China’s state news agency Xinhua recently tested an AI-powered English anchor at the fifth World Internet Conference in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang.
At first glance, the anchor looks just like a real person. Upon closer inspection, however, we can tell that the mouth is animated.
The virtual anchor uses footage of an actual news anchor as a base layer, which is then animated to imitate lip movement and a synthesized voice to give the impression of an actual anchor.
Xinhua worked with search engine company Sogou to extract human speech, lip movement and expressions to create this virtual anchor.
The agency claims that they can programme this virtual anchor to read the news a lot faster than traditional CGI. Each anchor can “work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency,” says Xinhua.