The Sonic Society

Showcasing the very best in new Audio Drama

Voice Appropriation

I’m going to have to call myself a Futurist. Thirty years ago I had the insight that in the future, there wouldn’t be anymore actors on television. We’d get to a point in our computer animation and voice work that we could take the very best actors from the past, and using 3d modeling create entirely new virtual movies with new plots. Imagine new comedies starring Marilyn Monroe or Jack Lemmon, or a new dystopic science fiction thriller starring Charlton Heston and Raquel Welch. I saw “live” or “studio” recordings to be relegated as part of the art school, and most actors who wanted to express their craft would have to go back to a kind of vaudeville act on stage.

In my original assessment the visuals would come first, maybe beginning with the actors voicing their own lines like they do in animation. But according to TwistedSifter Adobe Audition project VoCo has just leaped in front with text-to-voice capabilities. How capable this technology is yet, it hard to tell. But in the demonstration, the editor can type text and create brand new audio the speaker never said. Admittedly, these would be short pieces, but long will it be before those expand to full scripts?

So what does that mean? Imagine scanning the recordings¬†of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley, and James Doohan. Suddenly the classic stories of Trek go on long past the lives of the original actors. And who owns the voice that never recorded these recordings? One could argue someone’s image can’t be used without their permission, but how can you legally argue someone’s voice that is manufactured electronically can’t become the lead in brand new audio dramas? And don’t get me even started on the possibilities of slash fiction.

It appears we’re entering not just a new age of technology, but a new age that questions the very uniqueness of one of our most personal attributes. Our voices.

Brave New Worlds indeed!


About The Author

Born to Teachers and Amateur Audio Enthusiasts in the small rural community of Belwood, Jack's first love was stories- writing, reading, telling, and singing. He developed his acting skills through High School, University, and through film and community theatre. Jack writes the lion's share of Electric Vicuna's Audio Drama scripts and has his own writing site at www.jackjward.com He's thrilled to co-host the Sonic Society with his wonderful, talented, friend David Ault!

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