Any onsite event can be turned hybrid by the client themselves simply 1) putting up a webcam and 2) send the high-quality audio to remote interpreters efficiently.
The post-pandemic event and conference number has exploded in the region, not long after the opening of our borders. However, issues arise frequently since there is either insufficient local interpreters, or insufficient simultaneous interpreting equipment.
For event (interpreting) industry veterans, one may know all jobs tend to happen on the same “auspicious” dates, which ironically makes things worse, due to the shortage of resources.
Recently I encountered a case exactly like this. My client finalised their event details four weeks before the date, and had started to secure interpreters, only to find out all the locally based interpreters have been booked up.
Interpretation was mainly for one non-English-speaking participant only, but this is an event for CXOs and the topics are highly technical and confidential. Apart from the presentations, there are breakout sessions with interactions between that participant and other English-speaking participants.
What I Proposed
Since the quality of the interpretation is always top priority, I proposed some overseas colleagues of high calibre to support remotely. This would first ensure the meeting could go on with high-quality language support.
In the end, it also turned out to be a great way to reduce costs significantly (no equipment setup or flying in interpreters).
Since the client was specialised in cyber security and initially they had some worries. After we went through all the technical details and showed a demo, they decided to go with the solution that I proposed.
The setup was as simple as can be.
Due to the unique nature of GT Booth as a virtual booth, the client just needed to 1) set up a Microsoft Teams (or any other equivalent) meeting and 2) send the live feed to the remote interpreters (see picture below). (After 3 years of pandemic, every client would be able to do that, and to any professional AV producer or event organiser that is a no-brainer.)
A webcam can be used facing the presenter for interpreter to see. Checked.
Presentation slides to the projector shared in synchronisation on Teams. Checked.
But the next item to check off the list, microphone input, posed a bit of a problem, but it is a common one in corporate offices nowadays.
The hotel’s microphone-speaker system is integrated together, and they proposed an expensive USB interface such as BlackMagic presenter to connect to the laptop, which is quite an overkill.
The easiest (and the most economically efficient way), is to get a 4-in-1 (or 2-in-1) wireless USB lavalier microphone system that can fit into a pocket (the highly professional and clean look is a plus!). It works with any phone or computer, and has supreme quality.
This is the model I used which enables remote interpreters to hear the high-quality sound from presenters and participants.
The laptop providing the video and audio inputs can be moved around between the plenary and breakout sessions, and during the group discussions that facilitated the interaction from traditionally consecutive interpretation by onsite interpreters to simultaneous interpretation listened by all the group members on their phone.
Happy Client, Happy Interpreters
Two days of meetings flashed by with no hiccups at all, and my client came over several times to shake my hands and to express their thanks and surprises.
The interpreters that worked remotely were also happy with the high-quality input, including slides, video and audio they received in order to deliver top class work through GT Booth.
In the post-pandemic age, it’s been proved that multi-lingual events can be run just as well with FULL remote set-up and interpreters. It’s all about productivity, not location.
The reasons are simple:
· After 3 years of pandemic, clients have become much more receptive to the digital delivery of human interpretation.
· When the number of audience listening to interpretation is small: It would be hard to justify the booth setup with a budget constraint, and/or there may not be sufficient space in the room for a booth.
· When the participant number is large in hundreds: It would also be hardly justifiable to choose traditional booth setup, with the immense cost of hardware receivers and manpower/logistics involved, comparing with the availability of a much more affordable and convenient option - digital delivery of interpretation.
· When you want to have the best quality of interpretation while local interpreters are not available AND wish to keep everything within your budget, having remote support is probably your best bet.
The approach discussed in this article works well only with the use of Virtual Booth. If it were to be carried out through RSI (remote simultaneous interpretation) platforms, there would be several foreseeable problems.
Scenario 1: If the live feed is sent through an RSI platform, then there would be a need of operator onsite provided by the RSI platform through their equipment (not achievable by the clients themselves).
Scenario 2: If the live feed is provided by the clients themselves via mainstream platforms such as Zoom, Webex, Teams, Google Meet, etc., then an operator would be (inevitably) working remotely to inject or re-stream the content onto their RSI platform for the interpreters to work on.
1) In either scenario, engaging an operator (either onsite or remotely) indicates an unnecessary manpower cost and high potential failure rates with a single connection between all the interpreters and the live feed (in Scenario 2).
2) The security of an RSI platform and that of mainstream meeting platforms are not comparable, and in Scenario 2 there is a breaching of security and privacy of the meetings by the RSI platforms.
3) From a primary meeting platform to an RSI platform (two different servers located far apart from each other),significantly (and unacceptably) long latencies are inevitable, making simultaneous interpretation rather “delayed”.
4) Second layer audio compression and degradation are inevitable whenever you need to transmit video and audio onto a platform, which means what goes into interpreters’ ears in Scenario 2 (RSI platform + a primary meeting platform) are sounds that have been compressed twice. This is simple signal transmission and compression physics.
Be it online, onsite or hybrid events, virtual booths allow all stakeholders to enjoy maximum flexibility.
Feel free to drop me a message if you wish to explore more options and explore the full potential of digital delivery of multilingual support for any meetings or events.