How Val Kilmer’s voice was recorded for Top Gun: Maverick


Val Kilmer’s voice was modeled using artificial intelligence (AI) for use in Top Gun: Maverick.

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Although a source has been declared to Variety that no AI had been integrated into the production of Top Gun: Maverickthe magazine Forbes claim that the voice reconstruction process was indeed used in the film for the role of Tom “Iceman” Kazansky played by Val Kilmer.

After losing his voice to throat cancer in 2014, the actor teamed up with a software company to bring it back to life. In Top Gun: Maverick, the character is also afflicted with cancer and communicated primarily through typing. His single, brief line of dialogue was made possible using technology from Sonatic, according to Forbes.

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The magazine feature that the ex-Batman on board announced in August 2021 is a Sonatic project by himself creating an AI-powered speaking voice. The company is provided with hours of stock footage that could be fed into their algorithms and turned into a model. After collecting and editing Val Kilmer’s audio recordings, Sonatic used a “speech engine” to teach the model to speak like him. With ten times less data than for a traditional project, the company has created new algorithms capable of producing better quality models from the available data.

“Finally, we generated more than 40 different vocal models and selected the best, the most qualitative and the most expressive. These new algorithms are now integrated into our voice engine, so that future customers can automatically benefit from them as well,” Sonatic CTO and co-founder John Flynn said as part of the August 2021 process rehearsal for the film

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