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Life as a Multimedia Designer


12 min read

Written by


Argos Multilingual

Published on

08 Nov 2017

Find out what Dominik Jarząbek has to say about life as a multimedia designer in a brand-new Life as a…” segment.

What does a normal day in your shoes look like?

Dominik Jarząbek: I work remotely, so my friends are always laughing at me that I have the closest to work out of them all. All I have to do is go to my home office and I’m at work. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it seems. It is best to stick to certain rules when working remotely. If you are going to work all day in your pajamas, then everything you do will look as though you just got up. So it is best to get dressed as if you were going to the office. My day usually starts with breakfast, of course coffee included. Next I turn on the computer, log on to the remote desktop and then I am ready to start working. Multimedia work can vary. A given goal can be achieved in many different ways. I usually work on computers with OS X, but some work can only be done on a PC (e-learning projects in Articulate Storyline). To sum up my normal day includes all kinds of work on different computers, with different systems and in different locations. After work I try to close the day by going for a run or to the gym.

What are the daily challenges you experience?

DJ: This can differ. I started as a DTP specialist, but over time I also began to do various other custom projects that we received from our clients, which could be connected to DTP. As far as I remember it began with subtitling videos. There weren’t that many projects, so I continued to do the usual DTP projects. As more multimedia projects came in, I began to focus more on these tasks. Multimedia is a combination of what is written, spoken and seen. Over time, the majority of my time was spent on multimedia projects. Some of my tasks have also changed and now I spend a lot of time planning and producing multimedia projects with the help of my great PM colleagues.

Just to give you an example of what the process looks like, let’s take a scenario where we receive an e-learning project from our client. First, I work with a sales person to quote it. Once the quote is accepted by the client, we prepare the project. This is a very important step as most projects have their own specific elements that force workflows. All elements must be prepared in such a way that they do not generate errors or problems at the production stage. So, given our eLearning project example, all the texts in the graphics must be added as Articulate Storyline text boxes so that they are in the main export file. Ideally when translators get everything in one file then there is less chance of making an error, for example when it comes to terminology. Note, that all texts sent for translation will also be recorded by an agency and making corrections to recordings is very expensive so it needs to be correctly translated.

Then we have the video itself. Often, in addition to the voice (voice off) we have a recorded actor who introduces us to the training topic. Here we have three solutions:

  1. Subtitling or have translated subtitles appear on the screen,
  2. Voice over on the original audio track or apply voice in another language
  3. Dubbing

Dubbing is the most complicated option as it involves matching translated text to lip movement from the video recording. Here, the translation files must be prepared in such a way that the translator is able to verify the number of words in a given audio section. This allows them to choose the right vocabulary to match the lips of the actor. After translation, the components of the project are distributed by our PMs to our suppliers.

Can you give any examples of an interesting project you have been involved with?

DJ: It was an e-learning project which did not contain elements for dubbing but had all other multimedia elements. It started with an animation made in Adobe After Effects, which contained texts that needed to be translated into several languages. Additionally, there were also graphics that required translation. But it was not a problem. Interestingly, it was at the end when the customer finally got the training translated into several languages that the customer asked us whether we could combine all these languages into one training so that each user could choose the language in which they would like to train. It was actually a good idea because it meant one training was uploaded onto the LMS server and the results from users were centralized in one place, making it easier to analyze who completed the training and to what effect. I designed a template that matched the design of the rest of the training and sent it to our supplier who completed it by adding in the language options. Everything looked great and functioned well. But then the customer asked us for one more thing. The customer wanted to make it possible for the user to download a certificate of completion directly from the eLearning program. The certificate was to contain standard elements such as graphics, automatic date stamp, training name and the user’s name and surname. The first three things did not pose a problem. Graphics were added to the template, date and time is a standard feature in JavaScript, the name of the training is a static variable, however the user’s name was a problem. I did not know exactly what e-learning platform the client had, and most probably for security reasons they did not want to share this information with us, so I did not know what exact function I could use to retrieve a variable with name and surname information. I installed several versions of LMS servers and realized that most of them have a function that retrieves variables like name and surname. The most standard was the Moodle platform, so I did everything to ensure this would work and the client confirmed that everything was working properly. From a standard project, a more complex one arose. The project required a whole spectrum of skills from graphic design, programming elements through to knowledge of Linux-based servers, where I posted successive versions of e-learning platforms for testing.

What are the perks of being a Multimedia Designer?

DJ: In this line of work you cannot get bored. There is always something new to do, or old things that can be done faster and easier. We have different clients from many countries, so all the projects that come through our door are always different. You never know what your next project will be and what challenges you will face.

What advice would you give to businesses who want to begin translating their multimedia content?

DJ: It may be obvious what I will say now, but when it comes to entering global markets and creating various materials, it is important to always remember about the source of your content. No matter if it’s a simple manual or advertising video, it’s important to have of the source. So my answer is the source!!! It often happens that we get “uneditable” files for translation. I deliberately used quotation marks. Certain projects can be reproduced based on these “uneditable” files. Quite often we see clients who have not asked their agency to provide source files of the end-made product. For example, they will have the final PDF of the brochure, but no InDesign project files. Of course we can take this PDF and reproduce it by extracting text, graphics, but it is already more expensive for the customer. In the case of a video, we usually receive an mp4 video file containing pictures, a narrator’s voice and a music track. To change the narrated text, for example from English to Korean, we need to recreate the project ourselves, usually in Adobe Premier Pro. This involves extracting the video from the mp4, removing the original narrator’s voice and music, adding in the new Korean voiceover and another music track that the customer will have to additionally purchase. And if the video contains images with texts in the source language, those too need to be replaced with texts in the target language. Editing such files can become really expensive, that is why it is really important to always get from the agency that you use to create your multimedia content, the original editable files.

Have a look at further blog posts from our “Life as…” series:

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