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  • 1. 11/22/09 Four Fundamentals of Audio Description
    • OBSERVATION – “You can see a lot just by lookin’.” Yogi Berra
    • EDITING – What is most critical to an understanding and an appreciation of the visual image?
    • LANGUAGE – “less is more”
    • clarity – imagination – objectivity
    • VOCAL SKILLS – speech – oral interpretation
  • 2. 11/22/09 3) LANGUAGE We transfer it all to words--objective, vivid, specific, imaginatively drawn words, phrases, and metaphors. How many different words can you use to describe someone moving along a sidewalk? Why say "walk" when you can more vividly describe the action with "sashay," "stroll," "skip," "stumble," or "saunter"? Become a walking thesaurus!
  • 3. 11/22/09 But good describers also strive for simplicity, succinctness ‑ "less is more." “ I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” Blaise Pascal
  • 4. 11/22/09 It's critical to maintain a degree of objectivity — describers sum it up with the acronym – W. Y. S. I. W. Y. S.
  • 5. 11/22/09 “ WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU SAY”
  • 6. 11/22/09 The best audio describers objectively recount the visual aspects of an image. Qualitative judgments get in the way ‑‑ they constitute a subjective interpretation on the part of the describer and are unnecessary and unwanted. Let listeners conjure their own interpretations based on a commentary that is as objective as possible.
  • 7. 11/22/09 So you don't say "He is furious" or "She is upset.“ Rather, "He's clenching his fist" or "She is crying.“ Let the audience make their own judgments! Perhaps their eyes don't work so well, but their brains and interpretative skills are intact.
  • 8. 11/22/09 Always remember— “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin
  • 9. 11/22/09 Or put another way— “What we see depends on the history of our lives and where we stand.” Walter Lippman
  • 10. 11/22/09 Because the image is created in the minds of our constituents, avoid labeling with overly subjective interpretations and let our visitors conjure their own images and interpretations, as free as possible from the influence of coloring. As Nin and Lippman observed, there is no specific, objective thing. Indeed, “labeling” – “naming” is not describing . Labels lead us to pigeon-hole and we tend to then dismiss the thing we see. We do well to follow Paul Valery's advice:
  • 11. 11/22/09 “ Seeing is forgetting the name of what one sees.” Paul Valery
  • 12. 11/22/09 Is the Washington Monument 555 feet tall or is it as high as fifty elephants stacked one on top of the other? Post your thoughts and questions on the Message Board.
  • 13. 11/22/09 We try to convey our descriptions with a kind of “inner vision” that results in a linguistically vivid evocation of the scene being viewed. In other words, there aren’t any elephants there — but you may evoke them in order to convey a particular image — (the height of the Washington Monument!). BECAUSE …
  • 14. 11/22/09 “ Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” Jonathan Swift and …
  • 15. 11/22/09 “ You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Mark Twain
  • 16. 11/22/09 Which suggests a question: Does vision depend on sight ?
  • 17. 11/22/09 Post your thoughts on the MESSAGE BOARD. Audio Description — by the blind, for those who cannot see [Anonymous] Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band, he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.” [J.S. — The man who was blind had tremendous vision. It allowed him to describe with a clarity and vividness that we as audio describers can only hope to achieve.]
  • 18. 11/22/09 Post your thoughts on the MESSAGE BOARD. Check out the following article from BBC News, March 19, 2001: “ Imaginary Art Show Opens” “ A new art show called The Exhibition To Be Constructed In Your Head is relying on the power of the imagination to create its artworks. “ Go to the following URL for the rest of the story: