Adobe recently provided a sneak peak of a feature of the upcoming Adobe Max product that they call VoCo, which will prove to be revolution in both dialog and music vocal recording if it works as previewed. So what is VoCo? The company is calling it “Photoshop for voice.” It samples the voice of a person and then allows you to construct or reconstruct dialog in that person’s voice, even if they didn’t say it in the first place! In other words, you can now manipulate voice like text.
VoCo will be very cool for those working with dialog for film and television, where you can rebuild the lines you need instead of going to ADR or resorting to massive cleanup tools. It’s a no brainer there, providing there’s some way to insert the needed voice inflections. I don’t know if this can be used for singing, but it would be a boon to producers to be able to replace a word or phrase on an otherwise perfect vocal after the fact. Those are some of its very cool upsides.
The downsides are many, however. It could give unscrupulous people a means to construct “fake news” with quotes that don’t actually exist. It could allow a producer to construct a vocal that actually had never been sung against an artist’s wishes to fulfill a contract. It potentially puts the power of performance into the hands of someone other than the performer.
Since VoCo is still on the drawing board, it’s too early to say if the powers above are overstated or not, but while we look at all the cool applications for the feature, there’s a lot of potential for the less than honorable there as well.
That’s why I look at the video below with a combination of awe and fear. This is some great technology that certainly has current real-world applications, but are we opening up Pandora’s Box here? See for yourself.