CD Projekt Red used AI to replace the voice actor Miłogost Reczek in Cyberpunk 2077 following his passing in 2021.
Miłogost Reczek sadly passed away in December 2021 at age 60, and was best known for voicing the characters Vesemir and Thaler in The Witcher games, along with the Polish dub of Homer Simpson in The Simpsons Movie.
His more recent work saw him take the role of Viktor Vektor in Cyberpunk 2077, Night City's best ripper doc, who also appears in the Phantom Liberty expansion which launched last month.
According to a Bloomberg report, CD Projekt Red gained the permission of Reczek's family to recreate his voice in the game using AI, with localization director Mikołaj Szwed saying that the team didn't want to replace him.
"We didn’t like this approach,” Szwed said, explaining that Reczek “was one of the best Polish voice talents” and his performance was "stellar".
The studio hired a new voice actor to record fresh lines of dialogue but then used Respeecher - an AI voice cloning software - to change the voice to match Reczek's and make it sound like him. Reczek's sons "were very supportive" of the decision, the developer adds.
Last month, the American labor union, The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) - which has been on strike since July over a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) - voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike on the Interactive Media Agreement which covers its members’ work on games.
This follows a continuous battle against the use of AI in media that working actors, writers, and those working in the entertainment industry have been facing.
One of the main issues being discussed includes vocal-stress protection for voice actors and protections surrounding AI when it comes to transparency, consent, control, and compensation, alongside fair wages and safety for on-camera performers.
Negotiations have failed so far - SAG-AFTRA previously said: "Throughout the negotiations, the companies have refused to offer acceptable terms on some of the issues most critical to our members, including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions.”
However, the labor union previously stated that its National Board and negotiating committee “will do everything they can to reach an agreement without a strike”.
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