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The words themselves are far from the only important components of speech. Inflection, tone, timbre…all these things convey meaning. It’s not the worst thing a documentarian has ever done, but it’s also not nothing.
Documentaries have higher standards, as Friend alludes to. All they had to do was say it wasn’t an actual recording of Bourdain and they would have been fine. I just don’t understand the need to make it “his” voice.
It’s the aural equivalent of putting a deepfake into a documentary… yet I suspect that would cross a line for you.
Putting a visual deepfake into a documentary? Yes, that would be unacceptable. But there’s nothing wrong with what Neville did. Nothing whatsoever.
I agree that he should have copped to it in the closing credits.
But it’s exactly the same thing.
Say you want to include a scene in a documentary that the subject has described in a book, interview, whatever — but there was never a video recording. You have the technology to shoot an actor doing what the subject says they did, then deepfake the footage to put the subject’s face on the actor’s body.
While one is a visual recreation and the other an audio recreation: they are the same thing.
Wrong. The key situation facing Neville was how best to aurally represent what Bourdain had written.
Documentarians never resort to just showing passages that have been written — they ALWAYS have somebody read them. So the question was should Neville have (a) hired an actor to imitate Bourdain, or (b) read the passages himself (like Scorsese did in his Dylan doc) or (c) digitally replicate Bourdain’s voice?
The key thing was representing Bourdain’s thoughts accurately and scrupulously. HOW they were read is a secondary issue. I have no problem with a deepfake Bourdain voice reading them, and why should you? Nobody’s lying or misrepresenting. It was simply a matter of what kind of voice would read Bourdain’s thoughts — the voice of an imitator, the voice of a neutral party (like Neville’s) or the simulated voice of Bourdain.
Yes, there should have been a closing credit acknowledgment of this, but otherwise it was obviously no biggie.
“The key situation facing Neville was how best to aurally represent what Bourdain had written.”
So what’s the difference when a director is trying to best *visually* represent what someone had written, then? You’re arguing that a visual recreation is out of bounds, all of the time (when it is not disclosed as such)… but an aural recreation is fine, no problem?
ITT: People who truly don’t think documentary filmmakers manipulate the medium in any way shape or form. Including ways and techniques you’d never know of to tell a story, just like, you know, any other filmmaker.
How bad an editor/screenwriter do you have to be that you need a deepfake narration to make a dramatic point, especially when the movie begins with the knowledge that the man is dead. The example cited in the article, Bourdain’s voice deepfaked to narrate a private email, seems not only ethically iffy, but untrue to life.
HE to Reverent and Free: You’re imagining things. You’re off on a bender. Pretty much ALL documentarians have passages from books or letters read aloud. As long as the passage in question is genuine and accurate, it’s just a matter of who reads it — an actor imitating Bourdain, some neutral party (as Scorsese did when he read a Bob Dylan passage in No Direction Home) or, in this instance, a deepfake. Except it isn’t “fake” — it’s the actual tonalities from Bourdain’s own voice, and the words are exactly what Bourdain wrote.
What are you saying, that you’re cool with an actor imitating Bourdain but not with a digital reconstitution? What exactly is wrong with the latter? Answer: Nothing. Because what matters in the end isn’t the voice but the words and arrangement of same….what matters is the thought being conveyed.
Nope — it just boiled down to a decision about how to aurally convey what Bourdain had written in an email. What matters is the words, the thought, what was actually written by Bourdain. The digital simulation was just a flat reading…no particular emphasis of any kind.
Jesus Christ…people are actually upset about this?? They were Anthony Bourdain’s own verified words.
And a documentary is not investigative journalism. The filmmaker is still making a film, creating their very own chosen narrative from found footage, otherwise sourced materials, and their own creative.
I love documentaries, I’ll still bawl like a baby thinking about scenes in ONE NATION UNDER DOG. But the filmmaker engineered that.
Let’s not get too “woke” on documentary filmmakers or you are going to have to accept the equal and opposite: that a documentary in theory is not far off from the makers of Jersey Shore or Survivor cobbling together their own storylines from footage.
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