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Building Cities in Persia

By Shamus
on Saturday Apr 4, 2009
Filed under:


I found this site, which enabled me to make this:

Link (YouTube)

The comic mentioned in the movie is here.

Comments (37)

  1. Kevin says:

    Scarily, that could have been worse.

    But then, I have suffered through Vogon and survived.

  2. Alarion says:

    Wow, this computer voice technology is really improving. I remember trying Microsoft Sam out a couple of years ago on my old Windows 95 computer, and it sounded extremely awful.
    This video, however, was actually pretty ok. It couldn’t compare to an actual speaker, of course, but it didn’t traumatize me, either.

  3. Will says:

    I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective…

  4. MOM says:

    How odd to hear you speaking someone else’s voice. Your readers don’t “hear” you when they read your writing-but I do.
    Can you do an audio of you reading the poem? Or some other Dr. Suess?

  5. MRL says:

    That is actually pretty good…there were a few odd pauses, but that kind of tech is obviously much-improved from what I’m used to.

    Of course, the accent probably helps mask any deficiencies.

  6. kharmapolizei says:

    Interesting. I found the voice synth to be performing rather OK, especially with the poem bit. That actually worked out better than the normal speaking. Weird.

  7. Mari says:

    It wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t affected the meter.

    Oh, and I’m with your mom. I want to hear you reading it for comparison purposes. Although I’ve never heard you speak I have a pretty solid “voice” for you in my head. It’s always amusing to me to hear how my idea of somebody’s voice stacks up against reality.

  8. Dobbie says:

    That video is an ordeal – a nightmare. A vortex from which nothing aesthetically pleasing can escape.

  9. Al Shiney says:

    Shamus, I never knew you had a British accent. ;-) I am continually astounded at how fast technology is evolving compared to 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. Part of me wishes I’d been born 30 years later just so I can live long enough to see what technological advances the world will experience in the 2050’s and beyond. But given what I hear on XBox Live and read on Internet forums, the rest of me is afraid of what a 15 year old me would be like now, not to mention what kind of financial and ecological future I’d have.

  10. Avaz says:

    @Mari #8: Shamus actually posted another video a while back that he annotated with his own voice. IMHO, it wasn’t the voice I had imagined he’d have, but after a couple minutes, it fit perfectly.

    I’m in a hurry to get through a backlog of RSS posts, otherwise I’d scour around to find the video I’m talking about. I’m sure someone else on here will gladly point you to the link – I remember it involved Mirror’s Edge and a fantastic misleading intro. :)

  11. Sheer_FALACY says:

    I’m surprised by how well the rhyming worked and matched up.

  12. MOM says:

    Could you point to a link with your voice rather than making a new audio of your self?

  13. Adam says:

    That was rather entertaining.

  14. Allen says:

    Yeah that coulda been WAY worse. The accent made it amusing, though.

    @Avaz & Mari (11 & 8):


    I believe that’s the video you’re talking about. His voice DID startle me, at first, as well.

  15. neminem says:

    That was amazingly, awesomely horrible. I love it.

    Kevin has an excellent point: someone needs to make it read Vogon poetry.

  16. Avaz says:

    @Allen #15: Thank you sir, that was precisely what I was referring to. :)

  17. Rutskarn says:

    You know, this reminds me somewhat of my experiences with Peter Molyneux’s The Movies, and how much utterly squandered potential there was in the concept.

    The game was basically a collection of preprogrammed “scenes” which you could sometimes alter slightly, on predesigned sets. Not all scenes could be filmed on all sets. You basically plugged in actors, watched it shake out, and hoped that you could string it together into something coherent. It was supremely frustrating–you’d try to have one person shoot the other, than run away…but the body wouldn’t be there in the next “scene” of running away, because there was no spot for it, and they would be running from further away on the set because the positions aren’t the same.

    Not to mention that the sets were terrible. The basement, for example–possibly the only decent horror set in the bunch–seemed fine enough, until you spotted the chainsaw on the wall. Note that you cannot use or interact with this chainsaw in any way, shape, or form–it’s just window dressing. WINDOW DRESSING THAT COMPLETELY PRECLUDES SETTING THE SCENE IN ANY OTHER TIME PERIOD.

    As far as that goes, if you want “any other time period” before Edwardian England (or, alternatively, any period where people do not dress like utter tools) you will be equally frustrated by the costumes and sets.

    Throughout it all, I really found myself wondering–why wouldn’t a The Sims style perspective have worked better? You can draw all these lines of movement, insert actions and emotional reactions, and string them out into long, proper scenes on sets you design yourself. Then you set up a bunch of cameras and pick which shots you like. Why would that have been so hard?

    Frankly, this device offers me more creative control than Molyneux did.

    (Oh: and as I implied, a lot of the content was putrid. There were about 100 costumes, 50 hairstyles, and 15 types of makeup–which sounds impressive, until you realize that of those, 83 of the costumes, 44 of the hairstyles, and 13 types of makeup are not only hideous beyond belief, but utterly useless.)

  18. Zaghadka says:

    Stephen Hawking hates you. Speaking of which, heard of MC Hawking?

    That’s some RAP with a robot voice.

  19. Sam says:

    Holy crap. That was awesome.

    …I feel I am in the minority here.

  20. Octal says:

    “A script in this movie is causing Adobe Flash Player 10 to run slowly. If it continues to run, your computer may become unresponsive. Do you want to abort the script? Yes/No”

    > Yes

    Whee. That’s just above and beyond the normal “Oh hey there’s an embedded video on this page–here, let me just slow to an absolute crawl as soon as you scroll down to it!” I usually get from Opera.

  21. Julian says:

    @Mari: Look for Reset Button, a video Shamus once made. I’m pretty sure the name of the post in question is The Most Innovative Game of 2008. Quite a pleasant voice, and that’s coming from someone who usually cringes at American accents.

  22. Rutskarn says:

    Julian, Mari: There’s also an old Fear the Boot where they interviewed him.

    Still, I put it to you that you haven’t really heard Shamus Young talk until you’ve heard him yell about being swarmed by zombies.

  23. Amstrad says:

    I still assert that the best use for robot text to speech is in the dramatic rendition of any and all spam email I receive involving porn.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wow that was…something.I loved the pronunciation of “ahem” the best.Ill even try to say it like that from now on.

  25. skizelo says:

    I can’t track down the video, but someone fed the text of this Dinosaur Comic
    through that. The result was described by Ryan North as like “watching robots fall down stairs”.

  26. Rutskarn says:

    Fed the intro from my short story, Vatsy and Bruno, into it.

    To whom it may concern:

    We do not regret to inform you that this submission is unusable, unintelligent and frequently illegible. We do not regret that your mental seepage, poured in such an ungainly fashion on your half-cent-per-thousand-sheet paper, will not be gracing this or any future publication of the Writer's Guild World Newsletter. We do not regret that you will””most probably””die alone, penniless, unloved and foul-smelling.

    We do, however, regret that we were exposed””even through this protective screen of incomprehensibility””to this most unspeakable body of work. We regret that our sanity and our lives can never be whole again after even a brief perusal of your first page. We regret that the stink of hideous purple prose and suspiciously fecal ink will forever saturate our desk space. Most of all, we regret that you had slithered, like a diseased rat infiltrating an unsuspecting granary, into this world on whatever dark day you were born (from the art inherent in your prose, we would estimate about a year ago.)

    If we ever see the name “Vatsy”””or that name spelled differently, or any name with a superficial resemblance, or anything that even reminds us of you””on any volume, essay, poem, or bill that ever crosses our threshold, we will ensure that you will not survive the night that follows.

    Wishing you well,

    The Writers Guild

    That was hilarious. The voice sounds vaguely disgusted, so it worked well in this context.

  27. OddlucK says:

    Not the funniest stuff in the world, but I can’t stop making things like this…


  28. Oleyo says:

    I saw this being used just recently on lileks’ site. He seemed to be using it to replay random bits of twitters or IM conversations which became quite funny set to voice – and synthesized voice at that.

    And if anyone wants to hear what Shamus sounds like – he sounds a bit like Harry Caray mixed with Charles Nelson Reilly.

  29. Tom says:

    OK, these are fun. I made one with Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine :)


  30. Sigma says:

    From 1:15 to 1:20, the voice seems to go a little weird.

  31. Jimmie says:

    And forevermore I will hear all Shamus’ posts in my head being raed by that voice.

    Thank you. Thank you with a spinter-laden 2×4.

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