MasterChef Canada is Back!

Once again, Descriptive Video Works is proud to make MasterChef Canada accessible to the blind and partially sighted audience by providing the audio description for this lively show. Season 2 debuts on February 8th with a new crop of home cooks competing for the grand prize of $100,000, the trophy, and the title of Canada’s next MasterChef.

Season Two promises to be an exciting and entertaining one, featuring home cooks from all across the country, including a single mother of six, a former BC Lion, and a small-town veterinarian. Also returning for Season Two are the three MasterChef Canada judges; professional chefs Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile, and Alvin Leung.

In the first 2 episodes, the contestants face the nerve-wracking audition process, where they have to prepare their signature dish and present it to the judges. At least 2 of the judges have to vote “yes” for their dish in order for them to receive the coveted white apron.

Once the finalists are chosen, the home cooks will battle it out to become one of the Top 16. Then, over the course of the season, contestants will do their best (“like their lives depend on it!”, according to judge Alvin) to avoid elimination by winning challenges that will include special guests, mystery boxes, and a restaurant takeover. Descriptive Video Works will be along for the ride too, describing the action (and food!) every step of the way.

Please join us for another unpredictable season of the ultimate Foodie Fight – MasterChef Canada! Who knows what the future holds in store for the winner? Season One winner Eric Chong has already gone from home cook to restaurant chef! In partnership with judge Alvin, Eric will be opening an Asian/Fusion restaurant this year in Toronto.

Now if only someone would invent “Smell-O-Vision”!

MasterChef Canada debuts February 8th at 7:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on CTV. Please check with your cable provider if you need help turning on the described video, this promises to be a Season not to miss!

 

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It’s Awards Show Season!

It’s that exciting time of year when we celebrate last year’s entertainment achievements.   On Sunday, March 1st, Canada fetes our talent with the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s, 2015 Canadian Screen Awards, which will be broadcast live on CBC. Stage and screen star Andrea Martin will host the awards, which celebrate Canadian productions and talent who excel in front on the camera, and behind-the-scenes in Canadian film, television, and digital media.

Descriptive Video Works is thrilled to once again be providing the live audio description for these Canadian Screen Awards allowing the blind and partially sighted to celebrate Canadian accomplishments alongside their sighted family and friends.

Descriptive Video Works is further honoured to have provided the descriptive video making six of the nominated television shows accessible to the blind and partially sighted audience. Find out what shows and actors are this year’s 2015 Canadian Screen Awards DVW Nominees!

For the Shaw Media Award for Best Dramatic Series, the Nominee is:

Motive

A feisty Vancouver homicide detective tracks down the most cunning of killers, by trying to figure out the motive to a crime.

In the category of Best Reality/Competition Program or Series, DVW had fun providing the descriptive video in two of the nominated programs:

Amazing Race Canada

This, the 12th international version of the multi-Emmy award winning reality series, pits teams against each other as they race across Canada and around the world.

MasterChef Canada

This culinary competition offers home cooks a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to demonstrate their skill and passion, as they compete for $100,000 and the title of Canada’s next MasterChef!

Nominated for Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program, or Series:

Charlie Storwick, in Some Assembly Required – Realm of Raiders

For fourteen-year-old Jarvis Raines, running a toy company isn’t just fun and games. But it is fun. And there are games.

For the Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role, the Nominee is:

Adam Beach, in Arctic Air – Rites of Passage

Set in the booming Arctic, this adventure series is about a maverick airline, and the unconventional family who runs it.

For Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role or Guest Role in a Comedic Series, the Nominee is:

Jay Malone, in Package Deal – Kangaroo Court

Three very different brothers can’t get enough of each other, until a beautiful, smart and funny woman begins dating one of them.

Descriptive Video Works congratulates all of the nominees in these, and all of the categories for this year’s Canadian Screen Awards. We’ll be watching on March 1st to see who wins – join us!

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January 22, 2015 · 4:34 pm

Descriptive Video Works goes to Hogwarts!

With the wave of a wand, the final two movies in the beloved Harry Potter series will air with described video during this holiday season. Canada’s CTV network will telecast “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” on Tuesday, December 30th at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT), followed by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” on New Year’s Eve, Wednesday,. December 31st, also at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT).

As a fan of the Harry Potter movies, as well as fantasy and magic, our descriptive video writer, Liz, would have loved to have Harry’s help. “The Harry Potter movies were wonderfully interesting, exciting, and rewarding to describe,” says Liz.

Liz has been part of the Descriptive Video Works writing team for the past six years, and loves the challenges of movies like the Harry Potter series. “For those who know the well-loved saga, my goal was the treat the story line, characters, and setting as familiar, drawing attention to details that create continuity with past adventures,” she says.

“I also wanted to describe the unusual and fantastic places, people and things in the movies, so that those who are unfamiliar with them would be able to envision how amazing and spectacular a world it is,” says Liz. With such a visually-oriented movie, Liz worked to create a highly-detailed level of descriptions that will bring the movies to life for blind and partially sighted viewers.

Our work on these two blockbuster movies builds on DVW’s 12-year long partnership with CTV and Bell Media, which includes description of the network’s flagship weekly news series, W5. Diane Johnson, CEO & President, Descriptive Video Works, says “We are pleased to provide the audio description on such popular movies. Our focus groups tell us that these are the types of shows that the blind and low vision audience is grateful to have available.”

And to all of the wizards and muggles out there, the team at DVW wishes all the very best to our clients, friends, and their families, over this holiday season!

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DIANE JOHNSON NAMED FINALIST IN 11th ANNUAL STEVIE® AWARDS FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Descriptive Video Works CEO Diane Johnson was named a Finalist in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Canada category in the 11th annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business, and will ultimately be a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie Award winner in the program.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honor women executives, entrepreneurs, employees and the companies they run – worldwide. The Stevie Awards have been hailed as the world’s premier business awards.

Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced during a gala event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York on Friday, November 14. Nominated women executives and entrepreneurs from the U.S.A and several other countries are expected to attend.   The event will be broadcast live on radio in the U.S.A. (and simulcast worldwide) by Biz Talk Radio and taped for a later television broadcast.

“Every year we receive the most amazing and inspiring stories of achievement from women-owned and –run organizations around the world,” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards. “The first-round judges have told us how delighted they are with this year’s field of Finalists. We’re looking forward to recognizing them in New York on November 14.”

Details about the Stevie Awards for Women in Business and the list of Finalists in all categories are available at www.StevieAwards.com/Women.

 

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Descriptive Video Works Visits A Strange Empire

Over the years Descriptive Video Works has provided its fair share of described video for period dramas, from Anne of Green Gables and The Road To Avonlea to Titanic: Blood and SteelBringing to life these richly realized past eras is always a challenging but rewarding endeavor for our describers and narrators and CBCs new 9-part feminist Western drama series, Strange Empire is no exception.

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Set in 1869 Alberta, Strange Empire centers on a group of once-helpless women in a small frontier camp who are forced to take control of their situation when the men are mysteriously murdered. For CBC, the show is an attempt to stand shoulder to shoulder with the darker in tone shows more common to premium cable channels such as HBO and Showtime. Featuring brothels, sex and violence and morally ambiguous characters, Strange Empire is a long way from more familiar CBC drama programming such as Heartland and Murdoch Mysteries that’s for sure!

Capturing the richly produced period details and dusty cinematography of the series is an important priority for our descriptive video writer, Joel, but equally challenging has been the aspects of the show that are less obvious. Joel says, “Perhaps the most intriguing and challenging aspect of Strange Empire from an audio description perspective is the way in which the creators have tried to suggest the supernatural or otherworldly through the use of religious imagery, symbolism, or other visual imagery. Obviously, I don’t want to play spoiler here, so let’s just say there’s a lot of subtle hints and allusions that can be tricky to convey.”

Though it makes our job at Descriptive Video Works more challenging, we are delighted that CBC are not only willing to take on more complex material with shows such as Strange Empire and The Honorable Woman (read about our work on that show here) but that they are keen to make these terrific TV dramas accessible to the blind and partially sighted. Strange Empire is Orange Is The New Black meets Deadwood, a fascinating female dystopia and we’re sure it will generate its fair share of ‘water-cooler talk’. By commissioning us to provide described video, CBC has ensured that more than a million blind people across Canada can now contribute to those discussions about the show.

Starring Melissa Farman, Tattiawna Jones, Cara Gee and Aaron Poole, and created by Laurie Finstad-KnizhnikStrange Empire airs on Mondays on CBC at 9pm.

strange-empire-5007

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DVW Brings Critically Acclaimed Series “The Honourable Woman” To Life

honourablewoman_bbctwo__twocolumncontent

Descriptive Video Works recently concluded providing audio description services to the new drama series The Honourable Woman. A Sundance Channel and BBC co-production which has already aired in the UK and exclusively on The Sundance Channel, The Honourable Woman has been a huge hit with audiences and critics alike. Viewers in Canada will get their first look at the show on Monday, September 29 when it premieres on CBC at 9pm with a second episode following at the same time on Tuesday night.

The Honourable Woman tells the story of Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal in an astonishing performance), a newly made baroness at the forefront of the Middle East peace process who is struggling to maintain her idealistic principles whilst wrestling with personal demons from a troubled past. Nessa’s harrowing personal journey is set against a backdrop of political intrigue that has all the trappings of the classic spy thriller. As entertainment, it’s as gripping as anything else on television and yet it is so much more than just entertainment – this is a show that is complex in its plotting and fascinating in its character development whilst deftly navigating subject matter that is both highly controversial and topical. It’s impossible to view the show without giving serious thought to what is currently happening on The West Bank.

In bringing the story to life for blind and partially sighted viewers, the The Honourable Woman provided an incredible challenge as well as an opportunity for DVW to showcase the talents of our team.  Given the complex nature of the story, extra attention to detail was required in establishing each location and the characters present in each scene. This was made especially challenging with the story unfolding through numerous flashbacks. As with all spy thrillers, every episode was also abundant with elements that added to the suspense and mystery such as mysterious figures lurking in doorways, evidence uncovered, and props and clues along the way that would not be significant until much later in the story. These details are key to the genre and even for sighted viewers could easily be confusing, missed or forgotten entirely. For us, the key was in being precise and memorable in our descriptions so that when they reoccurred, our blind and partially sighted audience would be reminded of their importance in the story.

Written and Directed by Hugo Blick, the TV series is extremely visual with many themes and metaphors present only as images. For DVW this afforded a wonderful opportunity to write evocative description that we hope honors the rich source material and provides blind and partially sighted viewers a truly immersive experience.

Watch The Honourable Woman on CBC beginning Monday September 29 at 9pm, Tuesday September 30 and every Tuesday after that at 9pm.

the-honorable-woman

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Descriptive Video Works Makes Case For DV At CRTC Hearings

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This past week, Diane Johnson, CEO and President of Descriptive Video Works, took part in the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission – the administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications) hearings discussing the future of Canadian television. Dubbed Let’s Talk TV the hearings gave Diane, who was joined by Shawn Marsolais, founder of Blind Beginnings, the chance to make the case regarding the importance of described television.

Following a submission process, Diane and Shawn were among the lucky few to be invited to the discussions pertaining to audio description (other speakers included AMI – Accessible Media Inc.).  “Over and over again I am asked why are not more programs described,” Diane said prior to Let’s Talk TV. “I don’t understand why the current mandate is only four hours a week for described video on TV, and 100% for closed captioning. I don’t understand why the blind and partially sighted are denied equal access to information and entertainment”.

During the allotted ten minute session, Diane gave the CRTC a background of her experiences with Descriptive Video Works and the kind of services the company offers, many of which are practices that we have pioneered such as Live Video Description. Also addressed were emerging worldwide trends that show availability of described video increasing, blind audiences becoming harder to ignore and how Canada has the opportunity to be a leader in the field. As a founding member of the Canadian Described Video Broadcast Committee, Diane expressed the importance of Best Practices and how these standards only have value if everyone follows them.

Shawn said to the members of the CRTC panel, “Please imagine not being able to see. We don’t know what our peers are wearing or doing leaving us at a disadvantage socially. It is difficult to make friends when can’t talk about sports, TV programs, fashion, or when you miss the action or joke because it was something visual. DV fills in these gaps”. She went on to say, “Being able to talk knowledgeably with sighted people about these things demonstrates that I am not that different from them, I just can’t see”.

Diane capped off their time speaking with the CRTC by saying, “Both entertainment and information are received via television, lack of access is socially isolating. The blind and partially sighted community deserves the same access to television as enjoyed by all viewers. Descriptive video directly contributes to a higher quality of life. We respectfully request a mandate that requires 100% described video on Canadian television programming”.

Diane and Shawn then answered questions from Stephen Simpson, CRTC Commissioner, British Columbia and Yukon who was particularly interested in Live DV and the associated costs of DV and how these costs may be reduced for broadcasters.

TV-Remote

To watch Diane and Shawn’s full presentation to the CRTC as well as how they responded to Commissioner Simpson’s questions, CLICK HERE and jump ahead to 135:00.

It is our hope that the CRTC listens to not just Diane and Shawn’s feedback, but the feedback from the entire blind and partially sighted community across the country, a group of one million plus Canadians that is expected to increase significantly over the coming years as the baby boomers retire. The blind community is tired of being mostly ignored – a fact supported by a complete lack of media coverage during the video description portion of the CRTC hearings. Though Let’s Talk TV is now over, we can all do our part to continue pushing for increased DV. Let’s not let the importance of equality for all be overshadowed by focus on BDUs (Broadcasting Distribution Undertakings), pick ‘n pay contracts and Netflix. Let’s continue to talk TV and ensure that nobody is left out of the discussion.

For a full breakdown of the topics covered by the Let’s Talk TV CRTC hearings, CLICK HERE – Sections 20 and 21 pertain to Described Video and Media Accessibility.

We also encourage you to check out the amazing work being done in the community by Shawn and her team at Blind Beginnings.

 

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