Access to good vocal talent can be one of the biggest hurdles for ambitious modders and machinima artists. Now, one Skyrim filmmaker hopes to make that hurdle a little easier to overcome by using entirely machine-learning synthesized dialogue in their Elder Scrolls fan trailer.
YouTuber Adriac has been making fan-films for everything from Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare to HBO's Chernobyl for about a year. But as spotted by PCGamesN, the amateur filmmaker's latest is a break from the norm in that, rather than splicing together out-of-context voice lines, their Skyrim trailer features entirely new dialogue.
Without access to Bethesda's vocal talent, Adriac instead remixed existing voice lines from across the developer's catalogue using AI-powered synthesis tool xVASynth. Trained from audio pulled directly from the game, the tool lets you compile and tweak entirely bespoke lines of dialogue for Skyrim's sorta-Scandinavian accented inhabitants. Within reason, at least—on Reddit (opens in new tab), Adriac noted that anything over 5 seconds "makes the A.I crap itself".
Now, I don't think professional voice actors have too much to worry about. While it's a hell of a feat, the audio still has the stilted, nasally quality of computer-generated audio, with a little bit of fuzziness slipping in for good measure. It's just convincing enough to work, though—and while it makes for an impressive video, it does raise a few anxieties about how convincing this tech is likely to become.
"I don't think it will ever surpass a voice actor, but I think this could be incredible for the future to keep voice actors voices alive even hundreds of years after they've passed," Adriac rather ominously wrote on Reddit. "Imagine if we had something like this now for William Shakespeare".
Adriac isn't the only person out there splicing Bethesda's voice-lines together with AI, either. A Skyrim modder used the same xVASynth tool to make NPCs fawn over the Dragonborn's shirtless body. Beyond Tamriel, we're also seeing tools like 15.ai let you make anyone from The Scout to The Stanley Parable's narrator say whatever the hell you want—with wildly varying results.