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.
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 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.
The topics centered around these keywords:
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 .
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 AI—in the form of synthetic voice, for instance—talent 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.
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 detail—while you might not know how to use it today, you might find a good use for it in the future.
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.
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.
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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