M&E Connections

BBC Studios: Localisation Services Shine During Pandemic

During the recent Cybersecurity & Content Protection Summit (CCPS), BBC Studios’ Alex Pickering, content security director, and James Hurrell, head of content operations and localisation, were joined by Amazon Studios’ Ahmed Saleh, head of content security, and Damien Slowey, head of global production security, in a frank discussion of how their studios — and the industry at large — quickly changed how they did business, in the span of just a few weeks.

And one major observation from Hurrell stood out: localisation service providers proved especially adaptable to the new M&E normal, continuing to help studios deliver content to international audiences, with minimal headaches associated.

“The good news from the start was the localisation companies pretty much already worked from home, in terms of translators and subtitlers,” Hurrell said. “That market has continued business as usual.” The lone localisation issue for BBC Studios, Hurrell said, was on the dubbing side, with that process simply taking longer to complete, as it always has.

From the outset of Hollywood’s shift to work-from-home, most every major localisation provider — Iyuno Media Group, SDI Media, VSI, ZOO Digital — barely missed a beat. With experience managing creatives around the world already established in secure, work-from-home environments, localisation service providers were perhaps best-prepared for the changes in how content owners operate.

Yet for all of the concerns still ongoing around remote production work, panelists couldn’t help but sound impressed with what the media and entertainment community as a whole has done to ease the process.

Pickering added that BBC Studios may have been better prepared than some of its counterparts: Before the pandemic, the studio was already encouraging employees to work from home three or four days a week. “It was a well-established practice,” he said. “In the early days [of COVID-19] it was about putting short-term solutions in place to keep things going.” That entailed asking the simple question: “What can we no longer do?”

BBC Studios discovered that most everything that could be done onsite could be done remotely, with most of the concern revolving around making sure creatives had access to everything they would otherwise. In the past, work on premium content would have only been acceptable in the offices of BBC Studios, Pickering said.

Now, with the availability of remote (and secure) editing suites, that was no longer a constraint.

On a daily basis at BBC Studios, everyone, companywide, received updates on top-down capabilities to keep business running, with clear understanding of what was working, and what could use more work, Pickering said. That allowed the company to adapt on the go.

Presented by Richey May Technology Solutions, with sponsorship by Akamai, Cyberhaven, Microsoft Azure, SHIFT, Convergent Risks, and the Trusted Partner Network (TPN), the Cybersecurity & Content Protection Summit focused on the latest cybersecurity and content protection challenges studios, broadcasters and vendors alike are facing during the ongoing pandemic.

Produced under the direction of the CDSA Board of Directors and content advisors representing Amazon Studios, Adobe, Paramount, BBC Studios, NBCUniversal, Lionsgate, WarnerMedia, Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Pictures, and Lego Group, this year’s Cybersecurity & Content Protection Summit looked ahead at the challenges facing the security community in 2020 and beyond.

To view video of the presentation, click here.