Tag Archives for " dialog "

November 22, 2016

Adobe VoCo – With Great Power Comes Responsibility

Adobe VoCoAdobe 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.

New Music Gear Monday: Audionamix Speech Volume Control

Audionamix Speech Volume ControlIf you’ve ever had to deal with a noisy track, you know how time consuming clean-up can be. Yes, you can gate it, but that can sound unnatural. There are also many excellent noise-reduction plugins available, but they don’t always do the job without adding some unpleasant artifacts. You find yourself playing with different combinations of tools hoping that you can eventually dial in something acceptable, which can take a lot longer than you’d expect. That’s why the new Audionamix Speech Volume Control (SVC) is so cool. It takes an entirely different approach to noise reduction.

Most noise control plugins try to eliminate or concentrate on the background noise, but SVC works by increasing the level of the vocal or speech so that the noise is no longer a problem. Keep in mind that this is a tool intended for post engineers who work with dialog, but the plugin looks like it can have many uses in music as well (I can’t wait to try it on noisy distorted electric guitars, for example).

SVC has to first acquire the audio in order to be able to work with it, and this done using the Aquire button, and then the Separate button to allow the algorithm to do its thing (the track can be mono or stereo, by the way). At that point, there are a variety of controls, but the main ones are the Speech volume slider and the Background volume slider, which will then allow the user to find the right combination of noise to track that seems natural. There’s also a Pitch slider, which works in conjunction with a number of presets for different types of voices, that allows you to fine-tune the algorithm to the voice.

There are also High Quality, HF Boost and Reverb options (the Reverb selector maintains the wet/dry balance as you adjust the Speech volume control), as well as an Automatic Voice Activity Detection that helps to precisely target the speech content within your audio file.

The Audionamix Speech Volume Control plugin costs $249 to buy and $19.95 for a 2 week rental. It’s available in AAX, VST and AU formats for both Mac and Windows platforms. Check out the video below, or the website for more info.