Quality voice over software?

I've been using an animation software to create short videos which will be used throughout my online courses in Storyline.  I use my own voice to narrate all the other content throughout the modules, but the animation video segments include 7 different characters (1 male, 1 female and 5 animal characters).  I'm trying to avoid the added costs and complexity of hiring 7 different voice actors, but I would like each voice to sound unique.

I've tried using various voice morphing software tools, but have not been able to produce any quality voices using it.  The animation software I'm using has a text to voice option, however it is extremely choppy and computer generated sounding plus many words are mis-pronounced.  Has anyone had luck using a software for text to voice or voice to voice that is of quality sound? 

9 Replies
Andy Bowyer

This is going to seem an obvious reply, especially from a professional narrator, but it's very likely that you're going to spend more time, and incur more cost (through lost productivity time, etc.) trying to save the money by getting around  hiring outside voice talent than you would if you actually hired voice talent.

Yes, there are tricks you can employ (pitch change, for example) to differentiate between characters, but even with that technique, you have to know how much to either speed up or slow down your read--and do it consistently--to make it work for a given character.  Because if you're trying to sound like Alivin (the chipmunk),   y o u   h a v e   t o   t a l k   m o r e   s l o w l y   t h a n   y o u   n o r m a l l y   w o u l d .   And finding that pace can be tricky.  Finding it a second time can be quite the challenge.  And again, you're talking about the difference between spending productivity time experimenting with new tools -vs- getting actual work done.

I'll play around and get you an example shortly...if nothing else, maybe it'll spark some ideas for you.

ab

Andy Bowyer

Oh, and if Bruce can plug his Barney the Dinosaur, I can plug my "Goofy", Fred and Barney, Kramden and Norton...ahhh, I got a bunch.  And dialects too.  Plus I edit all my own stuff so you don't have to...

And I'm quick with a joke, or a light of your smoke, and there's NO place that I'd rather be....

*ahem*

David Celaya

I'd say that I agree with Andy. You will probably spend more time and or money, and will most likely not be very happy with the results you'll get from any voice creating software. I know you might not be the one with the power to make changes to the curriculum, but the question I would ask is this. How important are the 7 different audio voices to the piece? If the audio voices are important enough to be necessary to the piece, they are important enough to spend the resources on.

Also, could some rewriting be done so that more of the information is delivered by the main narrator?

For example:

Tommy the Owl: "I wish I knew how to open this door. I really need to get inside. Can you think of a way I can get in?"

vs

Narrator: "Tommy really needs to get inside this building. Can you think of a way he can get the door open, and get inside?"

A good example is the Storyline intro video. There are a few characters, but none of them actual speak. The narrator provides the info, and the characters "speak" through motion, some sound effects, and a few thought bubbles. http://www.articulate.com/products/storyline-overview.php/

Good luck with it!