Cyberpunk 2077 Devs Used AI to Recreate a Dead Voice Actor

Anybody who played Cyberpunk 2077 would immediately recognize the name Victor Vektor, the affable and surprisingly kind ripper doc who plays a pivotal role in the game’s opening segments. He’s also featured in CD Projekt Red’s new Phantom Liberty expansion, but those playing the Polish version of the DLC will find they’re not listening to the original voice actor. Instead, it’s an AI recreation of the VO actor.

Victor’s voice actor for the Polish localization of Cyberpunk 2077 was Miłogost Reczek, a well-loved performer known for voicing other roles in the game maker’s past titles, including Vesemir and Thaler in the company’s The Witcher series. Reczek passed away at 60 in 2021, a year after the game’s release, but Bloomberg reported CD Projekt Red ordered a recreation of Reczek’s voice to reprise his role as Viktor. The company hired another voice actor to record Viktor’s lines, which were then dubbed over with an AI voice cloning program.

CD Projekt Red told Bloomberg it received permission from Reczek’s family to recreate his voice, but it remains unclear if the family was compensated in any way. Apparently, the developer first considered replacing Reczek for Viktor in the new DLC, but in an email with Gizmodo, CD Projekt Red spokesperson Ola Sondej said “we didn’t like this approach, as Miłek was one of the best Polish voice talents and his performance as Viktor was stellar.”

Sondej told Gizmodo:

We learned about the voice cloning technology Respeecher and thought of trying out this solution to preserve Miłek’s voice and performance for both the base game and the expansion. We contacted his family for permission to create an algorithm from Miłek’s voice that could then be used over the performance of another actor, who would record Viktor Vektor’s new voice lines. Miłek’s sons were very supportive and gave us their permission to move forward with the project. The new lines were performed by Janusz Zadura, who tried to emulate Miłek’s style of speaking, after which we used Respeecher’s algorithm to adjust these new recordings so that they emulated Miłek’s voice. This way we could keep his performance in the game and pay tribute to his wonderful performance as Viktor Vektor.

Respeecher was developed by a Ukrainian tech company to take archival audio and recreate a person’s voice. A few big-time actors like James Earl Jones have sold off their voices for use in shows like Dinsey+’s Kenobi. Disney, in particular, has been all over AI in the past few years, using it to recreate actors like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Peter Cushing to recreate their roles as Princess Leia Organa and Grand Moff Tarkin, respectively.

While CD Projekt Red claims they wanted to preserve a famed VO actor’s legacy, other companies like Disney has also caught massive flak from fans and from actors alike, especially as it’s keen on replacing actors entirely with AI simulacrum. In April, Disney+ viewers spotted that the company used plastic-looking, CGI people instead of background actors for the movie Prom Pact. The current actors’ strike has taken specific umbrage with Hollywood’s supposed plans to scan background actors and recreate them with AI.

Video game voice actors also shared their sweeping concerns concerning AI replacements. Last month, they joined their fellow actors on the picket line. These video game VO actors are demanding that companies offer specific consent and compensation for using their voices for AI recreations.

Update 10/13/23 at 10:21 a.m. ET: This post was updated to include comments from a CD Projekt Red spokesperson.

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