July 16, Roadrunner: A film about Anthony Bourdain will open in American theaters. Like many documentaries, the film combines archival footage, including interviews and shows, to try to tell the story of its subject in its own words. It also includes words that Bourdain never spoke to the camera before his suicide death in 2018, and yet you will hear his voice utter them.
In an interview with , the film’s director, Morgan Neville, said there are three quotes he wanted Bourdain to tell where there are no footage, so he re-created them with software instead. “I created an AI model of his voice,” he told the magazine.
It didn’t seem like an easy feat either. In a separate , Neville said he contacted four different companies regarding the project before deciding on the best one. That company powered about ten hours of sound on the AI model. A lot of work involved deciding on the exact tone of Bourdain’s voice. Neville wanted the software to be repeated because the way the author and tour guide recounted his writing had changed so much over the years while he was on TV.
Compared to some other ways we’ve seen AI i deepfakes once cheated people, this is not the worst example, but the ethics of it are still questionable. As far as we know, the film does not include the discovery that AI was used to map Bourdain’s voice. “If you’re watching a movie other than that line you mentioned, you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were uttered by AI and you won’t know,” Neville said. New Yorker. “We can have a documentary-ethics committee about that later.” In his interview for GQ, said Bourdain’s family told him “Tony would be cool”, adding, “I was just trying [the quotes] come to life, “
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