RadioandMusic
| 18 Jun 2019
BBC introduces new virtual voice-over translation in Russian

MUMBAI: The BBC’s pilots of innovative ‘virtual voice-over’ technology have entered a new stage. Adding to the ongoing pilot of virtual voice-overs in Japanese, the BBC Russian website now supplements its existing video material with experimental content in Russian produced using computer-assisted translation and synthetic voice technology.

The pioneering voice-over tool is built by BBC News Labs which drives innovation for BBC News. The new tool amalgamates existing technologies and allows a single editor to generate multilingual voice-overs for an existing video story and script. The script is first re-versioned using machine translation, then edited by a journalist and converted into a computer-generated voice track. The BBC’s new production tool uses text-to-speech voice technology - provided by NeoSpeech and Nuance - and automatically attaches the synthesised voice track to the video for publication.

The videos containing computer-generated voices are clearly signposted on the bbcrussian.com website, which already carries a wealth of video content. BBC World Service Group digital development editor Dmitry Shishkin commented: “The start of the virtual voice-over in Russian builds on the successful trials of our innovative approach to the translation of video content. As the BBC continues to hone the technology and monitor audience’s reaction to it, the pilots give Japanese- and now Russian-speaking audiences access to more video news content, bringing more of the BBC’s original journalism to more people.”

The virtual voice-over pilots are the latest in a series of digital innovations from BBC World Service, which include editorial channels in a number of languages on messaging apps LINE, Telegram, Viber, WeChat and WhatsApp, as well as ‘hackathons’ in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa where local tech start-ups built experimental digital products for the BBC.