I wonder if there are enough recording samples of Majel Barret as the computer that they could use a computer to sample her voice.
For CBS Television to build a library of computer voice words is is major project. It is not impossible but it takes time. If they start on it now they will have a very usuable voice library of samples for Star Trek XII.
We're talking thousands
of hours of computer voice session recordings.
If all of Majel Barret's recordings for TNG, VOY, ENT were done on digital audio tape (DAT) then surely they could sample them all and use a voice-to-text speech recognition program to create full transcripts from which to create the database from.
DAT was widely used in the professional audio recording industry in the 1990s, and is still used to some extent today, as the archives created in the '90s are still widely used,
After words they would need syllables and consonants to form other words.
The problem is the inflection would not always be correct. The larger the library with more options for inflection of the same word or group of words the better.
This is similar to a sample library created for a virtual instrument like a piano for musicians. They have gotten a lot better in the last 10 years even though virtual instruments have been around surely since the 1988 when I heard a MIDI sound module in 1991 called E-mu Proteus 1000 that had a virtual violin and a virtual piano. Their "Perfect Piano" which was only 32 Megabytes.
A recent product released for $350. is Steinberg The Grand
version 3 is a library of 32 Gigabytes of 5 different recorded pianos:the Yamaha C7, the Boesendorfer 290 Imperial, the Steinway D, Nordiska Pianofabriken upright piano, and the vintage Yamaha CP80 Electric Grand.
They sample each note at various volume levels of how hard the key is pressed, and whether the footpedals are pressed or not. So when it is played by a MIDI keyboard that is touch sensitive (how hard you press the keys) it sounds like you are playing a real piano. The $350. cost is geared to medium to high end musicians, or producers who want the sound of a high end piano but cannot afford to record at a recording studio with a great piano. The artist can record in their bedroom on a cheap keyboard and then their MIDI data is played back through a virtual piano program like this and the output is recorded. When mixed with other instruments such as a rock band you really can't tell it's not a real piano.
Actually you can buy a software version of a virtual orchestra and many samples of many instruments and that is how many TV show music scores are done. Trek luckily for many years has used a live orchestra during TNG.
While that is a virtual piano a virtual voice library of the USS Enterprise for Star Trek XII
could be created as it is much less computer voice needed than a few episodes of the next series 6 which may or may not be set on the USS Enterprise itself even though Majel's voice was used for many ships in Trek.
Even the Star Trek XI
digital file recordings done (at her home) in the last year could be used in this library. I bring up the digital medium the voice would have been recorded on as there is no background tape hiss and with digital it sounds the same 5, 10, 15, 20 years later as the day it was recorded as long as the tape can play back.
Is it cheaper to hire a sound-a-like voice actor? Initally no, but the library once built would pay for itself the longer you used it. I can truly see something like this carrying the computer voice of Trek for many
years. No residuals or day rates for a voice actor.
Would fans know the difference? Yes.
Would it matter that the voice didn't always have the perfect inflection? No as it is a computer and could be somewhat
incorrect inflection, even in the 22-25th century...
Maybe Rod Roddenberry's production company would make the library and license it to CBS Television/Paramount?
I think CBS Television/Paramount owns all of the original voice recording session tapes though.
The closest thing to it is a modern video game which bring in voice actors to record hundreds of lines and then the producers cut them up so they can be placed in the game at the right time.
i wouldn't mind hearing a male computer voice.
I would. It has been researched that the sound of a female voice is better remembered than a man's voice for informational purposes. I don't have a reference but I heard it maybe 10 years ago or read it somewhere then. So set your car's GPS unit to a female voice...