Now you’re speaking my language: localization, dubbing, and file movement

By Michael Darer | Mar 16, 2020

As the film and television market becomes increasingly global, questions of localization are coming more and more to the fore. A major element of this conversation — which quickly became a hot button issue in the lead up to “Parasite’s” Oscar sweep — is that around subtitles and dubbing, and which approach was best.

In previous years, many considered subtitled or dubbed films to be the purview of arthouse cinema or anime, but, recently, foreign films and TV shows have become a larger part of viewing culture, especially with the help of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and more.

Localization is a major part of film and television production, and creates certain demands and considerations that affect the post-production stage of the artistic process, necessitating the introduction of a whole new set of specialists into a workflow.

You have to get localization right

Whether you prefer subtitled or dubbed media, the fact remains that either approach requires attention, specificity, and expertise, much the same as VFX, sound editing, or any other piece of a film or TV show. While preferences vary by person and even by country, getting a dub right is nearly universally costlier and more complicated than subtitling. In fact, according to a recent article on Indiewire, a quality dub will cost a studio at least ten times the amount spent on subtitles.

Another consideration, is lip sync. While subtitles need not match the movement of a character’s mouth, dubs that are too far out of sync can be distracting to the point of comedy. As such, dubs not only require a whole new cast, but often demand a rewritten script, with lines altered so that the syllables roughly line up with those of the line in the previous language.

In short, a great deal of work goes into the adjustments that must be made to a piece of media in order for successful localization. While these might not be questions that the average viewer frequently thinks about (even if they watch a lot of international cinema or television), it’s integral to the accessibility and enjoyability of the content in question.

Localization means file movement

Since most studios will have to outsource the subtitling or dubbing of their media, workflows in an international market involve a growing number of partners, and a growing amount of file movement. Especially when it comes to dubbing — which will generally take longer than subtitling — deadlines will likely be tight, and the security of the content at hand a key consideration. As such, media and entertainment organizations that are looking to effectively localize will need to invest in file transfer solutions that comprehensively address their needs, providing speed, security, ease-of-use, and the ability to move massive pieces of content — original footage, audio files, and more — over incredibly long distances.

Agility and adaptability swiftly become an even bigger part of a supply chain when that supply chain encompasses international partnerships and multiple versions of a given piece of media that will need to be crafted, tailored, and distributed. File movement, then, becomes a mission-critical component of those supply chains.

The best content in the world, of the world, for the world

Signiant has had the pleasure of working with a wide range of media companies from around the globe, including firms and enterprises focused specifically on the needs of localization. Because of this, we’ve seen the challenges that the process presents, but also the incredible opportunities it supplies. A media organization that can move files swiftly and can navigate the strictures of modern localization dramatically expands their audience, and the range of creative voices they can platform and support.

Audiences increasingly want media that reflects the interconnected, global world in which they now see themselves — films and television that can genuinely transport them. Localization is central to that, but to transport your viewer you need to transport your content.

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