gominokouhai: (Default)

Off down south tomorrow for a company meeting. I went to the bank today and withdrew £20 in Scottish fivers, because I want to piss them off. The bank teller had never heard that one before—seriously? I honestly thought everyone did that—and told me I'd made his day.

All set for this goddamn nine-hour train journey tomorrow. Gots my sound-isolating earphones, emergency Irn Bru (can't buy it down there), emergency whisky (Islay Mist, won't react with the metal in the hunt flask), gots my vindictively pan-European sandwich, and my instructions for haxx0ring free train wifi. Spent some time with [personal profile] stormsearch perfecting my Scots accent.

Michael Mcintyre has this bit that he does about, every time someone wants to spend a Scottish banknote, some mad Scotsman pops up from nowhere and shouts don't you know that's legal tender. It's funny because it's true, and not, I hasten to add, because Michael makes any effort to make it funny in any way. He crams this bit in to any set he can. Heard a Scots accent on my way to the theatre tonight. Reminded me of that guy who says: don't you know that's legal tender . And off he goes again.

[personal profile] stormsearch is not a qualified voice coach and her instructions have been sporadically helpful, but with her experience combined with my voice-talent nollij, we made headway. The word £ is a particularly difficult word to say in Scots. There's an argument that it's pronounced poouwnd and another, equally legitimate, argument that it should be pronounced pnd, and both of these should be done simultaneously, while also pronouncing the ou as an ai except that it's really more of an eh but do it with your face all scrunched up like this. I got there eventually. As is so often the case with learning experiences in my life, whisky helped.

Thus, I am now ready to have the following exchange, should it be necessary, with an unsuspecting southerner:

Good day to you, shopkeep, and what a marvellous day it is indeed. I would like to purchase this bottle of Coca-Cola® if you'd be so kind. What's that? You doubt the authenticity of my cash monies? Well, dear shopkeep, I do so regret that it must come to this, but I fear you leave me little option but to go Full Scotsman on you. Ahem. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT'S LEGAL TENDER, that's a five pooouwnd note ya wee numpty, huv ye no seen a five pnd note before ya great sassenach.

Interesting, perhaps, to note that, although I am a trained voiceover artist and a remarkably good one, it's only been since this week that I've been able to pronounce sassenach with the appropriate amount of sass.

And I know there's no such thing as legal tender, but the unsuspecting southerner won't.

gominokouhai: (Default)

I aten't dead folks! Been busy being awesome. I know you understand.

Awesomer yet and on general release RIGHT THE HELL NOW, gratis to stream or torrent: Death Knight Love Story! In a world... suspiciously similar to the World of Warcraft universe... one corpse... forcibly resurrected in an unholy ceremony... escapes the dread legions of the Lich King. Can she learn to love again? Find out this summer this holiday season right the hell now.

Starring: BRIAN BLESSED as the Arthas the Lich King! JOANNA LUMLEY as Lady Mirabeux! JACK DAVENPORT OFF COUPLING as Zielieck! ANNA CHANCELLOR as Miria!

And, in a very brief cameo in the first couple of minutes, yr. corresp.!

On which note, I'm just going to leave this here:

  • I was in Death Knight Love Story with BRIAN BLESSED
  • who was in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Christian Slater
  • who was in Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon
Thus, as of yesterday, I have a Bacon Number of 3, which is ONE BETTER THAN HITLER.

For what it's worth, if you're keeping count, then if you're terribly charitable about the strictness of your definitions, we established last time that I also have an Erdős number of 8.

Go, link, share, watch etc. Did I mention it has BRIAN BLESSED as the Lich King?

gominokouhai: (Default)

What are you doing with your free time, pajh? you say. Well, since you asked so nicely, I'll skip the otherwise obligatory free time, what's that joke, and go straight to the incontrovertibly true answer: these days I spend my free time dressing up in skintight Lycra® and wrestling with men I barely know.

I may have mentioned in a previous post that Hollywood-grade motion capture systems create the potential for new narrative paradigms for the 21st century. Well, mostly I mentioned that they allow a specific actor, that actor being me, to hear the single most beautiful phrase ever expressed to an actor. We'll get to new narrative paradigms later. Meantime, there have been a number of very rapid learning experiences while working with thew new tech, not least of which is that I actually don't look totally terrible in skintight Lycra.

Mocap suit

Middle-class beer gut tastefully cropped out of photograph. EVERY PINT WAS WORTH IT I TELL YOU

Unsurprisingly, most of the research in gyroscopic technologies these days is being done by the ballistics division of the US military and their contractors. Many of my readers may not have a particular interest in the increasingly accurate science of the transformation of alleged insurgents into chargrilled jerky from a distance of many kilometres, but fret not! for those of us so callously disinterested in how to blame friendly fire on technology, there are subsequent benefits for all of us (except for the families of the alleged insurgents, presumably): benefits like the upcoming Wolverine movie, and Skrillex' latest tour. I am, as ever, all about the trickle-down.

Yay us!

Another benefit of the fact that this is all repurposed military technology is that it's all incredibly robust. The suit comes in a case that is waterproof to 500 metres, and also conveniently scaled to comply with most airlines' regulations regarding carry-on luggage. In the event of a terrorist attack on a plane in which such a case was stored, it's more likely to survive than the black box. I dread to speculate on the newspaper headlines once the crash recovery team have spent a week attempting to recover data from it. Apparently the Captain spent twenty minutes trying to have an elaborate fistfight with the first officer, followed by an extended period of merengue dancing, with occasional periods of jazz hands. This presumably contributed to the crash, but exactly how is a question we hope maybe to have answered by next week.

Oh yes, the mocap. The suits are surprisingly accurate and expressive, to a level that I didn't think was possible. And you can play the mocap live in realtime into any 3D world you care to devise. In the following examples, we're going to be using Minecraft, because Minecraft. Also, because Minecraft is incredibly pretty, and it shows you just what you can do with a blocky Steve guy with no facial expressions.

Ye First Video: Meet the Creeper

In this short film I play the Creeper, which while it's not exactly a speaking role, does have the benefit of being in the title.

Took us about five minutes to shoot. About an hour of getting the suits configured first, but that's just teething. On a regular film shoot I spend much more time hanging around waiting, and there are usually fewer copies of Transmetropolitan lying about with which for me to occupy my time. These suits are awesome.

Ye Video the Second: in which pajh does acting

I know I'm a middle-class New Town bastard these days, but I do still pay attention to my acting when I get the chance. I have the most popular text-to-speech voice in the known world, and physical acting is no less an important discipline. I have done courses. I've done the Alexander Technique. I do stretches properly before I perform mocap (judiciously excluding the stretches that are likely to tear the €500 lycra suit, natch). I'm not by any means attempting to put myself up there in Patrick Stewart territory, but I think my research has paid off. In this second video I have more of a starring role.

I showed this to [personal profile] stormsearch and she got about twenty seconds in before she had to pause it and proclaim, oh god. It's you. Something about the way I hold my head slightly to one side, it would seem. And then there are little things, like the fact that apparently I pick my right foot up when I'm considering something. I didn't know that about me until I watched it expressed by a blocky Minecraft Steve.

The level of expressiveness and the subtlety you can get from the tech is quite incredible. I'm quite excited to see where this goes next.

In my Copious Free Time, obviously.

gominokouhai: (Khaaan!)

It is now possible to have a mocap system that links directly (and accurately!), in realtime, to a fully realized 3D set. Both the motion-capture system and the set in which it is to be rendered are simultaneously available to a sufficiently skilled technician, who can manipulate elements of same as required while the motion-capture is still continuing, from a single laptop. This might not excite you in the way I've just described it, but what you must consider is the fact that we have these tools available. This in itself has potentially broad-reaching effects about the nature of storytelling in the 21st century. And, which is much more important, as a direct result, tonight was possibly the first time ever that the following phrase has been uttered, honestly and without irony, to an actor:

Don't worry. Stand still and I'll rotate the world around you.

Oh yeah baby. If there were ever a reason why I got myself into acting, it's this.

~

The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody. Presented without any further comment. I'm going to have terrible mosh neck when I wake up tomorrow, and it's entirely the fault of Dr Teeth and his Electric Mayhem. Okay, partially their fault and partially the fault of Penelope Spheeris.

(You should follow that last link; I'm giving you a no-honk guarantee.)

~

It transpires that I gots a smartphone app. Some of you should remember the pajh-inna-box of old. Now it has an app. This would be unsurprising in itself were it not for the fact that Googol Play allows user feedback comments, most of which are about how awesome I sound. There's one there from user Jessica Rabbit thus:

I own many, many tts voices but this is the best, yet! [...] this male, u.k. voice is the most natural sounding and also elegant & sophisticated! [...] I can listen to this imaginary Englishman throughout my day helping me with my appointments and such!

I suspect the real Jessica Rabbit would say LOL somewhat less, being a lady who knows what elegant and sophisticated actually means. If this were the real Jessica Rabbit commenting, none of you would see me for dust.

I'm not bad. I just sound that way.

Aww yeah

Thu, Apr. 19th, 2012 20:51
gominokouhai: (Default)

So this is me walking through Newington on my way between the organic food market and the artisan vintners & victuallers, carrying my organic jute tote bag—emblazoned with the logo of the local specialist American/Mexican delicatessen—currently stuffed with Polish honey-flavoured Wódka Żołądkowa Gorzka and copious quantities of sopocka. Carefree I stroll along, my second-best girl at my side and my mind on a double mocha latte with three sugars, when a mad bearded Scotsman runs up, addresses me by name and thrusts a script into my hand.

This happens more often than you might think.

To be strictly accurate: it was a mad bearded Scotsman with whom I'd already worked a few times, and he took my email address so he could send me a script. He'd just been running a casting session and had apparently had a poor turnout. By the time I got home, his production assistant had emailed the script across.

If I were to attempt a summary of this script in one line of dialogue, it would go something like this:

COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, likesay ken ya wee dos radge, Grasshopper.

It's brilliant. I would be an idiot to turn this gig down, despite the fact that I can't do the accent he wants. I've got a better idea for the accent. This is going to be awesome.

A good day.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Guys. GUYS. They built a robot in Stockholm and they put my voice into it.

You may recall the pajh-inna-box from a couple of years ago. Now my voice is starring at the Science Museum without inconveniently needing my body attached to it.

FurHat speaks with the CereProc William TTS voice. He uses built-in CereVoice vocal gestures to add extra realism (and sarcasm) to his speech. That's right. When they wanted to teach sarcasm to a cold, unfeeling machine, they knew exactly where to turn.

BBC News segment (skip to 02:18 for me). Also: oh ghod, they gave him hubris.

I like the fact that they gave him a hat. It seems to be a truth, universally acknowledged, that a voice this awesome needs to have a hat on top of it.

Well, Phase One of my grand plan to construct an invincible robot body for myself is complete. Now I just to need to work out what Phase Two should be.

Tenuously related: research for this article involved googling for fur hat robot, which turned up—natch—I Am Russian Robot, a rather nice little comedy skit.

Also, please note that guys is gender-neutral. American women with names like Chrystal and Ronnette use it all the time.

ETA

@marksutherland: @gominokouhai I just spent the last half hour pasting GladOS quotes into the box on the Cereproc homepage
@marksutherland: The canonical voice of sarcastic rouge AIs is now @gominokouhai : gominokouhai.dreamwidth.org/246773.html See: free.dom0.org/PajhOS.mp3

Glad to be of service.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Welp, 2011 is two weeks old now, and thus far I am significantly less than impressed. I'm putting you on notice, 2011. You've got fifty more weeks to pull your socks up or else... or else.

That said, this morning was rather fun. I attended an accent workshop at the Lyceum Theatre, based on their current production of A View From The Bridge. I saw A View From The Bridge once, many years ago, while I was still in school. I was far too naive to pick up on any of the subtext and recall very little except people shouting I took the sheets offa my bed for you over and over again. Fifteen years on, having actually had opportunity to look at a couple of pages of the script, what strikes me is Miller's stunning ability to use voice to draw his characters. In paragraph two on page one, Alfieri says that he's an Italian-American immigrant, Brooklynite, came from Sicily aged 25 and educated at law school. By the time he tells you all that, you already know, just based on the way he uses language. It leaps off the page at you.

Miller is a fucking genius. I'd give both nuts to write like that. And he married Marilyn Monroe, too. Bastard.

Accents: the first thing you do with an accent is work out where it comes from in the mouth. The Scots accent is quite far back in the throat. Mississippi-type ah do declay-uh voices are very high up in the roof of the mouth; Liverpudlian likewise. The Brooklyn accent is so far forward that it's dripping off the front of your bottom lip like leaden drool. I nearly dislocated my jaw getting it right.

(I neeyuhly dislowcaded my jawuh is a fun phrase to say in Brooklynese. Saying it just now, I nearly dislocated it again. I've invented physical onomatopoeia and, with it, an excellent name for a rock band.)

I was doing fine until about halfway through the session, when the bloody dire Daleks Take Manhattan jumped into my head and wouldn't leave. The whiny nasal showgirl woman kept repeating Laslow on a loop in my mind. To compensate I dropped the pitch of my voice, so my own version of Brooklynese sounds like a more thuggish version of Mistuh Diagoras.

Two hours work, and now I can say cawffee correctly. And I have an urge to watch Goodfellas tonight.

Emails

Wed, Oct. 27th, 2010 16:49
gominokouhai: (Default)

Hello Paul, your Star Trek costume has arrived. Bloody hell, my life just took a weird turn. However it's just a top, so if you could please wear black trousers and shoes... welcome to the wonderful world of movie stardom. Please provide the bottom half of your own spacesuit.

Has anyone seen my legs? They don't appear to be below my waist, where I normally keep them.

Playing the Star Trek psycho (it's just occurred to me: That Scene with Janet Leigh wouldn't have worked nearly so well with a sonic shower) tomorrow and Friday, and then, on Friday, I have to change out of the Starfleet uniform and run off to audition for a completely different piece. Specifically, I need to stop killin' dudes, cross town, and do a romantic scene with a beautiful twenty-year-old. I can't see this ending well, and not only because the romance is written by Dostoyevsky.

I mean that quite literally. Dear old Fyodor Mikhaylovich is not particularly renowned for his mastery of the screenplay as an artform, largely due to his untimely death some years before the genre was invented. This script is lifted straight out of the book into a single fixed scene, one set, one shot, no direction, and no regard given to how films work. I gather this company have previously only done stage work: it shows. More work for me. Would be a good part, though.

~

At regular pays-the-bills work today I've received a single-sentence email (Can you please confirm that we have a reservation with you for 2 people for 2 nights Nov 11-12) in 100-point Arial text, taking up four screens and requiring me to scroll. I don't respond well to being shouted at. I've considered answering in 200-point ALL CAPS AND BOLD FOR GOOD MEASURE, or maybe whispering a reply in Flyspeck-3. Neither option amuses me sufficiently. I think I'mma sophisticate this up.

my dear mister price
your reservation stands firm
like the ancient oak

Better idea: commission Brian Blessed to phone him up and reconfirm.

gominokouhai: (Default)

I have just accepted the commission to review popular current movie sensation Sex and the City 2. Mostly because no one else at the movie enthusiasts' site wanted to go and see it, and with good reason.

As a result, I am now researching the Sex And The City franchise. At gone midnight on a Friday. Because no one else will. Mostly this involves watching Sex and the City 1. I'm five minutes in, and it's terrible.

Pay? What's that?

Just because you're not being paid is no reason not to be professional.

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