CHELSEA: How to Produce an International Talk Show


Netflix’s CHELSEA is a new type of show. It’s the first talk show to premiere in over 190 countries around the globe at the same moment in time and it’s processed in 20 different languages within a short period of time. In other words, producing CHELSEA is a monumental task in and of itself. Here’s just some of the aspects of producing a global internet talk show:

Translating Humor

“First, we had to find great translators who knew how to take American comedy that is edgy and often profanity-laced and translate it to another language while preserving cultural relevancy and tone. We tested over 5,000 linguists to find the 200+ translators we have covering the 20 languages in which CHELSEA will be released,” says Tracy Wright, Director of Content Operations, Netflix.

“Second, because of the quick turnaround of 20 languages in the 12 hours allotted for translations, we had to build a workflow that allows us to create and share one master English template with our translators from Mecca, Saudi Arabia to Sao Paulo, Brazil. To do this, we use respeaking technology to create a live transcription of the dialogue that is then edited and turned into an English master template once the episode is finalized.”

“Lastly, for each language, we also have people live streaming the episode while it’s taping so they can get a jump on identifying tricky phrases, cultural references or public figures for the translators — the goal is to give translators information as quickly and smoothly as possible so they can research ahead of time for maximum efficiency. ”

Lead Time

“Just a few years ago, producing all of the ~60 encodes (video compressed for Internet delivery) for a 1-hour title took several days, and encoding failures were frequent,” explained David Ronca, Director of Encoding Technology & Vinod Viswanathan, Director of Media Cloud Engineering, Netflix. “The long delays and unpredictability of the encoding system made it difficult to manage projects, creating additional difficulty for shows we licensed for Day-After-Broadcast where we had as little as 24 hours to launch on Netflix. With the rollout of our parallel encoding workflow in late 2012, we reduced the ingest and encode time to about 7 hours.”

“The CHELSEA challenge was to reduce the ingest and encode times to about 30 minutes, giving us just 15 minutes to inspect each source and about 15 minutes to encode all audio and video streams needed for production. To deliver 30-minute encodes, we coordinate the encoding work on thousands of machines in the Amazon cloud to execute the large parallel workflow. The content is broken down into 30-second chunks, and each chunk is processed in parallel.”

New episodes of CHELSEA are available on Netflix on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 12:01 a.m. PT.

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