Monthly Archives: October 2012

Descriptive Video Works Goes Primeval

We’re all very excited at Descriptive Video Works to announce that we’ll be providing descriptive audio services to the highly anticipated new show Primeval – New World which will be forming part of the new Fall Season line-up on Canadian channel SPACE.

Primeval – New World is a 13 episode spin-off series from the successful British television science-fiction show Primeval which was first broadcast on ITV in February 2007 and ran for 5 seasons. The original show followed members of A.R.C. (the Anomaly Research Center) investigating the appearance of strange portals through Time known as Anomalies which have a nasty habit of bringing with them various beasts from the Past and Future including dinosaurs.

Tim Haines who co-created the original show (with Adrian Hodges) is no stranger to prehistoric life, he was also the producer of the multi-award winning series Walking With Dinosaurs and is also part of Primeval – New World. Partnering with Tim’s company Impossible Pictures are Canadian company Omni Film Productions whom we’ve had the pleasure of working with many times before describing shows such as Arctic Air, Defying Gravity and Robson Arms .

Primeval – New World will be introducing an entirely new group of characters to audiences and we’re delighted to report that the series, unlike many others, is not only shot in Vancouver where our DV studios are based, but is shooting Vancouver as Vancouver. It’s great to see our beautiful city being showcased as itself rather than as a stunt double for everywhere else in North America and it certainly makes identifying locations easier for our staff writing the audio description. Besides, who doesn’t want to see T-Rexes and Raptors rampaging through Stanley Park and Granville Island?!

Like it’s British inspiration, the new series will follow a team of dedicated scientists as they try to understand and contain the sudden appearance of strange portals in Time that often bring with them terrifying monsters from the Past and Future. Leading the team is software genius Evan Cross played by Niall Matter (Eureka). Rounding out the cast are Sara Canning (Vampire Diaries), Danny Rahim (Young James Herriot), Crystal Lowe (Smallville), Miranda Frigon (Heartland) and Geoff Gustafson (Hot Tub Time Machine). There will also be one or two surprise guest stars that anyone who has seen the original Primeval will appreciate but you’ll have to tune in when the show airs to find out who.

Primeval – New World premieres on SPACE  on Monday, October 29 at 10pm ET.


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Descriptive Video Works Dines In The Dark

This week the Descriptive Video Works team hit the town for an adventure that was part celebration of all our accomplishments in the past year and part field trip. We spent the evening at Dark Table, a fabulous new dining experience that just opened its doors to the public in Vancouver, B.C.

Dark Table invites its patrons to embrace an extremely unique experience as they dine in the dark, giving them a taste not just of their delectable menu but also what it’s like to be blind. Owned by Moe Alameddine, founder of O.Noir, Canada’s only blind dining restaurants in Montreal and Toronto, Dark Table recently opened its doors to the public in what was formerly “Quattro On Fourth” restaurant in Kitsilano.

When arriving at the restaurant, guests make their menu selections outside and are then welcomed and escorted inside by a blind server. It’s an exercise in trust as one slowly shuffles forward into pitch darkness towards ones table. Once seated, one is immediately struck by how vulnerable one feels when lacking sight. We really do take for granted something as simple as sitting at a table and eating a meal.

Lazare, our attentive server for the evening who has been blind since age 9, was certainly kept busy, far more so than a server would be required to be at any other restaurant. In addition to bringing us our food, re-filling drinks etc., he was also required to patiently guide each of us through such normally simple tasks as finding a bread bun in a basket, exchanging empty plates between courses and even escorting us safely to the washroom and back. Yes, even the washrooms are dark!

It’s a strange experience at first. Upon sitting at the table one is immediately aware of how as sighted people we take simple spatial elements for granted, such as where the table is in relation to one’s chair, where the cutlery is, what else may or may not be on the table. One of the first challenges was buttering a bread roll – many of us spread more butter on our thumbs than on the bread on our first attempt!

As time passed our active senses of smell, touch, hearing and taste were slowly forced into the forefront. The smell of the food arriving at the table wafted closer until Lazare’s soft, reassuring voice reached out from the darkness nearby and directed our hands to find the edges of the plate. Using a knife and fork is an exceptionally odd experience in complete darkness. One is forced to use one’s fingertips to navigate around one’s plate with every bite becoming a surprise of flavor not to mention size of morsel – You never quite know whether you have a tiny chunk of potato, a deliciously grilled vegetable or a large piece of succulent chicken breast on the end of your fork.

For the Descriptive Video Works team it was great to get together and celebrate our recent achievements but most of all, by experiencing Dark Table, we were all reminded of why it is so important that we all continue to do what we do making television and movies accessible to the blind and vision impaired. Though we were only in darkness for a couple of hours it was a humbling experience that none of us will soon forget.

Dark Table is open 7 days a week (5.15pm-10pm Sunday to Thursday with two sittings on Friday and Saturday at 5.45pm and 8.45pm) and is located at 2611 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver. Call 604-739-3275 to make a reservation.

Team DVW before embarking on their Dark Table adventure

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ITU Focus Group on Audio Visual Media Accessibility

Last week Descriptive Video Works President and CEO, Diane Johnson, attended the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Focus Group on Audio Visual Media Accessibility which was held in Toronto, Canada.

ITU is the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technology and is committed to connecting  all the world’s people wherever they live and whatever their means. Conferences and focus groups are held all around the world throughout the year.

As an industry leader in Canada it was important that Descriptive Video Works attend the conference in Toronto especially in regards to sharing with the rest of the world our experience in describing Live Television broadcasts. We are extremely proud to be the first company in the world to offer the service and the only company offering training for news anchors and reporters that provides guidance in how to make their content more accessible. The conference provided a wonderful opportunity for Descriptive Video Works to stress the importance of, as Diane said, “thinking outside of the regular Described Video TV box”.

“The conference was a great opportunity for us to share with international attendees our descriptive video guidelines that we have developed over the last decade in conjunction with the visually impaired audience in Canada. It is so important to ensure that we are always meeting the needs of the end user. These guidelines, together with the high level of skill and craft that we demand from all of our writers and narrators are what makes Descriptive Video Works stand out in a rapidly growing market”.

Diane also stressed the importance of maintaining high quality described video, “Poor description that misses the mark not only alienates the audience already tuned in but makes it very difficult to attract a new audience. Another challenging aspect in growing the service in all countries around the world is how to get governments to take notice and assist in getting the word out to the blind and vision impaired organizations and communities”.

Highlighting this need to grow awareness for descriptive video services are the statistics from a recent awareness campaign launched in the United Kingdom. Prior to the campaign, only 37% of the general public and 43% of the visually impaired had knowledge of audio description services compared to 60% of the general public and 72% of the visually impaired following completion of the public awareness campaign.

The ITU conferences around the world are important in developing future standard guidelines and best practices for audio description services on an international level. “One example of how we are working together in Canada, are the listings that AMI (Accessible Media Inc.) have put together of all programming on all stations that is described. Instead of looking at it as competition, they see the value of sharing this valuable listing service”.

“The ITU conferences are a great way to get people around the world with the same goals to share their knowledge, their challenges and their aspirations regarding where we can all take descriptive video in the future. Though it was felt by the entire group that we are just at the beginning stages, it is clear that we are sure to see huge growth in audio description in the next few years with levels approaching the current reach of Closed Captioning services. This underlines the importance of continued cooperation, sharing of ideas, increased awareness and the maintaining of high quality DV”.

Descriptive Video Works will continue to be “thinking outside of the DV box” as we take the next steps into what is an incredibly exciting time in the audio description world!

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