Voice Actor Meets AI

A view of the future of AI for acting and voice over... with background insights into linguistic learning skills ... and the native US and British dialects of a voice and camera actor living in Bulgaria..



2/26/202410 min read

Actor Meets Ai.... is this the future ? For camera & voice actors...AI Piracy in Progress ?
Actor Meets Ai.... is this the future ? For camera & voice actors...AI Piracy in Progress ?

Actor Meets AI...

Voice Actor Meets AI

The Challenge

Inevitably, whether I am preparing audio files with a selection of my many different ‘voices’ for a casting platform, or casting director, I am eventually reminded of the difficulty of explaining how it is possible to have so many. This is especially troublesome for me when explaining to casting directors demanding to know what my native English accent is, that I have more than one. So I thought to write this article to explain, which comes naturally to me, being a writer, of sorts. Kindly excuse my abandonment of certain best practices in my selfish desire to enjoy the task of elucidating somewhat erratically.

The Struggle

How is it possible to have so many 'native’ accents ? The common understanding for most people, that ‘grew up’ in one or two places, and have the same expectation of everyone else, meaning a description explaining ‘where they are from’, is very simply stated. Usually my truthful answer is not accepted by such people, because being from one specific place, does not apply to me. This requires some explanation… which often is difficult to understand for people asking the question ‘where are you from…?' Not being from any one single place is a reality that many people refuse to accept, as they repeat the question multiple times, as if emphasizing it over and over is going to change the answer. Frustrated and exasperated they resort to a second question as if by clever cross-examination to establish the truth… ‘ Where were you born…?' Naturally one’s place of birth is expected to reveal one’s cultural background and native accent. For these people that do not accept the reality that I am not from anyone place because of having travelled incessantly from one place to the next, since the age of 9 months old, from one continent to the next, since the beginning, of my life, their faces tune-out blank and void when I inform them I was born on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic ! It’s not true, but it helps to dispense the notion that I have one single native accent. Perhaps in future I might make the process easier by first joking ‘I’m from Atlantis…’

Growing up while constantly moving from one place to the next, from one continent to the next, beginning at nine months of age, has developed within me strong language assimilation skills that include the ability to mimic dialects. This was a necessity for me to gain acceptance while I strived to integrate into new local communities I was constantly moving to, as a child, and extended into adult life. The cosmopolitan social environments I grew up in were comprised of different nationalities and ethnic groups with different dialects, and so during the course of a normal day it was not unusual for me to be mingling in two or three of these different groups at different times for different activities, meaning I was constantly assuming their dialects for the duration of the engagement with them on those days. Hence my ability now to switch back and force between dialects, accents, and voices with relative ease. For example, partying all night with Sloanies (posh slang), playing football in the morning with lads in the shires (cockney/shires- if you don’t speak it, they can't understand you, nor you, them ! ), carousing with rednecks from Texas in the afternoon (Texan), and celubriating at cocktail parties in Belgravia in the evening (Queen’s English !).

Linguistic Learning

Infants learn languages in a different way than languages are learned in schools. This realisation has formalised infant learning into new language teaching techniques, fortunately, because having endured conventional language learning techniques for six or more languages, I feel the experiences have been traumatic verging on terrifying. I am convinced conventional language learning is designed with teachers’ priorities foremost, not students ! Perhaps my suffering is in part due to the strange reality that during my childhood learning and constantly moving from one place to the next and one school to the next, my education somehow has been remiss in never having been instructed in the terminology of grammar in the English language. Hence my feeling inexplicably offended by, teachers' inevitable demands to construct a phrase in German, with a description I don’t even comprehend in English, like ‘present passive imperfect’. English or German matters not - it may as well have been Greek to me ! Which is an understatement I now appreciate fully, in my nascent attempts in recent years to learn Greek…

Dialects, Accents, and Voices

Instead, my language learning techniques relied inordinately on the language learning skills acquired as an infant. These skills are heavily oriented towards ‘learning by ear', and parrot-like mimicking. Both skills are strengths for a voice actor and explain the many varieties of my voices. These voices include dialects, in geographical order from east to west, of cockney, shires, posh ‘Queen's (now King’s) English, ‘London’, Olde, Irish, New England (a la Carey Grant), Bronx, Italiano, Nu Joisey, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-Western, Southern, Appalachian Hill Billy, Texan, Mexican, and impersonations of a native tongue in Brooklyn Yiddish, Aussie and Scotts. I am also able to apply a specific few of these British and US dialects to spoken Turkish and Italian, but never can remembering succeeding (or perhaps trying) in German or Spanish.

My Native Accent

So what is my native accent ? My common practice of choice, when not required by circumstances nor casting direction, is to use a bland non-descriptive accent that is neither British nor US American. This accent ‘sounds a bit’ British to US listeners, and sounds US American to British listeners, although it is neither - and for that reason I describe it as ‘trans-Atlantic’ (not to be confused with ‘mid-Atlantic’ dialects of the Eastern US seabord region). I also have other ‘native’ accents that are local to the regions I grew up.rite your text here...

Early Rough Cut Montage of Draft audio clips of my favourite cartoon voices, 'Sherrif Woody' and 'Slow Poke Rodriquez' a la 'Speedy Gonzalez'... My favourite voice is the cartoon character that plays the big rooster with a western/southern dialect in an American barnyard cartoon series - but I remember not the name of cartoon character nor series ! All help and suggestions identifying this character in comments below are greatly appreciated….! rite your text here...


The application of artificial intelligence (AI) has had a major impact on voice over production. AI now makes it possible to modify any audio clip to specific preferences in a voice, applying specific individual words, different accents, tone, resonance, and sounds, simply by mimicking those found elsewhere. Eventually efficiencies in production may progress to the point where either the AI operator produces the final voice edit without the voice actor’s involvement, or the voice actor produces the final voice edit without the AI operator. During the interim transition period, the AI operator and voice actor collaborate, but perhaps not for long. Many of the best voice actors are already producing their own finished work from state of the art home studios.

Business Impact

Obtaining a perspective on this reality from marketing side of the business begins with reviewing some samples of internet search results. Not having reviewed such results for a few years, they are very different now and completely dominated with several pages of listings of employment –type platforms offering extensive data base selections of voice over ‘actors’, many of which were likely using various forms of AI to mimic and then modify voice qualities pirated from elsewhere in the real world. So many new platforms competing for new business suggests ample profits are driving their growth. No where on the top search engine results does there appear a single entry of a top voice over artist or agency, the creative talent at the top of the sector, where existing tried and trusted connections and relationships make internet search irrelevant. Also notable in the search results is the absence of any entries that are in article format – there are no articles- only platforms. (That absence is another reason I wrote this article, which is surprisingly longer than expected – I never realised nor could imagine I had so much to say! Truth be told, the main reason it is so long, is because I feel free to happily write without restraint, secure in the knowledge of never facing public embarrassment because the article never shall be found by internet search !) Instead, the internet search results have been successfully ‘manipulated and gamed’ with SEO techniques by the preponderance of new voice platforms, promoting the sounds of ‘voices’, still portrayed as individual voice over artists, but undoubtedly containing AI manipulations. Also notable is the absence of any of the new specialist AI voice studio services. The over-all impression from these search results, is that segment of the voice over sector inhabiting search results of the Internet, is now in excelling in the final stages of the ‘race to the bottom’.

AI Replacing Human Actors ?

In the face acting space, AI is grabbing sensationalist headlines as an innovative wave surge that will disrupt the value of art created by real camera / screen actors. At first look, at this time. Perhaps the best examples of this are the completely realistic AI avatars of models that have surprisingly large followings on such social media platforms as Instagram and Tik Tok. With a second look, it becomes noticeable that while large, these followings and interactions are perhaps not as large as could or perhaps should be expected, if AI avatars and models are really going to succeed in replacing real humans. Perhaps is it possible, that the real human viewers are not completely convinced that the avatars and models are completely real, and thus have less acceptance than the real thing? In other words, the audience’s reluctance to believe the AI products are completely realistic is rendering these AI actors to be not completely believable, and reducing appeal. Suspending dis-belief is, after all, a key function of the real actors craft - a facet AI has yet to master. The lack of spontaneity also threatens to contribute to reduced appeal. To succeed with the intuitive attraction of audiences, perhaps the AI actors must first progress to the capability to replicate the creative process of human actors. Without the ability to effectively replicate the creative process of an artist, the creative process of the entire team of artists, all contributing from their specific disciplines, is undermined and notably deficient, deprecating quality. While this conundrum evolves, perhaps we shall have AI actors take their place as a new form of character, in a new space between cartoon characters, and human actors, with a format entirely their own. This would seem to be ideal for encroachment into the world of adaptations of comic book science fiction into ‘movies' film and provides extensive scope for surreal creations in a form not yet ‘scened’, so perhaps that is one very likely future awaiting AI avatars. The undeniable truth is that human audiences love cartoon characters, animal stories, and wide range of stories about other objects of affection, in a different way than they love stories about themselves. For this reason it seems likely that AI actors’ inability to suspend dis-belief will continue to plague their attraction by audiences that are intuitively suspicious of being 'duped' into disbelief by characters that are themselves known to be unreal. Note: I did not use the word ‘fraud’… but it may be an uncomfortable subliminal intuitive inference within audiences’ minds…

The Creative Concept…

At the core of the above presumption is an understanding of the creative concept as producing a result within the viewing audience that resonates deeply in a way that moves them from their present place of individual consciousness. Currently, AI creations are easily describable by a viewer in simple terms that may have simple appeal – perhaps pleasant, amusing, even trite. In comparison, human creations reach into and affect human viewers in ways that often defy description with a single universally accepted explanation.Truly great and timeless human creations embody deeply instinctive and intuitive chords that touch a haptic nerve within individual viewers, with the often seen effect of reverberating across the planes of the collective consciousness of the human race, otherwise separated by geography, culture, soci-economic status, and ideology. Attaining this capability, is not defined by the a priori requisite of being sentient...Instead, it derives from presently undefinable and undescribable stimuli of primordial nature that thus far has been as illusive a challenge for philosophers as the definition of other instincts, and emotional intelligence, such as love. Humans can produce this creativity despite being unable to conclusively define it, but machines can not produce what humans can not define- until and unless machines attain the capability of learning in a manner that extends beyond replication by example, which is the foundation of all present machine learning based AI. In these present circumstances, AI shall not succeed as a substitue for human creativity, and is thus another reason why AI creations are generally likely to evolve into a separate form on the spectrum if story telling.

Pirate Prevention Measures

As an actor, I may say voice pirating is a problem encountered frequently, beginning a few years ago and continuing today. Usually it occurs when new ‘voice agencies' randomly and hurriedly request sample audio files. Agencies with an established reputation typically do not engage in such practices, which jeopardise their reputation and brand value. Presumably it is also possible to pirate a voice actor’s voice by ‘scraping’ files from the internet, and for this reason, I provide to the professional on-line acting agencies I work with, clips of audio files that provide a clear idea of my different accents, but for only a short duration, none done in a studio, and all with continuously modulating variance in the different accents of voices projected, which hopefully will provide some protection from pirating, even if small.

Audio Tapes of my Voices On-Line

Generally, and for the same reason, my media on all platforms at any one time is limited to the same few voices I have chosen to present for that period - not the whole array of voices in my repertoire. In addition to the private agencies and studios I work with, I do also present my talent on reputable on-line platforms, three have a catalogue of my audio clips, and one platform has a very good data base search function for casting to find a wide range of specific variation in voice to meet their needs. Please email me at RYANOL.1@yandex.com requesting links to these platforms, and I will happily oblige.

Preparation and Performance

The sample clips I have available on-line are primarily intended to provide a general idea of my different accents, dialects, and voices, including cartoon character voices. These clips are not meant to represent the quality of final outputs Rest assured, the final voice audio outputs are of a quality reflecting the results of methods and techniques involving extensive preparation- analysis, interpretation, choices, rehearsals, and refinements- all to ensure precise execution in a studio setting, with or without editing, as directed. I am very happy to provide sample self-tapes, and final outputs from a studio setting, upon request. Please reach out to me without hesitation….

Thank You !


Copyright 2024 RYANOL

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