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.


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.


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.

Translation in media turmoil

The development of the Internet, the explosion in bandwidth and the massive development of related software tools over the last few years have taken translation and localisation to dizzy heights of necessary expertise… while the vast majority of language graduates and undergraduates are still a long way from the ground-level reality of what these new technologies require in terms of translation (I use the term loosely).

There was a time when 2 languages and a typewriter would suffice.

Many still believe that 2 languages and a computer will do the job. But when a client requires translation of their specialised Rich Media website with Flash videos in PHP containers and SMIL captions rendered in 11 languages with time-coded voiceovers (some dubbed, some phrase-synced) and subtitles (some optional & some embedded), to begin with… requiring a dozen separate software programmes and formats to handle with the highest mutual conversion fidelity and lowest manageable margin of error, not to mention the essential project directives to the individual translators… Let’s face it, your Vista + Word just ain’t up to it any more.

But the technology involved is not the main stumbling block. That is the personnel: translators specialised in audio/video/multimedia techniques (or A/V/M engineers specialised in translation/localisation) are hard to come by, despite this being perhaps the sector of both industries with the highest growth potential.

The role of translation project manager, too, traditionally the logical next career step for an experienced in-house translator, requires new scope, responsibility and expertise as the field of localisation itself grows.

To the point, perhaps, that multi-faceted localisation management will require engineer-level training and status. Is that what translators want?


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