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, June 5, 2009

LiveDescribe Week 5

Week 5: June 1st – June 5th, 2009.

Week 5!!! I’m learning more and more about the program, and exploring new territory!

Here are some little issues I’ve run into with the program:

- Sometimes in the description list, it says that there’s supposed to be a description, when there isn’t
- Extended Description: Turns out, after an episode with extended description was posted on the website, the LiveDescribe Player wasn’t playing the extended descriptions! Therefore, if you have viewed any of the videos recently, they were probably missing descriptions, and also your version of LiveDescribe Player didn’t read them. Ryan fixed it, so now, with the new version of LiveDescribe Player, extended description does play properly. Thanks Ryan!

I’m beginning to explore characters! Is a character describer effective? Not a character in the show, but a character that is the observer? For Degrassi High and Degrassi Junior High, I decided to use a student character named Caroline. I introduce the show as “Caroline”, and continue the rest of the description as “Caroline”. I don’t really use a character voice, except that my voice tends to resonate in a higher register, and sounds younger. I don’t know if this contributes to the experience, or if it is a distraction for the listener, or if it’s just completely pointless. Would it be better to just use this younger sounding voice to describe the show, without introducing it as “Caroline”? Not sure. I wonder if it does increase the entertainment value. I’m worried about the voice being annoying. I think that that is my biggest concern - - being obnoxious.

A decision-making issue I’m running into is having to describe an important action that occurs directly over important dialogue that does not have long-enough natural breaks. In cases like this, extended description would severely interrupt the dialogue, but the action occurring during the description is extremely vital. In situations like this, I need to find the most appropriate moment to slip in an extended description so that the important dialogue is not ruined, but that the action is described so as not to lose any part of the story.

On the other hand, at times with Degrassi, I’m finding that there is a lot of background dialogue that is audible, but really doesn’t further the story at all, but the action occurring overlapping the dialogue involving other characters, does further the story, so I have to describe over the insignificant dialogue. Not to say that it’s insignificant, but I just have to choose which is more important.

Something that I’ve been thinking about a lot this week is how much I can allow myself to make conclusions on behalf of the listener. Again, this all brings us back to whether or not a describer should be simply giving the facts, or if the describer should be allowed to take liberties in terms of perspective and delivery. If I take on a character-describer, when I am describing certain characters on the show or certain events, a particular perspective is inevitable. For example: “geek” vs. boy with glasses. The character is a boy with glasses, but among the student body, he is viewed as the “geek”. Therefore if my character describer is a member of the student body, then the perspective of the description is bound to describe that person as a geek.

Something that can be forgotten is that as describers, we are writers. And more often than not, we really have to have a complete understanding of the story, and what the story is about. Specifically, research-wise. The describer must be considerate of terminologies, meanings, etc. For example: Little Mosque on the Prairie. I need to have some understanding of Muslim expressions, and terminologies in order to be able to effectively describe the situations according to what it all really means and is. I have to describe it as somebody who knows what it is about. I can't afford to be ignorant.

New Episodes up on www.livedescribe.com :
-Degrassi High – Season 1, Episode 1. A New Start Part One

The Following episodes will be up as of Monday:
- Degrassi High – Season 1, Episode 2. A New Start Part Two
- Degrassi Junior High – Season 1, Episode 1. Kiss Me Steph

Check out the new episodes, and check back next week for more!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kat! I've been following the updates on this blog for a few weeks now and I've definitely become a fan (both of the mind-mapping in the posts and the content available from the LiveDescribe website).

    Your musings about description provided in the context of a character in a program caught my attention this morning. According to the establishment of descriptions standards, style guides, and best practices (including the Described and Captioned Media Program's Description Key), description should be delivered by a neutral party, and consist of content-neutral information.

    Adding a new character that exists only in the description is problematic on several levels. First, it adds content that is not available to those watching the program without the description. Second, it makes the describer part of the story line, which invites subjective interpretation and other no-no's identified in "the rules." Third, the content producers who created the original work (unless they are of the ilk that like to share their copyright via certain creative commons license, for instance) will not take kindly to this modification of content. Convincing them that description is beneficial to people with vision loss (and not just some expensive add-on) is tough enough without them having to worry about the integrity of their creative work, which, again, would be admittedly compromised by adding a character.

    It's a wonderful topic for discussion (I hope other describers stumble upon your blog here and can interject their thoughts), however. And, to add on to your thoughts about changing one's voice for description, I recently reviewed several titles from one of the big description vendors in the States on which they employed voice actors who could "match the tone and style" of the program while maintaining an objective and non-judgmental presence on the description track. It actually played very nicely (one of them was a retelling of the classic "The Monkey's Paw" story on which a female voicer with a slightly creepy accent delivered the description) and would probably be all the more appealing to audiences WITHOUT vision loss than "standard" description, delivered in a vanilla, uninflected manner (not that that is ideal either).

    Sorry for the lengthy diatribe--just wanted to weigh in with my two cents, adjusted for inflation of course!