Blu Digital Group Acquires Subtitling and Dubbing Services Company Haymillian

Blu Digital Group, an entertainment media technology company, has acquired Haymillian, a dubbing, subtitling and access services company.

Following the acquisition of Haymillian, which offers services in more than 40 languages, Blu establishes its presence in the United Kingdom, Greece and Mexico. The newly expanded dubbing studio in Mexico is centrally located and enables access to an extended pool of voice actors and localization professionals. At the same time, the Greece-based operations team facilitates timely communication with clients and vendors, according to Blu Digital.

The acquisition enables Blu to further enhance its localization and access services capabilities, and to expand its presence in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. The venture aims to cater to the growing localization needs of the entertainment industry as well as to contribute to the industry’s efforts to enhance content accessibility for people with hearing loss or visual impairment through the provision of  access services (closed captions, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, and audio description), according to Blu Digital.

“When we launched our localization division to complement our content distribution and software divisions, we saw a gap in the market for full service media management facilities which integrated localization into the content distribution workflow,” Paulette Pantoja, CEO of Blu Digital Group, said in a statement. “By acquiring Haymillian, we substantially grow our localization footprint, adding services and territories in key areas. We can now integrate our proprietary project management tools into the end-to-end workflow, taking clients from post production all the way through packaging and final delivery to platforms. We are excited to welcome the team from Haymillian into the Blu Digital Group family, joining us on the next chapter of our growth story.”

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“We are excited to join Blu Digital Group and combine their experience in digital media management with Haymillian’s know-how to better respond to the evolving needs of the entertainment industry,” Aida Martirosyan, managing director at Haymillian, said in a statement. “We are going to build on the expertise of our talent pool and internal teams to keep becoming better at what we do: helping the entertainment industry reach a wider audience with its content.”

In May 2022, Blu Digital expanded its English dubbing capabilities with the acquisition of Central Post LA (now Blu Digital Group’s Hollywood studios), an audio recording facility in Hollywood. The facility has enabled Blu Digital Group to significantly grow its localization services, according to the company.

Blu Digital Group Adds to Localization Management Team

Blu Digital Group, a technology company that offers cloud-based software and digital media services to the global entertainment industry, has bolstered its localization management team in its recently acquired BDG Studios Barham (Hollywood) facility. Sebastian Zancanaro has been recruited to oversee the production facility and Luis Ferreira de Castro has been appointed to head the audio services department.

The two appointments help manage the hundreds of hours of localization work that is currently handled by the facility in 50-plus languages on a monthly basis, according to Blu Digital. Zancanaro has forged an extensive career as a creative dubbing director spanning a variety of genres in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Ferreira de Castro is an experienced audio and post-production executive, having worked as lead audio engineer at Central Post LA and Voxx Studios.

In May 2022, Blu Digital Group launched its English dubbing studio with the acquisition of Central Post LA (renamed BDG Studios Barham), an audio recording facility in Hollywood. The 4,000 square foot facility has enabled Blu Digital Group to significantly grow its localization services including:

  • English and foreign-language ADR, lip-sync dubbing, and voiceover recording;
  • English and foreign-language audio description;
  • editorial audio mixing and post work, including Dolby Atmos
    M&E augmentation;
  • audio conformance, compliance, and censorship;
  • complete English and foreign-language quality control services
  • video mastering; and
  • subtitling and captioning services in 80-plus languages.

 

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“Since acquiring the new facility in May this year we have been able to significantly grow our localization business, offering increased languages and services,” Silviu Epure, SVP of content globalization at Blu Digital Group, said in a statement. “What makes us different from other localization providers is our advanced technology offering, which includes our proprietary project management tool. This enables us to integrate the localization component into our existing digital media services offering to create a seamless workflow that takes clients from post production all the way through packaging and final delivery to platforms. This high level of work requires strong management, and adding Sebastian and Luis further bolsters our position as leaders in the provision of localization services around the world.”

Q&A: Blu Digital Group’s Paulette Pantoja Discusses the Founding and Growth of the Company

CEO Paulette Pantoja founded Blu Digital Group in 2007, focusing on quality control for film and TV content distributed on physical media. The company has since created proprietary workflows and patented applications as a solution for content owners and platforms to deliver streaming content. Pantoja’s expansion of the localization division within Blu in 2021 further broadened the company’s ability to deliver international content to audiences around the world.

After working at Ascent Media and Panasonic Hollywood Labs, Pantoja set up Blu Digital as the first dedicated Blu-ray Disc testing facility. In 2015, she evolved the business to provide content services for the digital media supply chain, leveraging Blu’s cloud-based automation software for content distribution to broadcasters and OTT platforms. In 2017, Blu began licensing its software to give clients control and visibility of their content preparation and distribution workflows. The company now also provides localization services and ad-insertion technology. Since its founding, Blu Digital Group has reached more than 300 million viewers, provided media services for more than 25 film and TV titles recognized by the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, and has serviced 3 million content hours. Blu has been recognized as one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the United States for 2021 and 2022, and Pantoja is an Ernst & Young Greater Los Angeles Entrepreneur of The Year 2022 finalist.

Media Play News asked Pantoja — who this year is also being honored with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment — about the history of her company and what’s next for the industry and Blu Digital.

MPN: Can you tell us about the history of Blu Digital Group?

Pantoja: I founded Blu in 2007 as a services company, providing quality assurance services (QA) for film and TV content, as well as consumer electronics products and technologies. I set the business up on my own, out of my apartment, using just my credit card to fund the business.

I credit my initial success to spotting gaps in the market, forming strategic alliances, and applying efficiencies to workflows. While I was working for Panasonic, I saw a lot of inefficiencies used in the QA processes of testing Blu-ray discs and realized there was an opportunity to implement software testing methodologies.

I left my job at Panasonic to set up the first dedicated Blu-ray testing facility and gained the interest of THX, George Lucas’s soundtrack recording and reproduction subsidiary. I pitched a strategic alliance with THX to outsource their THX certification, enabling me to fund my business and turn a profit in my first year with Warner Bros., Fox and Deluxe as clients. I then productized the world’s first online reporting system for Blu-ray and patented the product in 2012.

In 2015, I evolved the business to provide content services for the digital media supply chain, leveraging Blu’s cloud-based automation software for content distribution to broadcasters and OTT platforms. In 2017, I began licensing its software to give clients control and visibility of their content preparation and distribution workflows.

After securing series A funding in 2020, I have been able to build my management team, attracting key talent and taking the business to the next level of growth.

MPN: What services does the company offer?

Pantoja: Blu Digital Group is one of the leading media service providers in the industry today. The business is a premier end-to-end digital media solutions company empowering distributors to easily process and deliver their film and TV content by using Blu’s services and custom-tailored cloud-based software. The company’s mission is to continually innovate better ways to prepare, process and deliver media content so Blu can empower distributors and video platforms with tools and services that will help them share their stories with global audiences.

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MPN: You’re being honored with this year’s Hedy Lamarr award from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. What are your thoughts on the honor and the progress of women in the industry?

Pantoja: I strive to build a culture of innovation and inclusion at Blu Digital, and the DEG is helping to do that on an industry level with these awards recognizing women, who have traditionally been underrepresented in media technology. The pace of technology is always evolving, and I am honored to accept this recognition of Blu’s dedication to developing better and more efficient media management workflows.

MPN: As a home entertainment industry veteran, how do you see the evolution of the business, from disc to digital? How have the challenges and opportunities changed with the formats and how have they remained the same?

Pantoja: As the industry has evolved from disc to digital, we have gone through a plethora of different standards and automation opportunities. What has remained the same is the core service we provide — providing a streamlined service to entertainment companies enabling them to focus on their core services of creating content. Throughout the evolution of delivery methods, whether on a physical piece of plastic or a digital file, we have always strived to utilize the latest technology to streamline the process.

MPN: What’s next for Blu Digital?

Pantoja: We are on an aggressive projection of growth along with the rest of the media and entertainment industry. We are using our funding to make strategic acquisitions to build services and grow into new territories while refining our products and services for our existing clients.

DEG Announces Upcoming Los Angeles Event Dates

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is planning a series of upcoming events in Los Angeles.

Aug. 23, in concert with Media Play News, the DEG will produce an event feting the magazine’s “40 Under 40” honorees, presented in the August issue. The event will take place 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Oct. 12 the DEG will present its TechOp 2022 Awards. Nominations are open through Aug. 19. Categories include the Best Multi-Company Team Collaboration Award, Everyday Hero Award and Localization Trailblazer Award.

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Nov. 15 the DEG will celebrate its Hedy Lamarr Awards with a reception and hold its annual meeting. The DEG is honoring Paulette Pantoja, founder and CEO of Blu Digital Group, with the Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology.

No times or locations have been announced for the October and November events.

Blu Digital Acquires Post-Production Facility Central Post LA

Cloud-based software and digital media entertainment services company Blu Digital Group has acquired Central Post LA, a full-service post-production facility specializing in automated dialogue replacement (ADR), lip-sync dubbing, voiceover recordings, as well as audio post services, including Dolby Atmos mixing. 

As part of the deal, Blu Digital Group has taken over the 4,000-square-foot facility in Burbank, Calif., and its extensive technical and creative teams. Utilizing the location’s existing infrastructure, which includes state-of-the-art recording rooms and a Dolby Atmos-certified mixing stage, the acquisition enables Blu Digital Group to further expand its English dubbing and audio description division with in-house production capabilities. 

This venture comes in direct response to the rapidly growing appetite of U.S. audiences to consume foreign content and the industry’s joint efforts towards enhancing the experience of visually impaired viewers through quality descriptive audio tracks, according to Blu Digital.  

The acquisition positions Blu Digital Group as one of the premier providers of localization services in the United States and complements and further solidifies the company’s commitment to providing quality-driven end-to-end digital media services to its clients, according to the company.

“Since expanding our English dubbing and audio description division late last year, we have had huge interest from the industry to grow these services as they integrate into media management operations,” Paulette Pantoja, CEO of Blu Digital Group, said in a statement. “Acquiring Central Post LA’s facility, infrastructure, and talent into the Blu Digital Team helps us increase these services for our clients who need to localize foreign content for English-speaking audiences. We are eager to help our clients expand the audience of their content anywhere across the globe.”

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The Blu headquarters, based in Burbank, will continue to be the main hub for its software development and its cloud-based media operations management teams.   

Some of the offerings that Blu Digital Group will be facilitating from the new location include:

  • English and foreign language ADR, lip-sync dubbing, and voiceover recording;
  • English and foreign language audio description;
  • editorial audio post work;
  • audio mixing, including Dolby Atmos;
  • M&E augmentation;
  • audio conformance, compliance and censorship;
  • complete English and foreign language quality control services;
  • video mastering; and
  • subtitling and captioning services in 80-plus languages.