

Ninja Theory, developer of the upcoming Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga, has also partnered with Altered AI, although the deal is still under wraps.

There can be many more big names. Non-disclosure agreements often prevent parties from disclosing that a partnership exists, especially when the content is so controversial.

He explains: “What we make are tools that enable people to do performances themselves.

“There is a gap between the way the writer envisions the dialogue and the way the dialogue plays out.

“We provide an intermediate step where they can prototype the dialogue and have a checkpoint before going into the studio.”

It doesn’t sound like AI will automatically optimize an actor’s performance, but we’re no experts.

So we spoke to some people who: Are professional video game voice actors.

Sarah Elmaleh, the actress of Gears of War 5’s Lizzie Carmine, had some interesting insights on the subject.

She says: “You may be familiar with lines of text — say the line how you think you want it to sound so the actor can copy it.

“Line-reading is usually an unfortunate last-ditch effort to get lost in direction, and ‘copy’ usually sounds dead on your feet.

“When you hire an actor, you get so much more than just a sound. Great dialogue doesn’t just come from the mouth, it comes from the heart first.

“Some of the most wonderful moments in a session are when an actor surprises you, and maybe even himself, with a deeply motivated decision you never expected.”

Red Dead Redemption 2’s Roger Clark has similar concerns.

He says: “I think AI is a viable solution for some, but I’d be lying if there weren’t some concerns about how it might affect actors and their ability to work.

“I have the feeling that humanity cannot be digitized. We’re all experts at being human, and can sniff out imitations with amazing speed and accuracy.

“I know we’ve all speculated about the possible harm that could be done – legally, financially and seriously.

“When two or more actors work together and have a real connection, it’s magical.”

In story-driven games like Firewatch, the chemistry between the two main characters is what really makes the game.

Since all of the dialogue takes place over a walkie-talkie, the voice actors had to put in the work to show the emotions their unseen faces couldn’t.

Cissy Jones, who plays Delilah on Firewatch, explains, “Human power is at the heart of great games.

“A synthetic performance is soulless by definition, thereby stripping away the artistry, collaboration and creative spark that emanates from people working together to create the narrative and emotional immersion that players and wider audiences deserve.

“The reason people hire voice actors is because we bring the unexpected. We bring words to life on a page. That’s the magic.”

Caitlyn Oenbrick Rainey used to be a voice actress but now works for Altered AI.

According to Rainey, the technique focuses on the prosody of the performance and can convey the pitch, dynamics, and even energy of a line being read.

Technology can, will, and probably is doing more than just changing performer lines.

Using AI to voice out NPCs and background characters would significantly reduce development costs without dramatically reducing the game’s immersion.

Agiomyrgiannakis claims that this technology could create work for actors, as developers who originally used text bubbles for speech can use AI technology instead.

The AI ​​is created using the voices of real professional actors who, while anonymous, are reportedly award-winning.

He says: “We hide them. We hid them so hard we don’t even know. We have never been confronted with their names.”

They have remained anonymous because they fear their fellow actors will scold them for reducing their opportunities to work in the industry.

He continues: “Bloggers didn’t kill the newspapers. YouTubers didn’t kill the TV. People are just consuming more these days.”

However, many cast members started out in these smaller background roles.

Without those little bits to fill out their resume and casting roles, they might never have caught the eye for bigger roles.

Elias Toufexis of The Expanse explains: “AI works for smaller game performances, but it still doesn’t work for real performance.

“Check out the Boba Fett episode with Luke Skywalker – his entire vocal performance is AI and it’s awful.

“If they do it for ‘Grenade!’ and ‘come down!’ It’s fine in Call of Duty type games.

“It will hurt a few new voice actors though because that’s a window for a lot of us.”

Ashly Burch, who voices Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, doesn’t know how successful the AI ​​will be either.

She says, “I completely understand the desire for affordable voice-over (VO) for indie developers.

“What I don’t think a lot of people know is that SAG-AFTRA (the American actors’ union) has a low-budget agreement to address this problem.

“It was specifically designed to give indie developers access to quality VO without breaking the bank.

“Artistically, you will never get a truly dynamic and compelling performance from an AI. A few battle barks? Maybe.

“But if you’re looking for something human, nuanced and alive, AI won’t do it.

“A lot of new VO people start with low-budget or smaller titles. As developers move to AI, it will displace an entire entry point for young artists.”

Agiomyrgiannakis sees new players starting to work for AI companies instead of taking on these background roles.

As it stands now, actors are not getting credit for their roles in the AI ​​as they choose to remain anonymous.

There are other concerns about how the new technology will affect the industry.

We’ve already seen companies promote their games through streamers while reducing the cost of producing the game.

Contracts change. They often have clauses requiring actors to sign their voices and likenesses for life.

Combined with new AI technology, a company could keep an actor’s work and later revise and reuse it without paying for it.

Yuri Lowenthal, who voices Peter Parker’s Spider-Man in the Marvel games, explains, “Underestimating the actor’s contribution can lead to exploitation and could be avoided by starting a conversation with the actors to make it work for everyone.

“Up until now I don’t think any of these AI companies have reached out to us as a whole to see if we can agree on what is fair use and fair compensation for the use of our voices, our performances could.

“I’ve started to see very vague clauses in actors’ contracts that allow companies to use our performances for whatever they want in perpetuity, and may have already done so to develop this technology.

“This is a scary precedent already being set, and I want to start a conversation with AI companies about how we can protect actors and, in turn, the storytelling ecosystem.”

Aside from the financial problems of the new technology, there is also the problem of actors’ voices and likenesses being used in projects they morally dislike.

Cissy Jones explains, “Too many companies require actors to sign horrible contracts without affecting the end product for an often crappy one-off buyout.

“I definitely understand how fascinating technology like this can be for indie games, but if we don’t have guard rails as actors; Our voices could end up being used for objectionable materials or inappropriate casting.”

One day AI could be just as useful for actors as automatic subtitles are for those watching YouTube.

Having an AI give different performances could help an actor choose which one fits the tone they are aiming for.

However, if these companies and unions don’t sit down and talk about what’s right and fair for both sides, we risk pushing the talent that drives the stories out of the industry.

SAG-AFTRA made a final comment on the discussion.

A spokesman for the union said: “As technology continues to transform the entertainment and media landscape, we will continue to create contracts that are fair and protective for artists and responsive to the needs of the companies looking to hire them.

“We also add or negotiate language to our existing contracts that provide critical protections against misuse or unauthorized use of members’ voice or image through technology.

“Protecting an artist’s digital self is a critical issue for SAG-AFTRA and our members.

“These new technologies offer exciting new opportunities, but they can also pose potential threats to artists’ livelihoods.

“It is critical that performers control the use of their digital selves, are adequately compensated for their use, and are able to provide informed consent. “

We may not be able to stem the tide of the oncoming wave of AI technology, but perhaps there is a way we can negotiate with it.

Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN.

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