Authentic AI Voices

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Authentic AI Voices


(random thoughts from a voice actor)

If you’re a voice actor, I’ll wager you’ve read or been a part of a discussion about AI Voices taking our jobs. Or one about casting for “Authentic” voices for a gig. What follows is some of my thoughts on both topics.

“Authentic” (and other meaningless words)
So, what exactly does “Authentic” mean to you when you see it in a casting notice? The people casting obviously have a reason to ask for “Authentic”. Sometimes it may be that the intended audience is from a particular region and they want to ensure it sounds right to them. Other times, the character is written for a particular ethnicity or sexual preference, etc.

But does that really *mean* anything?!?!? I’m in my 50’s, of Lebanese descent, and was raised in the Midwest. Does this mean I can only play Lebanese guys in their 50’s who are from Cleveland? I worked with a Japanese guy who was raised in Mexico and has a Mexican accent, and a South African who went to school in the UK and has a perfect RP dialect. Are they only limited to their ethnicity or to their childhood accents? And what about anyone with a multi-cultural origin or upbringing?

What is the point of acting? To fully inhabit a character, with all their traits, mannerisms, quirks, etc. To be believable to the audience. For me, that includes the vocal qualities like accent, tone, emotion, etc.

Bottom Line: as a voice actor, who isn’t seen on camera, I should be able to be cast for any role that I can convincingly portray. And so should everyone else.

For those who bring up the very real issue of under-representation for a particular group, I’d say that stems from a lack of opportunity. From the writing, to the casting, and even the funding for projects, whole groups are excluded from even auditioning.

Second Bottom Line: Leveling the playing field means being more inclusive, not less. More opportunity for all, not limiting who can play what. (Shakespeare, anyone? Hamilton?)

AI VOICES (COMING TO STEAL YOUR JOBS!)
AI voices have definitely improved in the 15 years that I’ve been a professional voice actor. They are now good enough to take some of the less demanding jobs. Ones that are just straight information. Phone system prompts. Tech manuals for vision impaired. Voices on trains.

As we move forward into the future, it’s inevitable that AI voices will be doing more VO work. But how much? Will they eventually replace us entirely? I don’t think so. For roles in animation, games, audio books, commercials, etc., where a human voice with emotion and the ability to interpret the subtleties of human interaction in the script is needed, AI will have trouble being believable.

Bottom Line: If you’re doing work that could easily be replaced by an AI voice, now’s a good time to improve your acting skills and make a move to a different genre of VO.

To be honest, I’ve heard my share of really bad Voice Acting… by humans. I don’t know how they got the job in the first place, but if the client sees that AI is cheaper and better, then that’s where they’ll go.

Second Bottom Line: Don’t suck at your job.

Authentic AI Voices
Authentic AI VO Voice Acting

I know AI will eventually replace me as a Voice Actor… but the real question is: Will it have the correct skin color, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, gender designation and sexual preference for the role?

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Virus Newspaper

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Virus Newspaper

What if the virus had a newspaper?

Here’s the latest edition… in Spanish and English:

(click here for the English Edition)

El Periódico del Virus: Edición Pandémica
El Periódico del Virus -Edición Pandémica
Autor: C. 19

¡Buenos días, mis amigos patógenos! Gracias por leer mi continua cobertura de nuestra guerra con la especie humana.

Para esta edición, quiero decir que, aunque las cosas parecen buenas, todavía queda mucho trabajo por hacer.

Primero, debemos continuar atacando a las personas cuando menos lo esperan. Cuando se tocan la cara, tosen o estornudan, o incluso cuando están demasiado cerca el uno del otro. ¡Este es el momento de atacar! Esté atento a las personas que no usan máscaras. Son los objetivos más fáciles.

Recuerda que la mayoría de las personas son muy estúpidas. Casi el cuarenta por ciento ni siquiera cree en nuestra existencia. Su estupidez es nuestra mejor arma.
Los mejores lugares para ir son la playa, barras, oficinas, y cada área que la gente reúne. Busca para grandes grupos en habitaciones pequeñas. Cuando estas allí, mira para personas que hablar o escupir mucho. Ellos son tu vehículo para extenderse más rápidamente.

“Pero C.”, se podría decir, “Yo solo soy un pequeño virus. ¿Qué puedo hacer para ayudar?

¡Son muchas cosas! Usa “FaceTime” – Ponerse en la cara de alguien. De allí, entra de los ojos, las fosas nasales, o dentro de la boca. Aquí tu viaje comienza… ¡Ahora, infectas! ¡Infectas! ¡Infectas!

Si tú te sientes solo, no te preocupes. Recuerda siempre tener tus hermanos y hermanas. Nosotros estamos allí para te ayudamos.

Para ayudarnos a todos a mantenernos enfocados en nuestra causa, se me ocurrió un lema que todos podemos usar:

“¡Estamos todos juntos en esto!”

English version:

The Virus Newspaper: Pandemic Edition
Author: C. 19

Good morning, my pathogenic friends! Thank you for reading my continued coverage of our war with the human species.

For this edition, I want to say that although things look good, there is still a lot of work to do.

First, we must continue to attack people when they least expect it. When they touch their faces, they cough or sneeze, or even when they are too close to each other. This is the time to attack! Watch out for people who do not wear masks. They are the easiest targets.

Remember that most people are very stupid. Almost forty percent do not even believe in our existence. Their stupidity is our best weapon.

The best places to go are the beach, bars, offices, and every area that people gather. Search for large groups in small rooms. When you are there, watch for people who talk or spit a lot. They are your vehicle to spread more quickly.

“But C.”, you might say, “I’m just a little virus. What can I do to help?

Are a lot of things! Use “FaceTime” – Put yourself on someone’s face. From there, enter the eyes, the nostrils, or into the mouth. Here your journey begins … Now, infect! Infect! Infect!

If you feel lonely, do not worry. Always remember to have your brothers and sisters. We are there to help you.

To help us all stay focused on our cause, I came up with a motto that we can all use:

“We are all in this together!”

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Mask Confusion

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Mask Confusion

There’s a lot of bad information out there about Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Masks.

So, let’s try to set the record straight on Masks:

  • Masks protect others from you. (non-medical ones, that is) They do very little to protect you from others. I wear a mask to protect you. You wear a mask to protect me.
  • They must be worn correctly over the nose and mouth. Not just the mouth. Or just the nose. Or around your neck.
  • Don’t put the mask on and off repeatedly. This means your touching your face more, and that’s bad for you. Just put it on before you leave the house. Leave it on until you get home and can wash your hands.
  • Everyone should be wearing a mask outside of the house. Everyone. Not just parents. Or elderly. Or people not running and biking. Everyone. That’s how we get through this faster.
  • Masks are not a substitute for Social Distancing. You still need to stay 6 feet or more away from others. Remember: the mask is not to protect you – it’s to stop you from spreading the virus to others.
  • Wear a mask even if you feel well. Covid-19 can and does spread without any symptoms. So just because you feel well doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus… and are spreading it to others.

ALSO! Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.

Got more advice? Feel free to comment below. And I will be deleting inaccurate comments. It’s my blog – deal with it!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Paranoia Control

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Paranoia Control

Paranoia. Anxiety. Fear.

It’s normal for us to feel these things when a threat is nearby. I know many are feeling this with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

I’ve got a secret that may help, and it stems from my being diagnosed as “Hypervigilant“.

Hypervigilance put simply means that I am overly aware of everything around me at all times. In a restaurant, for example, I will be listening to multiple conversations, watching people come and go, seeing what other tables are ordering, doing, etc. It can be exhausting to filter this much information. But there are ways to cope. Ways that may be of use in these pandemic times.

First and foremost is the realization that no single person can ever be completely “safe”. It’s a hard reality to face. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions. Knowing where the line between “being cautious” and “being paranoid” can be tough to find.

So… here’s how it works for me:

  • Do what you can: keep your hands clean, and don’t touch your face; Practice social distancing.
  • Realize others don’t have the same view of the world; what you see, they may be completely oblivious to.
  • Help who you can: for loved ones, family and friends, give advice when appropriate to keep them safe – but don’t nag.
  • Let it go: sometimes you have to realize it’s your own bias and let it go… everyone has to live their own lives – nobody’s perfect, and that includes you.
  • Stay connected: although it can be hard when you’re aware of all the flaws, it’s important to stay emotionally connected to the world – we all need support sometimes.

Making peace with the world outside of ourselves is an individual journey. But when we become obsessed with others’ actions, as Shakespeare’s King Lear said:

“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that.”

Stay safe, sane and healthy, my friends,
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Political Artwork

Gallery

This gallery contains 22 photos.

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Political Artwork Over the last 3+ years, I’ve been, uh… inspired? driven? annoyed? … to create a number of Political Artwork pieces. Some are graphics, some songs, posts, etc. Below, in random order, are some of the graphic ones. Maybe … Continue reading

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The Genius of Donald J. Trump

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The Genius of Donald J. Trump

Those of you who know me probably aren’t used to hearing anything positive about Trump.

However, there is something that he seems to do better than anyone else. His “Genius” trait.

Trump never explains anything he says or does. He lets others do it for him.

Can it be that simple? Is this the key to his success?

Republicans in government and his supporters constantly “explain” what he means when he does or says something stupid, ignorant, racist, weak, etc.

His detractors “explain” what is wrong with him. Mentally. Strategically. They even try to figure out if he’s “playing 3-dimensional chess”… and in doing so, freely give him his next move to make.

His lawyers “explain” away his legal problems.

His accountants “explain” away his money problem.

And behind it all, Trump explains nothing. Ever. No apologies. No explanations. No reason for his insane, bizarre, mental meltdowns and verbal diatribes. Nada.

And why should he explain anything he does or says? He’s got all of us doing it for him.

He is, in essence, the Schrödinger’s cat of politicians: simultaneously a “Stable Genius” and a “Babbling Imbecile”.

And so he shall remain until the box is flung open…

Trump Genius combo JoesDump

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

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America: Sorry For Your Loss

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America: Sorry For Your Loss

America: Sorry For Your Loss

America:
Sorry For Your Loss

(Morals, Intelligence, Fairness, Culture, Sanity, World Standing, Children, Laws, Soul, Planet, etc…)

Get Well Soon

I’ve decided this will be my new greeting to fellow Americans. I really hope I don’t need to use it for very long…

But to be honest, both sides of this horror story are losing so much. But the difference is that one side knows what it’s losing. And the other remains terribly clueless.

It would be easy to call names. Stupid. Conned. Racist. But many are just ignorant. And the cure for that is education. Another thing sadly lacking in our country.

And those who refuse to listen? Who don’t want to know?

“Willful Ignorance” is far worse than any amount of stupidity.

Time to get out of our bubbles. See ourselves and “the other”. Mend the wounds. Heal the divide.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Stay sane out there.

Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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June 25th Connections

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June 25th Connections

Opinion by Joe J Thomas

A great many things happened on this day in history, but these stood out to me:

  • 1798: US passes Alien Act allowing president to deport dangerous aliens
  • 1867: 1st barbed wire patented by Lucien B Smith of Ohio
  • 1943: Crematorium 3 at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp is finished
  • 1947: 1st version of Anne Frank’s diary “Het Achterhuis” published in The Netherlands

Coincidences? Almost certainly. But we humans assign meaning to many things, coincidental or not.

220 years ago, the USA was worried about “dangerous aliens”.

Now, we worry about “murderers and rapists” crossing our borders.

And want to enact bans against people based on their religion.

Over 150 years after the invention of barbed wire, we’re still locking men, women and children in cages.

Knowingly separating families.

75 years after Crematorium 3 at Auschwitz was finished, innocent men and women are still being killed in the streets.

And teachers and students fear for their lives in our schools.

Over 70 years after the Diary of Anne Frank was published, we still base our policies on a fear of “The Other”.

Anyone who doesn’t look like us, dress like us, speak like we do, or believe the same as us.

America can be “Great” again… But not if we stay on the the path we’re on.

And tolerate these evils… Or worse – support them.

Here’s one final event from 45 years ago that may give us some hope:

  • 1973: John Dean begins testifying before Senate Watergate Committee

45 … History is calling.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

(Source: On This Day – June 25)

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The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

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The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)

There’s been a lot of talk in the voice over community about where the industry is headed. Unions, Pay-to-Play sites, Casting.

To be fair, the industry is changing. But that’s to be expected. There are many questions this raises…

How will the change affect us? What can we do about it? Should I even be concerned?

In this post, I will give my thoughts on three different perspectives on the changing voice over landscape. Read on below:

Perspective 1: Voice Talent
The voice talent’s perspective may be the most complicated. There are a wide range of genres, markets, and opportunities for work. Opinions vary on benefits of union membership, the role of pay-to-play sites, how to market (or not), etc. Each person’s situation is different, and because of that, it’s hard to present a unified perspective.

This also gets to the heart of a related issue: As a group, we can’t get what we want unless we can agree on what exactly that is. Some would appear to be easy. Fair pay. Safe work environment. Professionalism on all sides.

But even on the agreed items, there is no clear consensus. What does “fair pay” mean to each person? In each market? Are some willing to do work others would consider unsafe or unprofessional?

Because of all of these factors, it may be more beneficial to look at perspectives outside our own.

After all, we are selling something. It may be better to focus on what the market wants, and how we can best deliver it to them.

Perspective 2: The Union
For The Union (Sag/Aftra in the USA), the view is much broader than for any individual.

I am grateful for the benefits and standards that the union offers. And I’m grateful that we have some union folks as advocates for us all, but it seems like they are fighting an uphill battle on many issues.

Voice Acting is only a small part of what the union’s business is about. And even then, the lion’s share of their focus will understandably be on the largest prizes. These are often big budget features and high power talent. For the average working Joe, this often means not being heard at all.

Think about it: if given the choice to focus on one $10,000,000 project or ten-thousand $1,000 projects, which would you choose?

This isn’t an excuse, but it is a reason. There’s only so much time in a day. In order to keep up, the union has to stay relevant in the bigger game.

We do benefit indirectly from this. There are always roles in the big projects for the average working Joe. But we’ve got to be honest with ourselves: If you’re not famous, the union is less focused on your concerns.

It is about business, after all. As is voice acting.

Perspective 3: The Client
Although individual clients may vary, there are many common things they all want.

A voice that matches their ideas for the product or service. Professional behavior. A good price.

In some cases, they may know exactly what they want and how much they’re willing to pay. Others may require a bit more work on our part. Customer service has to include discovering the customer’s needs and fulfilling them to the best of our ability.

All customer’s time is valuable. They don’t want it wasted with idle chatter or by having to track you down for the job.

Hiring union talent may be important to some. To others, it may represent a hassle. Knowing the difference is crucial to landing the job, and getting continuing work.

Overall, customers want the whole process to be as easy as possible. It’s up to us to find out what that means for each one.

So… What Can I Do?

  • Be professional.
  • Deliver a solid product.
  • Quote fair rates for the work, and stick to them.
  • Focus on the client’s needs.
  • Take direction well.
  • Be friendly and easy to work with.
  • Work with other voice actors on the larger issues. Together, we are stronger.

Other Perspectives
Below is a recent town hall event sponsored by the VO Agent Alliance, Global Voice Acting Academy, and WOVO.

Lots of great stuff discussed, and great groups to follow if you’d like to work together to make a difference. #VoiceStrong

Enjoy:

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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