Wednesday 22 February 2017

Firm restores film critic's voice

Published 20/02/2010 | 09:44

A firm based at the University of Edinburgh has helped restore the voice of a US film critic
A firm based at the University of Edinburgh has helped restore the voice of a US film critic

A legendary US film critic has been given his voice back thanks to a British research team, it was revealed.

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Roger Ebert, 67, lost the ability to speak almost four years ago, following life-saving cancer surgery. He has since relied on hand-written notes, a form of sign language and a basic voice synthesiser to communicate.

Now a company based at the University of Edinburgh is using new computer technology to let him communicate with his own voice once again. Scottish firm CereProc is the company behind the development.

Mr Ebert is said to be "excited" about the move and he is expected to demonstrate the system in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Chief technical officer Matthew Aylett said a prototype was delivered to Mr Ebert two days ago.

He said: "When Roger first heard it, he was very excited because he never thought he'd be able to communicate in his own voice again.

"We're very happy to have been able to use our technology in a way which is helping someone express themselves."

CereProc works with "text-to-speech" technology and specialises in producing voices which have character and emotion.

The research team became involved with Mr Ebert after he found out about their work online and contacted them last summer.

Fortunately for the veteran movie critic, his years of TV appearances and numerous DVD commentaries meant the research team had a wealth of audio material to draw upon.

Press Association

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