I’m not worried about how AI voiceovers affect the Voiceover Industry. Yet. Bing and Google rushed out their AI projects and they are not ready for prime-time. The answers and content they provide are all non-committal. Relying on phrases such as “can be” “could be” “should be” excessively. Intelligence, and voice overs, are about making interesting choices that stand out and build a voice or a set of values. AI is relatively value-less in its ability to make choices. Those are still up to human minds. For the most part. For now.
Directing a live voice over session over the course of an hour is quicker than trying to tweak AI voiceovers that cannot take direction. As of now, the excellent ElevenLabs voice can be altered on a slider to be Less Stable or More Stable. Interestingly, the more one runs a text through Less Stable settings, the more agitated the voice sounds. Will we get to the point where AI voiceovers are directable? That would change everything.
What can AI voiceovers do and not do?
However, I think such a voice would be prohibitively expensive for most users. Currently the best AI avatars with bespoke voices start at $300 a month. Might as well just pay the voice over talents their rates for non-broadcast work. Would anyone dare use AI voiceovers for a national TV spot if they could get away with it and not have to pay for usage? Ironically, this is where the over-reliance on celebrity voice overs could help the industry generally. If someone dared use an AI voice modeled on a celebrity, the lawsuit damages could be staggering high. It’s just not worth the risk.
You can read more from VICE about the concerns from leaders in the Voice Over industry regarding abusive AI practices here. I’m one of the many interviewed for the piece; and while my take is on the positive side, I completely agree with the concerns over abusive practices. That’s why I use this AI rider for voice over contracts, provided by NAVA, The National Association of Voice Actors. It’s available to download here, and I encourage all voice over producers to attach this to their contracts, if applicable.
Be the Best Human You can be.
The first time I heard the clone of my voice I made with ElevenLabs AI it was a wonderful experience. It felt like I was hearing my voice fresh for the first time. Hearing the tone and cadences of my voice without the filter of my ego or my approaches to acting. I’ve thought about what I’ve heard a lot since then and it has helped me to re-evaluate my voice in a positive, productive manner. The advance of AI voiceovers should be a healthy challenge to all voice over talents: to be the best human voices we can be. With lots of personality and real emotion. AI voice overs will open up a world of accessibility to those who can benefit from it. Hopefully, producers will use AI voice overs for their scratch tracks, so we’ll have properly timed-out narrations and not have to squeeze five minutes of voice over into three minutes of video. Or, see my script timer to plan out your voice over times ahead of time.
The potential, the possibilities, are endless. I refuse to believe it will be all bad. That’s why I stopped worrying and learned to love AI voiceovers.