ALIENS - Audio Description

Started by NecronomIV, Aug 10, 2023, 11:00:32 AM

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ALIENS - Audio Description (Read 1,840 times)

NecronomIV

NecronomIV

So, I'm a sighted guy, and I love audio-described film and television.

From way back I was a huge fan of audio-drama: from The Story of Star Wars to Earthsearch 2 and The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Those were the days before we had a VHS player, and if you wanted something live-action that wasn't at the movies, or not showing on television, audio drama filled that gap.

Audio drama is not a passive medium, you need lean on your imagination to do some heavy lifting, and that's one of the things that draws me to it.

Even during the days of VHS, the tapes were expensive, and I wound up taping television and films onto casette tape. Voilà, instant audio-drama!

I taped a lot of Doctor Who (and there is a long tradition of this among Doctor Who fans) and a few films. Ghostbusters was one of the films I remember taping. The Black Hole was another.

It's fair to say, if you asked me what my favourite film was in the late 80's or early 90's, I would have said Aliens, and that recording was by far, my most frequently-played tape.

In the 2010s I discovered Audio Description and I loved it. It was what I was doing when I was 10, only with someone filling in the bits I couldn't see, and it fits on my iPod instead of my bulky Walkman!

So when I discovered this amazing medium, it wasn't long before I went looking for the audio described version of Aliens.

I checked my DVDs and Blu-rays. I checked the internet. What I found is that none of the current or historical releases of the film have an audio-description track. Further, to the best of my knowledge, it's not on any streaming services wither.

There's a place on the internet that hosts the audio tracks of audio-described movies and television. For some titles, this is the only place they're available.

They don't have Aliens either.

Now, let's be clear about this: I enjoy audio-description because it gives my mind a movie to watch while I wash the dishes or shovel manure or drive to work, but it's a bonus feature for me. If I want to watch a film, I have the optionthe privilage — of sitting down and actually watching it.

But for blind and vision-impaired people, this is not a nice extra thing to have, it's essential, it's how they watch movies.

My curiosity about audio-description, and my love of writing, lead me to start writing audio-description scripts. I started with some Doctor Who episodes from the 60s and 70s.

Sometimes I'd think about doing Aliens. It's a 2.5 hour film though with a lot of action: that's a big jump from 22 minute episodes of English actors talking to each other in space-ship corridors or on location in a quarry.

I don't think I consciously decided to start doing it. One day in May this year I just found myself 27 theatrical minutes into writing a script for it.

I finished the edit-pass script on July 12th.

So, here's a preview of a work in progress, courtesy of AD voice artist and friend Kyle Warwick-Mathieu.

https://twitter.com/Kyle_AD_Voice/status/1688866676085817345

Before you click, think about closing your eyes and experiencing it as audio only.

[cancerblack]

[cancerblack]

#1
I like audio drama too, for when I'm painting, usually. And your post takes me back to recording ps1 footage using a vhs.

I don't personally know any blind or vision-impaired people, but this project has my attention regardless.

NecronomIV

NecronomIV

#2
Kyle so far has recorded and mixed up to the drop-ship crash, as well as the last sequence on the Sulaco.

I will post instructions on where to find it when complete, as well as the script as well for interested people.

If anyone is interested in listening to the audio described versions of other associated films -- great for the commute! -- these are the Aliens/Predator films that are currently described, and where to find them:
 
  • Alien: Covenant is on DVD, ITUNES, PRIME-VIDEO
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is on ITUNES
  • Predators is on ITUNES, PRIME-VIDEO
  • Prey is on HULU
  • Prometheus is on DVD, ITUNES, PRIME-VIDEO
  • The Predator is on DVD, ITUNES

There's some glaring omissions there  :(

Eal

Eal

#3
Quote from: NecronomIV on Aug 10, 2023, 11:00:32 AMSo, I'm a sighted guy, and I love audio-described film and television.

From way back I was a huge fan of audio-drama: from The Story of Star Wars to Earthsearch 2 and The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Those were the days before we had a VHS player, and if you wanted something live-action that wasn't at the movies, or not showing on television, audio drama filled that gap.

Audio drama is not a passive medium, you need lean on your imagination to do some heavy lifting, and that's one of the things that draws me to it.

Even during the days of VHS, the tapes were expensive, and I wound up taping television and films onto casette tape. Voilà, instant audio-drama!

I taped a lot of Doctor Who (and there is a long tradition of this among Doctor Who fans) and a few films. Ghostbusters was one of the films I remember taping. The Black Hole was another.

It's fair to say, if you asked me what my favourite film was in the late 80's or early 90's, I would have said Aliens, and that recording was by far, my most frequently-played tape.

In the 2010s I discovered Audio Description and I loved it. It was what I was doing when I was 10, only with someone filling in the bits I couldn't see, and it fits on my iPod instead of my bulky Walkman!

So when I discovered this amazing medium, it wasn't long before I went looking for the audio described version of Aliens.

I checked my DVDs and Blu-rays. I checked the internet. What I found is that none of the current or historical releases of the film have an audio-description track. Further, to the best of my knowledge, it's not on any streaming services wither.

There's a place on the internet that hosts the audio tracks of audio-described movies and television. For some titles, this is the only place they're available.

They don't have Aliens either.

Now, let's be clear about this: I enjoy audio-description because it gives my mind a movie to watch while I wash the dishes or shovel manure or drive to work, but it's a bonus feature for me. If I want to watch a film, I have the optionthe privilage — of sitting down and actually watching it.

But for blind and vision-impaired people, this is not a nice extra thing to have, it's essential, it's how they watch movies.

My curiosity about audio-description, and my love of writing, lead me to start writing audio-description scripts. I started with some Doctor Who episodes from the 60s and 70s.

Sometimes I'd think about doing Aliens. It's a 2.5 hour film though with a lot of action: that's a big jump from 22 minute episodes of English actors talking to each other in space-ship corridors or on location in a quarry.

I don't think I consciously decided to start doing it. One day in May this year I just found myself 27 theatrical minutes into writing a script for it.

I finished the edit-pass script on July 12th.

So, here's a preview of a work in progress, courtesy of AD voice artist and friend Kyle Warwick-Mathieu.

https://twitter.com/Kyle_AD_Voice/status/1688866676085817345

Before you click, think about closing your eyes and experiencing it as audio only.

I love audio dramas, this is great.

SiL

SiL

#4
I love this!

I don't think the guy's voice is right for Aliens but it's great someone is actually doing it.

NecronomIV

NecronomIV

#5
Quote from: SiL on Aug 12, 2023, 02:04:15 AMI love this!

I don't think the guy's voice is right for Aliens but it's great someone is actually doing it.

You never please everyone when you cast a narrator, and there's a number of issues that aren't always apparent. One of those is to have a voice that is reasonably distinct from the production so it doesn't blend in too much; another is to have a voice that isn't so distinct so it's jarring. Often a very neutral tone is taken.

The sad thing is with audio description there is an increased trend in using text-to-speech, which lack any human warmth or instinct in tailoring the script to the emotional mood of the film.

AD is expensive to write, record and edit, and cutting out a human saves money at expense of quality.

Eal

Eal

#6
Quote from: NecronomIV on Aug 12, 2023, 11:55:53 AM
Quote from: SiL on Aug 12, 2023, 02:04:15 AMI love this!

I don't think the guy's voice is right for Aliens but it's great someone is actually doing it.

You never please everyone when you cast a narrator, and there's a number of issues that aren't always apparent. One of those is to have a voice that is reasonably distinct from the production so it doesn't blend in too much; another is to have a voice that isn't so distinct so it's jarring. Often a very neutral tone is taken.

The sad thing is with audio description there is an increased trend in using text-to-speech, which lack any human warmth or instinct in tailoring the script to the emotional mood of the film.

AD is expensive to write, record and edit, and cutting out a human saves money at expense of quality.

I'll take a cold human narration over a cold AI narration any day. There's subtleties in human speech that still can convey emotion and intensity even when neutral.

NecronomIV

NecronomIV

#7
I have written up my experiences and reflections on writing the audio-description script for ALIENS, and I've plaigarised a little of my original post above (recycling is a laudable thing). It's here:

https://brett.coulstock.id.au/aliens-1986-audio-description.html

The link also includes the complete script, published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence, so everyone is pretty much free to do what they want with it on condition pretty much of a shout-out.

The complete audio-described soundtrack is now online. Now, I know you all own (at least) one copy of the film in any given format (I've currently got 3, and I've owned 5 total throughout my life), and this is purely an accessibility project, but it still falls on the wrong side of being kosher and above board, so as per strict forum rules I will not post a link here, nor suggest where it is to be found.

However, if anyone is interested, you should feel free to DM me.

TC

TC

#8
This is cool.

I can see now how much care and creativity goes into the writing and recording of audio descriptions.

I've never previously given much thought to the effort that goes into their creation, and this despite the fact that many years ago when I was a lowly film editing assistant it was one my jobs to write up what we called an "Export Script" (a.k.a. Dialogue Continuity Script, a.k.a Spotting Continuity List, a.k.a. other assorted variations on those names) as one of the final duties in wrapping up a film editing room. This was just for small documentaries and the like; for a large feature it's more common for the work to be contracted out to a specialised shop. In fact, if you had managed to get a hold of 20th Century's official Aliens continuity list, you would have saved yourself many, many hours of tedious drudgery.

Here's a sample of what one typically looks like:



Generally, they're used for making foreign language dubs. Although I have to say, in the decades since I used to dally in them, they seem to have exploded in complexity. I think possibly because they now form part of the film's copyright registration.

You can easily learn more by doing a Google search on "Dialogue Continuity Script" if you're interested.

TC

NecronomIV

NecronomIV

#9
Quote from: TC on Aug 23, 2023, 05:35:18 PMI've never previously given much thought to the effort that goes into their creation, and this despite the fact that many years ago when I was a lowly film editing assistant it was one my jobs to write up what we called an "Export Script" (a.k.a. Dialogue Continuity Script, a.k.a Spotting Continuity List, a.k.a. other assorted variations on those names) as one of the final duties in wrapping up a film editing room. This was just for small documentaries and the like; for a large feature it's more common for the work to be contracted out to a specialised shop. In fact, if you had managed to get a hold of 20th Century's official Aliens continuity list, you would have saved yourself many, many hours of tedious drudgery.

... that is seriously interesting, I've never come across those documents before.

That said, they wouldn't have saved me any tedious drudgery. When writing audio description you're making a lot of decisions based on a lot of different criteria -- the length of the gap, the tone and mood of the scene, the complexity or simplicity of what you need to describe. It's easier in many ways letting your brain conjure up a sentence or two that will fit, instead of starting with an existing sentence and trying to make it fit.

I mention at some point wanting to write auteur audio description, and that's similarly a harder job because you're looking at how to use existing material.

That said, that looks like just the thing to feed to your Large-Language-Model or AI to get it learn how to analyse a scene or film, and perhaps starting to generate audio description.

NecronomIV

NecronomIV

#10
Well, I have found an Audio Described version of both ALIEN and ALIENS (theatrical). They are on a Canadian (I believe) service called Crave.

https://www.crave.ca/en/movies/all-movies?GENRES=axis-genre-20

ALIENS was done by John Hauber Productions in Toronto; ALIEN by BMI.

I'm going to have some fun comparing scenes in their version of ALIENS to equivalent ones in my own, and see what kind of language and descriptive terms they use, and how they solve some of the problems I had.

So far I've noted that they seem much more willing to speak over some of the dialouge in the film.

Nb: I'd counsel against the AD version of ALIEN, it's TTS (artificial voice), and on skimming a few scenes, the script seems not as good as the version by Descriptive Video Services WGBH Boston, or the UK version which at least is voiced by a human, both are available on a pirate archivist site I won't link to here (DM me for details).

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