FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Writing a movie? Need a mechanical-sounding voice for your robot? Voice actors are so difficult. What if there was something easier?

A Synthetic Voice Actor is a synthetic voice program that voices a character. It's not used a lot, especially when union rules would make that difficult. It's usually used for extremely robotic voices, or a Captain Ersatz of Stephen Hawking. It more commonly springs up in Abridged Series and Machinima, partly to get extra voices, and partly because of Rule of Funny. When used against human actors, it tends to make the speaker seem inhuman — in more serious works, it's used for threatening robotic characters, usually. Compare the computer voice on the Enterprise (real person) to AUTO (not a real person).

This trope may not apply to Cepstral voices, or to programs like Voicestitcher (thevoiceplanet.com is down indefinitely).

Compare Machine Monotone, Virtual Celebrity, Auto-Tune.

Examples of Synthetic Voice Actor include:


Anime

  • The episode title announcer in Serial Experiments Lain was a Macintosh program named PlainTalk (often falsely called "Whisperer" because of its "Whisper" voice mode).


Film

  • They did this to make the Voice of God in The Prince of Egypt.
  • The click-language of the aliens in District 9 is entirely computer generated, in fitting with the implication that it's impossible for a human palate to reproduce.
  • Back to The Future Part II used Creative's TextAssist for the voice of the self-drying jacket and the future McFly's house.
  • Short Circuit likewise used TextAssist for the voice of the robots, except for Johnny 5, who was dubbed by a voice actor to show that he really had emotions.
  • Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey used the Amiga speech synthesizer for the voices of the good Bill and Ted robots.

Live Action TV

  • The Cylons in the 1978 original Battlestar Galactica Classic series spoke this way (human actors run through a synthesizer).
  • Doctor Who: The BBC originally considered doing this for the Daleks, but with 1963 technology, they could have done only 45 seconds of dialogue this way, so they used a human voices filtered through a ring modulator.
    • It's actually pretty easy to duplicate the Dalek voices. Record your voice with Dalek speech-patterns, over-amplify it to add clipping distortions(sometimes people, including the producers back in the day, often tend to forget this, oddly enough), then run the results through a ring modulator plugin using 20-40Hz for the frequency of the modulation.
    • The BBC did the first Cyberman voices by actually building a mockup of the human vocal system, running a stream of air through it, and adjusting it to produce the sounds that made up the speech for the Cybermen. Later versions simply had an actor's voice run through a ring modulator with a different setting to what was used for the Daleks.
    • The Daleks, also, do not have mechanical voices, only voices that sound mechanical. A truly mechanical voice would probably be one-note-just-like-this, but Daleks have a cadence to their voices, and they also go "EX-TER-MI-NATE! EX-TER-MI-NAAAAATE!" with each intonation rising in pitch and volume. They look like tin cans, but they have some powerful emotion inside them.
  • The person with Locked-In Syndrome in Scrubs, too.

Music

  • The Radiohead song "Fitter Happier" is "sung" by Mac PlainTalk.
    • As are several dance tracks by Benny Benassi.
  • Ken Leavitt-Lawrence, better known as MC Hawking, who uses a text-to-speech program to do parody-gangster rap under the guise of Stephen Hawking himself.
  • Kraftwerk may have been the pioneers of using this trope in music.
  • Erasure's cover of "Video Killed The Radio Star" was "sung" by the keyboardist's laptop, since the human singer refused to sing it.
  • The entire point of the Vocaloid series.
    • They still have human voice sources though, the only exception is Defoko, the default voice of UTAU, who is sourced from a program called AquesTalk.
  • Apoptygma Berzerk's Kathy's Song has the chorus sung by the Mac text-to-speech Kathy voice. Of course, the song is essentially an exchange between the singer and his computer. It's awesome.
  • My. Name. Is. Skrillex
  • Camper Van Beethoven's version of "Sisters Of The Moon" by Fleetwood Mac has a text-to-speech program reciting the lyrics (and also throwing in seemingly arbitrary quotes from Pindar, William Shakespeare, and This Is Spinal Tap). As with Erasure's "Video Killed The Radio Star" cover, this was done because no one in the band wanted to sing it.
  • The voice of the fictional singer Lumi of the Genki Rockets is thought to be either synthesized or a composite of several different singers.
  • Elise's singing voice in Sound Horizon's Märchen was created using the Hatsune Miku Vocaloid software, with Revo's reasoning being that it made sense for a Creepy Doll to have an artificial voice. Her speaking voice, on the other hand, is provided by Fujita Saki (aka, the original source for Miku's voice).

Video Games

  • The Portal series is an aversion of this, since its evil AIs are voiced by humans (heavily edited in post-production, but humans nonetheless).
    • The results of running the text of GLaDOS's lines through a text to speech program were actually used to coach actress Ellen McLain with regard to giving GLaDOS her distinctive voice in Portal.
    • However, fan-made mods can't afford Ellen McLain's voice (though, once people did think of asking her), hence, they use voice synthesizing programs for their GLaDOSes and AIs (dependent on the story for the mod).
    • This only comes apparent in Portal: Prelude, whose main gimmick is that the test supervisors were human, rather than an AI. So of course the voices were done in a text-to-speech program.
      • It was done because the creators of Prelude were French and weren't very fluent in spoken English. They couldn't find voice actors in the timeframe in which they wanted to develop the game.
      • This becomes especially awkward towards the end of the game after GLaDOS is turned on for the first time, and she uses her sound files from the main Portal game, mixed with synthesized voices. So we have a robot that sounds more human then the humans do, and uses two personalities at once.
      • For those of you keeping track: Portal's supervisors are robots voiced by humans imitating robots imitating humans, while Prelude's supervisors are humans voiced by robots imitating humans.
  • Beatmania IIDX 15: DJ TROOPERS used Microsoft Sam for the "Enemy Plane Appoach" voice in the music used for Attract Mode and some of the menus.
  • Deliberately used badly in Time Fcuk—the main character's voice is barely even comprehensible, and definitely doesn't sound human. It's not quite certain why this is—perhaps the Rule of Scary, or a deliberate attempt to "anonymize" him?
    • If you listen closely, the main character talks exactly how it is written.
  • The voice of Byte from Tron 2.0 is actually a voice of MacinTALK.
  • Impossible Mission on the Commodore 64: "Another visitor? Stay awhile. Stay FOREVER!"
  • Microsoft Sam and Mary appear chanting the name and motto of the Wii party game, Let's Tap in the game's theme tune. Yes, really.
  • The Intellivision's Intellivoice module.
  • The House of the Dead series used these in the first two games. Which, of course, made for some hilariously emotionless bits of drama. As well as the infamous "Suffer like G did?"
  • Moonbase Alpha has this for players. This leads to notorious griefing possibilities.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • H.E.L.P.eR. from The Venture Brothers is voiced by something called "Soul-Bot", which processes Chris McCulloch's "eep!" noises into electronic beeps and boops.
  • AUTO from WALL-E. As if there weren't enough Apple references in the movie already, the voice is Mac OS X's own MacinTALK. Similarly, M-O's "Foreign Contaminant" is provided by PlainTalk.
  • The titular robot in Whatever Happened to Robot Jones originally used MacinTalk Junior, credited as "Himself", but later switched to a synthesized human voice, and they even redubbed the earlier episodes with the real actor.
  • Compuhorse from Spliced
  • Post-Re Boot CGI series called either War Planets or Shadow Raiders had Princess Tekla (from the robot planet)'s companion device voiced by MacinTalk, the same device Stephen Hawking used.
  • Frank Welker used one to voice Soundwave from Transformers, which is basically his Dr. Claw voice as heard in one episode where they forgot to use it.
    • On the other hand, Animated Perceptor's voice is completely synthetic, and probably so to bring to mind Professor Stephen Hawking. One of the writers has suggested that he "deleted his emotions and personality" to make room for more data, though (like many an "emotionless" character), he certainly seems to have both, if understated.
    • Soundwave, in fact, doesn't really count as this; although Frank Welker's voice is run through a vocoder, it is still his voice behind it all, and in cases where Soundwave is voiced by a synthesized voice (which mostly occurs in parodic works), it sounds much different. Sadly, we don't have a trope for him, so he's staying here.
  • Steve the Disabled Professor (a Stephen Hawking stand-in) in Family Guy also used Macintalk.
  • That locomotive from Dumbo, despite being male according to the song "Casey Junior", is actually voiced by a woman, as revealed in The Reluctant Dragon.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.