Back in February, beloved Twitter user and occasional film critic Roger Ebert went on Oprah to show off his fancy new computer voice. In an article on the subject, Ebert went into detail about the technology used to create the voice:
One day I was moseying around the Web and found the name of a company in Edinburgh named CereProc. They claimed they could build voices for specific customers. They had demos of the voices of George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger. (I amused myself by having them argue with each other.) In August 2009, I sent an e-mail to Scotland and heard back from Paul Welham, the president of CereProc, and Graham Leary, one of their programming geniuses.
They said they needed good quality audio to work with.
Before I lost my voice due to cancer-related surgery, I’d recorded commentary tracks for some movies on DVD: “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” “Floating Weeds,” “Dark City” and, ah, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” These tracks had been recorded separately from the movies, so they could be edited to fit scenes. They might be “pure” audio.
This began a back-and-forth process with CereProc, which had to transcribe every recording with perfect accuracy so they could locate every word.
What’s stopping an unscrupulous Fox executive from harnessing CereProc’s technology for evil, and ensuring The Simpsons continues forever, with no need for participation from the voice actors and their pathetic mortality? The engineers would have a lot of pure audio to work with: two decades’ worth of episodes, video games, commercials and a movie, plus hours and hours of outtakes that are probably sitting in a Fox vault somewhere. Fox has made no secret of its disdain for the handsomely paid cast; during contract re-negotiations in 1999, they were told they could be easily replaced by college kids. The show itself has used replacements occasionally – Marcia Mitzman Gaven was brought in to voice Maude Flanders, Ms. Hoover, and Helen Lovejoy after Maggie Roswell left the show, and in recent seasons Lunchlady Doris (voiced by the late Doris Grau) has been given speaking roles after more than a decade of silence.
Plus, if they start using cheaper Flash animation (like the exquisite Superjail!) and outsource the writing to a computer algorithm (which has already happened), Fox will have cut costs dramatically, thus making the show still profitable (did you know it costs like $3 million an episode??) despite its declining ratings.
HEY, IT COULD HAPPEN… MAYBE IT ALREADY HAS AND WE JUST DON’T KNOW ABOUT IT???