SAG-AFTRA and Replica Studios join forces to ensure fair compensation and ownership for voice talent in video game industry.
Credit: GETTY Images

At CES 2024, the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, unveiled a groundbreaking deal, signaling a shift in their stance toward AI technology after the monumental 2023 strike.

The union’s partnership with Replica Studios, a generative AI voice company, introduces new industry standards aimed at safeguarding voiceover performers in video games.

Officially sealed at the Las Vegas event by SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director & Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Replica Studios’ co-founder and CEO Shreyas Nivas, the deal marks a pivotal moment in embracing technology while protecting talent.

“Our aim is to ensure that technology serves its purpose: to enhance the lives of all individuals,” stated Crabtree-Ireland.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Shreyas Nivas shake hands.
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Shreyas Nivas at the CES 2024 event.
Credit: Mashable

The deal incorporates several safeguards. It mandates performer consent for their voices to be used in AI-generated voiceovers, enforces fair compensation, and stipulates limits on the usage of AI-generated voiceovers, necessitating additional payment beyond a certain threshold.

This agreement holds substantial significance for the union, particularly in light of the pivotal role AI played in the prior year’s strike. This deal, however, has been in development long before those events.

“Since 2018, SAG-AFTRA has been proactively exploring potential challenges and benefits of generative AI,” stated Crabtree-Ireland, emphasizing the need for protections amidst technological and societal shifts. He further emphasized the unanimous support from the union’s members for the agreement.

Nivas points out the remarkable advancement in AI voice technology, highlighting its near-indistinguishable resemblance to human voice. However, until this agreement, the absence of a comprehensive contract governing its use has resulted in both talent and studios approaching AI with caution.

The scope of the agreement extends to both current voice actors and the estates of deceased voice talents, with the exception of large language models (LLMs), which power in-game non-player characters (NPCs) and are not covered by this deal.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Shreyas Nivas
Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Shreyas Nivas sign the deal between SAG-AFTRA and Replica Studios.
Credit: Mashable

When asked about the potential for “ethical” AI technology, Nivas cited the voice recording process for the popular video game Red Dead Redemption 2, which took five years to complete. He aims for Replica Studios’ AI to assist in the creation of immersive games within a shorter timeframe while upholding respect for the voiceover artists behind the characters.

SAG-AFTRA considers this agreement a pivotal first step in navigating AI within the entertainment industry, paving the way for potential agreements with video game studios in the future, as affirmed by Crabtree-Ireland.

Artificial Intelligence


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *