Tuesday, December 5, 2023

‘Cyberpunk 2077’ relied on artificial intelligence to replicate the voice of a deceased actor

During recent years, the intervention of AI in the artistic environment has been a topic of debate. Even more so with the strike of scriptwriters – now over – and actors, who among their requests ask to stop the excessive use of said technology. However, in the video game industry the outlook is not always negative. CD Projekt RED, the studio responsible for Cyberpunk 2077, turned to artificial intelligence to replicate the voice of an actor who died.

In this type of situation, it would be normal to think that the actor’s relatives are unhappy with the studio’s actions. It wouldn’t take long for CD Projekt RED to be surrounded by controversy and criticism, just as happens in the film world. On this occasion, however, that was not the case.

Before undertaking such a practice, CD Projekt RED requested permission from Miłogost Reczek’s relativeswho lends his voice to Viktor Vektor in the Polish version of Cyberpunk 2077. If you have had the opportunity to play it, you will know that he is one of the most important characters, especially at the beginning of the adventure.

Reczek, unfortunately, died in December 2021. That is, a year after the release of Cyberpunk 2077. However, CD Projekt RED required his voice again to Phantom Libertythe first and only expansion of the game that only saw the light of day last September.

The company could have taken the easy route and looked for a new voice actor. However, if you think about it carefully, it would be quite strange for a character to have different voices in the same game. After all, Phantom Liberty can be enjoyed parallel to the main story of Cyberpunk 2077.

At CD Projekt RED they knew that artificial intelligence could get them out of this predicament. But before anything was started, it had to be discussed with Reczek’s family first. Fortunately, they granted permission to replicate the actor’s voice. “Reczek’s children were very supportive”commented to Bloomberg Mikołaj Szwed, localization director of the Polish studio.

However, he admitted that it was not pleasant having to do this in the voice of “one of the best Polish announcers,” adding: “His performance in the game as Dr. Viktor Vektor was stellar.”

Once they received the green light from the relatives, the developers used the technology of Respeechera startup Ukrainian specialized in artificial intelligence. Her tool allows you to generate voices from a simple fragment of an already existing voice. In this case, they used material that Reczek had already recorded to Cyberpunk 2077.

It should be noted that Respeecher is already a recognized company within the entertainment industry. Before participating in the expansion of Cyberpunk 2077they worked with Lucasfilm to recreate the young voice of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in The Mandalorian, The Boba Fett book and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The result, as you surely remember, was surprising.

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