With tight deadlines and limited budgets to worry about, audio describers and production companies are turning to technological solutions to lower costs and save time. But what's involved in audio description software, and what features are included to help users?
We'll be using our own tools as an example to show you the ins and outs of audio description software.
The audio description is a narration spoken during quieter moments of a video.
The audio description provides additional information that would otherwise not be clear from the dialogue.
This often includes descriptions of the location, characters' facial expressions or the type of scene.
Here's an example of an audio description made with our software:
The audio description is primarily intended for people with vision loss.
Around 250 million people worldwide have a visual impairment, with sight issues becoming more prevalent as we age.
Despite its importance, only a small percentage of productions are provided with audio description.
Put simply, audio description production is usually broken down into the following stages:
Different professionals are normally required for each step, but some audio describers can take on all three tasks if they have a home studio.
Audio description production is typically a complicated process.
Audio description scriptwriters need to deal with fiddly timecoding and export issues, which slows down progress.
Clients usually ask for corrections to the script, so there's also a lot of back and forth on the phone or by email.
When it comes to recording and post-production, time is lost coordinating voice talent and sound engineers.
With delays and repeated corrections, costs can also soon add up.
Ultimately, audio description software makes life easier for everyone involved in the process.
In our software, voice recording is taken care of using text-to-speech with synthetic voices, so let's include that with audio post-production.
Here's the state of play when we consider the two production stages separately:
The authoring tool includes a player, so the audio describer can watch their video while they work.
This also means the audio describer doesn't have to keep rewatching the video in a separate window.
Below the player, there's a timeline displaying the audio from the video; this helps the audio describer determine where there's space to enter their descriptions.
To create a description, the audio describer adds a cue point and then types in the text; the cue point appears in the timeline and can be moved around to ensure the description is timed just right.
If corrections from the client are needed, they can be made directly in the tool.
Once the audio description is finished and approved, it can be exported into the most common formats in one simple click.
With the software providing an improved overview and taking care of the awkward tasks, the audio describer can focus on what really matters: their script writing.
As stated earlier, Frazier creates the audio file from the transcript using text-to-speech technology.
There's still work to be done though, as the audio file needs to be mixed with the video's original soundtrack.
The audio describer can select a preset ducking level for the file from a dropdown menu; the ducking presets conform to the most common broadcasting standards.
Next, the mixed audio file needs to be mastered and added to the video. Again, all the audio describer needs to do is select the loudness target from a dropdown menu.
For both mixing and mastering, the process only takes a few moments.
In the “Berlin Scrapbook” video below, the ducking and mastering have been adapted to conform to web standards.
Speed is the name of the game here: Instead of waiting around for the studio to mix and master, your audio-described video is ready to broadcast in minutes.
Frazier includes a neural machine translation feature.
This automatically converts your audio description into another language.
After the translation has been generated, a post-editor can look over the text before delivering the final product.
Don't worry! You don't need a technical background to be able to use Frazier.
The tools are very simple to use, so you'll be up and running in no time.
Our knowledge base provides a step-by-step guide to help you through every stage in the process.
If you're really struggling with something, you can always get in touch with our support team.
There's no need to download anything onto your computer, as Frazier is browser-based.
You simply log into the tool through our website, upload the video you want to audio describe, and then start writing or producing your audio description.
The only requirement is that you use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as your browser.
There's a range of audio description software out there, offering various services for different prices.
Frazier has been developed with every stage of the audio description creation process in mind.
On top of that, we provide an unrivalled selection of over 450 voices in 40 languages for reading out the audio description.
Depending on the amount of content that needs to be audio described, taking out a monthly or annual subscription is usually the most cost-effective approach.
We encourage audio describers to take Frazier for a free test drive before deciding whether to sign up.
We recommend you test the results on your audience to see whether our software is a good fit.
If the response is positive, contact us so that we can come up with a tailored plan that suits your audio description needs.
Frazier helps to:
In turn, all these points boost the audio describer's productivity, saving them time and money.
Looking at the bigger picture, audio description software makes providing accessible media content more scalable.
Currently, the lack of accessibility to media resembles a black hole that continues to expand, as more and more content is produced without audio description.
With AI and technological solutions, audio description professionals now have the tools to increase their output and begin to redress the balance.