One of the aspects that fascinates Zoobe users the most is our voice effects and the different results they provide when creating a Zoobe message. Before you record your voice message, you can choose among low and high pitch, as well as leave the sound as it is. Check here this example:
The man responsible of all things audio at Zoobe is Andreas, who apart from being called the Zoobe Audio Master and 95% Berliner, is also a chocolate icecream wizard as you can see in the pictures ;) For World Voice Day we took a break to catch up with him to learn more about the voice of Zoobe.
So, Andreas, tell us: what exactly do you do at Zoobe and when did you arrive to the team?
I am a Software Developer focused at the moment in audio processing and research. I started at Zoobe in September 2011, and since then I have been working hard on making the sound and the voice effects for the app close to perfect.
What brought you to this field?
I actually started as a musician already in my school years and later founded my own recording studio. Since I didn't really become a rock star, everyone's dream I guess, I recorded with other bands - mainly focusing on Metal, Ska, Punk and Reggae styles. I'd say bands with drums, that was my speciality! Meanwhile I had also studied Electrical Engineering, focusing on Acoustic and Signal Processing. So the combination of both passions took me where I am now.
What you have been developing in Zoobe the last year and a half?
So many things! But mostly you can appreciate my work on Noise Reduction, Dynamic Compression, the Pitch effects and the Audio Analysis.
Can you clarify a bit so we mortals understand what you mean?
Yeah, that I have to do all the time. Well, noise reduction is basically identifying what parts of every recording are just noise and take them away. When I say dynamic compression, means modifying your recording so everything you say is at the same volume, so no matter if you speak a bit louder or softer in a same message, in the final result everything is improved to sound perfect.
Then the pitching is making your voice sound kinda cartoonish and cute, either with a higher or a lower pitch. And the most interesting part, the audio analysis allow us to lip-synch your message with the character you choose. We extract from your voice how the lips should move, so it all looks really natural. I am really proud of this last part, since it was one of the most difficult aspects of our app to develop.
Sounds like a lot to do. You mentioned that you were doing some research as well, what are you spending time on at the moment?
Yep, that is only 50% of my workload. The other 50% is dedicated into developing what we are not using yet and will come eventually to the app. For instance, we have our eyes on TTS (Text-to-speech technology) in German, English and French, as well as on speech recognition, which would allow us to trigger animations when certain words are said in a message. Let's say "hello" triggers a waving hand and "love" makes a character create a heart with their hands. We already have those animations, but still not the feature to trigger them through voice.
Nice! Is there anything impossible in your field?
Well, I wouldn't call anything impossible, it is more a matter of how much money you have in the bank to dedicate time into developing features. There are 2 so called impossible features I always wanted to have on Zoobe which are postponed in order to maximize resources and, well, focus :)
One is the ability to fake another person's voice. I came across to a Russian company that offers the possibility to record your voice, somebody else's and after some magical maths, you can make a call on landline to anywhere with that other person's voice. I tested it and it is almost unnoticeable. Brought into Zoobe it would be great for some cool pranks, to create messages with the voice of famous people or superheroes. The other is the option to add an accent to your voice message, kind of a filter to fake your Spanish, French or Austrian accents. Both ideas are there and well, if you give me enough time, I might be able to pull those one day!
Deal! Thank you for your time, Andreas!
Oh, well: Happy World Voice Day to all the voice and sound lovers! One last question for you: what other voice features would you like to see on Zoobe apps?