Transcript – Sound and Synthetic Voice in the Voice Community
MAGEN: Veritone presents Adventures in AI, the podcast that dives into the many ways artificial intelligence is shaping our future for the better. I'm your host, Magen Mintchev, and today we're talking with Jodi Krangle. Jodi is a voice actor, solopreneur, podcaster, and self-proclaimed media geek. She's been a voice actor since 2007 and has worked with clients from major brands all over the world, including Dell and Kraft. She's also a singer and has put out an album of jazz, blues, and traditional tunes. So naturally, over the years, she's learned a lot about sound and how it influences people. She even has a podcast on this very subject, which is called Audio Branding, the hidden gem of marketing. Today, we'll be talking about the importance of sound, synthetic voice in the voice community, what AI's role is in voice, and a whole lot more.
Jodi, welcome to Adventures in AI. I'm really happy to be speaking with you today.
JODI: Thanks so much. I'm looking forward to talking with you, too.
MAGEN: Awesome. Before we move into the meat and potatoes of this topic, I introduced you a bit. But I would love to get to know a little bit more about how you got into becoming a voice actor, and why it's a business as well as a craft.
JODI: Sound has always been important. For me, when I was a kid, my parents had sing-along time, not storytime. So for us, music and sound have always been super important. And when I went through my professional career, sound was always in the back of my head as something I wanted to work in. And it didn't come to fruition until after I had been doing SEO and Internet Marketing for quite some time. I had had a little bit of experience doing books on tape. And it was tape at the time like reel-to-reel tape. I did some volunteer work for the CNIB which is the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and I was reading their magazines onto tape for them to listen to, kind of like podcasts. I guess I write podcasts. And yeah, I loved both the voicing and the tech part of it. So that sort of it percolated in the back of my head for quite some time until 2007, when I got bored of what I was doing.
And Google was the only game in town. And things happen when I'm bored. I just switched my focus; I was already self-employed. I said, "Hmm, maybe now is the time." And I focused all my energy on voiceovers. And I had a lot to learn, but it was a fantastic thing to do. And as far as why it's a business, I think it is hard to have any kind of self-employment right now without having some kind of idea of how to invoice how to keep track of your expenses. You need to know what money comes in and goes out. And to understand what those expenses are on a monthly basis. Just having an idea of how to run your business, and keep yourself in the black as a coach as opposed to in the red. Knowing what to charge, being very cognizant of how much you're charging, and are you charging enough. And just being your own advocate can be hard for a lot of people. Yeah, it's something you need to learn over time
MAGEN: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I have a lot of businesspeople in my life, meaning they own a lot of their own businesses, and they can totally relate to what you're saying. So I'd like to know a little bit more about what sound means to you.
JODI: For me, it's pretty much everything, right? I I love music. I love sound of any kind. I love doing my podcast, which talks about the subject on a regular basis. And I love silence too. I think there is something to be said for having quiet.
MAGEN: What is silence? I think my silence comes at night right before I go to bed. My husband's sleeping, kids are sleeping and it's like, what is this?
JODI: Yeah, yeah, relish in it. Exactly. That's why some people wake up at five in the morning. That's quiet time. Yeah. I mean, I love having peace and quiet. That is my Zen. That's where I love to be even more than listening to music. Because when I'm listening to music, I'm constantly analyzing because as a performer myself. I can't just listen. I can't just enjoy it. I have to listen to the lyrics, I have to know why they put that word there. Oh, that's a really nice way that she moved her voice in that way. Oh, it's I love that brain is going 50 million miles a second. And I can't relax. So for me, it's very much a piece is my relaxation. And I think it's like you said, it's, it's really rare in this day and age that we actually get that silent time. And that's part of another aspect of this whole sound thing in that sound as a bad thing in your life. You know, having bad sounds, it's just not good. And you can close your eyes, but you can't close your ears. So when you're sleeping unless you're going to wear earplugs, or sleeping, which not a lot of people do, and it's actually not really healthy to do. If if you're doing that on a regular basis, it's kind of blocking up things, and you might end up with some ear infections or extra wax in there. Not everyone is affected the same way. But noise pollution is a thing. And yeah, we need to be very conscious of that.
MAGEN: So what about sound in software and tech solutions? Can we talk a little bit about that?
JODI: Yeah, I think that, it, I think that almost is a health issue. Because when you're talking about alarms and beeps in a hospital, for instance, they're very harsh. And they don't really have to be if you give them a little bit of decay, as opposed to just like the beep that begins and ends. It's a lot less harsh on our ears. And in fact, I have a podcast coming out very soon, that's talking with someone who's studied this and who is working on helping the healthcare industry fix these problems. He's a percussion guy. And he is aware of the difference in the really clinical beeps that we use, and how we could make that a little more pleasant to listen to, and a little easier for us to recover our health in such environments. He calls them a beeping hellscape. And I don't blame him, it's true, you know? Yeah. So there are lots of instances where this is the case where the sounds that these objects make are less than pleasant. And I think also that certain sounds denote luxury for us. So really depends on what your software is, what it's meant to do, what it's being used for, and, and where what environment is going to be heard in. And when all of these things come together, and you understand what your product is and what the software does, then you can get a better idea of how it should sound.
MAGEN: That makes sense. And as a voice artist, what are your perceptions of synthetic voice in the voice community?
JODI: I think that a lot of people are afraid that it will take our jobs. And I understand that fear. But I don't think that most people are going to want synthetic voice on in certain instances, I think when you are aware that a voice is synthetic, then you understand what it's being used for. And you can go along with that. And there are some things like reading articles on a website where you may not want to read it, instead, you want to hear it. But you don't want a voice actor to have to recreate that every time a new article is written, you know, then a text to speech is super easy to just implement and put on the page. And there you go. And people can listen if they want, or a chatbot you know, a chatbot isn't necessarily there to have a full-on conversation with you. It's there to answer certain questions. And you understand that it is a synthetic voice and that it's there for a purpose. Right. And you're not, you know, somehow thinking it's a real person. Yeah. So I think that there is there are definitely uses for this. I think that it is important for us to find these uses and know when they're best to use. And it doesn't need to be a substitute for a real person. It's just it's making our lives easier.
MAGEN: Yeah. And I mean, you can and even monetize that as well.JODI: Well, yeah, there's another aspect of this in that as a voice actor, if you do some utterances, and you give that to a company and you let them make a synthetic voice of your voice, then that voice can go out into the wild and do other stuff that you are not doing and make you money. That's right now, I mean, the trick is, how much money is it going to make you rise? A lot of these don't pay all that much. So really, it becomes how can we as voice actors work with the software engineers and the companies that do these so that this is a win-win situation? Right. And I think that that is coming? That, you know, there are bad actors in every industry. And unfortunately, they've made a lot of us very cautious. But I do think that there is a way for us all to work together and that win-win situations are possible.
MAGEN: Awesome. Okay. And what do you think is artificial intelligence's role is in voice?JODI: That's a tough one. I mean, machine learning has been around for a while. And I get that it is it can be helpful. But is it going to replace humans? I don't know. Because it doesn't think the way we do it doesn't have our experiences, the way that we do it doesn't come at things from the same perspective that we do. So is it gonna replace us? I don't know. I don't think so. I, you know, I think there's an uncanny valley in their right. We know about that. In regards to CGI people. We haven't really explored it all that much in regards to audio. And I think it is going to become a thing that when we aren't sure that we can hear little differences. It's going to freak us out a little.
MAGEN: Yeah, it is wild to wrap your mind around that.
JODI: Yeah, I've actually done a podcast specifically on that. And listening to some of the songs that this artificial intelligence came up with, because it listened to a bunch of hit songs and thought this was what we were doing. And what listening to what it thought we were doing is really disconcerting.
MAGEN: Yeah, absolutely. So in keeping with the voice topic, what excites you for the future of AI?
JODI: I'd like to see this become some kind of a way for voice actors to, first of all, preserve their voices the way that they sound. And at that moment, right, because everyone's voice is change. And over a period of time, your voice will change. And I think that it could be a really interesting way for voice actors to monetize later on down the road. Now, I mean, how many utterances are you going to have to do to make that possible? I don't know. Yeah. That's another question. And I think the software is getting better all the time. Absolutely. Those synthetic voices. Yeah. So fewer utterances are required as we go. I think that's what's gonna happen. But yeah, I'm excited. I am excited about it.
MAGEN: And as we wrap things up, I'd love for you to share if there's anything new that you are promoting, and where our audience can learn more about you and your industry.
JODI: Well, if they want to learn more about me, I'm at voiceoversandvocals.com. And my podcast Audio Branding is at audiobrandingpodcast.com. I do have a weekly chat on Clubhouse that happens on Wednesdays at 2pm Eastern. And I do talk about voice AI subjects. So it's all about the power of sound in general. But there are all sorts of different topics under that general theme. And voice AI is definitely one of them. So I do talk about that there, along with audio branding and advertising and the power of music and the power of podcasting, and public speaking and voice acting and all of that sort of stuff. So if people are interested, they can check out the club. It's called The Power of Sound.
MAGEN: And I think we should get someone from Veritone over on your podcast at some point. That'd be really cool. Nice little alignment there.
MAGEN: So Jodi, it was really awesome speaking with you and giving me a little bit of insight and our audience a little bit of insight into what it is that you do and how it correlates with AI. And if you could give me some final last thoughts on either the voice industry or AI.
JODI: I think that voice actors should be less scared of this. I think that the software engineers are not out to get us.This is an industry that's growing, it's not going anywhere. It's here to stay. And I think that it would be a good idea for voice actors to get ahead of the curve instead of you know, have it bulldoze them. And yeah, I think it's not something we need to be afraid of. It's something that we need to work together to make sure that it's a win-win situation for everyone involved.
MAGEN: Thank you, Jodi, and to my audience. Thank you to everyone out there for listening to adventures in AI the podcast that dives into the many ways artificial intelligence is shaping the future for the better talk with you next time.
Professional Voice Over Talent & Host of the Audio Branding Podcast