The Creep of Artificial Voiceover
A little rant about artificial voice. While researching my recent musing about long copy, I came across an interesting discovery. Googling “Long copy voiceover” produces a lot of the expected results, like tutorials, blogs, and voiceover ads. A few results, however, were for products. Those products? The voiceover artists of the future.
NaturalReader, for example, is a product made for long copy voiceover. Its “natural-sounding voice” does all the work for you without hiring those pesky voiceover artists that do this for a living. To quote one review from MiracleTutorial:
The video above is a bit more then 3 minutes, so count on it that you pay at least $200.00 for a real voice to cover a video like that. I bought the package of two voices for only $69.50…
Wow! $69.50 for voiceover than almost sounds natural. Almost. It’s definitely worth noting that it doesn’t quite sound natural. It sounds like a robotic imitation of a voice. To be fair, you might miss it for a few seconds, but if you are paying the slightest bit attention, it becomes rather clear that it is not a natural voice.
It is natural enough, though, to rag on voiceover people about:
Soon, you will no longer hear the difference and real voice-overs make mistakes too. I worked with quite a few of them in the past and a common problem is that they can sound like they are reading text instead of talking spontaneously. NaturalVoice voices are not reading, they speak, be it in their own funny way, but they have a bright future ahead. So, investing in software like this will help us all in the long run.
That’s right, folks. You don’t want to hire voiceover artists! They just sound like they’re reading. This software really feels the text and uses emotion.
I’ve talked a bit about my problems with Fiverr and how it is “killing the industry” but to be completely honest, it’s not the only thing. Programs like this, as they get more and more sophisticated, might just end up being the future of voiceover. And that, my friends, is entirely a shame. The same technological boom that puts voiceover studios in people’s own homes may also be inevitably creeping toward making those studios obsolete.
The reviewer even has the cojones to bring this up in his review:
I agree there is an ethical problem in a sense that you take away jobs in the voice-over industry, but that is happening in many fields. I created realistic illustrations for ad agencies many years ago, and I was moved aside by Photoshop.
Yes, but designers can use Photoshop as a tool. I don’t see how voiceover artists can “use” NaturalReader.
I’m not going to jump on the “Voiceover is a dying industry” train I sometimes hear, but I will say that as voiceovers become easier to come by, people who produce quality work will be harder to find as the others abandon the harsh competition from the artificial side of the industry.
Until then, at least, I will take pride in my work. Humans can do that, you know.