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What Are Post Production Scripts?
It is rare that a finished film is identical to the written screenplay. Dialogue is added, scenes are cut, and locations change. Post production scripts have many formats and varying levels of detail but all essentially provide an accurate transcript of a completed film. As a result, post production scripts are an essential part of the dubbing, subtitling, and distribution of film. The most common post production scripts are the CCSL, the As Broadcast Script, and the Dialogue List.
What is a Combined Continuity Spotting Lists (CCSL)?
A CCSL (Combined Continuity and Spotting List) is the name of a document that is often a requirement of film distribution contracts. The primary use of a CCSL is when adding subtitles to a film or when dubbing the film into different languages for a foreign audience. The CCSL is also formerly known as a CDSL.
What is the function of a CCSL?
The major function of the CCSL is to provide the dialogue and some visual graphics such as titles, written signage or text that are important to the story of the film. This may also include other significant non-verbal or background dialogue such as TV or radio broadcasts, music lyrics, off-screen sounds or words that advance the story. When completed, a CCSL mirrors the final edited film or project that it represents. It describes the scenes, the characters, and the exact dialogue that the characters speak. It also identifies who is speaking and to whom he or she is speaking to. In addition, a CCSL presents the dialogue broken down into a subtitle format that identifies the exact time-code of each line of dialogue or narration that is spoken.
What are the parts of a CCSL?
Typically the format of the CCSL document will list the dialog in two columns one on either side of the page. On the left side of the page the dialogue or narration will be listed continuously from start to finish for each character speaking. This side of the CCSL will normally be used by the dubbing crew and or director to dub the film dialogue into a foreign language.
On the right side of the CCSL, the subtitle spotting side, the character speaking is identified, as well as the person or persons he or she is addressing. It is important to know if the character is addressing a man or a woman as in many foreign languages words denoting gender are identifiable. The dialogue on this side of the document is listed as subtitles. The continuous dialogue is broken down into two line portions called a “slug.” This name originates back to early film subtitling which was done by a printing method that used lead slugs to make the words and then applied them to the positive film image using a “lost wax process.”
In a CCSL, these subtitles typically appear with the time-code IN and OUT that corresponds to the timing of the dialogue or narration. The duration of the dialogue is also provided. The formatting of the dialog indicating the start IN and end OUT with time-code is called spotting. Each subtitle will also have a distinct number assigned to identify it.
Also included on the right side of the CCSL is notation that “interpret” words, phrases, or other complicated dialogue so that foreign translators can understand what the film creative team is trying to say and not misinterpret some dialogue. For example “You’re killing me…” when it means “You’re bothering me…” or you’re making me laugh too much…”
What is the difference between a Simple and Complex CCSL?
Most production contracts or distribution contracts contain a paragraph whereas the producer or production company is required to present a CCSL either in a Simple or Complex format.
In a Simple CCSL each scene is described in a concise brief description. This simple description is followed by the dialog for each character in the two-column format as described above.
A Complex CCSL lists each shot with a detailed description of the subject, angle, action within the shot, and movement of the camera. In addition to the detailed shot description, the entire dialog that appears within a given shot is listed in detail following the two-column format as described above.
Sample of a Complex CCSL with Interpretations
Sample of a Dual Language CCSL
What is the Hybrid Complex CCSL?
We have developed a new format we call a “Hybrid Complex CCSL” that incorporates some of the most desired elements of the Complex CCSL format without the very complicated cut-by-cut descriptions of every shot used in the film.
The Hybrid Complex CCSL incorporates a simple description of the action of a shot (akin to the way a scene is described in a Simple CCSL) but still lists every cut. As a result the user can refer to this format and find and identify every cut that was made on the film. This format can be produced in either a reel or in a steaming format.
The result is that this Hybrid Complex can be done faster and with less expense and still satisfy many of the obligations of a distribution contract that requires that every cut of the film be identified. This is a natural evolution of the CCSL in a multifaceted world-wide distribution environment.
What is the difference between the Reel and Continuous CCSL Formats?
In addition to being Simple or Complex, A CCSL can be provided in either a Continuous, or Reel-by-Reel format. The Continuous or “streaming” format lists the shots and dialog based upon a single linear time-code. This time-code runs from the first frame of action to the last frame of action.
The Reel-by-Reel format lists the shots and dialog based upon a time code that restarts every “reel”. Each reel is identified by using the hour portion of the time code. For example the time code for reel one would be 01:00:00:00, and the time code for reel two would be 02:00:00:00 and so on.
Typically a “reel” of media is around 20 minutes long. This is an old remnant of the “film” era where “lab reels” were 1000 ft long in 35mm, which translates to 10 minutes of media. When projected, two lab reels would be joined together to make a 20 minutes double reel. Many foreign countries still show movies and shows in reels in theaters and these can be printed from digital media as well.
What frame rate is used in a CCSL?
In general most film are shot and produced in 24 frames per second. A few countries had adopted 25 frames per second (designated as PAL standard) because of the frequency of alternating current in many parts of the world. However, in the last few years the 24 frames per second has become the more accepted standard for motion pictures and many streaming content providers.
CCSLs both Simple and Complex can be created in time code or feet and frames and, occasionally both. However, the trend today is to prepare most CCSLs in time code and not 35mm feet and frames.
What Time-code rate is used in a CCSL?
In the United States there is a peculiar consideration to take into account when reaching the CCSL stage. Films that are produced in 24 frames that are completed digitally are usually true 24 frames for reel-to-reel finishing and projection in a theater.
However, when they are used for “streaming” or a continuous format they are prepared in a hybrid format that is actually 23.976 frames per second. This conversion is required for captioning. The FCC rules require broadcasting accommodations for people who are hearing impaired.
Although 24 and 23.976 are relatively close frame rates if applied incorrectly the on screen dialogue will fall out of sync with the dialogue of the CCSL. For this reason it is important to determine how the film is to be distributed prior to starting the CCSL spotting process. Many film and video facilities can readily “convert” 23.976 to 24 frames and vice-versa. In fact, many digital editing systems can do it as well.
Sample of Simple CCSL with Feet – Frames, Time Code and Dual Language
What is an As Broadcast Script (AB-Script)?
An “As Broadcast Script” also known as an AB-Script is a document that mirrors the final version of a film or video project. It is most often used for documentaries or episodic shows. An AB-Script uses periodic time-code markers to denote the start of dialogue, narration and graphics in the project or simply the start of every change of scene. It also denotes the action of scenes in short descriptions and identifies the character names of the persons speaking. Many distributors and or producers have their own preferred format for AB-Scripts and we will adopt our style to what the client requires.
What is an As Broadcast (AB-Script) Script used for?
Because an AB-Script accurately describes the final version of a film or video in a concise format it is often used by producers to check content. Distributors use the AB-Script to sell film and video projects to theaters and streaming networks. Foreign governments and Film Boards use the AB-Script to censor film and video projects.
What are the parts of an As Broadcast (AB-Script) Script?
An As Broadcast Script is made up of three main elements. The fist element is a concise description of the scenes or action of the film or project that it is referring to. The second is the listing of all the dialogue, narration, music and lyrics (if required) and the identification of the people or characters who narrate or recite the dialogue of the project. The last element is a time-code that denotes where in the film or project these elements appear. Although the physical format of the As Broadcast (AB-Script) Script can take many forms it is, in general, a full written description of the film or project.
Sample of an AB-Script Format A
Sample of an AB-Script Format B
Sample of an AB-Script Format C
What is a Dialogue List?
The Dialogue List, like the subtitle side of a CCSL, is prepared in a “slug” format which breaks the dialogue into a series of lines. Each of these lines of dialogue has a maximum of two lines per subtitle. The limitation of two lines is accordance with the standard prescribed for subtitles in films. Time-code is used to mark the IN and OUT of each line of dialogue. The standard Universal Subtitle list just shows time-code IN and OUT on the top line and the one or two-line subtitle underneath a space and a repeat of the next subtitle and so on.
However a variation of the subtitle list will give the name of the speaker and the person or entity he or she is addressing is placed on each separate line of dialogue. A Dialogue List, unlike a CCSL, contains no description of action or setting for the dialogue listed.
What is a Dialogue List used for?
A “Dialogue List” is often used to translate dialogue from a film or video into foreign languages. The translated dialog lists are then used to subtitle projects.
What are the parts of a Dialogue List?
A Dialogue List typically will give the name of the person or character on the top line and also the person whom he or she is addressing. On the next line the time-code IN and OUT of the one or two lines of dialogue that person is speaking. Underneath the time-code the one or two lines of dialogue is listed in the accepted industry subtitle format that is used universally. A Dialogue List can be extracted from either Simple or Complex CCSL. The formatting of a Dialogue List is similar to the right-side column, the subtitle spotting portion, of the CCSL.