How to Handle Simultaneous Interpretation in Virtual and Hybrid Events

How to Handle Simultaneous Interpretation in Virtual and Hybrid Events

A Virtual Event by definition means that most of the participants are in separate locations and are linked via one of the many available virtual event platforms. A Hybrid event allows delegates to meet face to face at a Venue and be joined virtually by a number who, because of distance or travel restrictions, are unable to attend in person.

If, in either case, interpretation is required, a Remote Simultaneous Interpretation software platform provides an elegant solution.

It’s sensible to know from the onset whether interpretation is needed rather than launch into the event planning - including choosing a virtual event platform, registration , audience engagement etc etc - and then try and add translation as an afterthought to be tagged at the last minute.

If you are platform agnostic, you might opt for an RSI platform that has video conferencing facilities integrated within, as long as you are satisfied with the other functionalities that you need (registration, audience engagements, etc.).

If you have already chosen a platform, either a mainstream video conferencing or a virtual event one, the RSI platform will have to work in parallel with it, which means that the attendees will listen to the translations through a separate channel. The majority of the RSI platforms can do this and you are free to choose the one that offers the attendees the most suitable user experience and better integrates with your event platform.

There are other considerations in choosing an RSI Platform

  • If you’ve contracted out the production to a third party how will they provide the interpretation and does it suit your needs.
  • Do you wish to operate the RSI software yourselves or do you want a full service from the software provider
  • Do you have preferred interpreters or would you want the RSI provider to supply them.
  • How many people during the event will need translation.

But most importantly, it’s vital to consider the user experience.

At in-person events the attendees have become accustomed to hearing voices coming from two different places (the loudspeakers in the hall and the headset receivers) listen to the speakers through the loudspeakers of the venue and to the translation audio through the headset receivers because the human brain is capable of focusing on the interpreted audio without being disturbed by the original from the floor.

With virtual events, it seems common sense to have all of the functions of a platform and the translation on one device. Just log in and everything is there. But, in fact, this produces a poorer user experience. Why? Because both channels (original and translation) are heard from the same source with the original audio muted or lowered to a whisper, therefore losing the original emphasis and tone of voice. And also, the chances are the translation channels are not properly synced with the floor.

The best way to listen to the translation during a virtual event is to replicate the user experience of in-person events. The attendees to the virtual event watch the floor on their computers and listen to the translation through their smartphones equipped with earphones.

Now we come to how the partnership between a virtual event platform and an RSI platform will combine to provide a professional service to those attendees requiring translation.

The manager of the RSI platform will join the virtual event platform as an attendee and will capture the live or streamed content and broadcast it to the interpreters who will be operating remotely. Each of the translation channels will be broadcast to the attendees by the method agreed in the planning - separate app on a mobile device, web page or embedded within the event platform.

In order for this to be accomplished seamlessly, there needs to be time spent rehearsing well before event day and enough time allowed on event day for technical and sound checks.

Practising and rehearsing becomes even more important when it comes to Hybrid Events, where you have attendees at a live event and others joining virtually.

There are technical challenges with Hybrid events mostly centred around latency.

RSI platforms send out the translation audio feeds to the clients' devices in real time, consequently the platform used for distributing the original video contents to your remote attendees must also send them out in real time, otherwise the two streams will not be synchronised.

If your remote attendees are connected through Zoom, MS Teams or other video conferencing platforms, they will receive the stream in almost real time, but if you are using YouTube or Vimeo these streams are viewed with a delay of 15-30 seconds and so will not be in sync with translation streams.

Here we have been talking about using an RSI platform for both the live and virtual attendees. However, it is possible to have the live attendees receive their translation channels using an InfraRed system whilst the remote attendees are connected via an RSI platform.

Not all RSI platforms are capable of integrating the translation audio feeds with the Infrared System. So this has to be factored in when planning the event. Technically this is done either through a Dante interface (which has to be supported by both systems) or other kinds of interfaces (Wi-Fi Broadcaster, sound cards, etc.) in order to avoid duplicating the number of interpreters.

Get this right and the interpreters can be connected by remote and operate on the RSI platform and their translation audio feeds can be plugged into the Infrared System for their distribution to the on-site attendees, or they could operate on-site in the Infrared System booths and their audio feeds can be plugged into the RSI platform for distribution to the remote attendees.