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2019 in Review: The Rise of Deepfake and AI!

What a way to end the decade!

10 years ago voiceover was less diverse and amazing than it now is today. That trend is only going to continue as the content world becomes more and more specific and tailored to each individual audience member.

We started 2019 full of prognostications and ideas as to how the sands of the voiceover and content world may shift.

By year's end the prominence of deepfake videos and images are everywhere. Allowing anyone to make anyone do and say whatever they wish to with life like reality. At the beginning of the year (January 2019: What’s Ahead for Voiceover and Content, and How to Stay Relevant?) VR / AR and AI were highlighted as the trends to come. Deepfake videos make that point front and centre. This is coming and in a big way.

Source: Wired Article Here

It raises the question: Is the Voiceover artist replaceable in this changing world of Content (March 2019: The changing Face of Content)?

The answer is no. That post recognised the changing forms of content compared to decades ago, and the changing voices that we hear in them because there is more than one audience. Long gone are the days of the stuffy male voice from the heavens. AI replicating such diversity in the VO landscape today is not yet a reality.

Just as we discovered what makes a commercial Memorable and Amazing (February 2019: What makes an amazing and memorable Commercial?), those same attributes can be given to a human voice. But only one that has trained, learned through trial and error and has a deep consciousness. These are all things that AI is yet to master.

So it means that a voiceover artist can pull out 20 different characters in 60 seconds (April 2019: The Man of 1000 voices!) and a human audience will be able to recognise pretty quickly when the sound quality and skill of the artist is poor, artificial or not real (May 2019: Why Sound Quality Matters!).

How to give human nuance, consciousness and depth to a man made machine? A voiceover artist can do it in moments. A machine cannot yet match that. That’s because a Voiceover artist knows how the voice works (June 2019: The SECRET guide to how the voice works: And why you need to know about it!). And they rely on their training too. Elements like passion, speed and talent that have been honed over the years on countless jobs and with different coaches (July 2019: Why you NEED a professionally trained actor behind the microphone!)

Just imagine in the session with the engineer, VO artist, and you guys (the producer) the Client says do it more yellow. How would a machine interpret that? Would it be able to give something back that the client is asking for? A human can read the intonation and body language that follows that request and can make it happen in moments, based largely on an intuitive sense of what comes to them. (September 2019: “The Most Common Voiceover War Story!” or How I learned to Love Conflicting directions in the booth”). It takes a level of consciousness to match that, which AI does not yet have.

So yes, deepfakes and AI are here in more prevalent ways in 2019. But as human beings we have access to a deep well of intuition and senses whether we are in touch with them or not. In front of a microphone, a voiceover artist draws on their bank of lived experiences to make a commercial come alive, voice a character on the fly in 5 seconds or less (October 2019: How to Voice a Character on the Fly?) and speak with authenticity and the collective history of where they come from (November 2019: The Many Accents of English!).

These are things deepfakes and AI are nowhere near capable of. The robots are joining human existence, but are not replacing us just yet.

Merry Christmas! May the remaining days of 2019 bring you joy and laughter.

If you like, please share.

Paul Mclaughlin © Versatile Voiceovers

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