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Script Authoring Tool - Pivot Language Dialogue List SOW v2.0


A Pivot Language Dialogue List (PLDL) will be commissioned for any content for which the source language is not English. Localization partners servicing non-English content will receive a PLDL as part of the reference materials provided by Netflix. The PLDL will encompass a time-coded transcription of the original dialogue alongside its translation into English. The English translation should remain true to the original creative intent and will serve as the pivot language for consistent translations across all dubbed languages.


Scope of Work

The creation of a Pivot Language Dialogue List involves :

  • A ‘first pass’ involving dialogue transcription and a translation to the target language. These first two steps will be completed by a single resource. Resources involved in this first pass should be ideally bi-lingual, but at least highly proficient in both the source and target language. The translator/transcriber should ensure that the transcription is checked over and error-free prior to submitting their work.

  • A ‘proofreading pass’ by a native English speaker is required to ensure native fluency of the translation. This step must be conducted by a separate resource to the translation to ensure a fresh read and perspective.

NOTE - The English translation should:

  • Not take into consideration timing, lip sync or reading speed concerns.
  • Be the most natural, comprehensive and idiomatic rendition of the original text, preserving the tone and nuances creatively intended.


The PLDL service will include up to two deliveries / completions in the Script Authoring Tool: 

  • A PLDL created to the locked cut; and
  • A PLDL created to final media, alongside a change log of Locked to Final changes pertaining to dialogue and on-screen text.
    • For workflows in which a Netflix QC is required, QC notes should be implemented in the final delivery of the PLDL.
    • Unless specifically requested there is no need to create an updated locked cut version (to implement QC notes) or conform to an intermediary proxy (prior to the final proxy delivery). Any additional versioning is subject to conform rate and will be at the Netflix representative’s discretion.


Script partners will be allocated work via Grand Bazaar and Backlot, then asked to assign their resources in Netflix’s Content Localization Portal, the central location to manage the authoring process.

Once authoring has completed, the author will submit in the tool, which will auto-update the source management request - Pivot Language Dialogue List.


In addition to PLDL creation, the PLDL partner is responsible for the below KNP entries:

  • Key source terms and phrases in the original language following the KNP Source Term Creation & Translation Guidelines
  • English translations for all original language terms
    • FYI - the KNP is accessible from the Authoring application via the reference materials tab 


Image 1: Reference Material tab 

  • Timeline for KNP source term creation - due within the runtime-based SLA.


Style Guide

The tool is set up to output a format that best suits our partners and internal stakeholders. Therefore, the script partner and authors should not have to worry about change logs, project info, or format specific to previous expectations.


Dialogue List

Authoring in the tool consists of transcription editorial and various notes tagging. Each dialogue event is a contained unit and organized linearly in the dialogue editor section. Each event will require some level of editorial: In-Timecode, Out-Timecode, Source, Dialogue transcription. 


Dialogue Editorial

  • Timecode should be frame-accurate to Netflix burn-in timecode. Timecode is automatically pre-laid for each dialogue event based on automatic speech recognition.
  • Source: Speaker names should be in all caps and include consistent, correct spellings for speakers (according to source material such as shooting script, credits or on-screen text). Unless multiple characters are saying the same dialogue at the same time, only include one speaker/source per event (exception: if dual speakers are included in the burned-in forced subtitle). For multiple people speaking in unison, include names separated by a forward slash in source event.


Image 2: All CAPS per Character


Image 3: Multiple speakers in unison style


  • Dialogue should contain: 
    • A completely accurate transcription of all dialogue and stutters/syllables.
    • Descriptions of mouth sounds in brackets (e.g.: [sighs], [laughs], [screaming], etc.) in the dialogue event, before dialogue text begins. 
    • Descriptors that do not apply to specific dialogue or describe mouth sounds [e.g.: (long pause), (fades out to shot change), etc] in parentheses.
    • Best Practice: Utilize finalize dialogue stems to transcribe difficult to hear dialogue and individual lines within larger walla beds. Reach out to Netflix to see if available.
  • Translation should contain the English translation of all dialogue as well as on-screen text.
  • If there are burned-in English production subtitles to the original dialogue in the locked proxy, those are provided for reference only and should not  be transcribed into the English translation column, unless instructed otherwise by your Netflix contact.



  • The PLDL should include annotations for any instance of challenging idiomatic expressions. These annotations are required to ensure downstream localization remains as close to the original creative intent as possible.
  • When creating a note, the user is prompted to select the type of note then add any additional text to the note. 
  • Pay special attention to the inclusion of local idioms, slang, cultural references, double entendres, unclear references, the pronunciation of foreign names, etc. 


Image 4: Example

  • Be mindful of idioms that are engraved in culture and day-to-day life. In both source language and English. Keep in mind that direct translation of idioms can change the meaning of the entire dialogue.  


Types of Annotations

  • Context: please include annotations for words and phrases - to be filled out in “Annotation Notes” box
  • On-Screen Text - Burned in subs - should contain transcriptions of production-approved burned-in subtitles (for foreign dialogue, hard-to-hear dialogue, or sign language) as they appear in that cut of picture. Please include the character name in the source box in the authoring tool and transcription of On-screen text in the main dialogue event box.
    • Content/timing of subtitles should match the most recent cut and/or document provided by production. Line and subtitle breaks should be honored as they appear in documents.
    • Please split continuous dialogue up into rows according to corresponding subtitles if applicable. If the timing of dialogue/subs are not the same, time according to dialogue. 
    • If burned-in subtitles contain content translating foreign dialogue, the dialogue must contain a description (e.g. [speaking spanish]) or transcription of the foreign dialogue in the same row. 
    • For hard-to-hear dialogue with burned-in subtitles, the dialogue event should still contain a transcription that will often match the content in the burned-in subtitle column.
    • For sign language with burned-in subtitles, the dialogue event should be left blank as no dialogue is being spoken.
    • Note: Final picture will often be clean of subtitles, but this content should stay in the final Pivot Language Dialogue List and be timed to match the final version of picture as it would occur had it been left in.


Image 5: Example

  • On-Screen Text - other types - should include all prominent, pertinent on-screen text in the annotations editor. Please be accurate with your description of the event via the dropdown options and free form notes section for further context. Please use the verbiage NONE in the source box in the authoring tool - this allows for the tag type to direct the text to the proper column in the xls export. 
    • On-Screen Text - Graphics & Inserts
    • On-Screen Text - Principle Photography
    • On-Screen Text - Episodic Title
    • On-Screen Text - Netflix Credits
    • On-Screen Text - Main Title


Place transcribed & translated in the main dialogue box

Leave annotation notes section for annotations


Image 6

  • Foreign dialogue:
    • Partners are expected to support all languages , with the exception of non-common languages (e.g.  local African languages). Should the assigned partner be unable to support a language,  they should flag it to their Netflix contact.
    • Transcription:
        • Any foreign words or extended foreign dialogue should be transcribed in the original language and clearly indicated using the format [speaks foreign language]. For example, [speaks German] or [speaks Japanese].
    • Translation:
        • Any foreign dialogue creatively intended to be understood (i.e. subtitled in the original version), should be translated into English. 
  • Songs & Ditties - any plot-relevant songs, whether licensed, un-licensed, original IP, or ditties should contain transcriptions and translations of vocals.


Image 7

  • Archival Footage - TV news footage, court footage, previously released movie/TV content, etc.; i.e., anything filmed outside of the film/series itself should be transcribed and tagged as archival footage.
  • Existing IP - Intellectual Property refers to creations of the mind. That includes everything from works of art to inventions, computer programs, trademarks, and other commercial signs. Please identify any instance of Intellectual Property as accurately as possible (i.e. book title and author, show title, song title). If unable to identify, please reach out to your Netflix contact.
  • Inaudible - any instance of inaudible dialogue should be clearly flagged with corresponding time-code in and time-code out.
  • Main Title in Dialogue - any instance of Main Title usage in dialogue should be tagged. Please refer to the KNP for the official translation. 
  • Episode Title in Dialogue - any instance of Episode Title usage in dialogue should be tagged. Please refer to the KNP for the official translation. 
  • Sensitive Context - please flag the events containing words or phrases related to gender or gender identity, race/ethnicity, LGBTQIA+, religion, cultural sensitivities, profanity, or other categories that could potentially be perceived as offensive or insensitive in the given context. Please provide any relevant information on the subject in the "Annotations" section. 

Off-screen dialogue treatment:

  • When a character speaks off-screen (still in-scene but not on-camera), please indicate by putting (OFF) at the end of the character’s name in the dialogue event.
  • If the character’s dialogue section alternates between on- and off-screen please indicate the order that it occurs, e.g.: (OFF/ON) for a character’s dialogue that starts off-screen and continues on-screen, (ON/OFF) for starting on-screen and going off-screen. No need to include more than two cues.
  • If a character is providing voice-over (not in-scene at all), please start a new time-coded dialogue entry for when voice-over begins and include (VO) at the end of the character’s name in the event.


Service Level Agreement (SLA)

  • To be considered on-time, the partner must deliver the initial translation within the agreed SLA of receipt of video. Requests for delivery in less than the specific SLAs according to runtime will be subject to rush fee.
  • Specific SLAs are as follows with runtimes rounding up to next 30-minute interval:
    • 30 min TRT - 5 business days
    • 60 min TRT - 6 business  days
    • 90 min TRT - 7 business days
    • 120 min TRT - 8 business days
  • Versioning and conforms should be delivered within 72 hours.
  • Failure to meet requirements and style guide specifications will result in redelivery requests at partner cost that will impact metrics.


Change Log Feb 7, 2022:

  • Reclarified roles of transcription/translation resources in core scope of work

Change Log March 19, 2021:

  • Updated foreign dialogue treatment and transcription expectations.
  • Updated verbiage pertaining to the burned-in English production subtitles.
  • Updates bullet points/format to increase readability. 
  • Added descriptions for the below annotations/tags:
    • Existing IP
    • Inaudible
    • Main Title in Dialogue
    • Episode Title in Dialogue
    • Sensitive Context
  • KNP Source Term guidelines link added, as well as timeline.
  • Updated song treatment.
  • Updated SLAs for PLDL delivery based on runtimes, as well as versioning and conforms SLA timeline.
  • Auto logged in the xls export (Available as an export in-tool, or downloadable via backlot)

Change log 12-15-2020

  • Service Level Agreement- Conformance 

Change Log

  • Auto logged in the xls export (Available as an export in-tool, or downloadable via backlot)
    • This list will include changes/updates from the previous delivery of the Dialogue List.
    • Granular details about updated dialogue/on-screen text and summaries of global or broad changes (e.g.: eight-second offset at beginning of program, scene added at 01:22:30, etc) should be noted on the Annotations column.
    • Please refrain from using formatting (bold, underline or strikethrough) to indicate changes, as these might be lost when importing documents to different tools.
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