SDL Media Production

Connect with Global Customers Through Localized Media Content

Without a doubt, today’s world is going digital. Companies and consumers are moving away from print, and media is now the primary channel businesses use to reach their target audiences. From internal communications and employee training to high-profile marketing and entertainment content, media will only continue to grow, and with it, opportunities for localization.
SDL’s 25 years of media localization experience has provided many unique insights. Sabine Jolly, Global Director Media Production at SDL, shares some of her top tips to reach global customers with localized media content.

What is SDL Media Production and what makes it unique?

Many media production agencies only offer one type of solution depending on their niche. SDL has a broad range of solutions, ranging from the highest quality - broadcast standard - to budget-friendly options for lower-profile content.

We cover a wide spectrum of audio and video production services: transcription, subtitling and closed captioning, casting in-country voice artists, voiceover and dubbing, audio and video post-production, as well as accessibility solutions for media content.

SDL’s unique in-house model, network of global offices and specialized media services team gives us full control over the quality of all deliverables, allowing us to create best-in-class localized content for movies and games, advertising and marketing campaigns, support videos, training and eLearning content.

Every localization program is different, so SDL Media Production provides a customized and creative approach designed to mirror the production value and quality of our customer’s content. We frequently consult on best approaches based on a customer’s content and target audience.

Tell us about some projects you’ve worked on

A major toy company approached us to complete 11 videos for a new brand initiative. The project required very high production quality, including recording children voice talents, mixing and finalizing the audio, encoding subtitles and delivering eight different video specs across five languages—a total of 440 videos! They also needed a very quick turnaround and to complete the files before launching at a major event. We worked closely with the customer to create a localization strategy that not only met their requirements, but also met the very tight timeframe. Facing this challenge, we found ways to streamline workflows and adapt processes to meet the customer’s needs. All five languages were delivered with top vocal performances, achieving a great result.

We also work with a major global tech customer to localize monthly product launch campaigns. The latest campaign consisted of one source video requiring voiceover, video adaptation and on-screen text localization in 18 different locales. For each locale, we had to create cut down versions with specific features depending on the target region. This made the project very complex and it had many moving parts. The recordings had a very specific vocal brief that had to be interpreted carefully and appropriately for each target region. Video editing also had many complex production layers, so we worked closely with the customer to make the process as smooth as possible. With so many challenges, a very tight schedule and ever-changing requirements, we demonstrated SDL’s flexibility and agility to deliver such a multi-faceted project on time.

Another customer was unsure how to localize their voice assistant training material and contacted SDL for advice. Under an extremely tight deadline, we created mock-up scenarios to be used as training in 10 languages. The idea was to mimic situations that a virtual assistant would encounter in daily life. There were approximately 80 small scenarios per language, each with very specific considerations like multiple voices, sound and atmospheric effects and different microphone positions. The recording quality needed to be lifelike and didn’t require a studio environment, which saved a lot on budget. Our team recommended an agile, out-of-the-box solution that met all of the customer’s requirements.

What trends are you seeing?

Media used to be limited to high-profile content like advertising, marketing and games. Now it is used more and more at every stage across the buying journey. Video is more engaging and easily consumed than written text, changing how companies and consumers interact.

Ensuring accessibility to special needs audiences is gaining prominence and legislation surrounding this topic has started to appear. Many companies want to be ahead of the curve and make their content available to visually impaired, deaf and hard-of-hearing users.

When companies think about localizing media, what should they consider?

Often localization for media content is an afterthought, making the process expensive and inefficient. Ideally, localization should be part of the end-to-end process and our team is happy to consult with customers early in the process. We have successfully integrated our processes with some of our regular customers’ workflows with very positive quality, cost and customer satisfaction results.

What are some pitfalls that impact media localization?

Usually vendors or agencies deliver a finished English product, but not the complete set of raw files, which are necessary for localization. We also often encounter text expansion, character restrictions and video time constraint issues. But it is possible to design a video so its pacing isn’t too fast and the amount of on-screen text accommodates localized text expansion.

Finding the right voice talent can be an interesting challenge - we were once asked to find a choir of 4-year-old kids for a diaper advertisement! Another consideration for voiceover localization is having multiple voices or on-screen actors—the more you have, the higher your potential costs.

If you have a limited budget, is it possible to still localize media content?

Yes. Subtitling is the one cost-effective way, but delivers a different user experience from a fully localized file. When you need voiceover, it’s important to select the best voice talent within your budget. As mentioned earlier, SDL has a range of solutions and we are happy to work with customers to identify the best solution based on their content and target audience.

If you would like to learn more about SDL's media production services, click here.