Post-Production

What is a Dialogue List for Film?

Assemble

By Assemble

July 28, 2021

A Dialogue List is a time-coded post production script that is a required deliverable a producer submits to a network or a production company as part of their distribution package. It is used for translation purposes to create a Spotting List (the subtitle file) for foreign languages. 

The Dialogue List and The Spotting List

Nearly all major feature films exhibit in foreign markets. Overseas sales can often be a higher income stream than domestic releases. The Dialogue List portion contains a complete account of the dialogue of the production. The Spotting List portion contains the subtitles of the production, the time they begin and end, and their duration.  It is used by translators and language subtitling groups to express an actor’s words in an individual country’s native tongue. 

With the multitude of media platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, who distribute content globally, capturing accurate dialogue with time codes is essential.

Dialogue Lists may include the following:

  • Verbatim dialogue (exactly what is said)

  • Sound Effects (breaking glass, shotgun firing, rainstorm)

  • All Vocal Sounds (stammers, gasps, verbal tics)

  • Music Description (upbeat music, creepy music)

  • Lyrics (with music symbols to identify them as lyrics)

  • Character (who is speaking to whom)

  • Voiceovers (narrators)

  • Timecode (in time, out time and duration)

  • Chyrons (lower-thirds, graphics, text on screen, signs)

The Dialogue List Template

Below is an example of a simple Dialogue List for film that would include the exact time code where the dialogue starts, the name or identity of the speaker, and the words of the dialogue.

Example of a dialogue list template for film

Related Continuity Scripts

In addition to the Dialogue List and the Spotting List, there are two more types of post-production continuity lists which provide an accurate transcript of a completed film.

  • CCSL (Combined Continuity Dialogue and Spotting List) The CCSL incorporates what is audible and visual on screen, but is more technical. It describes the shots within a scene from cut to cut. It will have as many shot descriptions as there are shots within a scene.

  • ABS (As Broadcast Script) Whereas the Dialogue List is what is said and uttered, the ABS adds visuals, describing a scene from its natural beginning and end. 

Below is a chart detailing each, however the best way to describe the difference would be in scope. 

CCSL

This is an important document for legal purposes and helps with the closed captioning, subtitling and dubbing in various languages. It is a combination of two elements:

1) The written visual description of a video called Action Continuity List.

2) The audible part that contains the dialogues, sound effects, music and elements such as text on screen and graphics, with time code. 

 

ABS

The As Broadcast Script has three main elements:

1) An economical description of the scenes or action of the film. 

2) 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. 

3) A timecode that shows where in the film these elements appear. 

 

These post production scripts are an essential part of the dubbing, subtitling, and distribution of the film.

Helpful Resources

Creating a Dialogue List for film, or CCSL and ABS scripts is a long and manually intensive process. There are many companies that specialize in this service, but if budget is a concern, it is something you can create yourself by following the needs of your distribution partner.

For reference on requirements from a few major outlets, please check out the links below.

Netflix’s example dialogue list for producing partners.

Prime Video Direct Caption Requirements.

Hulu content partner guidebook.

 
 
 
 
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