Netflix Develops Authoring Specification for Dubs and Subs

Netflix announced late in June that the company has developed a new authoring specification in the hopes of streamlining the localization process for movies and television. In a June 22 blog post, the company noted that they receive scripts in a wide range of file formats, from Word documents to PDFs to Excel spreadsheets — in an effort to mitigate the inconsistency of file formats and declutter the localization workflow, Netflix has developed Timed Text Authoring Lineage (TTAL).

“By defining vocabulary and annotations around timed text, we strive to simplify our approach to capturing, storing, and sharing materials across the localization pipeline,” the blog post reads. “In a nutshell, TTAL has been designed to simplify script authoring, so the creative energy is spent on the art of dubbing and subtitling rather than managing adapted and recorded script delivery.”


Each aspect of TTAL’s name refers to a different aspect of its purpose — “timed text” refers to the fact that the dialogue is carried along with its timecode, “authoring” refers to the fact that it is a tool specifically to be used for the authoring scripts in dubbing or subtitling, and “lineage” refers to tracking the different stages in a script’s evolution from one language to another.

According to the blog post, at least four different third-party prompting tools have incorporated TTAL — the specification continues to evolve and Netflix plans to adapt and improve it even further, but argues that more widespread adoption of the specification will help create a more standardized localization workflow throughout the industry. Earlier this year, Netflix also launched Shakespeare, a tool for testing the site’s localization and copy.

“This is just the beginning. We have laid a solid foundation for enabling interoperability by developing a specification for script authoring,” the company’s blog post reads “We have worked with a few dubbing technology developers to incorporate TTAL into their products, and have modified the specification based on feedback from these early adopters.”

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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