This article was originally published by MESA in the M + E Journal 22.01.
As more studios invest in streaming, the battle for attention is more demanding than ever. And the key to winning is content. Dark, Money Heist, Lupin, Squid Game. Storytelling that draws in fans all around the world, where the next viral hit can come from anywhere.
With this boom of streaming and an insatiable audience appetite, the biggest names in entertainment are facing relentless pace and unprecedented scale. More content to localize than ever before – across more languages, more platforms, more audiences.
The rapid growth of original content in a plurality of languages has compelled our globalization industry to react and adapt. Adapt to market demands and the needs of modern audiences – increasingly eager to consume content from further afield, providing the localization quality is right.
As these audience borders are blending, storytelling now exists without boundaries. But what does that mean for us? What challenges do we face? As ever, it’s our job in globalization to be prepared with solutions up our sleeves.
Built to go global
Back in 2015, the pre-release of Disney Pixar’s animated hit, Inside Out, was tested around the world to ensure that story elements were correctly reflected for local audiences. Director Pete Docter explained how it was crucial that a complex film about emotions didn’t just work domestically, but also for international audiences as well.
“We learned that some of our content wouldn’t make sense in other countries,” said Docter. “For example, in Japan, broccoli is not considered gross. Kids love it. So, we asked them, ‘What’s gross to you?’ They said green bell peppers, so we remodelled and reanimated three separate scenes replacing our broccoli with green peppers.”
Factoring in the painstaking task of producing alternative animated scenes, the dedication to a global audience was clear.
Today, this borderless audience is considered from conception. Each content studio looks at globalization not as an add-on or time-drain necessity, but central to success. The international audience is just as important as the domestic.
But with the growth of demand for global content combined with the accessibility brought through streaming, how can the globalization industry possibly keep up? For ZOO Digital and others leading the way, the challenge is getting ahead of the curve.
Adapting to demands – scale, pace and security
Over time, audiences have demanded more. Korean thrillers, Scandinavian dramas, Turkish telenovelas that see respective shifts in demand as cultures and popularities eb and flow. As an industry, globalization has always been asked to react to these shifting needs.
However, the pandemic accelerated these trends and the growing demand for localized content can be seen in cultural shifts towards foreign-language content, diversified Academy success, and – with the expansion of streaming platforms into new territories – the two-way exporting of content that this brings.
With new territories to reach, tighter deadlines to hit and non-stop demand for more content, the entertainment industry has been calling out for clarity. Clarity that localization and media services are where they need to be – with the reassurance that nothing ever gets missed. It’s our job in globalization to make it all a little easier.
So, how do we do that? How are the issues on the horizon being tackled today?
The unprecedented scale (and opportunity) of global entertainment today means more content to localize than ever before. But how do we ensure unwavering quality across localized content while also making operations streamlined and easier to manage? How can the globalization industry scale up alongside entertainment? And how do we deliver the capacity required of such demanding scale?
Today’s world of globalization should eliminate the inefficiencies of siloed workflows across multiple vendors.
Globalization vendors must see each localized asset as part of something greater. In doing so, and by providing everything in one place, efficiencies come naturally. It’s our job as service providers to always ask ‘is this the best way?’, ‘how would this be done if we were starting from scratch today?’.
With this technology-first approach, globalization vendors can deliver workflows that are cloud-based and interconnected, subsequently increasing production efficiencies and reducing process duplication – allowing one service line, operational workflow, and data set to flow into the next.
Management systems should make it easier to take control of operations; delivering clarity from start to finish. With such insurmountable scale, we should do everything in our powers to keep things simple – to give content owners complete transparency.
By looking at the bigger picture of how services, projects and territories overlap and intertwine, we can identify where processes can work smarter, easier and better.
In other words, we need to deliver efficiency that scales – so that the more complex the job, the easier it can be made.
To get content from post-production to the right streaming platform demands a whirlwind of steps. Managing licensed content partners, controlling the creation and delivery of compliant packages, and maintaining consistency from start to finish.
Adding to this, with the growth of day-and-date delivery, each global release means managing a world of moving parts ready for a simultaneous deadline. Content owners and streamers must meet relentless multi-language delivery while maintaining the highest quality standards.
All this with less time to manage a worldwide roster of vendors. Less time to accommodate inefficiencies, duplication, or errors in the workflow.
When it comes to localization and media services, vendors should be there to take the pressure away, not add to it.
Much like dealing with scale, efficiencies in pace come from interconnected services; ensuring translations and data flow seamlessly between workflows for dubs, subtitling, metadata and artwork to ensure nothing is duplicated. No time goes to waste.
The right vendor should remove the challenge and time-drain of working with a host of content partners around the world. Working collaboratively to get content from post-production to platform.
By utilizing streamlined technical and creative quality control stages, projects can be done right first time, every time. For example, in dubbing, creative artistry must be balanced with streamlined workflows, facilitated by platforms that offer operational efficiencies to deliver on time, on a global scale.
Assistive tools and automations should be there to give the creative team time to breathe. Time to understand the audience and live the characters. The craft of globalization can be respected while pushing the limits of pace through modern efficiencies.
With greater demand for content and a move away from the distribution of physical assets, cloud security is the new norm.
Globalization now consists of an ever-expanding ecosystem of third-party vendors, collaborating from countless locations. This has increased the security threat to the entertainment industry’s most prized asset, it’s content.
Preventing leaks, breaches and hacks across so many global facilities and content partners is always the priority. But how can we ensure highly sought-after shows and movies always remain in the right hands?
Today, security needs to be built into the tools, workflows and projects of the wider process. While facility security is still a crucial element, it’s vital that we move content security outside of the physical restrictions of bricks-and-mortar.
Security features that are built directly into cloud-based platforms minimise the risk of costly leaks through piracy, or the distribution of physical assets. These security features and processes must pass the most stringent content protection requirements from industry authorities, as well as the individual requirements of the biggest names in entertainment.
When globalization requires a fluid, scalable servicing capacity, working in one global technology ecosystem safeguards risk. No matter where in the world a project takes place, security will remain stringent.
In this world, all regional hubs, dubbing studios, partners and freelancers work together with the same set of rules. Rules that guarantee consistent security, process efficiency and rapid scalability across the world.
Technology therefore enables us to deal with the ever-expanding challenges of distributing content to the world, securely. The good news is that the technology is out there – and everything else, we build.
What challenges remain?
Content spending is rising and with today’s world of borderless content streaming, shows and movies can reach audiences in 40 or 50 different languages. For content owners, the biggest challenge therefore remains the same – how do they get content on these platforms as quickly as they can, while competing for global capacity?
However, by taking a technology-first approach, we can look at ways to do things differently. By understanding what technology is available to us and how we can deploy that to solve our customers’ problems, we’re supporting the future of borderless entertainment.
There is no box
The world of entertainment has changed. With the boom of streaming, audience borders are blurred, and content is taking on new life in previously unreached territories.
As the biggest names in entertainment shift this focus and plan their next global sensation, the demands of globalization have also evolved.
To make our clients’ lives easier, we have to look at things differently, finding new and creative ways to take on any challenge.
Because when you look at things differently, there is no box. And there are no borders.