in All Things Localization

Multimedia translation covers a wide gamut, from marketing videos and training modules to streaming entertainment, making multilingual video content a longstanding business need across industries and sectors of all stripes. What some might not realize, though, is the sheer pressure facing groups using services like subtitling and dubbing to move content across borders, as VoD platforms and publishers compete to out-satisfy a global demand for entertainment now persisting at levels first reached during the pandemic. With finite access to the qualified linguists and voice actors who can ensure the quality and reach of their content, what some are calling a shortage of studio talent is likely to persist, impacting OTT streaming services heavily. Now, a new cast of players in the field are looking to tech to ameliorate the situation: namely, remote and automated dubbing and subtitling tools, often leveraging AI to not only translate text, but also transcribe and translate audio, learn and replicate human voices, and connect human talent to projects across greater distances. The question is, are these just-in-time multimedia translation solutions for a challenged market, or novelties not yet ready to tackle or replace the work of human linguists?

According to Nimdzi, the rise of remote dubbing, for one, has done nothing short of mitigating a crisis in cross-border entertainment. In its own words, “Because certain markets are used to dubbing and have a strong preference for it, the option of subtitling…is DOA in those markets.” As Axios further confirms, the North American market’s fondness for subtitles is relatively unique, with most European countries and many other world markets preferring dubbed video – a reality that publishers have not managed to mitigate with “good enough” alternatives. Beyond the shift to accessing linguists remotely, a new class of ventures is aiming to automate the under-resourced field of voice acting. Among these, Papercup appears to be quickly advancing its solutions for synthetic dubbing, calibrated to work with aspects of traditional localization by moving culturally nuanced text translations into convincing voiceovers, without any need of human voiceover talent. Slator also reports similar developments in neural text-to-speech AI from Captionhub, which claims to capture nuances of language as subtle as differences in regional dialects when synthesizing subtitles as human-like speech. All of this bodes well for entertainment settings, in that so much of the meaning a film or show conveys is implied by the cultural qualities of its characters. Is AI a production solution in itself, though?

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Whether packaged as a “human in the loop” approach to quality or as after-sales service to adjust outputs to taste, contenders in the field strongly emphasize the crucial role human experts must continue to play in delivering results from their technologies. And where for these tech-centric platforms this could seem a persisting drawback, the same reality presents a major opportunity for conventional language services to enter a space once dominated by studios, as well as for publishers to broaden their global reach through existing localization resources. For instance, by leveraging text machine translation and human translators to deliver culturally nuanced subtitles, the core substance of a dubbing project can be delivered intact, ready to for a synthetic voice generator to bring aloud. Language service providers meanwhile offer a more relatable partner in localization than companies with technology vendor profiles, in terms of their abundant availability to consult, strategize, and customize solutions fitting the budgets and market entry goals of entertainment groups. In all, yet another story of tech innovation appears to emphasize the vital role of the in-country human linguist, as we find in neural machine translation for virtually all forms of content.

For streaming platforms and video publishers across industries, CSOFT offers high quality multimedia localization solutions in hundreds of languages as well as solutions such as eLearning localization, training video translation, and more. To learn about our services or to get in touch, visit us as csoftintl.com.