back to article What's that, Adobe? A Photoshop for faking voices?

Recorded voice evidence will never quite be the same again. It might not even be "evidence". Last week, Adobe demonstrated a voice manipulation package called VoCo – a research project, and not (yet) a product, it says. Described as a "Photoshop for voiceovers", VoCo is actually quite brilliant. Given a speaking sample of …

  1. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Big Brother

    At least it got easier for law enforcement to fake confessions...

  2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    On the other side of this, I used to work at a firm that made IVR's ( interactive phone systems ).

    Pre-planning the voice, getting it recorded correctly, cutting it up, dealing with spec changes, it was a nightmare. If we could have just licensed the speakers voice, it would have been so much easier.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      I wonder what this will do for the future of machine learning for voice recognition.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Plus, at the end of the day, pretty much everyone who had to listen to the voice would have hated it and wanted to throw their phone through the nearest window.

      (Not knocking your work disgusted, but that is the common reaction to IVRs of all types)

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Blame the spec, not the poor bloke putting it together :)

  3. Robin Bradshaw

    To do a really good job of faking a recording it would also have to fake the 50Hz mains hum fluctuations so it appears to have been recorded at the appropriate time and date:

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >We suspect this technology is bad news for soundalike voice artistes – and may prompt a shift for owners of well-known voices such as Stephen Fry (pictured below) to move to an IP-based, licensing model.

    The Simpsons did it - featured an advertisement for a movie with Marlon Brando as Truckosaurus, then said "professional celebrity voice impersonator" in the verbal equivalent of small print.

    But anyway - would someone please donate a Tivo, Chromecast, Netflix subscription, Apple TV or even Kodi box to Mr O? It seems that the only reason he is fatigued by Stephen Fry is that he can only watch BBC, Dave and adverts on ITV. It would be a kind act, and could brighten this Reg writer's Christmas.

    Before his income from voiceovers, Stephen Fry was a writer, like Mr O - only more adept, humane, successful and well known. Still, there is positive precedent for Mr O's future career development - Charlie Brooker, the satirist, piss taker in print and on screen, and well received creator of Nathan Barley and Black Mirror used to write for PC Zone (an irreverent tech-focused publication) back in the 90's.

    Charlie Brooker knew that there was so much dross on TV that to limit himself to knocking one individual would be just daft. A masterclass on how to rip into the television schedules can be found here: The humour is very much in the vein the Reg prides itself on. Because we care.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      This would be great for voice over artists.

      Rather than having to actually record the adverts, Fry et al can just do one training session, then sell the license for their voice for everything with no additional work.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      The trouble with TV Go Home

      is that in the years since it was created it has changed from satire to a handbook.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The trouble with TV Go Home

        >The trouble with TV Go Home is that in the years since it was created it has changed from satire to a handbook.

        Ditto Nathan Barley. If Charlie Brooker were to act as George Lucas did with Star Wars and re-release a Special Edition Nathan Barley with Extra CGI Effects, he could digitally place 'ironic' beards on most of the characters and it would look like a contemporary documentary.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Dave, I think you're on to something here... maybe we should send the Executive Editor a nice christmas card and a little something for his stocking?

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    One Question:

    What would Toast of London say about this?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: One Question:

      "What would Toast of London say about this?"

      With this software, anything you want them to say.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I'll bite

    You could even tell it to make a Stephen Fry voice from the text of an Andrew Orlowski article. The question left for the listener would be - does Fry finally know what he's talking about on matters informatical?

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    A beta version of this sotfware...

    ...was used for Peter Dinklage's voice role for the video game 'Destiny'.

  8. Richard 31
    Paris Hilton

    Richard Burton

    Who care about fry, when you can have everything read out by Richard Burtons baritone voice?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Paul Westerman

    That's nothing

    My BBC Micro sounds like Kenneth Kendall.

  10. Doc Ock

    Can it calibrated for Brian Blessed's voice without seeing severe clipping ?

    1. theModge

      It's a similar procedure as for listening to Disaster Area:

      Just place the mic 37 miles away, in a concrete bunker.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    watermarking technology will be used to determine the authenticity

    can I get a crack already, or do I need to wait a mo, til they release it as a proper application?

  12. Sampler


    So, they can synthesize the voice pattern, but does the programme know where to add the right infection and emphasis on words, or will it be the same as my sat nav that monotonely relays lists of road names, directions and distances in a dead inhuman voice?

    Feel it'll be a while before celeb voice impersonators need to worry about their income..

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Inflection?

      I'd assume so, otherwise this is just a minor extension on already available software - voice recognition.

  13. tojb

    software is actually rubbish

    I managed to sit through the demo video (something must be wrong with me). Inflection and sentence rhythm very far from captured.

    Also, American talky-people in the video are very very irritating

  14. Martin Milan

    Goodbye voice authentication - parting is such sweet sorrow...

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Big Brother


      Biometrics, as understood now, are inherently worthless for access security / password replacement.

  15. JimC Silver badge

    Its been possible to do similar faking with high end music editing software for years, albeit by chopping out syllables, replacing and the like, but its such a skilled activity its below the public radar. Not sure there is really any such thing as digital evidence.

    1. Uffish

      Re: "high end music editing"

      Including taking a razor blade to 1/4" tape (admittedly at 15"/sec) 50 years ago.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Adobe claims watermarking technology will be used to determine the authenticity of the records offered as evidence

    Which is fine as long as "evidence" is stored in an adobe file format.

    Oh wait, analog loop problem - if you can play the [synthetic voice] audio file, you can re-record it to a WAV with no metadata.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Authenticity???

      With cleverly added background hum that has frequency variations etc for the required time and place

      proposed in 1970s

  17. g e

    So twenty minutes, eh?

    How long is a presidential inauguration speech, must be at lest that ;o)

    1. Mystereed

      Re: So twenty minutes, eh?

      Yes - was my first thought: why 20 minutes? Is there an equivalent set of words that will deliver all the building blocks? Bit like The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy log uses all the letters in an alphabet for typing practice. If yes, how easy to social engineer a few phrases to get that minimum number out?

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