New Bourdain Doco Uses A.I. Voiceover

Originally published on Dark Horizons by Garth Franklin

This week sees the release of Oscar-winning “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” director Morgan Neville’s new documentary feature “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” which serves as a tribute to the widely loved travel show host and culinary legend who tragically died by suicide in 2018.

The film has scored strong reviews with a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 81/100 on Metacritic. Various reviews cite it as being deeply respectful whilst also showcasing the darker side of a man who was both a lover of life and quietly tormented.

However it’s one small artistic choice that has been drawing more attention than the film itself. The movie makes plenty of use of actual voice clips of Bourdain from his work, but there were several occasions in the film they wanted a Bourdain voiceover but didn’t have it.

Speaking with GQ, Neville revealed that he used artificial intelligence to reconstruct Bourdain’s voice and then got that deepfake AI voice to say those lines:

“We fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an A.I. model. The bigger the quantity, the better the result. We worked with four companies before settling on the best. We also had to figure out the best tone of Tony’s voice: His speaking voice versus his ‘narrator’ voice, which itself changed dramatically over the years.”

Neville says the words used were Bourdain’s own such as one instance where a letter Bourdain wrote is

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