MESA’s Content Workflow Management Forum

What the Media and Entertainment sector is talking about

This conference report was written by Inge Boonen.

Every once in a while, people outside of the localization industry join events dedicated to the language business. We’ve heard them say we’re a nice bunch of people, enthusiastic about our jobs. This feeling surrounding our industry was confirmed once again at MESA’s Content Workflow Management Forum in London on 26 February.

So what is MESA?

MESA stands for Media and Entertainment Services Alliance. According to their website, MESA “was formed close to 15 years ago in order to support the building of efficiencies in the creation, production and distribution of entertainment content… Membership is made up of companies that provide support services to the video, games, music and electronic publishing sectors.

The organizers of the European branch are Jim Bottoms, Executive Director, David Millar, Director of Communications, and Caroline Baines, Operations Director. They put together an excellent, impeccably organized event packed full of  extremely valuable contributions.

The Content Workflow Management Forum

The program was condensed into a full-day forum during which upwards of 30 speakers entertained us with their insights. 

The conference kicked off with an introduction and welcoming remarks followed by an entertaining keynote by Mazin Al-Jumaili and Julian Day of ZOO Digital on the topic of “Localization Talent Shortages and Addressing the Dubbing Challenge.” A series of panel discussions and TED-style presentations followed, including an excellent post-prandial keynote by Mark Howorth of SDI Media on “Localization Facts We Can No Longer Take for Granted.” The day came to an elegant close with a drinks reception. 

The venue was the iconic Victory Services Club, very conveniently located at the heart of London, on the prestigious Seymour Street. Even though the surroundings might suggest a formal environment, the atmosphere was open and relaxed, with attendees keen on exchanging ideas.

Image source: Victory Services Club

The topics centered around these keywords:

  • Localization talent shortage, training & collaboration
  • Cloud, quality and scalability
  • Sustainability
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine translation (MT) and metadata
  • Change and challenges of an evolving landscape

What we took home from the event

Localization talent shortage, training and collaboration

Mazin Al-Jumaili and Julian Day of ZOO Digital kicked off the day with their keynote speech on the shortage of localization talent. They set a fun and light tone that was maintained for the rest of the day, despite the real challenge this issue represents for the industry. The topic came up several times throughout the event .

The shortage of talent is particularly felt in media and entertainment as it concerns not only translators, post-editors and transcribers but also dubbing talent and studios.

New talent is needed in order to keep up with the exponential growth in volume foreseen for this year and meet the higher quality expectations for episodic products.

With an eye on the future, localization vendors such as ZOO, SDI, and Deluxe are working with academia to set up training opportunities. At this point, it was suggested by James Hurrell, Head of Content and Localization at BBC Studios that while the vendors are doing everything they can, now the clients (i.e. the producers) should step up their game and start contributing as well. 

The industry is facing a dilemma, though. With the rise of AIin the form of synthetic voice, for instancetalent might be less keen on investing time, money and effort into their training. It’s essential to find ways to encourage talent to enter and stay in the field of dubbing. 

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

AI, MT and metadata

AI veterans Dion Wiggins, Tony O’Dowd and Evgeny Matusov delighted the audience with their different takes on the possibilities of AI within media and entertainment. 

AI can be applied in many different areas: to generate synthetic voice, machine translate subtitles, or preselect human dubbing talent. AI can do it all, as long as it has sufficient data to work with. Whether you have been on the AI bandwagon for a long time or are not yet jumping onto it, the main takeaway of their sessions was “love your data and store it.”  Track any information you have up to the tiniest detailwhile you might not know how to use it today, you might find a good use for it in the future. 

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

Cloud, quality and scalability

There was no particular mention of 5G at all during the forum. However, migration to the cloud was debated. The media and entertainment sector remains an industry where workflows are made up of many different small components which often are not yet integrated. For this reason, using cloud technology or migrating data is a big deal. Jim Bottoms held an interesting discussion with Lee Atkinson of Amazon Web Services on the topic. 

The concern with the cloud is not necessarily one of security but one of peaks and troughs. It is not efficient to have certain pieces on the cloud and not others. Unless all parts of the workflow can be managed on the cloud, the cloud is not exploited to its full potential.

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

Even so, as flexibility and speed to market are becoming more important, collaboration was an important recurring topic throughout the day. Companies like ZOO Digital and Deluxe are trying to tackle this challenge via technology, setting up platforms or marketplaces that should help foster collaboration.


A topic that should be on the table in 2020 is sustainability. Paul Moore Olmstead of Atos and Christian Toennesen of the Responsible Media Forum truly enlightened the audience regarding the media industry’s energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, and the responsibility it has in fixing both.

Image source: Nimdzi Insights

Did you know that digital represents 10 percent of the world’s electricity and 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions? The move to Internet Protocol (IP) and Over The Top (OTT) represents a significant increase in the media industry’s carbon footprint. Media companies must and want to take responsibility. Therefore, a new initiative called Dimpacts was launched. Dimpacts is a collaboration to map and measure the greenhouse gas emissions of digital content. 

Some other interesting facts learned during MESA’s forum

  • Quality expectations in the Media and Entertainment sector are very high. While in the past the quality bar for episodic (series) was not that high, now it’s at the same level of that for movies. Amongst the localization audience the consensus was get just one word wrong and your whole reputation can be doomed.
  • The attendees were all industry veterans with hundreds of years of collective experience. Only one of the presentations, by Imagen, looked at more recent digital trends such as DAZN. It might have been interesting to see what YouTubers think about potentially localizing their output into a couple of languages and what their view on quality requirements is.
  • The EU Copyright Directive, effective June 6, 2019, which will be implemented across member states starting from June 2021, introduces measures to achieve a balanced marketplace for copyright. Adebunmi Nsofor of SDI Media laid out the legal implications very well. The main consequence is that performers are entitled to “receive appropriate and proportionate remuneration” in their fee negotiations. In certain countries talent is very well-organizeda threat of a strike can put the media localization sector on its knees. We are curious to see what will happen during the next couple of years.
  • During one of the coffee breaks, some of the attendees discussed the current talent shortage and an anecdote regarding dubbing talent in Italy came up. As it is, in Italy dubbing actors are highly revered.

This conference report was written by Nimdzi’s Enterprise Sales Manager, Inge Boonen. If you wish to find out more about the MESA’s Content Workflow Management Forum held in London, please reach out to Inge at [email protected].

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