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How AI brought Val Kilmer’s ‘Iceman’ back into Top Gun: Maverick

Artificial intelligence landed a major part in the new Top Gun sequel: Val Kilmer’s voice.

According to Fortune, scientists helped Kilmer reprise his role as Iceman by using A.I. to craft a computer-generated replica of the actor’s voice that could read his lines.  

Kilmer—who has starred in films including Batman Forever, The Doors, and Heat—suffered irreparable damage to his voice after being diagnosed with throat cancer and undergoing a tracheotomy in 2014.

In August last year, London-based tech startup Sonantic teamed up with Kilmer to create an A.I.-powered voice for the actor—which ultimately went on to be used in Top Gun: Maverick.  

“From the beginning, our aim was to make a voice model that Val would be proud of,” John Flynn, CTO and cofounder of Sonantic, said in a blog post at the time.

“We were eager to give him his voice back, providing a new tool for whatever creative projects are ahead.”

Sonantic uses A.I. to create computer-generated voices that are either completely synthetic or mimic the voice of a real person. Its voices have been used in video games, Hollywood sound production, and speech therapy.

The voice the company generated for Kilmer is entirely synthetic and mimics old recordings of the actor.

 

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