How to Disguise a Voice for an Anonymous Interview
This effect is useful for retaining anonymity. Especially in documentaries or news, it is often important for people to give anonymous statements or interviews. They’ve been shot in silhouette so that you can’t see their face, but in order to properly conceal their identity we need to alter their voice. Read on to see how Voice Changer can completely transform voice recordings, making them sound nothing like they did originally.
Voice Changer changes the sound of the human voice into a wide variety of different characters, across many different environments and effects. It runs on all popular audio and video editing tools, in both Windows and Mac. The plugin comes with a wide range of voice transformation presets, which can be used as a starting point. Alternatively, you can create your own voices from scratch, then save them as custom presets for even faster voice changing.
While voice manipulation effects can be created in a DAW or video editor using existing audio tools like choruses, flangers, reverb, high and low cut filters and EQ processing, Voice Changer makes it incredibly simple and easy to get the same result. You could be a complete beginner in the world of audio editing and production and still end up with exactly what you’re looking for when using this plugin.
Effects that will make a voice sound like it's coming from a 90s video tape, an airport announcement speaker, a crowd megaphone, a kitchen radio, a living room TV and much more can be loaded into the plugins three slots and then tweaked using three on-screen dials. Voice Changer is available as a 14-day free trial, with the full version available as a monthly subscription or within the All Access Suite.
The first thing we did was to load up Voice Changer on the audio file in our editor. Like the Audio Clean-Up Assistant, Voice Changer comes with slots that you can add presets to and tweak. Remember, your Voice Changer presets will be stored in a separate folder to your usual ERA plugins. Fortunately for us, there’s a great preset called Phone Prank that does exactly what we need to disguise the voice in this recording. The name may imply mischief, but it’s actually really useful for serious situations which require solid anonymity.
The slots are divided into Character, Effect and Environment. Each slot can be independently tweaked using the Processing knob. Character allows you to cycle through a range of different character effects which alters the pitch and tone of the voice recording. The Effect slot contains effects that control the timbre and type of processing that is applied to the voice, making it more robotized, organic, or alien. Finally, the Environment slot controls the location that the voice is in, and can be used to make the voice sound more distant, close up or in a large reflective space.
The Character slot is where most of the processing is carried out, and we’ll start by choosing the Deep Voice effect. This effect will give us the typical pitch shifted effect that you hear in anonymous interviews. You might apply this with less processing in different scenarios where you don’t need a very intense effect, but as we are trying to make the voice unrecognisable, we can crank the Processing knob to 85%.
With this applied, we can move on to the Effect slot, and turn the Phone effect that’s part of the preset down to 30%. This effect applies a tinny, metallic tone to the audio to make it sound like it’s coming from a phone speaker. We want to keep the sense that the voice is still coming from the room in which the speaker is sitting, so it makes sense to turn this effect down somewhat.
Finally, we get to the Environment slot. The Phone Prank preset has the Bathroom effect applied in this slot, which adds the reverb tail you would expect to hear in a bathroom with hard, reflective surfaces. Again, although it may sound strange when we’ve transformed the voice to such an extent, we still want to maintain a sense of room realism. There’s no real need to wash out the voice in any sort of reverb, so we’ll turn the processing down to 0%. Take a listen to the isolated audio below to hear how all three effects sound together after our tweaking has been applied.
After Voice Changer has been applied, the voice in the interview is totally unrecognisable. We hope the person in the video agrees too, otherwise they might be in trouble from whoever it is that they’re hiding their identity from! Check out the final cut of the interview below—do you think their secret is safe?
This example illustrates perfectly the strength of Voice Changer, and why it is such an effective tool across a range of audio scenarios where the manipulation of the human voice is called for, including films, animation, radio dramas and video games. While it “only” has three controls, the range of sounds it can create is almost infinite. So, if you’re looking for a way to bring the sounds in your imagination to life, Voice Changer is a great place to start!