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Found 2 results

  1. This mummy isn't a movie, but an actual mummified Egyptian priest from 3000 years ago. Researchers wheeled his remains into a CT scanner, mapped his vocal tract, and 3D-printed a replica of his throat and mouth. They bolted it to a compression horn driver, and claim it reproduces the guy's authentic voice. It makes a good story in today's NYTimes along with a brief audio sample and a link to the research paper in Nature. It's also only a story. The mechanism used to create "speech" -- a complex vowel waveform generated by a computer and controlled by a joystick, then sent through a few fixed low-Q resonators in the 3D-printed "mouth" -- is nothing like the way human voices work. We have high-Q resonators, constantly moving to form different filters on the wideband buzz from the vocal folds. Essentially, they've put a non-linear horn on the output of a conventional speech synthesizer. And it's just guesswork, because we have no idea what sounds (or resonances) were used in the priest's language. The real breakthrough is mapping and printing an ancient mouth, even if it doesn't have the muscles essential for speech. It's a bit more sophisticated than getting a new set of false teeth... but how they made this mouth "talk" is just window dressing. So why am I posting this admittedly speech-nerd story at JWSoundGroup? Aside from the scientific interest (yes, I do get off on this stuff)... Some producer is going to glance at the Times' article, and then demand we create authentic voices for their next horror film or biblical epic!
  2. Article in today's New York Times about projection levels, reporting on a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (Journal is paywalled, so I'm going by the Times reporter's summary.) Apparently, research found that someone appears more confident and persuasive when they project louder, which is certainly intuitive. But it went further to show that you're even more persuasive when you break things up with softer-than-normal volumes, as well. Trained actors probably know this -- think Richard Burton -- and know how to modify it to keep the variety while filling a theater or filming a line. The great film actors of the past could vary their projection a lot, even while respecting the requirements of a boom and optical recorder. Not-so-trained actors might know it as well. But might not have learned to seem loud and soft while keeping levels good for the track. There's a wonderful spoof somewhere on YouTube of a Richard Burrton-wannabe constantly blowing out the mic and then dipping into the mud during a speech. To emphasize the point, his on-camera boom is constantly swinging up and down. Any experiences to share?
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