Actors speak out against signing away their voices for AI recreation


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Staff member
A hot potato: The meteoric rise of generative artificial intelligence over the last few months might be exciting for big companies looking to cash in, but it's also giving rise to fears about how the technology will impact a broad range of jobs, with everything from lawyers and coders to creators and teachers potentially under threat. One industry that's also worried about AI is that of voice actors, many of whom are now being asked to sign away the rights to their voices so they can be digitally generated; a technique that could replace the actors themselves.

Being able to generate actors' voices has allowed the creation of shows and movies that wouldn't have been possible years ago. James Earl Jones, for example, gave his blessing to an artificial recreation of the Darth Vader voice, a role he has occupied for 45 years, in the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series, making his vocals sound like they did in 1977. And Director Joseph Kosinski said the voice of Iceman was digitally altered for clarity in Top Gun: Maverick due to actor Val Kilmer's medical condition.

But the use of AI in the voice industry has a less positive side. More actors are now under contractual obligation to sign away the rights to their voices, sometimes without compensation, writes Motherboard. The publication notes that many companies now offer voice cloning, generating, or synthesizing services for prices as low as $30 per month. A few websites offer this service by just uploading recordings, making it possible to synthesize a voice without the owner's consent.

Fryda Wolff, who has voiced games that include Apex Legends, said, "game developers, animation studios, and perhaps even commercial clients could get away with squeezing more performances out of me through feeding my voice to AI, using these generated performances, and then never compensating me for use of my 'likeness,' never mind informing my agency that this was done."

Tim Friedlander, president and founder of the National Association of Voice Actors (NAVA), said that contracts that allow producers to synthesize actors' voices, often without extra compensation, are now "very prevalent," and the actors sometimes don't realize that these clauses have been added. Occasionally, those that object are told they won't be hired without agreeing to the terms.

While Hollywood stars are unlikely to feel the impact of their voices being generated digitally, those trying to break into the business and working full-time hours to make ends meet could suffer. "Those jobs are what will be lost to synthetic voices first and will damage a large part of the industry," said Friedlander.

Voice generation technology is improving all the time. Microsoft's voice AI tool, called Vall-E, can replicate a person's voice right down to their timbre and emotional tone after hearing just a three-second sample. Like Deepfakes, there's concern over the potential misuse of these tools, such as impersonating politicians or tricking people into believing they are talking to family, friends, or officials and handing over sensitive data.

SungWon Cho, a game and animation voice actor who also uses the name ProZD, summed up many actors' feelings. "I'm completely against it. Synthesizing a voice takes the soul and spontaneity out of a real-life performance." He added "I can only hope that synthetic voices just go away entirely, but at the very least, actors should be given the option to not agree to their use."

Masthead: Ociacia

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James Ryan

Posts: 51   +79
For a reference point.
I used a free one the other day and dumped 3, 3 hour sections of an audio book into it.
The voice it generated was on par with the original.
With the exception of some text to speech issues you couldn't tell the difference. But that can easily be tuned.

They are coming for the low hanging fruit first but actors will be next. AI is already being trained to generate video in the same way it is generating art and photos.

When it comes to AI most people have a set amount of days left in their profession....


Posts: 4,688   +7,135
I wonder who industries think will buy their products when everyone's job has been taken by machines. The AI-driven future looks utterly dystopian.


Posts: 3,464   +3,173
You mean thise overpaid overinflated ego Hollyweirdo's are upset their gravy train might end?


Posts: 257   +148
There are 8 billion people (not counting those born in the future and those born in the past), do you think there are 8 billion different voice timbres? Of course not, there are about 100 at the most, so each voice timbre is shared by 80 million people. It's more like a hairstyle.

If you sit still behind a microphone or a camera for an hour and get paid for it, it's a luxury, not a right. It won't last forever.

In general, the fewer workers it takes to produce a product, the cheaper and more affordable it will be, and the fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere, as each of those workers uses cars to get around and consumes energy (heating, electricity) while working, and all of them need even more secondary workers to support them while they work (cleaning, food, tax administration, insurance, etc.).

So if the product is produced with as few workers as possible, it will end up being more affordable economically and less damaging to the planet in terms of energy.

When a product becomes cheaper, it means that people have to work less to buy it. So in the long run, the more machines are involved in the work environment, the easier it will be for people to have access to the products because they will be cheaper, and therefore people will have more free time because they will have to work less time.

For example, if there were no robots in the car industry, 90% of the people wouldn't be able to afford to buy a car. That’s why houses are more expensive than cars even if they use cheaper materials and are easiest and more simple to construct, it’s because they are hand made by workers.


Posts: 419   +318
You mean thise overpaid overinflated ego Hollyweirdo's are upset their gravy train might end?
No, they mean the working stiffs who don't have big enough reputations to say no to big corporations trying to eliminate their jobs.


Posts: 1,490   +1,080
Simple if you are a somebody - know your worth - don't sign away your voice without royalties - or you just want a big payout, old and don't care about leaving an inheritance

Voice actors are very skillful - it's not just sitting behind a microphone- probably some acting may be easier as have whole body to convey emotion

James Ryan

Posts: 51   +79
Which one? I'd like to try it.
It is called Elevenlabs. I went back to try it just now and they have slipped it behind the paywall now. You can only use the txt to speech option for free (10,000 characters) prior to that you had 6000 characters of text to speech plus you could clone a voice. The trick was that you could just keep making accounts and getting a new set of 6000 characters.

I believe 4chan was another reason they moved it into the paid features. Them getting up to mischief as usual.

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,455   +8,698
If you take a close look at how talent makes their money, quite a few of them make over 25% of their income by voice/over roles. It's one thing to sell your "voice" but quite another to have it taken without permission and the basis of this is simple. It's illegal to take music recordings of singers w/o their permission or compensation, why shouldn't it be the same for voice overs?


Posts: 154   +43
There are 8 billion people (not counting those born in the future and those born in the past), do you think there are 8 billion different voice timbres?
You can use that argument to devalue many things, such as CEO pay.

Resources aren't even close to being equally distributed to set all those people up for what is commonly called success by those who determine that they are successful.

I have never seen another woman who looks like Naomi Campbell. Perhaps she has identical copies somewhere. If I had been tasked with hiring a female model in 1991 I would have hired her, precisely for her looks.

One of Kinsey's arguments is that even a simple creature he studied extensively came in practically innumerable variations.

My guess is that CEOs would be more interchangeable than good voice actors, given equal resource distribution.