A long history
The EBU has a long-standing relationship with subtitling. The creation of subtitles now typically is done using stand-alone file formats, including the well-known EBU Tech 3264 ('EBU STL') and many proprietary formats. With the increasing use of broadcast file formats such as AAF (for post-production) and MXF (as a replacement for tape) and with the introduction of new media outlets such as webvideos and mobile applications, requests for standardising an XML-based subtitling format have been increasing. The BBC developed an XML-based format for authoring subtitling in 2000.
Since 2003, the W3C Timed Text Group has been working to standardise a format for more generic (not subtitle-only) use, called DFXP. After a promising start and support from the EBU, SMPTE and several industry bodies, the work unfortunately slowed and its future became uncertain. However, in late 2008 the Group's work was successfully revamped for a fast-track completion in 2009. In the meantime several industry parties already took the (not-yet finalised) DFXP format as a basis for their subtitle software, including for cariage in MXF.
The EBU PMC believes it is now urgent time to support and where possible verify the Timed Text Group's work, to make sure DFXP implementations for broadcasting will be interoperable. The new EBU Group P/DFXP aims to input to the W3C's testing and liaise with the SMPTE ad-hoc group on 'Broadband captioning interoperability' to harmonise new specifications/recommendations. If you have an interest in subtitling for broadcasting-related applications, you are invited to join the Group. For more information, see the P/DFXP Group page or contact: Frans de Jong (EBU) .