By 2022, an estimated 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be people viewing video content. It’s clear that any brand not producing video for their worldwide audiences is going to be left far behind.
Yet only an estimated 20% of the global population speaks English. Thus, brands seeking to expand their influence around the globe need to get on board with video localization: creating content that is specific to each target market.
Few understand the topic of video localization as well as Andre Hemker, the new CEO of Wordbee. We caught up with Andre on the latest episode of Globally Speaking Radio in which he shares with us his thoughts on video localization.
Most of us are familiar with traditional video localization methods like subtitling, dubbing and voiceovers. Yet new visual content techniques—like those developed by Andre and his team—have made it possible to produce immersive videos that allow brands to reach more customers for less money.
Andre shares an interesting story that illustrates the potential uses of contemporary video localization and production technology. Andre and his team were tasked with creating a promotional film for a company that manufactures GPS software for cars. The setting for the film was a highway in the United States. Closing down a major roadway in the US was not a cost-effective or practical option.
Fortunately, the authorities in Poland were willing to accommodate their production needs. The team used a ‘wild hodgepodge’ of classic media production and localization to create the impression that the commercial was shot in the US. “So, we filmed the entire scene on a highway in Poland. And, basically, you know, we changed the signage, changed the road markings…And then of course we had texts, which was all, you know, After Effects overlays…and basically used a translation management system as a tool.”
Another example that Andre gives is writing on a wristband in a Russian film that he recently watched. Rather than localizing the text, which Andre says is easy to do, it was left in Russian. Minute details like these can have a cumulatively good or bad impact on the viewing experience.
Localizing more than just the text and images requires a more in-depth localization process. Globally Speaking host Jim Compton calls this “deep localization”: “…it’s really deep localization, right? It’s localization of not the surface, but the essence.” And that’s exactly what they did in the Polish GPS video.
“Deep” localization and technology integration
Andre also discusses “technology ecosystem barriers” in the localization industry that impede the scalability and growth of video localization. In the interview, Jim Compton notes, “…localization has its own tech stack, and audio production and video production have their own tech stacks. And they are separate ecosystems.” Andre replies, “There’s just not a lot of people that know both worlds, and well enough to actually be capable of combining them.” It’s time for the industry to integrate the toolsets in order to do more “deep localization”.
Both Jim and Andre express their passion for the future of localization technology when it will be more tightly integrated with video production software such as After Effects and subtitling platforms to eliminate these barriers and make localization processes faster, less manual and overall more efficient. In addition, bridging the gap between disparate localization and A/V teams will also help them learn more about how the other one works and spur even more innovative ideas for better and faster video localization.
Working within their means
Tech giants are often keen to jump on the latest tools and innovative technology to get ahead of their competition, improve margins and bring in more revenue. But again, if they don’t know the tech is out there, how can they go after it? An example Andre gives to illustrate the shortcomings of most current video localization workflows is a leading online streaming TV and movie provider that is in 190 different countries. Yet “you mostly only find three, four or five dub versions. Because it’s such a specialized process, you need specialized people to do good work…build a workflow where you have one specialized team…create these amazing dub mixes.” The current process to localize the spoken dialogue of a video is to extract the voice track and get it transcribed. Then, that transcription needs to be translated into the languages that the client wants. Next, the specialized voiceover talents book studio time to record these translated versions. And lastly, audio engineers need to reverse the process to put the new localized dialogue into the videos. Never mind synching subtitles or localizing the elements inside the video itself.
But as technology evolves, more effective workflows will allow brands to scale their video localization efforts while improving quality and reducing costs. This means more localized versions of the videos, more consumers that can watch them and ideally, more global sales. Plus, user experience improves if consumers have the choice of watching their favourite TV show or movie in a myriad of dubbed and subtitled language combinations.
All this requires combining tools in unique ways. We’re talking about, as Jim says, “bringing the localization tooling into the actual system that creates the content”.
The future of video localization
Technology will play a crucial role in driving this push towards all things video. Two trends rise to the top for Andre: machine translation and interoperability. On machine translation, Andre says, “I think once certain companies see how much…you can actually give the process more time and make it cheaper and make it better, we’re gonna see a lot of development in that area.” Next, interoperability is the concept that tools can integrate and work smoothly together. Andre says, “I think it is absolutely hideous that our industry is still running so much technology that is not compatible with one another”.
Video content will continue to play an increasingly important role in how brands reach and interact with their customers, and more and more localized video is required to meet the world’s demand for their preferred types of digital content. Yet, the processes must evolve so that businesses can produce that content at higher volumes, more quickly and for lower costs. Tune into Globally Speaking’s 106th episode to hear the entire discussion with Andre Hemker and sign up to be notified about future episodes.