Well, kind of, thanks to a company that custom builds text-to-speech voices. Ebert’s new voice is compiled from his vast accumulated archive of reviews and commentary tracks.
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.”
CereProc is now blending in my audio snippets for “Casablanca,” where I sound enthusiastic, and “Floating Weeds,” where I sound calm and respectful. It’s nice to think of all these great movies sloshing around and coming out as my voice.
Franklin Gothic is the basis of MoMA’s typographic identity. August Hefner found some examples of Franklin Gothic being used at the museum dating back to the 1930s. One of the signs reads:
The public is urgently requested to visit the Galleries in the morning, from 10 to 12 and evening from 8 to 10 in order to avoid congesting the elevator service. If this request is complied with, it will not be necessary to charge admission.
I didn’t realize that the museum’s adaptation of the typeface, MoMA Gothic, was created by the same type designer as the original.
Due to the visual effect of viewing these from different angles, video does better justice to the works than a sequence of photos. Helpfully, Gareth Long provides such videos on his website. I’ve taken these and, with permission from the artist, edited them into a single clip. I also added a sound track, field recordings taken below Antarctic ice shelfs. The two seemed to fit somehow.
Jesse Schell is a professor at CMU who gave a presentation recently on games and their relationship to culture. The tone changes a lot toward the end of the presentation with a surprise (to me) ending. I disagree with his conclusion, but I’ll leave that for a future post.
Patrick Winston is a professor at Harvard who gave a great lecture on how to give a great lecture.
He emphasizes how to start a lecture, cycling in on the material, using verbal punctuation to indicate transitions, describing “near misses” that strengthen the intended concept, and asking questions. He also talks about using the blackboard, overhead projections, props, and “how to stop.”
I was reminded of this after seeing some 404 errors in my server logs to a podcast version of the videos I put together, but forgot to transfer to my new server. To download these into iTunes (and onto your video-enabled iPod), go to the Advanced menu, choose Subscribe to Podcast and enter: http://phiffer.org/etc/how-to-speak.xml
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Ethnic Han make up 96% of China’s population according to official statistics. Other ethnic groups might be found performing in an ethnic theme park.
The most famous park, the Nationalities Park in Beijing, is a combination of museum and fairground. Ethnic workers from across China dress up in their native costumes for mostly Han tourists. (For a while, English signs there read “Racist Park,” an unfortunate translation of the Chinese name.) In some parks, Han workers dress up as natives — a practice given legitimacy by the Chinese government when Han children marched out in the costumes of the 55 minorities during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics.