This case study reviews a strategy for translating subtitles for conferences in Hopin (part 2 of Accessible Captions: Bridging the Divide with Multilingual Subtitles).
Every year, Interaction Latin America (ILA) celebrates innovation in design through a global conference. This year, they went 100% virtual for the first time, with ambitious plans to host multilingual presentations that switched between three different languages. When the captioning service they hired backed out at the last minute due to ILA’s complex setup, spf.io’s team stepped in to quickly translate live and recorded content using AI-assisted tools. By using spf.io, ILA leads the way for other conferences around the world to make accessibility and localization a priority.
The requirement: A setup for speaker presentations, Q&As, and panels in three different languages
Why three languages?
ILA wanted speakers to be able to present in their native tongue. When presenters translate content away from their original language, considerable nuance is often lost. In addition, for many global virtual events, speakers may feel more comfortable presenting in their native tongue.
During the conference, each Hopin stage hosted a different language – English, Portuguese, or Spanish – with interpreters providing voice-overs for each stage (simultaneous interpretation). Participants could switch between stages whenever they wanted to listen in a different language. They could also chat 1-on-1 with companies and speakers in the Expo area between sessions.
Image: Audio tracks in ES, PT, and EN were used to produce live captions and subtitles in all three languages.
Challenges in captioning and translating subtitles
It was essential for ILA to have representation from a variety of Latin American countries, which resulted in the following:
- Hosting speakers with a wide variety of accents (by country and region)
- Including a mix of languages in presentations, especially since design terminology is frequently borrowed from English. Translating subtitles in more than one language simultaneously requires customization of language tools.
- Organizers intentionally including more than one language during Q&A and panel discussions – presenters were often bilingual or multilingual
- Audience members submitting questions that required live translation on the spot
ILA had tried working with another captioning vendor, but the vendor was neither able to understand nor meet their specific needs and requirements. Furthermore, the vendor was not able to cope with the unique mix of live and pre-recorded media with language switching.
Multilingual conference panel at ILA (Vimeo recording)
Unique Solutions for Multilingual captions for events
Spf.io offers multidirectional translation with a click of a button. The Language Switcher gives the ability to switch between designated source languages, even during a session! With our adaptive interface, we could seamlessly support ILA’s complex conference setup.
Spf.io Language Switcher, set to English input with options to switch to Spanish (ES) and Portuguese (PT).
While other English-based services may have required custom code to implement a solution, spf.io already had the tools necessary to make ILA a success, with minimal manual configuration required from our client! ILA chose to hire a spf.io remote operator (RO) to run our software (organizations can also train their own staff to run spf.io). Through our adaptable interface, the spf.io RO could simply select ILA’s preferred settings for this conference, choose their required languages, and decide on a translation strategy – one that took advantage of spf.io’s best-in-industry speech recognition and neural MT technologies combined with our autoreplacement database.
Viewers could choose to display captions or translated subtitles using spf.io’s Audience View.
Audience View opens in a browser and works with most platforms, such as Zoom, crowdcast.io, StreamYard, and more.
ILA organizers were delighted to find high-fidelity spf.io solutions for a variety of conference situations:
- Quick turnaround time for transcribing and translating recorded content – spf.io’s Audio/Video Caption and Subtitling tool, honed with post editors, was able to deliver automatic transcription and translation with high accuracy, low cost, and rapid turnaround time. Given the impending deadline, this would have been prohibitively expensive without our automatic transcription and translation tools.
- Live sessions in more than one language – switching between source languages for different sessions is an evergreen feature in spf.io. No matter whether a session was in Portuguese, Spanish, or English – or whether that changed on the fly – spf.io could effortlessly toggle between source languages and obtain translations into all their other target languages with our Audience View.
- Better solutions for technical difficulties – If one Hopin stage was experiencing technical problems, spf.io could merge the audio interpretation from a different stage to generate captions in the other two languages. Since spf.io isn’t restricted to a single language input, there were more options when troubleshooting technical complications,
(To be continued as part 3: Lessons learned from multilingual conference planning)