Michael Smolens Speaking at GALA 2016

WPCapture

GALA 2016

Videos Without Borders – Storytelling & Messaging to the World

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth?  Cisco says that in 2018, 76% of internet bandwidth will be consumed serving up video.  Multinationals, SME’s, NGOs, government agencies, and even the 500,000+ conferences held globally – all have stories to tell about their products, their services and their brand.  They all want to send their message to millions of consumers in the most engaging, cutting edge digital ways – all using multilingual video viewing on all platforms including mobile.  Effective, impactful video is by far the most efficient way to communicate with your audience, but viewing multilingual video is more a technology challenge as a language problem. This session will explore a variety of ‘end-to-end solutions’ to help companies of any size to cost effectively create global video campaigns to tell their story to the world.  In addition to traditional professional subtitling, we will discuss crowd sourcing, global one-minute mobile film contests, and delivery of in multiple languages using microSD chips on feature phones in all rural areas of the world.

 Michael Smolens Bio

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1969 with a dual degree, Michael became a lifetime serial entrepreneur.  Dotsub is his ninth start-up, the first one in technology – the first eight being outside the US in high-risk emerging economies employing thousands of people primarily producing textiles & apparel.  These were in Haiti, Mexico, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Jordan, Russia and Azerbaijan.

Dotsub was conceived in 2004, launched in 2007, becoming the world’s first browser-based technology to enable video, created in any language, to quickly and easily become available in any other language, using either machine, human or professional translation, and then viewable on all existing and future video enabled devices and platforms, including mobile.  Dotsub was awarded patents on its technology in 2014. Dotsub is proud to be a founding partner of Videum Health, the world’s first multilingual video portal in the Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Industry, with its Italian partner Esense.

Michael’s life vision is “To remove language as a barrier to cross-cultural communication using multilingual video”.  As video becomes the dominant way to communicate and tell stories, he has started the journey to help provide knowledge to 7.2B people in the world, in their native language.  He recently added the title ‘Collector of Puzzle Pieces’ to his more traditional ones of Founder, Chairman & CEO.

Michael is on the Board of Translators Without Borders, Hands to Hearts International, Mother and Child Health and Education Trust, Media for Change, and One Plus Two Media.  He lives in NYC with his wife Daryl, and has two daughters Lauren & Ali, and three grandchildren, Daniel, Dylan and Hayden.

 

 

 

Planning for Translation and Captions Makes Sense

Are you getting enough from your video assets?  To make the most of your video investments, you should seriously consider investing in captioning and translation. By increasing the reach of your video, the value of these assets and their effectiveness increases dramatically with added accessibility, audience engagement and global understanding.  Dotsub products and services open huge, untapped worldwide markets as well as addressing the deaf and hard of hearing community.

One of our customers, WETA, the public broadcasting station in Washington D.C., performed studies that show that captions can increase the number of viewers who watch more than half a video, or watch all of it, by more than 40%.  And that was just captions – imagine what translation would do!

Video is becoming the communication method of choice for enterprises. All aspects of their business including corporate communications, product training, marketing, and social awareness make use of the medium. In addition, it is predicted that within a couple of years 90% of all internet traffic will be video.  Most of these videos are in English yet only 5% of the world speaks English as a first language.  Translations make business sense.

What is really puzzling is why captioning and translations are often only considered after “post-production”.  To not plan or budget for these services because “we can take care of that afterward” is just bad business.  Otherwise conscientious business people can be absolutely stunned when their English only training videos are useless in Brazil!  If your business plan says “expansion into South America” it should well budget for globalization and localization up front.

On the plus side, according to Common Sense Advisory, an independent research company specializing in the translation market, enterprises are increasingly adopting and implementing full-scale company-wide strategies for globalization and localization.  In other words, forward thinking companies have captions and translations efforts “baked in” from the get go.

We have been working on planning with some our larger customers on this and next year’s plans. They recognize that their strategies for world domination must incorporate language planning into the mix from the start.

Video has revolutionized the way we teach, the way we learn, and the way we do business.  The next step is to reach more and more people with captions, translations and voice-over.  It’s the natural progression.

Building a Universal Translator

It’s absolutely amazing how fast technology is advancing. Unbeknownst to most users, Google Chrome has the built in capabilities to create a universal translator using nothing but HTML and Javascript.

Chrome implements the Web Speech API which allows you to use speech synthesis and speech recognition from Javascript. In this post I’ll outline how we created https://universal-translator.dotsub.com.

universal translator

First let’s decompose the steps required. The universal translator needs to do three things:

  1. Recognise what the user is saying.
  2. Translate the spoken phrase.
  3. Speak the result.

Speech Recognition

As I mentioned before Google Chrome has a built in speech recognition engine. Using this engine is pretty simple.

It is important to properly set recognition.lang to the language the user is speaking. In the full source code this is driven from the spoken language select. Now we have the spoken input from the user. This is all we need to complete step one.  

Machine Translation

We will use Google’s Translation API to translate our text.

Speech Synthesis

The Web Speech API also includes a speech synthesis engine. It only takes a few lines to get the browser to speak any line of text.

Here is the full speech synthesis part of our universal translator. It takes input from the user translates it to the target language and speaks the result.

Conclusion

There you have it, less than 150 lines of Javascript that makes a universal translator. The finished demo here: https://universal-translator.dotsub.com/. You can look over the code here: https://github.com/dotsub/universal-translator

Closed Captions vs. Narrative Subtitles

By Clara Garcia

 

Dotsub provides different kinds of captions, which adapt to your needs. Choosing which one is best for you is simple if you keep your intended audience in mind.

Dotsub’s 508 Compliant captions -commonly referred to as captions for the hearing impaired- follow the rules set by the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf. These include spoken audio, speaker identification, on screen text and “descriptions of audio” that give the hearing impaired the full experience of the video content. So sound effects that are not necessarily spoken out by your protagonists are included in the captions.

Here is an example. Michael Smolens, Chairman and Founder of Dotsub, had given quite a speech that brought his audience into applause. Such applause is included in the captions:

SLM1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In contrast, Dotsub’s narrative subtitles -also referred to as “broadcast-style subtitles”- are typically used for a different purpose: films, documentaries, etc. to be translated into another language/s or videos used for learners of English as a second-language. In this case, only spoken language is captioned, together with titles and other important pieces of on-screen text that would need to be translated for the audience to understand the storyline.

Here you have an example of narrative subtitle of Peter Crosby, Chief Revenue Officer of Dotsub, talking about our mission:

Peter1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And those very same subtitles were translated into Simplified Chinese:

peter2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can of course also have your 508 Compliant captions translated into any language you need – the choice is yours. Dotsub is here to help you reach a global audience!

The Mobile Film Festival Winners Announced

 

COPquoteDotsub was a proud sponsor of the 11th edition of the Mobile Film Festival!  Prize winners were announced in Paris during the December 2015 UN Conference on climate change. The competition was organized in partnership with the United Nations under the theme: “Act on Climate Change”.

The challenge was straightforward: using a smartphone, filmmakers were asked to create a one-minute-long film on the topic of climate change. The results were sometimes funny, sometimes moving, but always passionate.  Several of them were rewarded at a ceremony organized by the Mobile Film Festival with 500 guests at the Gaumont cinema on the Champs Elysée.

The 11th edition was the first to be open to international entrants and the first in partnership with the United Nations in the framework of this year’s climate negotiations in Paris. Altogether, 70 countries took part submitting 765 films, of which 75 from 27 countries were selected as finalists.  All finalist films with spoken dialogue were captioned in English using Dotsub.

 

michael2MFF

Michael Smolens, second from the left. Amila Kumarasinghe, third from left.

On hand to present the Public Award was Dotsub’s CEO, Founder and Chairman, Michael Smolens.  Receiving 2.4 million internet votes, the award went to Parametric by Sri Lankan Amila Kumarasinghe.

Other Winners are:

The Grand Prize: No Sense by Julien Lessi

Best Foreign Film:  Neglected Land by Elie El Abidine

Best Screenplay: Criminals by Jeremy Bernard and Guillaume Desjardins

Online Bloggers Prize:  The Blue Planet directed by Mathieu Lamboley

For a complete list visit:  http://www.mobilefilmfestival.com/awards/

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Some Photos from the Event: https://www.ooshot.com/ooshot-production/moodboards/mobile-days-2015

Sources:  http://www.unric.org/en/latest-un-buzz/30005-mobile-film-festival-winner-announced

How Things have Changed: The Words of 1995

Back to the Future turned 30 this year.  Dictionary.com and Yahoo! are celebrating 20 years in business.  Over the past 20 or so years there have been lots of words added to the lexicon.  Naturally, many of them have to do with technology.  Many of them are what linguists call a “functional shift” which is when a noun becomes a verb or vice versa (i.e. to friend).  Others are when a word retains the old meaning but has added another – see the Huffington Post link below.  One word that didn’t make that list was the first one that Dotsubbers guessed!  That word: Spam.

The original link to The Huffington Post.
Here’s the link to Yahoo!

 

Dotsub is a Technical Partner for Frontiers of Interaction

foiOnVideum_845x160Dotsub is proud to be a Technical Partner for Frontiers of Interaction.  Along with Dotsub Partner, Videum, we will be participating in the FrontierX: Health track.  Roberto Ascione, Primary Adviser for Videum and CEO at Healthware International, will be the Curator of the Health track, exploring how healthcare is being transformed by digital technologies.  Dotsub’s CEO and Founder, Michael Smolens, and our Chief Innovation Officer, David Orban, are featured speakers.

Frontiers of Interaction is the meeting point of design, technology and everything digital and interactive.  There are over 40 world class speakers from different disciplines and industries. Delegates are expected to number over 600 people this year.   Founders, entrepreneurs, designers, managers, academics, thinkers and makers will share insights, strategies and visions in an open conversation mood during two days of keynotes, workshops, panels and discussions.

The conference will take place on November 12-13, 2015 in Milan, the capital of Italian Finance, Innovation, Design and Art.

Dotsub Convenes Panel at Streaming Media West

PTZOptics-at-Streaming-Media-West

 

 

 

Streaming Media West
November 17 – 18, 2015
World-Class Video: Speaking To the Heart of Enterprise ROI

To deliver video ROI, global enterprises need to touch as many people as possible. Increasing video search, reach, access, and engagement are key.  Video captions are proven to increase video views and completions as much as 40%. And getting local culture right is critical for growing new markets, teams and future revenues. Translated subtitles can connect your company to millions more hearts and minds. This panel of multi-national video pros will discuss what works, and doesn’t, and share insider how to on questions like: Where’s the most ROI? If quality is critical to your company, what are good enough translations? And what are the risks of missing deadlines, cultural faux pas, and brand damage of bad translations.

Moderator: Peter Crosby, Chief Revenue Officer – Dotsub.com

Charlie Ung, Workforce Communications and Enablement – IBM Digital Media

Anja Schaefer, VP – Lionbridge Global Solution Team

Michael Novak, CEO – One Plus Two Media

The New Video Web

The New Video Web blogged by David Orban

Apple-TV-speech-recognitionThe next generation information devices are going to seamlessly display video content not restricted to a simple window within the browser. The entire screen will be a video, with smart elements that must be understood by the computer in order for the user to fully interact with them.

When the Web was born, even support for still images was a last minute add-on. Slow connections, and uneven graphics support meant that to deliver full multimedia experiences (as it was called at the time), CD-ROMs were preferred. These had proprietary authoring platforms, and their user interfaces had relatively primitive navigation menus, with limited options for interactivity.

Slowly, video has been integrated into the online experience. “Bolted on” would be a better expression. Famously, the most popular plugin for browsers that played video, Flash, was the source of vulnerabilities, made browsers slower and was a drain on batteries. The proprietary nature of Flash made the entire Internet ecosystem dependent on one vendor, Adobe, and was not sustainable.

The HTML5 standard includes native support for video through a new tag in the language. HTML5 was released last year, and the various browsers are being updated to include full support for it. But in the meantime, through the years, an even more important change happened: the ubiquitous presence of Internet-connected devices made it necessary for video content to accommodate a variety of ways of interacting with it (via smartphones for example), not just through traditional browsers and computers.

What will this new video experience be? What we will see is the blurring of the boundaries between traditional browser experiences and video. The entire screen will become a “smart” video, with the entire field being interactive. The objects and components of the video will be live and recognizable by the device, and the user will be able to activate and manipulate them. Multiple modes of human interface will be available, including voice, haptic, motion and gestural. Rather than Web video, we will have the Video Web. (This concept has been suggested to me by my friend Michele Leidi, a live mind mapping expert.)

singUni

This is one of the reasons why platforms like Dotsub are so important. (Full disclosure, I am the Chief Innovation Officer of Dotsub, a New York based company which I led as CEO for four years.) Dotsub allows videos to be fully understood by computers, and people, in any language, as sound, text, context, and meaning. Making captions and translated subtitles a universal part of the online video experience, we can exploit their full value.

An important example of how this works in the new video web has been demoed by Apple during the keynote launching the latest Apple TV. On stage, at around minute 61 of the demo there was one particular moment of speech interaction: using the new remote with speech recognition. “What did she say?” The audience could listen to the audio track while reading the text at the same time so that what was said could be understood. This is a concrete example of how the presence of enhanced video, in the form of speech recognition and captions, and the universal assumption that captions will be available, enhances the user experience. Moreover, the entire Apple TV operating system itself, with all of its moving parts, and seamless integration of the videos, is an example of the concept of the emerging Video Web. Be on the lookout for more examples of this and an explosion in the richness of the Video Web in the near future.

David’s blog can be found here.

This post is also available in: Italian

Benefits to Children in Multilingual Environments

A recent study released from the University of Chicago, reveals that children who are exposed to multilingual environments have more experience interpreting what the speaker says than children who are exposed only to single language environments.

The most interesting finding was that the children do not even have to be bilingual themselves; it is the exposure to more than one language that is the key for building effective social communication skills.

So how did they test this?  The researchers had 72 children, aged 4-6 play a game with adults that involved moving objects according to the adults’ directions. The children were in three categories: monolinguals, bilinguals and a third group that of children who primarily spoke English, but were exposed to other languages as well.

“Children in multilingual environments have extensive social practice in monitoring who speaks what to whom, and observing the social patterns and allegiances that are formed based on language usage,” said Katherine Kinzler, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago who co-authored the report.

The results? The monolingual children were not as good at understanding the adult’s intended meaning in this game, as they moved the correct object only about 50 percent of the time. But mere exposure to another language improved children’s ability to understand the adult’s perspective and select the correct objects. The children in the third group selected correctly 76 percent of the time, and the bilingual group took the adult’s perspective in the game correctly 77 percent of the time.

This is important as it shows that children benefit directly from exposure to diverse lingual environments.

Sources:
http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/05/11/children-exposed-multiple-languages-may-be-better-natural-communicators#sthash.esMu9Tma.dpuf
http://www.ibtimes.com/kids-exposed-multiple-languages-are-better-communicators-study-1923781