Music Production –
The musical activities of music producer Iain McKinna

Cereproc Text to Speech project

We recently had Graham and Chris from Cereproc in the studio recording a text to speech project with a Lancashire female voice over artist called Jess to add to their growing range of dialects.

CereProc has developed the world’s most advanced text to speech technology. Their voices not only sound real, they have character, making them suitable for any application that requires speech output.

CereProc is a Scottish company, based in Edinburgh, the home of advanced speech synthesis research, with a sales office in London. The CereProc team have extensive experience across the entire speech technology domain.

Roger Ebert

They are famous for is helping the former “At the Movies” host Roger Ebert regain his voice after battling with thyroid cancer which took away his lower jaw and his ability to speak. Through its CereVoice product, the five-year-old company offers custom-tailored text-to-speech software that takes previously recorded clips from the patient and patches them together to approximate — in a more natural way — the user’s original voice.

As befits a longtime television show host, CereProf mined Ebert’s tapes and DVD commentaries to create a voice that’s as Ebert-like as possible.

Here’s Ebert describing the process:

“This began a back-and-forth process with CereProc, which had to transcribe every recording with perfect accuracy so they could locate every word. The “normal person” may use 5,000 words, not all of them on the same day. A college professor may use 15,000. Shakespeare used more than 25,000, but he was making up a lot of them as he went along.

Anyway, CereProc didn’t need to hear me speaking a specific word in order for my “voice” to say it. They needed lots of words to determine the general idea of how I might say a word. They transcribed and programmed and tweaked and fiddled, and early this February, sent me the files for a beta version of my voice. I played it for Chaz, and she said, yes, she could tell it was me. For one thing it knew exactly how I said “I.”

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