Template files have been at the heart of multilanguage subtitle production in the past two decades. Despite their extensive use in the industry, they remain an under-researched topic among the academic community, presumably because of the lack of published guides to serve as reference points, and thus facilitate their research and analysis.
In order to promote such research, this paper aims to serve as an example of best practice followed by a multilanguage subtitle provider at the turn of the century, and shed some light on the production of template files.
As we are entering the third decade of the 21st century, the importance of template files in subtitle production is likely to grow further due to the overall increase in audiovisual content to be subtitled. The appropriateness of English as the chosen language for template creation is already being questioned with the increase of non-English language content released internationally, while the introduction of machine translation in subtitling workflows is likely to bring about its own set of questions.
While working on multilanguage subtitle projects many years ago, I remember concluding that a well-crafted template file could eliminate almost half of the quality issues one might encounter in the various language streams produced on its basis. I believe that the quality of subtitle template files will also affect the quality of machine translation output produced in the various subtitle languages involved in a project, making this a very interesting research topic.
If you are aware of other practice guides followed in the creation of template files, I would love to hear about them!