Do not step in my spotlight!
Artificial intelligence continues to expand in cinema and in other media: editing, special effects, dubbing, all the way to production and distribution. If technology fascinates, it also raises many concerns for certain professionals, who wonder about their future.
The supervision of artificial intelligence in cinema and television is a major point among those which led to the strike of actors and screenwriters in Hollywood. Started more than three months ago, this double social movement, unprecedented since 1960. Although screenwriters have found an agreement with the various studios, actors are still on strike.
For her short film "Imagine" (https://youtu.be/An2eWzRvTFE?si=Ujr-kn1QcTb5CfcV), director Anna Apter asked MidJourney (an independent research lab) to create images, which she then animated to make a film of just over two minutes. “I wanted to try something where I had no intermediary. I was quite fascinated by the results [of artificial intelligence] and quite frightened too because it poses hundreds of questions about the future creative professions. And I asked myself what artistic creation I could do from this tool and not use it as an end in itself. So, I wrote a text on our artificial existences and I found that that made sense to illustrate it with an AI.”
Anna Apter-Image Getty/Sylvain Lefevre
But some go much further, like in the short film “The Safe Zone” (https://thesafezonefilm.com ). It was entirely written and produced by an AI. The producers of this project explain on the website that they wanted to show that humans and AI can coexist successfully, provided that regulations are put in place.New rules need to be identified and that is precisely what the UVA collective is demanding for United Voice Artists, launched a few months ago by dubbing associations and unions around the world. UVA collective is alarmed by potential voice theft and denounces the use by AI companies of certain voice actors' voices. In France, the association Les Voix, which is part of the UVA collective, alerted government and parliamentarians to the risks of AI for the profession. The actor Michel Elias, voice actor for many characters and in particular for Pumba in “The Lion King” intends to defend his profession:
“What comes to us in our profession is the air of fake. You have to accept what is false, it doesn't matter! We're going to take sounds here and there and we're going to create monsters! With these monsters, we will create new voices and invent characters. But we don't have the right to touch what we do. What we bring, what we create in the characters we play, we don't have the right to use it to do anything else. THIS must be protected, otherwise nothing will exist in truth. Only what is true and sincere can continue to give life to things, to transmission, to intelligence!” Michel Elias - leviox.fr
Synthetic voices have already replaced those of dubbers in various productions. In the series "Obbi Wan Kenobi" for example, the voice of Darth Vader is that of his famous actor James Earl Jones, except that at 92 years old, he is now retired. With his agreement, his voice was therefore recreated by the AI of the Ukrainian company Respeecher, a company founded in 2018 and specialized in the cinema and video games industry. Alex Serdiuk is the CEO and co-founder of this company: "We have two types of projects. The first is when you need a particular voice but you can't get it from another way than by synthesizing it because it is not immediately available and there is no other way to get it... This is what we set up in the series "The Book of Booba Fett" where the voice of young Luke Skywalker is exactly the same as young Luke Skywalker 40 years ago. It is the same thing for the voice of James Earl Jones, which is that of Darth Vader, in Obbi Wan Kenobi. The other type of projects aims to improve the speed and quality of voice-overs and dubbing in general."
James Earl Jones - gettyimages/Edmund Eckstein
If for Alex Serdiuk, AI allows productions to save time, he does not think that this technology will replace everything, which he sees above all as a tool that everyone must still learn to master. Some have mastered it in a different way, a dangerous way: voice actors rightly worry about their vocals being stolen and copied to promote mis-and disinformation, becoming victims of deep fakes, or hearing themselves appear in inappropriate content without their consent. To conclude, while AI voices have many potential benefits, they also come with significant risks. However, with the right measures in place, these dangers can be prevented and the power of AI voices harnessed for good.
(Based on a series of podcasts broadcasted by France Culture, May2023)