Deluxe GM: ‘Balanced Fusion’ of Talent, Technology Needed to Meet Today’s Challenges

Deluxe is using new technology and tools to help meet new post-production challenges. That and a huge, distributed workforce, made up of more than 6,000 translators, scripting editors, audio description writers and linguistic quality experts, covering more than 75 languages around the world

”A balanced fusion of talent and technology is necessary to meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond,” Chris Reynolds, SVP and GM of worldwide localization for Deluxe, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA).

In 2019 alone, Deluxe’s localization teams worked on over 400 feature films, including Disney’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” Netflix’s “Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” and Warner’s “Joker,” as well as 75 TV shows across streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Mandalorian” for Disney Plus, according to Reynolds, who is responsible for all of Deluxe’s localization products and services.

“We expect to work on more titles in 2020 due to the rapid increase in original content production and our customers’ continued expansion into new territories and languages,” said Reynolds, who’s worked in M&E within post production, distribution, localization and product-related roles for the past 20 years, more than 10 of them at Deluxe.

In addition to the company’s enormous distributed workforce, it also uses an extensive dubbing studio partner network of more than 350 studios that have long-standing relationships with local dubbing directors, adaptors and voice actors that support Deluxe customers and projects, he said.

“Having highly skilled, native language resources in each region is critical for us to deliver the best quality possible and it’s why our customers trust us with some of the world’s most demanding global content localization projects,” he noted.

The significant changes that have happened in the market have created new opportunities for the company. For example, he told MESA: “It’s no secret that our industry has seen a swarm of new competitors enter the market and work quickly to grow their share. To respond to these new market demands, we too understood the need to innovate with the changing times. We updated and optimized a lot of our processes, including re-balancing our global teams and developing and implementing technology across our operations.”

And it’s not only new rivals that are challenging the course of the industry, but customers also, he said, explaining: “With customers consolidating, launching more content for new platforms and releasing more non-English original content than ever before, we continue to refine and expand our workflows and technologies. We will continue to focus on those areas to ensure that we’re ready for whatever future challenges come our way.”

The trends that are impacting the M&E sector the most now are consolidation and changing consumer viewing habits, he said, explaining: “As more content is being created for streaming platforms, there is an expanding demand for high-quality localized content in more languages than ever before. Because of competing platforms, the quality of localization and corresponding emotional resonance of the content is critical to attract viewers and succeed in each and every language and territory around the world. This means that there is a strong emphasis on making sure that translations and audio mixes are culturally adapted so that content reflects the creative and emotional intent of the writers, directors and actors who made it. If great care isn’t taken, audiences may not have the connection to the content that they should. We want them to laugh, cry, scream and feel all of the other emotions that great content conveys.”

Deluxe expects the industry to continue to transform, which means “we will see release windows shrink even further, language sets will continue to expand, new platforms will launch, and quality expectations will continue to rise,” he predicted. “At the same time, we expect competition to remain strong, which brings challenging pricing pressures to everyone in the industry,” he said, adding Deluxe “made great strides in 2019 to be more agile in our processes and have introduced several new tools to help us meet these challenges.”

The company is “widening our use of automation” and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies “to speed up our processes while maintaining quality,” he said. “This means expanding our use of automated speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT) as an aid to our teams,” he told MESA, adding: “We’ve also implemented a significant amount of automated” quality control (QC), “conversion, conform, compare and task assignment features to streamline our entire localization supply chain.”

For Deluxe to successfully “leverage the benefits of new technology, it has to be integrated into our web applications and tools and incorporated into a streamlined workflow process so that our experienced localization experts around the world can utilize it to help them apply their skills in a new and meaningful way,” he went on to say.

Those technologies “can’t be viewed as a replacement for the knowledge and experience of our talented teams, but as aids to help them keep up with the increase in volume and shorter turn-around times that we’re challenged with,” he said.