Lost in translation – Updating an animation to another language

Some of our clients at NC are large, multinational organisations, so we’re often asked to translate an animation we’ve created into several different languages. Clients will sometimes assume that the translation is a simple question of cutting and pasting, and that the budget and time required for the work is minimal. In reality this process can take longer than the client expects.

SkySight is a great example of  the design challenges that can complicate such a brief. The initial animation with English text and voiceover was a short two and a half minute piece, outlining the benefits of a new software solution from Capgemini, a global digital consultancy.

We were given the script, four days and this image outlining the product’s logo and branding.

Given the timescale the solution we arrived was a text based piece, using the basic curved lines of the logo to gently and stylishly emphasise the script. This is what we delivered:

The client was happy with the outcome, and immediately requested a French version be produced for later that day. We explained that due to this particular animation being so heavily based on the movement and transition between specific text elements, this would create additional design challenges to keep a French translation consistent with the original. There’s no way we could turn around all the changes in under a day, unless we greatly simplified the animation, which would have lost so much of the style. So we explained to the client where some of the challenges were.

At this point the clouds are drawn on side by side and in the English, the words ‘cloud’ and ‘environment’ appear below and slide together to create the title.

Skysight 2

In the French version the phrase ‘Des infratructures cloud’ is considerably longer and is three words not two, so the same placement and movement would not work. Without reducing the size of the text we instead spread out the spacing between the letters, contracting the letters as the clouds moved in to the centre.

Skysight 1

In the next section each of the five titles mentioned create a dot which produces the final logo creation at the end of the piece. In the English version the dot from this title rises from the ‘I’ in the word efficiency. As the French phrase changes to ‘Reduction des couts’, we used the ‘e’ in ‘des’ to transform into the dot.

Skysight 3

Not a major re-working, still manageable, but both examples show how the design process has to be reapplied throughout, with each transition and placement of text being reassessed. It helped that while developing the English version, we created a clear look and feel, so this made it easier when implementing the translation. However, it just shows that if you’re going to translate an animation, you do need to spend time to ensure that all the creativity and thought you’ve put into the first language is equally taken in the second and third!