The Future. London-based AI audiobook startup DeepZen has developed a system that can create deepfake audio recordings of living and dead voice actors with impressive emotional range. The tool could be revolutionary for small indie publishers who don’t have the capital to get proper human recordings of all their titles.
Edward Herrmann is still reading audiobooks from the grave.
- The renowned actor’s family licensed his famed voice (he won awards for narrating audiobooks) to DeepZen to be used for new audiobooks.
- The company has already made hundreds of audiobooks using Herrmann’s voice.
How did DeepZen accomplish this? Synthesizing his entire body of work, the startup makes an AI version of his voice that can generate any sound and intonation that Mr. Herrmann would have used if he were narrating these new books himself.
DeepZen, which has worked with professional actors to capture a wide range of human emotions to teach its AI system, is hoping to strike more deals with the estates of late stars. Actors (or their estates) receive upfront flat fees and royalties for participating.
While the largest book publishers are still a bit wary of selling AI-read audiobooks, DeepZen has signed deals with 35 publishers worldwide and is currently working with 25 authors. With the Association of American Publishers finding that audiobook sales grew 7% last year (and will continue to rise), DeepZen is entering a market with a lot of untapped potential.