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Darth Vader’s voice will be generated by AI from now on

Enlarge / When James Earl Jones retires, the voice of Darth Vader will come courtesy of voice cloning software called Respeecher.

Lucasfilm/Benj Edwards

During the creation of the Obi Wan Kenobi television series, James Earl Jones has given permission to allow Disney to reproduce his vocal performance as Darth Vader in future projects using an AI voice modeling tool called Resseecher, according to Vanity Fair. report published on Friday.

Jones, 91, has voiced the iconic Star Wars villain for 45 years, beginning with Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope in 1977 and concluding with a brief line of dialogue in 2019 The Rise of Skywalker. “He had mentioned that he was looking to kill off this particular character,” Lucasfilm supervising sound editor Matthew Wood said during an interview with Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”

the answer was Responder, a voice cloning product from a company in Ukraine that uses deep learning to model and replicate human voices in a way that is almost indistinguishable from reality. Previously, Lucasfilm had used Respeecher to clone Mark Hamill’s voice for the mandalorian, and the company thought the same technology would be ideal for a major Darth Vader appearance that would require dozens of lines of dialogue. Working from archive recordings of Jones, Respeecher created a voice model that could be vocally “performed” by another actor using the company’s voice. voice to voice technology.

A video from Resseecher demonstrating its speech-to-speech technology for transforming voice performances.

During the show’s production, Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, posing many harrowing challenges for Respeecher’s team, which Vanity Fair it covers in his deeply informed article. Despite the war, Respeecher is reportedly working on other secret projects, possibly for Disney, so expect more Darth Vader in the future.

Aside from Vader, Respeecher is aware that this kind of technology could pose significant security, social engineering, and even copyright issues if someone can mimic someone else’s voice from recorded samples. in the company Statement of Ethicsit says the firm “does not allow any misleading use of our technology” and “does not use voices without permission where this could affect a subject’s privacy or ability to earn a living.”

But voice cloning technology won’t always be limited to Respeecher’s labs. The open source world is catching up, as we reported earlier this month, with projects like Koe Recast. It’s likely only a matter of time before this particularly potent genie leaves the bottle for good. Then we will all be Darth Vader.

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