In a world where cable networks and streaming services have made global content the norm, localization work is more important than ever. For example, Deluxe’s global localization team provides content creators with transcription, scripting, translation, audio description, subtitling and dubbing services. Their team is made up of 1,300 full-time employees and a distributed workforce of over 6,000 translators, scripting editors, AD writers and linguistic quality experts that cover more than 75 languages.
We reached out to Chris Reynolds, Deluxe’s SVP/GM of worldwide localization, to find out more.
Can you talk about dubbing, which is a big part of this puzzle?
We use our own Deluxe-owned studios across the globe, along with our extensive partner network of more than 350 dubbing studios around the world. We also have technology partners that we call on for automated language detection, conform, transcription and translation tools.
What technology do you use for these services?
Our localization solution is part of Deluxe’s cloud-based platform, Deluxe One. It uses cloud-based automation and integrated web applications for our workforce to help content creators and distributors who need to localize content in order to reach audiences.
You seem to have a giant well of talent to pull from.
We’ve been building up our workforce for over 15 years. Today’s translations and audio mixes have to be culturally adapted so that content reflects the creative and emotional intent of writers, directors and actors. We want the content to resonate and the audience to react appropriately.
How did Deluxe build this network?
Deluxe launched its localization group over 15 years ago, and from the beginning we believed that you need a global workforce to support the demands of global audiences so they could access high-quality localized content quickly and affordably.
Because our localization platform and services have been developed to support Deluxe’s end-to-end media supply chain offering, we know how to provide quality results across multiple release windows.
We continue to refine our services to simplify reuse of localized assets across theatrical, broadcast and streaming platforms. The build-up of our distributed workforce was intentional and based on ensuring that we’re recruiting talent whose quality of work supports these goals. We match our people to the content and workflows that properly leverage their skill sets.
Can you talk about your workflow/supply chain? What tools do you call on?
We’ve been widening our use of automation and AI technologies. The goal is always to speed up our processes while maintaining pristine quality. This means expanding our use of automated speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT), as well as implementing automated QC, conversion, conform, compare and task assignment features to streamline our localization supply chain. The integration of these technologies into our cloud-based localization platform has been a significant focus for us.
Is IMF part of that workflow?
IMF is absolutely a part of the workflow, In fact, driving its adoption is the rapid growth of localized international iterations for over-the-top (OTT), video on demand (VOD), and subscription video on demand (SVOD). Deluxe has been using localized component workflows since their inception, which is the core concept that IMF uses to simplify versioning.
Is the workflow automated?
To an extent … adding new technology into our workflow is designed to make things more efficient. And these technologies are not meant as a replacement for our talent. Automation helps free up those artists from the more manual tasks and allows them to focus on the more creative aspects of localization.
By using automation in our workflows, we have been able to take on additional projects and explore new areas in M&E localization. We will continue to use workflow automation and AI/ML in our work.
Can you talk about transcription and how you handle that process?
Transcription is a critical part of the localization process and is a step that demands the highest possible quality. Whether we’re creating a script, delivering live or prerecorded captions, or creating an English template for subsequent translations, the initial transcription must be accurate.
Our teams use ASR to help speed up the process, but because the expectation is so high and many transcription tasks also require annotation that current AI technologies can’t deliver, our human workforce must review, qualify, amend and adapt the ASR output.
All of our transcription work undergoes a secondary QA at some point. Sometimes the initial deliverable is immediate, as is the case with live captions, but even then, revisions are often made during secondary key-outs or before the file is delivered for subsequent downstream use.
What are some of the biggest challenges for localization?
The rise in original content distribution and global distribution and the need to localize that content faster than ever is probably the biggest general challenge. We also continue to see new competitors entering the already crowded market.
And it’s not just competitors — customers are challenging our industry standards too, with some bringing localization in house. To accommodate this change, we’re always adapting and refining workflows to fit what our customers need. We are always checking in with them to make sure our teams can anticipate change and create solutions that solve challenges before they impact the rest of the supply chain.
What are some projects that you’ve worked on recently?
Some examples are Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Finally, taking into account the COVID-19 crisis, I imagine that worldwide content will be needed even more. How will this affect your part of the process?
The demand for in-home entertainment continues to climb, mainly driven by an uptick in OTT and gaming in light of these unprecedented events. We are working with creators, media owners and platforms to provide localization services that can help respond to this recent influx in the global distribution of films and series.
Unfortunately, because several productions and dubbing studios around the world have had to shut down, there will be delays getting new content out. We’re working closely with our customers to complete as much work as we can during this time so that everyone can ramp up quickly once things start back up.
We’re also seeing big increases in catalog content orders for streaming platforms. Our teams are helping by providing large-scale subtitle and audio conforms, creating any new subtitles as needed, and creating dubbed audio versions for those languages that are not affected by studio closures.