AI Voice Actors Are On Their Way To Take Over The Industry

By Zack Zagranis | Published

ai voice actors

SAG-AFTRA just made a deal with the digital devil. The actor’s union just announced a new AI voice agreement with AI voice technology company Replica Studios at CES in Las Vegas. The agreement covers the use of AI voice actors in projects in which Replica is involved.

AI Voice Actors Protection

AI voice actors

The agreement would allow SAG-AFTRA members to “safely explore new employment opportunities for their digital voice replicas.”

According to SAG-AFTRA, those AI voice actors would be protected by industry standards specifically tailored to AI technology.

As a result, any SAG-AFTRA talent who licenses their voice for video games or “other interactive media projects” will be covered from pre-production to the project’s release.

This new agreement, in addition to establishing the bare minimum terms and conditions, will also help to ensure Replica gets consent to use AI voice actors that double for their flesh and blood counterparts.

In addition, Replica will be required to negotiate for the continued use of the digital voice double in new works, and performers will have the ability to opt out of their voice being re-used altogether.

Fair Use Of AI

artificial intelligence ai art

According to Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national exec director and chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, the language in the new AI voice actor agreement can be used in SAG-AFTRA’s continued battle for the fair use of AI as far as performers are concerned.

“This agreement is about voice replication in video games,” Duncan emphasized, but added that voice-over actors are on the “cutting edge of the implementation of AI and the risks that come with it.”

Focus Of Strikes

hollywood strike

It’s no secret that a large part of last year’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes was a fight for better protection for writers and actors in the face of rapidly advancing AI technology.

Artists of all walks of life are in danger of having their livelihood threatened by machines. Between AI voice actors and AI-generated scripts and animation writers, actors and VFX workers could become obsolete if certain protections aren’t put in place now before it’s too late.

Companies Under Fire

wizards of the coast

Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Dungeons & Dragons and the popular card game Magic The Gathering, came under fire recently for using AI generated in an MTG promotional image.

This came on the heels of WOC’s parent company, Hasbro, laying off several Wizards of the Coast staff members. Even entertainment juggernaut Disney has dabbled in AI-generated art for the opening sequence of Secret Invasion on Disney+.

AI Showing Up In Star Wars And Other Places

luke skywalker baby yoda AI voice actors

Without agreements like the one between SAG-AFTRA and Replica Studios, who knows how long it would be before video games were voiced entirely by AI voice actors?

AI voice acting has already been used in the Star Wars universe to help create a young Luke Skywalker voice for The Mandalorian, as well as Vader’s iconic rasp in the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series.

If artificial voices can be used so blatantly in high-profile live-action projects, why wouldn’t video game studios use them to give life to anonymous pixelated avatars?

Additional Protections

ai AI voice actors

Hopefully, this new agreement will start a trend that will extend beyond regulating the use of AI voice actors and encompass the use of AI extras and AI lead actors.

In addition, protections need to be put in place to ensure that a computer didn’t also write the words being read by those AI voice actors. While the current level of AI-generated writing appears to be laughably bad, that won’t be the case forever.

Ultimately, if consumers want to avoid having nothing but soulless, robot-made content to consume, more deals like the one between SAG-AFTRA and Replica Studios need to be struck, and the sooner the better.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter