How You Doing? Researchers Work On Animated Joey-Bot


Researchers are trying to create a digital version of Joey Tribbiani (From Friends) that can speak automatically generated dialogue in Matt LeBlanc’s voice. The ultimate goal is to have automated Friends characters converse and generate new scenes.

Unfortunately both the dialog and the way it’s overlaid on video footage of the Joey character are, to say the least, extremely stilted – and yes, you can insert your own punchline here.

The project at the University of Leeds School of Computing is not so much an attempt to bring Friends back to life, but rather a way of combining a variety of computer techniques in one project. Having fed the entire 236-episode run of Friends into the system, the researchers are combining speech recognition, facial recognition, speech analysis and creation, text-to-speech tools using a specific voice, and manipulating video footage to try to match a character’s mouth movements to the generated speech.

Of the work so far, we can draw two conclusions. The set of tasks is technically possible if far from smooth. And the results are somewhat terrifying…