BBC introduces new automatic virtual voiceover translations

I’m very excited about this trial. The BBC has some of the best original journalism in the world, with correspondents around the globe. Technology like this means we can bring more of our international journalism to more people.James Montgomery, Digital Development Director, BBC News
Date: 14.12.2015     Last updated: 16.12.2015 at 15.09
The BBC is piloting innovative new ‘virtual voice-over’ technology, which could change the face and voice of its international broadcasting. The new production tool will produce voice-overs and subtitles in multiple different languages for short video news packages online, using automatic translation and synthetic voice technology.

The Japanese version of the pilot is now available on bbc.jp. Watch a demonstration here (in English).

The tool, built by BBC News Labs, amalgamates existing technologies and allows a single editor to generate multi-lingual voiceovers on top of an existing video package and script. The script is translated automatically, edited by a journalist, and converted into a computer-generated voiceover. As the project develops automatic subtitles will be added.

The pilot will be available in Russian and Japanese. It will allow audiences for those services access to many more video news packages, while the BBC hones the technology. The initial pilot will run until April 2016.

James Montgomery, Digital Development Director for BBC News, says: “I’m very excited about this trial. The BBC has some of the best original journalism in the world, with correspondents around the globe. Technology like this means we can bring more of our international journalism to more people.”

This pilot is the latest in a series of digital innovations from the BBC’s international news services. These include the international launch of the latest BBC News App, the use of messaging apps to provide specific or emergency news services, the Facebook-only ‘pop-up’ service in Thai; and innovative filming from the BBC ‘hexacopter’.

The BBC has also this week launched the global version of Your Story a personalised experience which takes users on a journey through the biggest world events of their lifetime. Your Story Global marries personal information to the most striking images and video from the BBC archive, and is available in Russian, Portuguese and Spanish. It has been created in partnership with the three largest BBC World Service sites, jointly reaching a monthly audience of over 50 million unique browsers.

Notes to Editors

BBC World Service Group includes BBC World Service, BBC World News television, and bbc.com/news (the BBC’s international-facing online news site).

The BBC attracts a weekly global news audience of 283 million people to its international news services including BBC World Service, BBC World News television channel and bbc.com/news.

The UK Government recently announced a large funding boost for the BBC World Service to expand its language services.

CM7