Consumer demand not only dictates the genre of content that is created, but also how much, how often, and where content is produced and distributed. With the expectation that content should be generated at faster rates than it can be consumed, capacity is being pushed to the limit, challenging established processes and quality control steps. These complex market scenarios have been exacerbated by the necessity to export content on a global scale on the same day it’s launched, while making it culturally relevant for each region. When all content is expected to be globally distributed, imagine the strain that localizing content can put on the entire workflow and supply chain.
While some companies have been plagued by these challenges and struggle to deliver copious amounts of high-quality content on a global scale, those who are integrating forward-thinking technical solutions, including the adoption of cloud and AI/ML technologies, are finding it easier to stay ahead of the competition and meet consumer demand.
Utilizing AI/ML in localization
Through a wide-range of technology such as speech-to-text, machine translation, centralized project management with intelligent tasking and automated quality-control tools, localization vendors can ensure that content quality and consistency is maintained for all versions. This allows teams to accomplish tasks under tighter deadlines by speeding up processes and minimizing or eliminating manual steps. However, when it comes to speech-to-text and machine translation, a post-editorial step with experienced transcribers or translators is required to truly leverage the benefits of these technologies without compromising the quality that viewers expect.
Resonating and regulating
One industry goal is to always remain true to the intent of original content and provide a personalized, culturally resonant experience — while remaining legally compliant to regional regulations. As content creators and distributors work tirelessly to meet stringent launch dates, ensuring content adheres to compliance laws can be a daunting task. As a result, some companies are now applying image and audio recognition technologies to content earlier in the process, and comparing that against a detailed map of criteria and factors that can lead to particular compliance issues. By identifying and flagging potential issues earlier in the process, content creators can consider minor process adjustments to speed up versioning once the original version has been completed.
After a compliance version is created, AI technology can be used as an automated check to ensure that no issues were missed. Flagged image and sound issues can be quickly reviewed by an editor and either accepted as is or addressed in much less time than before. Without this, seemingly insignificant production details can have wide-ranging impacts on the types of edits and changes that are required for compliance boards, which can result in fragmented storytelling or expensive post production solutions to create compliant versions.
These same technologies can also help with the conform of component assets for catalog content. It’s not uncommon to find that existing audio and subtitle files do not conform to a newly-created platform video master. Sometimes the adjustments required are small and global in nature, and other times previous compliance or version edits require a full editorial pass to align existing files. Auto-conform technology helps speed up this process, often fully conforming those files that only need simple adjustments, helping resource-strained teams focus on those files that truly need their attention.
Pre-purchased capacity and avoiding burst capacity
Content is now reaching a larger global audience than ever and viewers are consuming it on different screens and formats 24/7. This means that content needs to be accessible at all times and platforms must to be able to support large amounts of viewers watching from various platforms and locations. While having millions of viewers contributes to the bottom line, it also requires significant upgrades to technology and workflows in order to support the capacity demand.
These changes include having the flexibility to easily scale up or down to meet localization needs. Major existing and newly-launching OTT platforms are now starting to pre-purchase capacity, and it will be interesting to see how others who are shifting their OTT strategies respond as they ramp up original productions and begin reviewing their catalogs in preparation of the launch of their own streaming platforms in the coming months. Historically, these large entertainment groups have had the privilege of relying on a small group of preferred localization vendors and voice actors, but as demand increases, we will see additional global capacity constraints.
With rising consumer demands for engaging content across all screens at faster rates, and the hyper-competitiveness caused by cord cutting and platform wars, content creators and distributors are being pushed to the limit. By adopting the best processes and technologies, our industry can collectively streamline our workflows and provide viewers with both quality and quantity — we’re already seeing various companies utilize the end-to-end media supply chain to establish strategies for true content globalization. With the ultimate goal being to get as many viewers as possible to watch content, companies must implement new technology to speed up processes, and continuously refine and expand global networks to ensure they are producing high-quality content at incredibly-fast rates.
Chris Reynolds is the SVP of localization products & services at Deluxe (www.bydeluxe.com) in Los Angeles. The company has facilities throughout the world.