Deepfake Video Dubbing and Translation Startup Papercup Raises $20M
AI-powered video dubbing and translation startup Papercup has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures. The London-based Papercup offers content creators and companies a natural language processing system capable of transcribing, translating, and replacing spoken audio with a synthetic voice that mimics the original speaker. The investment marks the ongoing escalation in both investment in and demand for AI captioning and deepfake voices that can mimic human speech.
Papercup’s AI processes and transcribes videos uploaded by customers, then applies its language models to the script to translate anything said in the video to whatever language desired by the content creator and matches the new script to a synthetic but realistic human voice model to produce and embed a new audio track in the new language of the video speech on the video people’s voices and ways of expression into other languages, although it uses humans to audit any the completed translation and audio dub to ensure it is accurate. Papercup has built up a portfolio of synthetic voices with various emotional tones so as to match the voices in the original videos. The five-year-old startup counts several major content and media brands like Discovery and Sky News as clients. Sky was also one of the investors in the funding round, along with Guardian Media Ventures and a handful of other venture capital firms and angel investors. More than 300 million people have seen videos translated by Papercup, including 30 seasons of ‘The Joy of Painting’ hosted by Bob Ross.
“People retain up to 70% more information when watching videos dubbed in their native language,” Papercup CEO Jesse Shemen said. “With truly emotive cross-lingual AI dubbing, we can tackle all forms of content, making video and audio more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. This funding will allow us to double down on our promising research and break into new content categories.”
Tools like Papercup are becoming a popular element for content creators at all levels. For instance, Area 120, Google’s in-house incubation hub, recently unveiled a free, multi-language dubbing tool called Aloud. Earlier this year, synthetic voice startup Respeecher helped Aloe Blacc pay tribute to his long-time collaborator Avicii with the “Universal Langauge Remix” version of “Wake Me Up” in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. And Ukrainian startup has asked celebrities to share messages of support for Ukraine that the company could translate into the Ukrainian language while keeping the celebrity’s voice. Even without video, the synthetic voice translation can be lucrative, as with iHeartMedia’s deal with synthetic voice startup Veritone to reproduce some of its podcasts in different languages while maintaining the voices of the hosts and guests.