Dubbing movies and TV is the next frontier for machine learning and AI

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( The Washington Post )

It turns out that after many decades, a new class of start-ups is hoping to address this unintentional performance art. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, they aim to make the dubbing process more efficient and more natural, part of a movement that is coming to be known as “auto-dubbing.”

With auto-dubbing, the process can be simplified to work like this: The original actor records five minutes of random text in their own language. Then the machines take over: A neural network learns the actor’s voice, a program takes that vocal information and applies it to a digital translation of the script, and then the AI spits out perfectly timed lines from the film in the foreign language and drops them into the action. The whole process could take just a few weeks.

Venture capital firms have bet on auto-dubbing, with Papercup in December raising $10.5 million from a group of investors that included Arlington, Va.’s Sands Capital Ventures. Flawless recently concluded its undisclosed Series A financing; deepdub is in the middle of one.

It’s easy to understand the interest. Foreign-language content is a vast unmined frontier for Hollywood; even in mainly subtitled versions. One example is Netflix’s Korean survival drama “Squid Game,” which has become the service’s No. 1 show in many countries, including the United States. If “Squid Game” can do what it’s done largely with subtitles, the auto-dubb companies say, imagine what can happen when foreign dialogue is available in everyone’s own language. An endless parade of foreign-language smashes Stateside is not hard to conceive.

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