Director Morgan Neville deployed AI technology to create a voiceover reading of an email the late chef wrote in “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” according to an interview with The New Yorker.
Neville looked at hundreds of hours of Bourdain footage to put together voiceovers for the film, which hits theaters on Friday, he told the outlet.
When he couldn’t find an existing narration that matched an email he wanted to read in the film, he made it up, according to the report.
“There were three quotes in there that I wanted his voice for that there weren’t any recordings for,” Neville reportedly said. “I created an AI model of his voice. “
“If you watch the movie… you probably don’t know what other lines the AI has said, and you won’t,” he told the magazine. “We can have a documentary ethics panel on this later. “
Critics have taken to social media to castigate the filmmaker’s tactics.
“When I wrote my review, I had no idea that the filmmakers had used an AI to tamper with Bourdain’s voice for parts of the narration. I feel like this tells you everything you need to know about the ethics of the people behind this project, ”Sean Burns, Boston WBUR critic. tweeted Thursday.
“My only real thought about the voice of Anthony Bourdain AI is that I probably am not qualified to comment on it in any meaningful way, but Anthony Bourdain would almost certainly have STRAIGHTEN him,” a user wrote.
Helen Rosner, who wrote the New Yorker article, also addressed the controversy.
“I would have liked not to have written the Bourdain AI thing to be able to write a heavy article on the Bourdain AI thing”, Rosner tweeted.
The film takes an in-depth look at Bourdain’s rise from New York kitchens to world fame, his personal life and pursuit of happiness, and his shocking suicide in 2018.