Global Interactive Voice Servers – in all languages!

Where do all those voices come from..?

…on those vocal servers that direct you to where you want to go – the ticket office on the phone, the mail messages reader, reading your account info out to you, hosting & guiding you through large institutions or government agencies, via museum audio guides, giving you internal or members-only access & information, on healthcare servers, etc.?

brainadapt-tele.com

Voice Messaging Systems (VMR) are at the very beginning of a certain, exciting stage of evolution.

Well, finding & recording a voice is the easy bit. Adapting your IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system to a global, multilingual platform is a nightmare. Unless you go to the right people early on. This means a one-stop shop that can handle all your language needs – translation, tracking, planning, voice casting, recording, processing, nomenclature, compression & formatting – for immediate deployment on your systems.

IVR, VoiceXML, CCXML (Call Control XML), VMS (Voice Messaging Systems), SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and many more, are all tools & protocols that are common to the voice-messaging environment. A single system configured once for a single language, but which can then be employed for a large number of languages, makes each new language that little bit more economical to deploy – as long as the voice localisation and delivery to spec is done properly and professionally.

This takes a tried & tested process – in other words, VoxAppeal.

In the English-language medium, we are for the most part blissfully unaware that our language is only 3rd in the table of most widely-spoken native languages. The Internet gives us the very erroneous impression that everyone speaks English! The Internet is clever though – for a Spanish speaker, the Internet is entirely in Spanish, for the Chinese it’s all in Mandarin, and so on.

But whether you’re in Bonn or Delhi or Shanghai, when you call the local rail network to book a ticket, you want to get the required information in your own native language. Quoi de plus naturel ? Andonce the original service is deployed in Hindi (or whatever), for an international or multinational service, moving along the chain of popular languages is the natural next step.

This takes planning, though. And most planners with the foresight to include a multilingual option will develop in the world’s most popular 2nd language (or source language, for the purposes of translation), which is English. An international service deployed in Malay and targeting Punjabi or Arabic (+ 20 others), for example, will ideally have already deployed in English as a reference source for any further languages. Professional localisation options from English to any target language will be more prevalent than Malay>Punjabi or Malay>Arabic (+ Malay > 20 others) options. (There are always exceptions and I welcome any objections, of course!)

For many planners, however, hindsight is the mother of budget overrun, as the decision to consult a localisation professional is often taken too late to avoid unnecessary expenditure (as is also so often the case in corporate video production and in website design), although an initial consultation is most often entirely free of charge and can provide the essential guidelines to a profitable multilingual venture further down the line.

Why “Turnkey”?

From the client’s source audio/video files, images or websites through to delivery of identical products translated and localized to the client’s target market, if your product is any kind of complex media, then the only guarantee of a quality service is a TURNKEY service.

That is, a service from A to Z, from the initial ‘home’-localized product, through all the various intermediary stages and media components up to delivery.

Why?

Because we know our job; we know the restrictions of the various stages of the job; our processes are tried, tested and optimized with the absolute objective of quality. And to reach this objective, any compromise in the process is costly. To us, and to our client.

A good example is video translation.

Video is a complex media. It is made up of film images, still images, graphics, animation, on-screen text (still or animated) – sometimes laid over other images, a soundtrack (or several) consisting of music, sound effects, voices in one or more languages, and even “hidden” soundtracks designed to play to different audiences and language groups. Then there is the video format: the screen size and aspect ratio, the resolution in pixels, the framerate, the bitrate, the hundreds of codec variations and configurations. Etcetera.

Complex.

That is why we will generally ask “what do you want to do with this video?” This is not an impertinent question. It is so that you, and we, do not waste time and money producing something you think you want but which may not serve its intended purpose.

Consider a hypothetical video translation case drawn from real experience:

A client asks for a promotional video presentation to be “translated”. The video features clips including scenes in an American environment, images, on-screen texts and a soundtrack with music+sound effects laid over with an American voice.

The client wants a quote specifically for: a Russian voice and Russian subtitling of on-screen text. He could also ask for a range of options, such as complete localized post-production of the video: replacement of typical American scenes with Russian scenes that he has provided, replacement of on-screen English text with Russian text, recording of a convincing Russian voice to take the place of the American one and replacement of the background fiddle music with something more classical and Russian.

If the video is to be one from among the client’s 100+ media items available to a Russian audience from the media library page deep within his company website, the first version might be sufficient, although future higher-profile use of the video should also be taken into account. If it is to serve as the front-page video advertising his company’s services, the full-quality option would be essential. The cost would of course not be the same, but the consequent income potential would be vastly different too. However, that is a calculation that the client must do for himself.

Part of that calculation is of course, outlay. And if I can have it transcribed cheaply by some third-party transcription service or agency, why include that in a turnkey service?

If I have a Russian speaker in the company who can translate the transcription and the on-screen texts, why include translation in a turnkey service?

If my trainee can do the timing of the translated texts why include that in a turnkey service?

If my DTP department can import the Russian text into the original US images, why include that in a turnkey service?

Will my Russian target market really mind having some nice American fiddle music in the background or the odd fleeting image of US marines, $ signs or hamburgers?

The short, quick, and ultimate answer is: Quality. If it is not pervasive in every aspect of your target product, it doesn’t have a capital “Q“.

The more detailed answer would take into account any one of all the possible flaws of any one stage of the process that is not included in the turnkey service and see its exponential effect on the rest of the process.

Just a typing mistake in the transcription can lead to a mistranslation of enormous proportion (see “Reset” & Hillary Clinton in one of our previous blogs).

Not paying attention to speaking rate in the voice translation could mean it is impossible to record the Russian voice in the time available (or it must be sped up to Mickey Mouse proportions).

Having a text “timed” in a Word file may be superfluous as this format cannot be exploited in a titling configuration tool, and will have to be done again, precisely.

Every stage of the process must be checked by a target-language professional linguist who knows the technical, linguistic and target-market requirements of the project. And even still, our processes are designed to reduce all possibility for human error to an absolute minimum – retyping from one page into another, copy-&-pasting or “assuming” what is meant. We welcome and encourage consultation and communication with our client at every point in the process. A question with an “obvious” answer is still better asked than guessed wrongly.

Our language professionals are trained and qualified, which means not only that they know the language, but they know and recognize the different quirks of the culture, and can make those little adjustments that, if they were not made, could have extensive, negative effects.

Various professional studies have emphasized the commercial effect of web-based video to market footprint for most companies. However, if the video quite obviously originates from a different cultural market, it loses effect and this footprint is decidedly diminished.

Just ship us your project to analyse cost-effectively, and relax while we make your media work for you across all your target-language markets.

Silent Shwa

Here’s an interesting language blog from one college student with enough time on his/her hands (what, anOTHer one? Just wait till they get a job!).

Actually, his/her blog SHOULD be their job because there’s some great stuff there – e.g. the “Facebook / Twitter – interdits” entry. Ca vaut le détour, franchement.

Dubbing in the USA: http://silentschwa.com/2010/09/03/dubbing-is-the-devil/trackback/
Faceb*ok / Tw*tter: http://silentschwa.com/2011/06/16/facebook-et-twitter-interdits/trackback/

Translating for your Web Market

Fiona Graham writes on bbc.co.uk about the importance of using professional translators when translating your company’s website.

What your “afterthought” translation process could look like.
Or you could call the professionals.

Citing one UK-based company: “you need to get one good person that speaks that language really well” and “I speak French so it was easy for me to determine someone is the right person to have”, language services professionals will have their heads in their hands. What a revelation! Here’s another big secret that you probably haven’t stumbled upon yet: When going to school or to an important meeting, bring a PEN! (Success not guaranteed.)

That’s about how basic this information is, and equally how much of a foregone conclusion it should be. But as the article reveals, most companies, even multimillion-$ turnover companies, have no idea how to go about translating one of their most fundamental marketing tools, yet they virtually all THINK they know.

Unfortunately, the article just scratches the surface and does not go into the essentials of specialisation. Website translation today requires a range of expertise: in translating AND proofreading in each of the language pairs and in the field of activity concerned, in target-language SEO, in website architecture & coding, in multimedia, in imagery localisation, in page layout, etc.
For “the right person”, read “the right company”, with all the necessary expertise.

Also under-emphasised in the article – It is absolutely essential to get professional advice before taking the first step, as professional linguistic management companies may otherwise have to UNDO a lot of what has been done, even down to the website architecture, in order to provide a professional, scalable, futureproof and efficient translated site.

Ideally, moving to multilingual should be a step that is forward-planned to coincide with a major overhaul of your company website. That way the architecture will be designed to be multilingual from the foundations up.

Professional website translation, to be efficient and ultimately profitable, is NOT something to be added as an afterthought, otherwise it may only offer the kind of return that the example in the article offers (+20% overseas trade for +400% market size).

Probably because they got “the right person”!

VoxAppeal passe à la télé !

Suite à la visite dans nos locaux il y a quelques jours de l’équipe de France 3, et au plateau télé que le PDG de Caractères Et Caetera, M. Vincent Renard, partagera avec le maire de Morlaix et le Député Européen, Agnès Le Brun, vous pourrez suivre un sujet sur notre société sur France 3 Ouest ce samedi 12 février, entre 10h30 et 10h55, avec un accent fort sur l’activité de VoxAppeal, service de traduction et linguistique pour l’audiovisuel.

Avec peut-être des réponses aux questions que vous ne nous avez pas encore posées !

Si vous ratez l’émission ou que vous êtes hors de la Bretagne, vous pourrez dans les jours suivant la diffusion, la revoir sur le site de France 3, à cette adresse : http://bretagne.france3.fr/info/la-voix-est-libre—bretagne-64545437.html?onglet=videos

Allez-hop ! Réveil pour 10h, un bon café, secouez les coussins et installez-vous…
 


La Voix est Libre, c’est quoi?