10th Translation Forum Russia – Conference Report


This conference report was written by Yulia Akhulkova.

Have you ever been to a translation conference with more than 720 participants and 130 speakers? Nimdzi has, and we are glad to share some facts and insights from the event with you. 

It was the 10th Translation Forum Russia (TFR), a conference that travels throughout Russia together with its attendees. This time it gathered in Saint Petersburg and included hundreds of translators, heads of translation departments, localization software developers, teachers and students, and buyers of translation services.

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

The conference was held at the Herzen State Pedagogical University, further underscoring the importance of the educational program of the event. A lot of effort and conference time was dedicated to discussing translation teaching and training, as well as the collaboration of language service providers (LSPs) and academia.

So what did attendees from 32 countries do in “North Venice” between August 23-25? Let’s look at the menu and highlights of another excellent vintage of a conference.

TFR linked events

Many of the participants arrived before the actual conference since there were plenty of additional options for both self-education and entertainment: from master classes on translation and workshops on the selling of translation services to a city quest.

Literra Partner Day

The city quest was organized with the help of the LSP Literra, a company that also held a special event before the quest, the Literra Partner Day. This free event for Literra’s partners and friends aimed to gather translation and localization industry peers in an informal environment for a live talk. In order to share knowledge and skills, the guests could listen to several presentations about some of the newest practices in the area of translation services, as well as enjoy plenty of time to network in between.

Image source: Literra

This year Literra’s event, which has become a regular fixture, saw speakers from the company itself, memoQ, Memsource, and Nimdzi Insights. It also featured a vast presentation on localizing your online presence by Doug Lawrence and the introduction of the Russian Chapter of Women in Localization (#WLRU) by the chapter manager, Irina Rybnikova.

Transeller One

Another event worth mentioning that preceded the conference was the special paid training “Transeller One” organized by Transeller Consulting. The training was attended by 30 people and included four main blocks:

  1. Specifics of B2B sales in the linguistic market
  2. Clients: how to find them and develop the relationship
  3. Sales techniques and tips
  4. Managing objections and closing deals

The Transeller team currently consists of two people, Dmitriy Pavlov and Anna Zaitseva. They help translation companies effectively organize sales and marketing, an important area for improvement for many representatives of the Russian language services market (and beyond).

Student forum

Speaking of education, at a student forum held simultaneously with the main TFR conference, translation and localization industry representatives discussed with students how different domains of the industry work. The topics included (but were not limited to):

  • a brief overview of the game localization process
  • the concept of audiovisual (AV) translation 
  • interpreting and peculiarities of working with important officials


As for additional networking opportunities, on the evening of the first conference day, there was a free joint event of three organizations: the WLRU, the Association of Translation Teachers (ATT), and the St. Petersburg Translation Club (STC).

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

The idea of the party was that organizers offered an interesting location: the gallery of historical photography named after Karl Bulla. One room of the gallery served as a “platform” for speeches by representatives of all three organizations. The event was supported by T-SERVICE, SDL approved reseller. The guests had an opportunity not only to take a free tour of the photo gallery but also taste some great local snacks and pastries.

View from the roof of Karl Bulla photo salon. Image source: Nimdzi Insights

The record-breaking LocLunch

LocLunch is an international movement that spans dozens of cities in Europe, Asia and North America. These are monthly informal meetings which everyone who is interested in localization can attend for communication and networking (and food!). The number of participants is usually limited only by the size of the location chosen.

LocLunch, on the second day of TFR, was able to gather a record number of 53 people from 14 countries, including eight ambassadors and the founder of the LocLunch movement, Jan Hinrichs. This set a new goal for LocLunches which are already held in about 60 cities (and the number of cities is only growing).

TFR highlights

Back to the conference itself, its extensive program makes it hard to cover it in detail. Imagine three days of networking in historical buildings and dozens of presentations in four tracks: The art of translation, Business, Technology, and Language sections.

Two interesting initiatives worth highlighting happened this year:

  1. The section of the small translation bureaus 
  2. The audiovisual translation (AVT) track

The section of small translation bureaus

This part was organized by two CEOs from Pravo i Slovo and Russian Technical Translation (RTT) companies, Anastasya Intse and Svetlana Vasyanina. They realized that conference agendas are normally formed by big sharks and academia, leaving businesses of a smaller size to deal with their peculiar problems and questions on their own. The idea to create a track to address issues specific to small and middle sized LSPs was warmly supported by their many representatives.

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

The session, which consisted of several useful presentations and interactive networking, ended with an intellectual “brain ring” game whereby smaller business executives competed in answering a series of tricky questions. The questions aimed to cover complicated business cases of varying nature, from difficult HR situations to tips for dealing with extremely demanding clients. A jury then assessed the answers by their essence, completeness, and creativeness. This format was received well. Even the winners of this business game learned some new techniques along the way.

The audiovisual track: multimedia localization

The audiovisual track premiered right after the section of the small translation bureaus on the second day of TFR. The global cost of producing entertaining audiovisual content (data exclude the production of games, educational programs, etc.) reached USD 395 billion in 2018 (according to Transparency Market research), an increase of 6.9 percent per year on average. Understandably, the subject of audiovisual translation and multimedia localization cannot be avoided at a translation conference. At TFR, the audiovisual track consisted of seven presentations which brought together market leaders as well as local companies and freelancers specializing in this sphere.

Content localization studio Cyrillica opened the session with an overview of the history of audiovisual translation in Russia that lead to the current situation of it being a mostly dubbing country. Local high viewer demands gave birth to new voice-over formats and widespread fandubbing. After that, a bright and immersive presentation by Sonya Biernath from Deluxe Media helped the audience get an idea of broader horizons of multimedia localization. By the way, don’t miss Nimdzi’s finger food with stats of speed in AVT.

SDI Media and Konstantin Yakovlev, an individual audiovisual entrepreneur, shared their vast knowledge about technological innovations in AVT: 

  • special software for tackling scripts and subtitles 
  • digital studio assistants 
  • adjusting a recording studio to be used with ZOOdubs, an online recording platform for dubbing in the cloud

In the second part of the session, Alexey Kozulyaev from RuFilms spoke about trends in the industry, such as translation of VR content or movie universes. Among other things, Alexey discussed the emergence of new content production centers in China, India, Latin America, Turkey, the EU, Arab countries, Iran, and Russia. 

According to Alexey, figures of export revenue, which are being operated by leading Russian producers of animated works and TV shows, are measured in tens of millions of dollars. In 2018, sales of licensed products brought almost USD 330 million to Animaccord Animation Studio, which created the popular animated series “Masha and the Bear,” as per the Global License magazine. This supports a trend that animation companies are beginning to prepare their projects for export – from the start.

To continue with the subject of export, William Hackett-Jones from Eclectic Translations delivered a presentation about the subtitling of Russian content for foreign audiences. He spoke about the challenges of delivering cultural peculiarities in a subtitled format and the broad ideas behind a film.

At the closing session, Henrik Walter-Johnsen, the Vice President of FIT Europe, presented national guidelines for audiovisual translation, the Norwegian model. It defines three aspects: linguistic, translational, and technical.

According to Henrik, Norway has “set the snowball in motion” with this standard, and many other European countries are looking into the same direction and launching their national guidelines. For instance, the Danish guidelines launched this year, too. There also exists a Chinese committee developing similar standards for China.

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

As Henrik shared, however, the Norwegian model is not so special. The tradition is very similar in other Nordic countries, so there is hope for a common model.  “If all the different levels of the industry in all the Nordic countries point to one set of standards, it will be pretty difficult to ignore if you want to do business there,” said Henrik.

“That’s what localization is all about. Knowing how the market works on a local level.”

As a result of these activities, Netflix is now urging Norwegian translators to follow the Norwegian guidelines on their content. And many other stakeholders in the industry say, “If it’s good enough for Netflix, it’s good enough for us.” So by changing the approach of such major companies, the Norwegian model is in fact influencing the entire industry.

Results and takeaways

One of the honorary participants of the 10th TFR, Noel Mulle, Head of the European Commission Translation Service, devoted his speech to the traditional translation school and modern technology. The main takeaways of the conference include both of these subjects.

Connected translation

During the more than three days of education, insights, and socializing, we were also able to attend a number of presentations about translation technology. In addition to the burning questions of internationalization and continuous localization, the trendy paradigm of connected translation was discussed.

The idea of this approach is that translation is now a part of a comprehensive content creation machine, and translation providers need to be faster, multifaceted, and more connected than ever. If you missed the relevant sections at TFR, read more at the Smartcat blog.

Image source: Smartcat

Customers’ expectations have evolved. Many of them want the “click-a-button-forget-about-it” experience. But when it comes to actual integration of the connected approach, buyers of localization may be the reason for obstacles. For instance, the inertia of thinking, the habit of doing things the old-fashioned way, or inappropriate licensing models are still quite common. 

To answer this “connectivity demand,” LSPs do not necessarily need to do everything (API, cloud, integration, etc.) on their own. They can partner with technology providers who understand and share the approach. If language services and tech providers don’t go this way, their clients will tackle the issues of the continuous delivery themselves, resulting in a missed opportunity for the former. Some buyers have already succeeded in that and now they (e.g., VK, Evernote) speak at conferences such as TFR, sharing knowledge and proving the viability of the connected approach.

Connected and united: how-to

One way would be to work in close association. Associations of translation companies, “not only represent the translation community but also protect their interests, and unite translation companies to exchange technologies and best practices,” as pointed out by Miklos Ban, the vice-president of the European Union Associations of Translation Companies (EU ATC). During his visit to the TFR, an important document on collaboration between the Moscow Translation club and EU ATC was signed: the Memorandum of understanding.

Image source: Irina Rudakova

Collaboration is key. That is how the language market can develop in satisfying the most complex needs of customers of any size.

And that’s why we go to conferences, right? To explore new ways we can collaborate and become better at what we do.


This conference report was researched and written by Yulia Akhulkova. If you wish to find out more about the 10th Translation Forum in Russia, please reach out Yulia at [email protected].

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