The voice behind Halo’s Cortana breaks down the AI’s journey | Digital Trends

    No matter what sphere of gaming you frequent, it’s laborious to flee Halo. This first-person shooter has efficiently reinvented itself a number of instances since its preliminary debut on the unique Xbox in 2001. It’s a feat that wouldn’t be doable with out it’s solid of characters like Master Chief and his sidekick, the unreal intelligence Cortana.

    While Chief is the face of the collection, some contemplate Cortana the true heart of Halo’s universe. Like Chief, Cortana has gone via huge modifications all through Halo’s historical past. While these many arcs and variations all paint Cortana in numerous lights, all of them share one variable: the voice actress behind this system, Jen Taylor.

    Since the unique Halo, Taylor has performed a number of variations of everybody’s favourite AI. We’ve seen her as an excellent, wisecracking Cortana within the authentic Halo trilogy, a contemporary and goofier model of her in Halo Infinite, and this 12 months she’s turn out to be her full self within the Halo tv present. So how does she hold the character so acquainted to us all whereas reinventing her together with the collection? At MomoCon 2022, I spoke with Taylor about her years of taking part in Cortana and the way she’s grown alongside the character over time.
    Raising Cortana
    “So much of it has to do with timeline and knowing which arc I’m playing,” Taylor tells Digital Trends. “I feel like, especially with Cortana, I’ve become so familiar with her after playing her for 21 years that I feel very comfortable finding her. It feels more like different aspects of her personality that I’m focusing on. I’m just exploring and getting to know them. It also depends on my director and how they pushed me. I’m working with a lot of other people and I don’t want to take solo credit for this project because there’s so many people working on this character.”

    While she’s fairly actually grown with the character, there are items of Cortana that shocked Taylor throughout her future with the character. For the Halo 4 saga, 343 Industries franchise artistic director Josh Holmes revealed Cortana’s rampancy was based mostly on dementia happening inside Holmes’ household. When requested about this, Taylor was visibly shocked and mentioned she felt an added layer to her relationship with Cortana, years after that efficiency.
    “If that’s true, that’s remarkable. My own father is going through that, so that is a really remarkable thing that I’ve just learned from you and shocking to me that I didn’t know,” Taylor says.
    It was an emotional expertise for me on the time.

    “I was directed to play as many different facets and extreme sides of one’s personality, and we blended them all together,” she says. “For example, my director for those scenes pushed me to explore all these different sides. Like ‘OK, we’re going to do standard Cortana voice reading this particular line. And now I want you to do baby Cortana. And now I want you to do Wizard Cortana.’ I mean, we did as many different variations, sort of personalities, as you say, that we could come up with. They blended them all together to become one, so those takes when she’s starting to fracture are actually like 20 different takes blended together.”
    “Now that you tell me that, it’s even more intense. So I’m going to have to process that stuff ’cause I didn’t know that that was actually happening.”
    Cortana and the Chief
    Like Cortana, Taylor hasn’t gone via this journey alone. Or so I assumed. While Cortana and Master Chief have been facet by facet since 2001, I used to be blown away that Taylor and Chief’s voice actor, Steve Downes, didn’t bodily meet till 2011.
    “We had never met until 10 years into the process,” Taylor says. “After Halo 3 came out, there was a celebration, and at the 10-year anniversary I just walked right up and gave him the biggest bear hug in the world.”
    I felt like, you’re the solely different individual on the planet who understands the journey that I’ve been on.

    “Halo 4 is the only project that we worked actually in the booth together. We came in to voice over these motion capture actors’ performances. So we got to be together in the room, and that was a remarkable experience. I think that personally when I watch Halo 4 cutscenes, I can feel that connected energy.”
    Downes isn’t the one Chief Taylor’s Cortana has partnered up with both. The Halo tv collection not too long ago completed its first season and launched us all to a brand new tackle the dynamic duo. Unsurprisingly, the showrunners knew precisely who they needed as Cortana.
    “They came to me partway through filming when, COVID shut everything down,” she detailed. “I got a call in August of 2020 asking me If I would audition. So I read six or seven of the scenes via Zoom, filmed it with me walking around being Cortana. Then they had a callback where it was just a Zoom meeting and I read the scenes with them. Right after that, I was in.”

    “As far as how different it was versus the games, we used the same technology that I’m very familiar with, which is performance capture,” Taylor says. “But I’m doing performance capture on a TV show, so there’s a ton of technical stuff that I’m having to deal with that I wouldn’t normally. Also nobody else I’m working with is doing motion capture. Everybody else is live performance. So that was strange.”
    It was an attention-grabbing problem to attempt to keep the character inside that.

    While she’s new to movement capturing alongside real-life actors, Taylor isn’t any stranger to dwell productions that don’t require her in an ADR studio. In reality, she’s additionally finished dwell tv and her mainstay, theater.
    “They’re all so different. But in the end, we’re all pretending. I don’t know that I have a favorite because I love the aspects of each of them,” she mentioned. “I just finished doing a pla,y and it is such a different experience in that you’re telling a whole story each night. You have a full arc that you get to play in, explore, and control to a certain point. When you’re doing TV or performance capture, you’re doing just a fraction of a scene. Oftentimes, you’re doing a moment over and over and over again. You dive into a moment and examine it almost minutely in TV or film. I think that becomes a skill and an art to figure out how to blend that and how to make that an arc.”
    No matter the medium, Taylor exhibits no indicators of slowing down together with her appearing profession. Whether it’s via the voice of our favourite AI, within the Halo tv present, or in Broadway performs, she’s continuously honing her craft. Like Cortana, she’s continuously evolving with every new expertise.

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