In the midst of a lively phone discussion about CSSL, colorful pop art adorns the room, while chat bubbles filled with ideas and insights float around the conversation

CCSL, CDSL, CCDSL? Which Post Production Script is it? And what’s the difference?

Often (almost every time), when a producer is getting to the point of the final delivery of their movie or video content, they come across a deliverable that the network or distributor has in their production manual. It has been very inconspicuously hiding there in plain sight but now suddenly becomes a huge problem. Because no one knows what it is.

This final deliverables is called CCSL or a CDSL. Basically, it’s a post production script that is written exactly like the final film. Each dialogue, each shot, each graphic and lower-third, each chyron, each sound effect is to be written down with great precision and the resulting document, usually a MS Word, is what is called a combined continuity and spotting list. This is a paper version of the final film or video content.

Many times the deliverable is written as a CDSL or even a CCDSL.

The problem lies with the language. And frankly, we don’t blame anyone. These terms are interchangeable since they both make sense. The difference between a CDSL and a CCSL is that the CDSL does not have ‘action continuity’. Action continuity is the scene by scene, shot by shot description of the action on the screen. So each visual is described from one cut to the next.

This changes everything as it involves a lot more work.

A CDSL is a short form for ‘Combined Dialogue and Spotting List’. Whereas, the term CCSL stands for Combined Continuity and Spotting List’.

The confusing part is that a CCSL also has the dialogue list built into it.

Frankly, it is very confusing and sometimes it even leaves us quite at a loss. The simplest way to describe the difference between the two is that a CCSL contains scene descriptions and a CDSL does not. They are identical in all other respects. But that little difference is a huge difference.

Scene description means that each and every scene is described in words by a writer. We went a step further and started to describe each and every cut. So our description starts from the first frame to the last frame of a cut (or a dissolve)

This is a CDSL — Combined Dialogue and Spotting List
CCSL with Annotations
This is a CCSL — Combined Continuity and Spotting List

To make it easier and fool proof, we ask the producer to get a sample of the deliverable from the network or distributor. That way we can create exactly what they are looking for.

But in absence of that, we look out for words ‘action continuity’ or ‘scene description’, and also a brief explanation that the shots have to be described in words.