//
you're reading...
People who use AAC

Roger Ebert, Voice of the Movies: 1942-2013

Film graphicBeloved film critic Roger Ebert passed away yesterday at the age of 70. As the world mourns the loss of Ebert, who won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1975, we recognize how much his highly regarded reviews helped us to see through the filmmaker’s lens more clearly: to celebrate and appreciate excellence, and to express outrage when talent and resources are wasted on bad films. Claimed Ebert, famously, “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”

Because of Ebert’s long television career, his relatively recent use of AAC to communicate isn’t as closely identified with him as it is with Stephen Hawking, for example. Ebert lost his ability to speak after cancer treatment and reconstructive surgery complications in 2006. At that point he began to use computer generated speech to communicate. To find a voice with the best fit, he explored the range of commercially available choices. For a while he had a British accent that his wife, Chaz, named “Sir Lawrence,” but then switched to “Alex,” a better quality voice with an American accent. Though it was good, it wasn’t perfect and he continued to look for a solution that was closer to his natural voice.

Roger Ebert

Photo Credit Scott Beale via photopin cc

A small Scottish company called CereProc, short for Cerebral Processing, held out hope for a voice that was not only closer to Ebert’s own, but actually was his own. Using audio tracks, available in quantity and quality because of his broadcast history, CereProc succeeded in “cloning” his voice using text-to-speech (TTS) technology. Programmers analyzed and digitized the recordings until they came up with a final voice pattern that was approved by Ebert. In a very funny and touching TED talk called “Roger Ebert: Re-making my voice,” he said that hearing this voice again – one that he, his family and his friends could recognize as his own – sent chills down his spine. He named the voice Roger Jr. or Roger 2.0.

In spite of this breakthrough, he found that Roger Jr. needed more tweaking before he’d be able or willing to adopt it for everyday use. His baseline? “If a computer voice can successfully tell a joke … then that’s the voice I want.”

In the same TED talk, Ebert revealed that the way he really had re-discovered his voice was through social media. Originally a Twitter skeptic, he came to the realization that social media gave him a “substitute for everyday conversation…online, everybody speaks at the same speed.”

Earlier this year, in his review of the post-apocalyptic zombie love story, “Warm Bodies,” Ebert wrote that the film was “unabashedly romantic and unapologetically optimistic.” From reading about his life, it seems to me that’s a pretty good description of the writer as well.

Note: Visit CereProc for demos of its TTS technology, with samples of synthesized voices in different languages and with a variety of accents.

Do you recall a favourite review or movie moment seen through Roger Ebert’s eyes? Please comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

About these ads

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

April 2013
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Categories

LATEST TWEETS

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

food 4 happiness

Good Food. Health. Happiness.

Esmeralda's Cumbrian History & Folklore

Snippets and longer bits on Cumbrian history and folklore

the accessibility symposium

Measuring Accessibility by Mapping Mobility

All Things Nice

Celebrating the nice things in life

Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

Restoring Our 1890 Victorian

celiac kiddo

writer & mother, and my gluten free family

Lexical Linguist

I'm just geeky that way!

Seth Godin's Blog on marketing, tribes and respect

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

Spin Sucks

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

Uncommon Sense

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

Jane Farrall's Blog

Literacy, AAC and Assistive Technology

Where to begin: Life as my muse

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

Martin Waxman

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

50 Good Deeds

Random kindnesses and other ways to make a difference

On Crawford St.

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

C2G

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

urban artivism

Creativity for social good

Integrated candour

Thought-provoking content from the digital side

Exploring people, places and things related to AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

James Bigg

Media and Communications Professional

20-something

thoughts of a young lady discovering her path

CYBJECT

"And whatever harm those do who slander the world, the harm done by the good is the most harmful harm." - Zarathustra

Melanie Simons

Marketing Communications and Project Management

Gluten-Free Gluttony

Eating gluten-free has never been this gluttonous

Random Relevance

Because I Want to Blog About Any & Everything

mygijourney

The rise of a health nut

A Two-Way Street

Student Communications in the 21st Century

Wears Pearls to the Ballpark

A girly girl who knows a thing or two about sports

Across the Divide

Aging Issues and Navigating Eldercare from the inside of the Sandwich

Bay Street Hoops

If you love basketball, this is the place to be

Unsolicited Advice

Where politics, media and communications smash into each other

StratG

This blog is a promise to myself to learn, write and teach. Let's go!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: