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Respeecher Revives Yogi Berra’s Voice for a Reproduction of His Virtual Self 


Yogi Berra was one of the greatest baseball catchers in history, winning three Most Valuable Player awards and leading the Yankees to 10 World Series championships. The player died in 2015, at the age of 90, leaving behind a legacy in Major League Baseball. 

It comes as no surprise that the world doesn’t just forget sports legends. In fact, we tend to cling on to their legacy well into their retirement. Thus, we even go as far as to “revive” them once they’re gone. Over the past 70 years, Yogi has been one of the most successful faces in advertising.

Gary Jesch, an experienced performance animation artist with CHOPS Live Animation, a company bringing virtual characters to life, created an animated version of Yogi Berra to allow him to host live digital performances.  

The only significant element Gary and CHOPS lacked was ensuring that Yogi Berra’s avatar could speak using his actual voice. And sure, Respeecher was happy to step in.




The Challenge


Gary Jesch managed to create a Virtual Yogi a few years earlier. However, besides creating an image of the baseball catcher, Gary wanted him to sound like Yogi Berra. 

What made this especially complicated is that Yogi Berra is also famous for his “Yogi-isms” - hilariously witty quotes and sayings about baseball, life, and all sorts of other topics. It was obvious that reviving the voice to help the legend’s avatar naturally verbalize his famous quotes was not only complex but mandatory to do Berra justice.

To achieve that level of reproduction for Berra’s voice, Jesch turned to Respeecher.


The Solution


Yogi Berra’s family permitted Jesch to create an avatar of the baseball player with voice overs. This was an important part of Jesch’s cooperation with Respeecher as we do not use any recorded or synthesized speech without the consent of their owners. 


Once we had consent, Respeecher’s technology went to work performing its magic:

  • An artificial intelligence-based algorithm analyzed the voices of Yogi Berra and Gary Jesch.
  • The system learned the unique features of each voice, precisely those that make each one stand out by itself.
  • Then, Jesch recorded sayings, and our system reproduced them using the voice of  Yogi Berra while preserving the natural features of the transformed dialog. 

In order to create the most authentic model of Yogi Berra’s voice possible, Respeecher took one hour of original vocal recordings of the player. By analyzing older recordings, Respeecher made it possible to synthesize audio content that sounds exactly like him. 

The Result


Respeecher’s voice cloning technology helped convert Gary Jesch’s voice and sayings into a perfect synthesis of Yogi Berra

“Respeecher’s work on my Virtual Yogi project was so impressive that people are asking me about new interactive virtual projects for celebrities. On my end, it seemed effortless, but I’m sure there was a lot of work done to produce the cloned voice of Yogi Berra so accurately. The final product is incredible – now I sound just like Yogi Berra when I perform live, in real time!” said Jesch. 

Our next stage of collaboration is to integrate Respeecher’s technology into Gary’s live shows as he brings Virtual Yogi to life at special events and baseball games. 

Thanks to advancements in technology, Yogi’s most famous saying, “It ain't over 'til it's over,” has been rematerialized. Even after passing away, he is able to spread his philosophy to new generations and old fans alike.







Halsey Burgund

Co-Director In Event of Moon Disaster


Ryan Steelberg

President and co-founder of Veritone


David Romberg

Media, Communication & Film Studies, Muhlenberg College


Abigail Savage

Sound Designer and Supervisor, Actress


Michael York

Actor, Producer


Tim Jones

Emmy Award Winning Animation Producer


Joseph López Osorio

Marketing Technology Director, DDB Latina


Edgardo Rivera

President & CEO, DDB Puerto Rico


Joshua Madoff

Composer, Actor


James Tumminia

Producer & President at Italus Films


Sophie Robinson

Director, 141 Productions

We worked with Respeecher on a film called ‘In Event of Moon Disaster’ first shown at the Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival 2019. They helped us create a synthetic voice of Richard Nixon to bring to life a never-read contingency speech in case the Apollo 11 mission went badly. We created a highly realistic film, in a large part due to their work. ‘In Event of Moon Disaster’ shows the creative possibility of voice replacement technology as well as highlighting just how realistic deepfake technologies can be, acting as a civic engagement project for the public along with contextual and educational resources.
For Veritone, the most important thing is ensuring our clients get access to technology without compromising on the ability to protect, the delivery speed and quality, and in this case, of the generated content. Respeecher's technology meets both requirements and has a proven track record of working with tier one projects.
When I approached the team at Respeecher with a very sensitive and personal documentary project, I didn't know what to expect. I’m happy to say that it has been an amazing experience. They are extremely professional, ethically minded and are genuinely passionate about bringing their innovative technology to the world. Their approach to the voice cloning process is highly personal and transparent. As a documentarian, it was important to me that the approach was ethical and human focused. The Team at Respeecher delivered on their promises and I could not be happier with the results.
Respeecher is a remarkable tool for Sound Editors. It delivers very high-fidelity recreations of a target voice, with transparent performance-matching of its source. It blows text-to-speech out of the water! The effect is uncanny and incredibly effective and I can imagine a whole slew of uses going forward. I am very excited to have discovered Respeecher, and it will be my go-to for voice recreation in the future, without question.
I am very grateful to Respeecher for giving my words and work a whole new lease on life. The technique involved is as ingenious as it is amazing, and promises a great future for all those involved in voice work. With Respeecher, the quality of the re-worked passages is indistinguishable from the original. History comes almost miraculously alive again. I heartily endorse this product.
Respeecher's source/target conversion of Mr. York's speaking voice demonstrably opens doors for the entertainment, education, and healthcare fields. Suffice it to say, it was an absolute honor to collaborate with them. Their brilliant accomplishment and timely delivery have allowed our humble project to be a success, exceeding our expectations for what's even possible.
Discovering Respeecher was the highlight of our project. They agreed to work with the task even when our training data was not of the best quality. The result was fantastic, and the level of detail was just outstanding.
Working with Reespecher was a unique experience. Their attentiveness to detail and dedication to this project allowed us to reconnect with one of our lost narration idols in Puerto Rico "Manuel Rivera Morales" on a new level. It gave his family and PR a glimpse of what could have been if he was still alive and narrating all sorts of Olympic sports games. It was truly magical to see this project come alive.
Working with Respeecher has been incredible. Their team was meticulous and patient, walking us through the process of developing an accurate model... and the final result was nothing short of miraculous. It really sounds like we’re hearing our (deceased) subject speaking again. Something I never would have thought was possible.
From the introduction to Respeecher’s innovative and state-of-the-art products to the thorough and quick technical support, I immediately felt that I found the perfect partner and technology for my projects’ needs. During our discussions, the team offered other creative options that assured me we were on the same page and had my project’s success as a top priority. The Respeecher team members are consummate professionals.
Making a film which was so sensitive we needed a company who understood the sensibilities and ethical issues we were dealing with. From the first meeting with them, Respeecher acted with respect and professionalism, delivered what we wanted brilliantly, efficiently and to spec.

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