Friday, October 27, 2006

Silent voices

Have you ever had to get your movies translated into another language? Subtitles are not great because you miss the action while reading them. Dubbing is not all that good as it is usually obvious that the lips are not in sync with the sound. In live-action the background actors can sometimes get by saying 'Rhubarb, rhubarb' and making suitable gestures, but it's a problem yet to be solved.

As I am severely deaf, I have learnt to lip read to a limited extent. I never took lessons, but often watch TV with the sound off. It works OK with news readers but not so well with actors; so I am always interested in new ideas related to hearing.

One idea I read about yesterday at describes a method whereby the speaker simply mouths the sounds in one language and it gets instantly translated into another language.

The method is not yet perfect, but the potential for the Movies is fantastic. As it depends on facial movements instead of sound, then an actor could be connected to many machines and do translations into dozens of languages at once. A step further would be to record the facial movements for a given actor and apply these to an avatar. For the technically minded you can look at dealing with Virtual Reality.

What will they think of next? Well, if you want to find out then take a look at Lip shapes .
If you just want to amuse yourself then try


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