CCSL — short for Combined Continuity and Spotting List — is just the opposite of how films are made. For a film, the film crew looks at the screenplay or the script and give it a physical form of a movie. In CCSL we walk backwards — from film to paper. Whatever is seen and heard in a movie or video, is described with the minutest detail in words. The amount of detail captured is astounding.

What’s the Use for CCSL?

The intention of creating a CCSL is to have a paper copy of the video content. It’s something that a reader can read can see the picture in their mind as close to the action on the screen. It’s a deliverable that is part of the total package that a network or a studio requires. It’s a very valuable document that can be very helpful with reediting the content for different markets, for the legal team and also for creating subtitles in various languages.

A CCSL is an invaluable tool for dubbing the video into different languages. Once the in time code and the out timecode of a dialog have been captured on paper, the dubber has a very good idea of the time that is available to fit in the dialog in the foreign language.

Why is it so labor intensive? Imagine writing down in great detail everything that you see on the screen, right down to camera angles, camera shots such as extreme close up, close up,  mid shot, long shot, extreme long shot (click here to see the shot descriptions). And then also how the camera moves like pan, tilt, zoom in, zoom out. Then you have to describe what’s happening. In short you are actually seeing the video on the paper instead of on the screen. Here’s an example:

Luckily this is one of the few jobs that can only be done by a well-trained writer and not by any algorithm. Our writers have had years of experience with describing scenes that no software can do. A good writer can describe about 5 – 7 minutes of video content in an hour. But this is just the video description.