10 minutes with Tony Byrne


(P) Hi and welcome to 10 minutes with TalkVia

The podcast where we chat to our favourite TalkVia clients and users about their conversational AI projects.

I’m Paige Harkness from TalkVia.

At TalkVia we are passionate about all things voice, and something that takes voice technology applications to the next level is audio design and voice talent.

Our guest today is the very talented Tony Byrne. Tony is an actor and voice artist most famously known in our house as Mr Kangaroo from Peppa pig.

He's worked with the big brands sucha as Maccas, subway, Telstra and you may also recognise him as Lucky cat from lucky lotteries.

I've been lucky enough to work with Tony on a couple of projects during his work with SCA and the studio, and felt he'd be a fantastic person to ask, how do we, as content creators and advertisers engage with and write for this new medium?

And how to we convert ideas into practical realities?

Hi Tony!


(T) Hi Paige, thank you. What an incredible intro


When it comes to voice activation on smart devices and how businesses can get involved in this space, one of the first conversations we have with people is ‘Complexity versus possibility’. 

It’s one thing to have an idea. It entirely different proposition to make that idea become a reality and implement it. So at Talk Via we spend a lot of time with clients trying to work out exactly what they’re trying to achieve, how complex or how simple it actually needs to be, and then turning it into a practical reality.

Perhaps a good way to demonstrate what IS possible … is to walk through some real examples of actual projects …


(T) Sure … look a great place to start is with Last Seen.


P) Yes that’s a great one.


(T) OK so for context, Last Seen was a project by the Queensland Eye Institute in partnership with Publicis Worldwide, SCA and TalkVia. Influential Artists were teamed up with visually impaired Australians to create paintings that showed the last thing they ever remember seeing. The finished paintings were exhibited at GOMA and QPAC. 

SCA came on board to not only promote the exhibition on air, but also create audio soundscapes that matched the persons last Seen Experience. TalkVia then turned this into a smart speaker skill that anyone could access via their preferred Voice Activation Assistant. 


(P) Yeah … so we had been trying to get different concepts off the ground through different areas of SCA and I happened to mention we were making a voice guide for a really interesting exhibition to Matt Dickson. He realised Jeanna and I were working on the same project and immediately gave her a call.

The Studio had created beautiful soundscapes for each of the subjects in each painting to be delivered through ipods available at the door.

The Talk Via experience was going to be available separately through Google and Amazon using the standard synthetic text to speech voice.  But this was an opportunity to change that voice and turn it into a more realistic sounding user experience using a voiceover artist.

When we realised there was only a matter of days before opening night. The bulk of work on both sides was done, so it was all hands on deck to get our additional script and voice prompts recorded, merge the soundscapes and get the project live. The collaboration not only made perfect sense but it was a fantastic example of how voice can be used to deliver relevant audio content handsfree, while giving the listener complete autonomy over their journey.

(T) Here’s how it was promoted on air. 

[Audio snippet from on air campaign plays]


(T) And here’s a snippet from one of the soundscapes …

[Audio soundscape plays]


(T) And this is how listeners could navigate to these audio assets using their voice to activate their preferred Smart Device assistant.

[Audio of navigation plays]


(P) This campaign won a Webby Award which is prestigious international award that honours excellence on the internet.

It also won the Australian Commercial Radio ACRA award for best community service project.

It’s not only a great campaign it’s a fine example of how you can use audio and voice activation on smart speakers and mobile devices to really enhance the user experience and turn it into something truly wonderful.

Another working example of how to use voice activation in the smart speaker space was the Remembrance Day Project.


(T) Here’s how it was promoted on air.

[Audio of on air promotion plays]


(T) And our voice assistants were Marto & Margaux from the Triple M Breakfast Show.  

[Audio example of voiced in experience content]


(T) Anzac Day and Remembrance Day resonate well with the Triple M audience, so Marto and Margaux were the perfect ambassadors for this project which saw Triple M partner with the State Library of Queensland to make widely available their large archive of audio material gathered from World War 1, 2, Vietnam and more.  These stories were broadcast on radio and as well as being accessible via voice activated smart speakers and devices.

Here’s one example, the real story of Annie Wheeler recreated by voice actor Anna Hruby.

[Audio plays of Annie Wheelers story]


P) So that is just a little peak into the amazing world of voice activation with the Studio at SCA. Thanks Tony


(T) Thanks so much for having me.


This episode of 10 Minutes with TalkVia featured content and audio from Andrew Fritsh and Matt Dickson SCA, Publicis Worldwide, The Qld Eye Institute, Talk Via and participants of the Last Seen Project, Oscar Eckersley and his Mum, and Lisa Cox.


 I’m Paige Harkness and thanks for listening to 10 Minutes with TalkVia


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