M&E Europe

As Facilities Reopen, Éclair Reflects on Challenges, Benefits Found During Crisis

Two months after the first of its recording facilities had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Paris-based Eclair Versioning & Accessibility (Éclair V&A) has announced that all of its localisation facilities — Barcelona, Berlin, Madrid, Rabat and more — are back up and running.

Even though Éclair has had to implement new (and strict) protective measures for both workers and visitors to the facilities, following both government and industry recommendations to protect everyone involved (masks, gloves, alcohol-based sanitizers, replacing lectern paper with tablets, and even physical changes to spaces and flows to facilitate social distancing), it’s a notable accomplishment to be fully operational so quickly.

“During the stricter lockdown period at Eclair V&A we adapted our workflows combining available tools and third-party proprietary solutions. We found that using different available tools for voiceover and lip sync was more efficient, often using these in combination with other available communication solutions,” Manel Carreras. SVP of business development and studio relations for Éclair V&A, told MESA Europe. “We listened to and followed suggestions by our customers. Eclair V&A engineers worked to implement these tools and provided valuable user feedback, some of which is now being implemented.”

While subtitling, closed captioning, and all translation activities were mostly unaffected when physical facilities were closed, recording talent, particularly for lip-sync dubbing, was forced to adapt to comply with new safety requirements, with Eclair V&A testing numerous solutions to implement remote recording without sacrificing quality of recordings. And while every Éclair localisation facility is back up and running, the remote-work lessons the company had to implement on the fly will be used going forward.

“The COVID-19 health crisis pushed our teams to find creative solutions to continue to service our customers’ needs,” said Angel Martin, managing director of Eclair V&A. “Adapting our workflows to cope with such extraordinary circumstances has allowed Eclair V&A to complete recordings during this period and deliver content for audiences to enjoy whilst in lockdown.

“These past weeks we have implemented new ways of working in each facility and country; some of these new practices will stay and some solutions implemented will continue to offer additional flexibility when required.”

Carreras said the entire localisation market focused on talents’ concerns about quality. “Remote recordings can be both a solution to health crisis such as the COVID-19, but also a flexible way to address other needs,” he said. “What is important is to include the same participation as in a studio recording — director, engineer, editor and talent — emulating the studio environment, and benefiting from an equivalent workflow.”

Éclair’s technical teams in France, Germany and Spain coordinated, sharing workflows, implementing secure communications and adapting to their diverse local working cultures, he added. The result is Éclair was able to apply similar procedures everywhere for dubbing, voiceover and audio-description recording, and for live subtitling services.

“Local understanding of the business and the particularities of each market has been key to success,” Carreras said. “Beyond implementing tools, we believe our role is to be part of finding solutions, working together with customers, talents, freelancers and employees to be able to service content even under the most complicated circumstances.”

Remote recording added more hours to the production schedule — a concern echoed by other localisation providers — and a remote-work recording environment doesn’t lend itself to a group of voice actors working together at the same time. But after seeing the benefits that have come out of remote working, Carreras sees it being normal part of the business going forward.

“This pandemic has taught all of us that business continuity plans are much more than a document locked in a drawer after the service-level agreement is secured. Our customers and their audiences deserve that we all ensure service continuity and seriously plan solutions to cope with the unexpected,” he said.

To hear more about Éclair’s reopening of facilities, click here.