Audio Description Project Primer

Getting your content described is incredibly rewarding, as the full meaning of your content can now be understood by any viewer. We’ve put together this handy primer to take the mystery out of the description process, allowing you to hit the ground running the next time your content needs to be described.

Describing a piece of media is an artistic process of sorts, between writing the script, sourcing voice talent, booking studio time, recording the takes, and mixing the files. Key to the description process is using a strong voiceover talent to bring the described content of your video to life.

Taking the time to plan your project is important, and like most things worth doing, quality description takes time. The first step in the process is to provide us with the final cut of the video to be described. The description file will contain as many on-screen graphics and text/subtitles as we can possibly fit without interfering with dialogue, so it’s crucial that we receive the final version of your content to ensure the description is 100% accurate. In some cases, we can work from a rough-to-final process, but it’s preferable to work from the final cut. 

To get started, here are the questions we work together to answer: 

  • File Type:
    • Will your description track be mixed in a single audio channel (mono) or dual track (stereo)?, or 5.1 surround sound? Most web videos will have a stereo mix, while broadcast programs will typically be mono. If you need a stereo file, we will need the printmaster audio mix from your production team.
    • Do you need voice over-only files, or do you need a .wav file with program audio missed with description audio?
  • File Delivery:
    • Do you require any platform-specific deliverables? Will we be sending the final mix to you, or will we be passing it directly to the network/distributor? 
  • Standard, Open, and Expanded:
    • Will you require standard description (working within the natural pauses in dialogue), or do you need expanded description (inserting pauses in the video to describe what is going on)?
    • Will you need the description file burned into the video (open description)? This is the most common option when editing capabilities are limited, where we mix the program audio and marry it to the video.

If you’re unsure about any of these specifications, check with your distributor or network to see what deliverables they require.  Description is a very creative and technical service. If this is your first time describing your program, don’t fret! We’ll work together to make sure you get the best product and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have along the way.