Tag Archives: Descriptive Video Service

Descriptive Video Works races from coast to coast in The Amazing Race Canada!

o-AMAZING-RACE-CANADA-facebook-1

Last week saw the premiere of Season 2 of the hugely successful series The Amazing Race Canada which is based upon the multi-emmy award winning format of the original CBS show The Amazing Race. Descriptive Video Works is proud to once again be providing described video for the series which takes eleven teams of two on a race across Canada which is interspersed with physical and mental challenges.

Season 1 was a big hit for CTV and was the most-watched series last summer and the second most-watched tv program of the entire year. Last year viewers saw teams encountering such diverse and uniquely Canadian challenges as taking a polar bear dip into an ice hole in the Yukon, attend an RCMP boot camp in Regina and building an igloo in Nunavut.

Season 2 looks set to take contestants and the audience on an equally thrill-ridden adventure with the premiere alone featuring zip-lining from the top of a ski jump in Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park, tandem skydiving over Victoria, serving the perfect high tea to guests at The Empress Hotel and braving cold water and claustrophobia as they became Navy recruits attempting to plug holes in a sinking ship simulation!

The teams competing in Season 2 of The Amazing Race Canada with host Jon Montgomery.

The teams competing in Season 2 of The Amazing Race Canada with host Jon Montgomery.

For the winning team, The Amazing Race Canada offers the biggest grand prize ever awarded for a Canadian competition series and includes a $250,000 cash prize, free flights in Business Class for a year to any destination flown to by Air Canada, two Chevrolet Silverado pick-up trucks and courtesy of Petro-Canada, free gas for life.

For Descriptive Video Works, the high-paced nature of the show, unique action and jaw-dropping backdrops, provides a terrific challenge. The task of successfully translating these visuals into audio description while still capturing the excitement of the race for blind viewers is always a delicate balancing act.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect for us in providing audio description for The Amazing Race Canada is the reminder that the place we call home is a truly remarkable and spectacular country.

The Amazing Race Canada airs on CTV every Tuesday evening.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Described Shows, Industry News

It’s Job Swap Time At Descriptive Video Works!

Over the many years we’ve been providing quality described video services we have maintained our position as one of the best in the business by not being afraid to learn and adapt. It is from our continued relationships with organizations in the blind community, producers, production companies and broadcasters that we have been able to see approaching trends and in some cases, even influence them! However, for any company wanting continued success, one cannot underestimate what can be learned from those already in one’s organization.

This past week Descriptive Video Works threw down the gauntlet for its staff to experience what each others jobs entail and the results provided us all with a fun evening of socializing but more importantly, an excellent learning experience and appreciation for what each of us brings to every audio description project that comes through our door.

DVW Narrators unite! Voice talent Arran Henn, Paula Hoffmann and Russ Froese try their hand with the writing side of the process

DVW Narrators unite! Voice talent Arran Henn, Paula Hoffmann and Russ Froese try their hand with the writing side of the process

Descriptive Video Works President and CEO, Diane Johnson, didn’t quite go as far as letting the staff run the company for a week (that’s work best left to the experts…) but she did have the team job-swap on two crucial elements of the video description process – the writing and the narration. With so many laptops spread out, our studio began to look like an Apple Store as our voice talent were tasked with writing a section of audio description for the TV show “The Liquidator“. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the studio, our writing staff took turns in the sound booth attempting to record perfect descriptive video for a segment of the TV drama series “Arctic Air“.

DVW staff Jamie Murrary and Shana Selwyn stretch their writing muscles on "The Liquidator"

DVW staff Jamie Murrary and Dianne Newman stretch their writing muscles on “The Liquidator”

For our professional voice talent faced with writing description, there were a couple of surprises. It goes without saying that significant writing talent is required in order to bring to life the visual elements of a TV program or movie when describing it for the blind but it also requires meticulous attention to detail, consistency and economy of language. This, even for a show with a lot of dialogue such as “The Liquidator”, can take a lot of time and patience and this was the biggest surprise for our narrators in their role-swapping experience.

DVW Head Writer and Trainer, Miranda Mackelworth, gets a taste of what its like in the sound booth for our professional voice talent

DVW Head Writer and Trainer, Miranda Mackelworth, exercises her vocal chords recording a segment of “Arctic Air”

Next door, our writers got to see what our voice talent go through when recording the completed described video scripts in our sound booth. The first thing one is struck by is the isolation of being in a sound proof environment and the awkwardness that comes from “performing” and having ones voice recorded. In terms of the specific process that we go through with descriptive video, our writers were particularly taken aback at the multi-tasking side of things – when recording, our narrators have both the script and the program itself in front of them and must split their vision between the two all the while speaking clearly and succinctly without missing a beat. For our writers, understanding first-hand how their written choices can affect the job of our narrators was an invaluable experience.

Following the writing and recording sessions the team re-convened and asked questions, shared their impressions and even a few trade secrets (several of our narrators sing on their way to the studio!). In attendance was Rosamund Van Leeuwen who has been blind since the age of two and who heads up Descriptive Video Works’ research and development team. Our job-swap experience was given a wonderful context as Rosamund shared her insights on the process as an end-user, the audience our work is focused on.

Rosamund van Leeuwen (right) giving our staff invaluable feedback

Rosamund van Leeuwen (right) giving our staff invaluable feedback

A great team-building exercise, our job-swap evening also highlighted for all of us at Descriptive Video Works how much time and dedication goes into describing movies and TV for the blind. Closed Captioning is mandatory on all programming whereas only a small percentage of descriptive video is mandatory. Whereas Closed Captioning can be produced at a rapid rate, descriptive video requires a very different set of skills and a lot more time and dedication. Since it takes more to produce, does this mean it should be any less important when there are more than 30 million people in North America alone who can benefit from described video? We think not. If you’d like to see more programming available for the blind, you can help by introducing to your friends to what we do at Descriptive Video Works because as we discovered with our job-swap this week, there’s a lot to gain from sharing one another’s experiences.

Follow us on Facebook or on Twitter to learn more or visit our website.

Leave a comment

Filed under Described Shows, DVW Team, Vision Impairment

Twin Life: Sharing Mind and Body

Descriptive Video Works provides audio description for all kinds of TV and Film projects but every once in awhile a project comes our way that is truly remarkable. “Twin Life: Sharing Mind and Body” is one such project.

Filmed over the course of 2013, “Twin Life: Sharing Mind and Body” is a one hour documentary that follows a year in the remarkable lives of Tatiana and Krista Hogan, conjoined twin sisters who live in Vernon, British Columbia. As craniopagus twins, joined by the head, the Hogan sisters are truly unique, being the only people in the world known to share a neural bridge between the thalamus. Situated between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain, the thalamus regulates consciousness and relays sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex. What this means for Tatiana and Krista is that they share a sensory bond that doctors suspect is a medical first – they can quite literally see, feel and taste what the other feels.

Born on October 25, 2006, Tatiana and Krista Hogan were given a 20% chance of survival but every day since then they have defied medical science, confounded and amazed their doctors in equal measure and inspired the world with their courage and spirit. “Twin Life: Sharing Mind and Body” follows the twins and their family as through several events during the course of 2013 including a stressful trip to Vancouver for continuing medical tests, their first ever visit to a waterslide park, the beginning of Grade Two, Halloween and Tatiana and Krista’s seventh birthday party.

For Descriptive Video Works, making this particular documentary accessible to vision restricted audiences required a sensitivity to the material as well as a deft hand in bringing to life a story that is both cinematic and deeply moving. It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of this remarkable story.

Produced by Margaret O’Brien and Judith Pyke (who also wrote and directed the film), “Twin Life: Sharing Mind and Body” is narrated by Ann-Marie MacDonald and produced in association with Entertainment One in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Company. The film debuts on CBC Television’s Doc Zone on Thursday March 13th at 7pm.

Image

Tatiana and Krista Hogan

Leave a comment

Filed under Described Shows, Vision Impairment

Descriptive Video Works Congratulates Canadian Talent

Award season may have culminated south of the border with the Oscars but the biggest event on the Canadian entertainment calendar is still to come, the Canadian Screen Awards!

Image

Descriptive Video Works is thrilled to be providing the live video description for the Canadian Screen Awards which will be airing on Sunday March 9, 2014 at 8pm on CBC and as with last year, the show will be hosted by Martin Short. Our live video description services were a huge hit with vision impaired audiences recently when we were honored to have described the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics as well as the men’s Gold Medal Hockey Game. With so many Canadian stars breaking out their best fashions this coming Sunday at the Screen Awards our live video describers will undoubtedly be given a good challenge in bringing the proceedings to life for all our non-sighted viewers across the country.

We send our congratulations to ALL the Canadian Screen Awards nominees especially the shows which we are proud to have made accessible to the blind and partially sighted audience by providing the described video. The shows we have worked on that have been nominated for awards include the following:

Arctic Air

Currently half way through it’s third season, we have been describing the adventures of the Yellowknife based maverick airline since the very first episode. The show is nominated in the Digital Media Category for Best Cross-Platform Project – Fiction.

Image

The Amazing Race Canada

In it’s inaugural season the hit reality series picked up three nominations including Best Photography in a Lifestyle or Reality/Competition Program or Series, Best Writing and Best Cross-Platform Project – Non-Fiction.

Image

Highway Thru Hell

Given the tough winter we’ve experienced this year, the rescue and towing company featured in this show set along the Coquihalla Highway in B.C. must have been kept very busy! The team behind the show have been rewarded with noms for Best Direction and Best Picture Editing in a Reality/Competition Program.

Image

The Liquidator

Also nominated in for Best Direction and Best Editing in the Reality category, we can’t help but wonder if the deal-hunting star of the show, Jeff Schwarz, will try selling his award if he wins…

Image

Motive

Season 2 of the police procedural drama series premieres this Thursday on CTV. The first Season has three Canadian Screen Award noms including Best Dramatic Series, Best Direction in a Dramatic Series and Best Performance in a Guest Role (awarded to Molly Parker for her work in the episode “Public Enemy”).

Image

Nerve Center

The reality series that takes its viewers behind the scenes of complex organizations, utilities and special events has kept our writers busy the last couple of months. The show has a nom in the Best Direction in a Reality Program category.

W5

As the longest-running current affairs/newsmagazine program in North America and the third longest-running Canadian television program, W5 continues to showcase hard-hitting, controversial stories. This year, the show is nominated in four categories including Best News Information Series, Best News Information Program and Host or Interviewer (to Victor Malarek for the story “The Throwaway Children”) and Best News Information Segment (for the story “The Survivor”).

Image

2013 Much Music Video Awards

Describing Korean pop sensation PSY performing his hit single “Gangam Style” was among one of the more interesting challenges for our descriptive video writers last year! The colorful awards show has noms in four categories including Best Music Program, Best Photography in a Variety or Performing Arts Program, Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Non-Fiction Program and Best Performance in a Variety or Sketch Comedy Program (for the aforementioned viral sensation PSY).

Image

Primeval New World

Rounding out the Canadian Screen Awards nominees who we were privileged to have provided described video services to in 2013 is the sci-fi show Primeval New World which sadly was cancelled after only one season. The show provided many an action-packed moment with dinosaurs invading contemporary Vancouver and is well deserving of its nomination for Best Visual Effects.

Image

Congratulations again to all the nominees! Tune in to CBC at 8pm on Sunday March 9 to find out who takes home the awards.

Leave a comment

Filed under Described Shows, Industry News

Audio Description Brings “The Host” To Life For Blind Audiences

Our wonderful working relationship with the folks at Open Road Films continues this month with The Host (Official Site for the movie here) – An excellent science-fiction film that will be coming to movie theaters across North America on Friday, March 29, 2013.

url

If The Host sounds familiar to you it’s probably because the movie is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Stephanie Meyer, the writer behind the smash-hit Twilight books which have also been turned into incredibly successful movies. We are very proud to have provided described video for the film making it accessible to more than 30 million blind and vision-impaired people across North America.

Writing video description is always a challenge but it is especially so when the TV show or feature film is of a fantasy or science-fiction nature. There are often strange gadgets and creatures to be described and sometimes even entire alien worlds that we must help our non-sighted viewers visualize. In painting vivid but succinct pictures through our descriptions we strive to transport our blind audience members to the world of the story in a way that is as close to the experience as it would be for a sighted audience member.

The Host is set in a near future Earth that has been invaded by a technologically advanced alien race that lives inside humans, turning us into host organisms. The alien parasites known as “souls” consume the memories and personalities of their host organisms but some humans manage to fight back – such is the case with the main character in the story, Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), who refuses to fade away and who survives as an inner voice within the alien soul inhabiting her body. From a video description standpoint this presented a unique challenge as we had to ensure that the distinction between human characters and the alien soul inside them remained clear throughout.

thehost-choosetolove-03

Central to The Host, much like the Twilight saga, is a teen love story and this meant the video description and the voicing of the description also needed to maintain a quality of sensitivity that was in-keeping with the central themes of the film. For those of you who might be put off by science-fiction or teen romance, we urge you to go and check out the film – directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show, In Time), the film has a surprising level of depth and beauty to it.

We are very proud of our work describing The Host and whether you are a sighted or a non-sighted audience member, it is well worth your time and money. If you attend a screening of the film with the described audio track, do let us know what you think!

Watch the trailer:

Buy the book the film is adapted from here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Described Shows, Industry News, Uncategorized, Vision Impairment

Descriptive Video Works Congratulates Canadian Screen Award Nominees

At Descriptive Video Works we love seeing talent and excellence recognized but we especially like it when the recognition includes shows we have provided audio description for and clients we have long-standing relationships with.

A new year always brings change and in 2013 there’s already a big shake-up in the award season. The Genie Awards have disappeared back inside a magic lantern and the Gemini Awards have, one presumes, gone to find their long lost twin. In their place comes the new and improved, epic, combo-meal of awards in the shape of the Canadian Screen Awards which combines excellence in both the film and television mediums.

We would like to pass on our congratulations to ALL the Canadian Screen Award nominees but especially to the following shows which we are very proud to have made accessible to blind and vision impaired audiences.

Arctic Air – Best Television Drama

W5 – Best Information Series and Best Host/Interviewer

InSecurity – Best Comedy Actor and Best Photography

Pyros – Best Documentary or Reality Television Series and Best Sound

The Juno Awards – Best Live Television Direction

Sanctuary – Best Costume Design

Saw Dogs – Best Direction in a Reality Program and Best Photography

DVWposter

We look forward to describing lots more quality entertainment over the coming year for people who are blind and vision impaired.  The Canadian Screen Awards will be broadcast live in a 2 hour special on Sunday March 3, 2013 @ 8pm on CBC.

Leave a comment

Filed under Described Shows, Industry News

Descriptive Video Works Celebrates The Coming Year

A special message from Diane Johnson, President & CEO of Descriptive Video Works.

Happy New Year! Break out the bubble – we are celebrating our 10th Anniversary in 2013!

h

For many people 2012 was a challenging year. Economic downturn affected virtually every business – ours included. Thankfully with our dedicated Descriptive Video Works team and wonderful clients we have held our own through the slow periods and things are shaping up quickly for some exciting developments in 2013. I am so grateful for your dedication to keeping us number one in Canada – with incredible potential to expand at a global level. Many new irons are in the fire and I hope to have some very exciting news to share within our first quarter.

We hear from our friends in the community of blind and vision impaired people how they are enjoying television and theatre like they never have before.   We know that as more and more people hear about audio description this group will have even more wonderful described entertainment to enjoy this coming year. One of the highlights for Descriptive Video Works in 2012  was doing the descriptive video for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics. We plan to do the same for many years to come.

On a personal note I wish you all the very best of health, happiness and prosperity in this auspicious new year!

One of our writers sent this to me and I would like to share it with you as we all move into a year filled with possibilities.

“If anything were possible… quickly, easily and now… what would your life look like. Who would you be with? What would you be doing? Where would you be living? What would you look like, feel like? Invite your future self into your present to help you become the person of your dreams.”

May your dreams become a reality in 2013 and may we all continue to take even small steps to make the world a softer more gentle place for all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Described Shows, DVW Team, Industry News