Ukrainian company Respeecher recreated iconic voice of Darth Vader in new Disney movie
Kyiv startup Respeecher helped “clone” the voice of legendary actor James Earl Jones, 91, for the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Since 1977, Darth Vader has been voiced by the American actor James Earl Jones, who turned 91 in 2022. The actor granted Disney permission to replicate his vocal performance as Darth Vader in future projects using Respeecher.
Ukrainian startup Respeecher uses archival recordings and a proprietary A.I. algorithm to create a new dialogue with the voices of performers from long ago.
“Lucasfilm came to us, essentially through word of mouth,” said Dmytro Bielievtsov, Respeecher’s chief technical officer, Guardian reports. “Someone posted about our tech in an internal sound engineering chat, and it got picked up.” Once the ball started rolling, it took just a few months to prepare audio that was ready for screen, he added.
The work was disrupted in February when Russia renewed its assault on Ukraine that had started eight years earlier, and tanks came close to Kyiv itself.
“We were psychologically prepared because we’ve been at war for much longer than just six months,” Bielievtsov said. “And thanks to the foreign intelligence, we knew there was a high risk of this happening, so we prepared a contingency plan to make sure that the team is comfortable and safe.”
“I think we executed it pretty well. There was, like, up to one day of delay that happened to some of the projects.”