Nowadays everything is automated, from self-service payments to self-driving cars, jobs are being taken away from real people.
One of the jobs I’ve always felt safe with was acting. Transmitting human emotions is not easy for humans, let alone robots.
However, one company, Artificial intelligence has been modifiedIt hopes to break through that barrier, and promises to give game developers the tools to “create compelling professional audio presentations”.
Currently, about 20 professional voice actors have submitted their work to the database, with hundreds of other “common” voices making up its library.
Developers can send in a recording of what they want to say, and the AI will create a “performance”.
Similarly, you can enter the performance of an actor and then change the tone or type of voice – this includes changing the voice of a male actor and making it sound more feminine.
Speaking to GLHF, Ioannis Agyumergianakis, CEO of the company, said: “I have never believed in human replacement.”
It is more like technology with a tool that can be used in tandem with real human professionals.
However, games like The Ascent are already being created with the help of AI voices.
Ninja Theory, developer of Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga, has also formed a partnership with Altered AI, although the deal is still closed.
There may be many more big names than this. Non-disclosure agreements often prevent parties from disclosing the existence of a partnership, especially when content is controversial like this.
He explains: “What we make are tools that allow people to perform on their own.
“There is a gap between how the writer imagines the dialogue, and how the dialogue is conducted.
“We offer an intermediate step where they can prototype the dialogue and set up a checkpoint before they get to the studio.”
It doesn’t look like AI would be a way to automatically fine-tune an actor’s performance, but we’re not experts.
So we talked to some people: professional video game voice actors.
Sarah Elmaleh, actress, Lizzie Carmine from War Gears 5He has some interesting thoughts on this topic.
She says, “You’re probably so used to reading the line—saying the line the way you think you want it to sound so that the actor can copy it.
Line readings are usually an unfortunate last-ditch failure of direction, and ‘copies’ usually look dead on their feet.
“When you hire an actor, you get so much more than just a voice. Great dialogue doesn’t just come from the mouth, it first comes from the heart.”
“Some of the most amazing moments of the session are when an actor and perhaps himself surprises you with a super motivating choice you never expected.”
Roger Clark of Red Dead Redemption 2 fame has similar concerns.
He says, “I feel like AI is a viable solution for some, but I’d be lying if there weren’t some concerns about how it affected actors and their ability to function.
I feel that humanity cannot be digitized. We are all experts at being human and can elicit imitations with remarkable speed and accuracy.
“I know we’ve all speculated about the potential damage that could happen – legally, financially and reputationally.
“When two or more actors work together and have a real connection, it’s magical.”
In story-based games like Firewatch, the harmony between the two main characters is what really makes the game.
Since all the dialogue takes place over a walkie-talkie, the voice actors had to put in the work of displaying emotions that their invisible faces could not.
Sissy Jones, who plays Delilah on Firewatch, explains: “Human performance is at the core of great games.
“Synthetic performance is soulless by definition, and thus misses the art, collaboration, and creative spark that comes from people working together to create the narrative and emotional immersion that players and the broader audience deserve.
“The reason people hire voice actors is because we bring the unexpected. We bring the words on the page to life. That is the magic.”
Caitlyn Oenbrick Rainey used to work in voice acting, but now works with Altered AI.
According to Rainey, the technology focuses on displaying performance and can convey pitch, dynamism, and even the energy of the line being read.
Technology can go as far as changing the lines of performers, and it will, and probably already does.
Pronouncing NPCs and background characters using AI will significantly reduce development costs, without greatly compromising the game’s immersion.
Agiomyrgiannakis claims that this technology could create work for actors, where developers who were originally using text bubbles could use AI technology instead.
The AI is created using the voices of real professional actors, who, although anonymous, are said to be award winning.
He says: We hide them. We’ve hidden them so badly that we don’t even know. We’ve never been exposed to their names.”
They have remained anonymous due to concerns that fellow actors will blame them for lowering their chances of working in the industry.
He continues, “Bloggers didn’t kill newspapers. YouTubers didn’t kill TV. People consume more nowadays.”
However, many performers got started in these smaller background roles.
Without these secondary parts to piece together their résumés and reels, they might never have been noticed for bigger roles.
Elias Tovexis from Extension He explains: “Artificial intelligence works with simple game renderings, but not with real performance.
“Go watch the Boba Fett episode with Luke Skywalker in it – his whole voice acting is AI and it’s terrible.
If they need it for a ‘Grenade! and “Get down!” in the Call of Duty games, that’s fine.
“It’s going to hurt a bunch of new voice actors, though, because that’s a window to a lot of us.”
Ashley Burch, who voiced Aloy from Horizon Zero DawnIt is also not known how successful artificial intelligence will be.
She says, “I fully understand the desire for affordable voice feedback (VO) for indie developers.
“What I think a lot of people don’t know is that SAG-AFTRA (American Actors Guild) has a low-budget agreement to address this issue.
“It was specifically designed so that independent developers can gain access to high-quality VO without breaking the bank.
“Technically speaking, you’ll never get a really dynamic and convincing performance out of an AI. A few combat barks? Can.”
“But if you’re looking for something human, subtle and lively, AI won’t cut it.
“Low budget or smaller titles is where a lot of new VO members start. If developers move to AI, a whole entry point for young artists will be cut back.”
Agiomyrgiannakis sees new actors starting to work in AI companies, rather than taking on these background roles.
As it stands now, the actors do not receive credit for their roles in AI because they choose to remain anonymous.
There are other concerns about how new technology will affect the industry.
We’ve already seen companies promoting their games through streaming devices, while cutting costs in game production.
Contracts change. They often have paragraphs where actors have to sign their votes and the like for life.
Combined with the new AI technology, the company can keep an actor’s work, recreate it later and reuse it without paying for it.
Yuri Lowenthal, who voiced Peter Parker Spider Man In Marvel Games he explains: “Belittling an actor’s contribution can lead to exploitation, and it can be avoided by starting a conversation with the actors so we can make it work for everyone.
“So far, I don’t think anyone from these AI companies has reached out to us as a whole, to see if we can agree on what would be fair use and fair compensation for the use of our votes and our performance.
“I started catching very vague clauses in representative contracts that would allow companies to use our shows for anything they wanted forever, and probably did in order to advance this technology.
“This is a frightening precedent that has already been set, and I want to start a conversation with AI companies about how we can protect actors and, again, the storytelling ecosystem.”
Aside from the financial issues of new technology, there is also the question of actors’ voices and the like being used in projects that they are morally opposed to.
Cissy Jones explains: “Many companies require reps to sign horrific contracts with no input on the final product in exchange for an often bad one-off purchase.
“I certainly understand how interesting technology like this can be for indie games, but if we don’t have protective barriers as actors; our voices may end up being used for offensive material or inappropriate casting.”
One day, artificial intelligence could be useful to actors in the same way that automatic captions are useful to those who watch YouTube.
The presence of artificial intelligence in delivering a variety of performances can help the actor choose the one that suits the tone he wants.
However, if these companies and unions don’t sit down and talk about what’s right and fair to both parties, we run the risk of pushing talent out of stories out of the industry.
SAG-AFTRA provided a closing comment on the discussion.
A union spokesperson says: “As technology continues to transform the entertainment and media landscape, we will continue to create contracts that are fair and protective of performers and are responsive to the needs of companies that wish to hire them.
We are also adding or negotiating language in our existing contracts that provides critical protection against misuse or unauthorized use of a member’s voice or image through technology.
“Performers’ digital self-protection is a critical issue for SAG-AFTRA and our members.
“These new technologies offer exciting new opportunities but can also pose potential threats to the livelihoods of performers.
“It is critical that performers control the exploitation of their digital selves, be adequately compensated for their use, and be able to provide informed consent.”
We may not be able to rein in the next wave of AI technology, but perhaps there is a way we can negotiate with it.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.
All the latest gaming tips and tricks
Looking for tips and tricks across your favorite consoles and games? We have covered…
Get the latest PS5, Xbox and other video game news here