About Me

Welcome! My name is Katerina and I'm an Acting student at Ryerson University. This summer, I will be working with the Centre for Learning Technologies at Ryerson on their LiveDescribe Program. This Blog will record and follow my process and experiences as an audio describer for the visually impaired. Using the LiveDescribe program, I will be creating audio descriptions for videos of TV episodes, films, etc. These audio descriptions are and will be available online as they are created at www.livedescribe.com. Keep checking back here for new video details, discoveries, and so forth!

Friday, May 15, 2009

LiveDescribe Week 2

Second week: I’m working on new episodes. Not all video formats are compatible with LiveDescribe and I’m currently trying to figure out which videos I can use.

Working more with the program, I ran into some things. For the automatically created description bars on the audio line, it would be very convenient and helpful to be able to split them as well as the audio. Being able to type in text descriptions while watching the video would also be helpful for longer sequences that require long, detailed descriptions. Furthermore, It would be helpful if the textbox could be enlarged so as to be able to see the whole text altogether, instead of having to scan it down. Also, while recording or watching, it doesn’t allow you to scan down unless you are using the text record option, which sometimes isn’t always the preference of the user.

Another little thing with the program that could be improved is that after a recording has been made, and I click to begin playing the audio mid-way through the description, I can only hear the original audio, not the description audio as well. I have to start the playback before the description bar in order to be able to hear the recorded description as well. It would be helpful if I can start the playback at any point I would like; it would be useful in order to make little specific changes. This also goes for hitting pause - - if I hit pause in the middle of a description section, and then press play again to continue from there, I will no longer be able to hear the description, and have to start again from just before the description. Also, when audio description is rolling, it would be cool if the text numbers could be highlighted as it is rolling.

I am currently working on the pilot episode of Daybreak, starring Taye Diggs. It is an action-mystery style drama, which is very different from The Lucy Show. There are so many important details in quick short shots, that are vital to the story line, but don’t allow me much time to describe them. Therefore, I have to figure out a way to be quick at getting to the point. This is especially true in terms of clues - - very hard to fit in all of the details, because they are all important. Also, subtle background noises in scenes can be just as vital and important as dialogue between characters, so it is very important to not disregard them or overwrite them with description.

In Daybreak, there are many action sequences. They are challenging to describe because, especially when dealing with fights, the hits and blows are so quick and fast one after the other and so continuous that it is difficult for description to keep up with it.

I am also exploring description with the show Friends. This is a comedy very much based on social interaction. However, my greatest challenge when describing Friends is the fact that the show is about six important lead characters, and there are many scenes in which all six friends are in the scene together. The challenge is being able to use description effectively in order to allow and help the listener to easily distinguish the characters apart. Description must be specific and clear in order to achieve this.

I’m finding the descriptions between social interactive comedy much more difficult to do than physical comedy descriptions. Physical comedy, is very much “it is, what it looks to be” and I am able to aid the comedy with the expressions in my voice, while social comedy has to be described very carefully, and effectively in order for the joke to not get lost in terms of subtle facial reactions. And Friends for example has a lot of sarcastic humour in which facial expressions and physical hand motions aid it along. This can get lost in description if I’m not careful.

The comedy of the description has to somehow match or compliment the type of comedy of the show itself. Different comedies have different specific kinds of comedic tendencies, and if the description doesn’t support that, it can spoil the uniqueness of the show, and its personality.

I am very close to wrapping up both the Daybreak episode and the Friends episode. They will both be online by the end of this weekend. Again, see www.livedescribe.com for audio descriptions!

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