This weekend, Red Bee delivered live and post-event services for multiple broadcasters during the global “One World: Together at Home” event, in support of global health care workers and the World Health Organization. One of these services involved delivering urgent Spanish translation subtitles to MTV and Comedy Central in Spain. The project was a great example of how our global platforms, real-time communication and collaborative approaches can deliver fantastic results under challenging circumstances and demands for a very fast turnaround.

Getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to translate against the clock may not be everyone’s idea of an ideal weekend, but when the call went out within Red Bee for translators, techies and other staff who wanted to collaborate this weekend on the Global Citizen event in support of the WHO and global healthcare workers, the response was amazing.

The challenge was an interesting one – the two-hour event was to air overnight Europe time and the customer required fast-turnaround burnt-in subtitles ready for broadcast at lunchtime the next day. This meant pulling together a cross-area team of native English and Spanish translators, quality assurance, post production and project management experts, each one working from home, to create high quality broadcast translation subtitles in under 8 hours.

Luckily, we were already well prepared. Extremely fast turnarounds and remote working have long been a standard part of our day to day, and when the global COVID-19 crisis began, our access services teams around the world had taken advantage of our global technology platforms and Vault, our secure cloud asset management system to transform our operations and establish homeworking as the new normal for everyone.

These platforms have always allowed us to work collaboratively, and in this case it meant we could get the media transcoded and out to our translators quickly and securely, while sharing and updating style guides and glossaries on the fly. At the same time, the platform enables translators to chat in real-time to make sure that decisions made in terms of terminology and translation are consistent.

The challenge when working to such a tight deadline is that the content needs to be split between several translators and the review stage needs to be extra strict to check coherence. Any slight delay can have a knock-on effect and everyone needs to be at the top of their game when there’s so little margin for error.

While the native English speakers in the team ensured translators had accurate transcripts to work from, and provided real-time terminology input and advice, Spanish native subtitlers were busy translating and creating subtitles against the clock. As soon as each section was finished, subtitle files were proofed and reviewed by our quality controllers and compliance team before being sent to post-production to burn in the final broadcast copy for transmission. It required a real assembly line of experts, each contributing as quickly and efficiently as possible to deliver the final result.

In our own small way, we mirrored the event itself in the way we managed this project, pulling together amazingly talented people to collaborate online from their homes. I at least felt honored to be a part of it.

Admittedly, my own contribution was minimal – it had been an awful long time since I’ve done any real translating myself, so although the production team humored me and let me feel like I was participating, I have to admit I spent Sunday morning drinking coffee, singing along to Safety Dance and piping up with suggested translation strategies which our amazing translators really had no need of.

What did strike me was just how far we have come in terms of being able to work collaboratively like this.

We really were One World: Together at Home.

Diana Sanchez, Head of Business Development, Access Services; Red Bee Media

Diana Sanchez is Head of Business Development for Access Services at Red Bee Media. She is based in Barcelona and in a previous life was an audiovisual translator and subtitler.