Transcript Elements Primer


If you’re in the process of making a new training video for your company, putting together a lecture for your class, or simply making a new video for your YouTube channel, there are many good reasons to create a verbatim transcript of your content. Whether you’re looking to increase your performance on search engines or make your media easier to translate, Captionmax is more than happy to help get a transcript in your hands. Transcriptions can be very simple or incredibly complex depending on what you need and where you’re delivering it. We’ve put together this guide to help break it down and better help you understand what you may need.

There are several different kinds of transcripts:

As-Broadcast Scripts: These scripts, also known as ABS, reflect the verbatim dialogue and time codes of the final version of a video. They can be submitted to awards competitions, used for translation into another language, or to create robust metadata to enhance your content’s searchability. 

Dialogue Lists: These scripts provide verbatim dialogue transcription plus credits, music cues, and more. Many clients use the dialogue list as reference for language translations.

Continuity Lists: Commonly referred to as CCSL and CDSL, these scripts are our most comprehensive. They are a helpful reference in translation and dubbing workflows. This format can include scene headings, detailed speaker identification, shot descriptions, camera continuity, and more.

When it comes to creating a script, there are many things to consider. Even though every post-production script is a verbatim transcript of what is said on-screen, there is a big difference between an ABS and a CCSL. For one, there are different kinds of script deliverables that depend on what you require. If you’re just looking for dialogue, sound effects, and speaker IDs with periodic timing accurate to the second, we can crank out a standard ABS for you with a short turnaround. If you need all of those plus frame-accurate continuous timing with labels for speaker location and camera continuity, you’ll receive a CCSL file from us in a little over a week.

Before we’re able to create your script, we will need to know what elements you need in your script. If you need a specific kind of script (say, for example, a Dialogue Continuity Script), we will require a sample of said script that contains the actual action in the scene continuity. Here’s a rundown of most elements you’ll encounter when creating a transcript:

Dialogue – It’s assumed that if you need a transcript, you’re looking for a written list of all dialogue, including sound effects and speaker IDs.

Column format – An ABS will come as a standard document, but virtually every other transcript type will be formatted with columns.

On-screen text – If your media has text that shows up on-screen or has graphics that are called out, we can add that into your transcript without an issue. As-Broadcast scripts do not include this addition to the script.

Slug lines and scene settings – To call out or give context to shots or scenes that will be present, we can add slug lines to your transcript. For example, if someone receives a text message on-screen, the slug line will add “ON PHONE SCREEN” to the transcript.

Timing – Every transcript will have timing callouts, but these can vary from periodic (every 30 seconds) to continuous (time code for every element). ABSs will contain timing callouts that are accurate to the second, but most other types of transcripts will include frame-accurate timing that includes spotting (in time, out time, and duration).

Speaker location – Dialogue lists, both basic and complex, will include information on where the speaker is in the scene. Only CDSLs and CCSLs will include italicized text for speakers that are off-screen.

Continuity – Only a few kinds of transcripts will include on-screen action continuity; if you’re looking for a continuity list that includes cameras as well, we recommend going for a CCSL.

If you require a script in a different language, we can absolutely do that! The only additional information we would need for the project would be understanding what the script is for, so we can translate it properly. There is a big difference between translating the file as a document or translating it with the intention of narration. Also, if you’re ordering your script with captions, the captions will be delivered first, as that is used as a base for the script. In cases like these, we offer rush turnarounds for the caption files, but not for the scripts. If you have any specific requests, there is room for some customization; we prefer that you have a sample of what you want first.