Disney Will Now Use AI For Darth Vader’s Voice
The dark side of The Force is going digital as 91-year-old actor James Earl Jones retires. From now on, Disney will use artificial intelligence to voice Darth Vader.
Jones was the voice behind the iconic Star Wars villain. However, he decided that it was time for him to retire. Now, he signed over the rights of his archival work to an AI voice company.
Matthew Wood, the supervising sound editor of Skywalker Sound, explained Jones’ new role to Vanity Fair. He said the original actor would serve as a “benevolent godfather” in the studio’s depiction of Darth Vader.
How will the Darth Vader AI voice work?
Matthew Wood told Vanity Fair that James Earl Jones “mentioned he was looking into winding down.” In response, he suggested handing the villain role to an AI voice.
Jones permitted Lucasfilm, allowing the Ukrainian startup Respeecher to recreate his voice with AI. The firm used sound bites to replicate an actor’s voice.
As a result, Lucasfilm can record new lines without the actor. Also, it tasked Respeecher with making Darth Vader sound like the “dark side villain from 45 years ago” in Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
You may notice the difference if you watch that series. It sounds distinct from Jone’s actual voice in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. Did you ever think the voice came from AI?
It seems extraordinary, but Respeecher has done the same for other Lucasfilm projects. For example, it made an AI voice for the younger version of Luke Skywalker in The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian.
Respeecher said it used sound clips from “many early years’ worth of radio broadcasts, interviews, ADRs, and dubs” from Mark Hamill.
Besides the Ukrainian firm, there are other AI speech synthesis tools available. Nowadays, Descript, Resemble AI, Veritone, and Voicemod could help actors digitally recreate their voices.
Less popular artists could use these digital tools to “boost their income with minimal effort by cloning and renting out their voice.” Also, these could help preserve the voice of one of the most iconic film characters in the world.
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