BTI Studios Brings Audio Description Into Schools

Last year BTI Studios was invited by the charity Into Film to lead a session on audio description. Into Film is an education charity that puts film at the heart of children and young people’s educational, cultural and personal development.

Posted on Jan 25, 2018 by Corinna Booth  | Tags: blog, charity, film

Over half of UK schools engage with Into Film Clubs, which offer special cinema screenings, and resources and training to support classroom teaching .Alongside rich online content for young audiences, this provides 5-19 year olds with inspiring opportunities to learn about and develop a passion for cinema.

On 29th November last year, BTI’s Head of AD, Veronika Hyks, arrived at Lent Rise Primary in Slough to lead a group of 10-11 year-olds in an Into Film session on audio description. Veronika pioneered audio description over 20 years ago and is still as passionate about the service today.

The session started with Veronika giving an overview of what audio description (AD) is – a narrative track to describe on-screen action for people who are visually impaired. Video clips were then screened with and without AD so that the children could experience the difference.

BTI Studios invited by the charity Into Films to lead a session on audio description

Photo shown by kind parental permission, copyright owned by Into Film

Then came the Q&A. The children were very engaged and had many questions about how many films Veronika had described (hundreds, if not thousands!), which famous films she had worked on (everything from Disney to Kill Bill) and her two favourite films in terms of AD (There Will be Blood and The Artist).

Next the children were shown the Frozen trailer without AD and then, with their eyes closed, were invited to try experiencing it in the same way as a person who is visually impaired. Veronika gave some of her top tips on how to audio describe – start with who, what, where and when, and stay in the present tense.

The children had a go at writing their own descriptions of the trailer. We had Olaf “walking like he is wearing boots that are too big for him”. The children also tried reading out their audio descriptions alongside the clip so they could get a sense of the rhythm and spaces between sound effects where descriptions could fit. Then we heard the trailer with Veronika’s audio description.

Penny Hall, Industry Visits Coordinator, Into Film, commented, ‘We were delighted to invite Veronika Hyks from BTI Studios to visit one of our Into Film Clubs on our Industry Visits scheme. It was brilliant to see the students learning new techniques around audio description, linking this to their literacy programme, and really thinking about the requirements of accessible screenings and making film accessible for all. We hope that the session has inspired the students to think about potential career possibilities in this field. Veronika was fantastic with the students and lead an informative but fun session that kept them really engaged throughout’.

Veronika said “It was great to see the children so engaged with the whole concept of audio description and the way they found such expressive words to describe the scene. I hope we have helped them gain an understanding of inclusivity and the challenges that children like themselves may face if they are visually impaired.”

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