Audio Description at the Cinema

having seen a few audio described films on DVD and a fair few audio described TV programmes, I was keen to try out Audio Description at the cinema, so went with my Dad and nephew to see Harry Potter and the half Blood prince.

firstly I was surprised that although AD was available for this film, it was not at every showing so we had to choose our time carefully. On arrival at the Vue Cinema, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, we got hold of a headset fairly quickly and went off to see the film. Being a bit of a kid when it comes to Harry Potter, I was well looking forward to it!

I was a little surprised when I put the headset on to realise that, although it was a full headset with big earphones on each side, it only transmitted the audio description, and not the film, so I had to listen to the film that was being played to the auditorium, despite the fact that my ears were covered with cans! Not ideal but it was doable so I settled down to watch the film.

My headphones however, were clearly receiving some sort of radio signal as I got interference when anyone moved around me. I gradually also got increasing constant interference and the AD track was more and more distorted. Eventually the interference was so great that I could no longer hear the film and it was clear that the batteries in the headset had given up. They managed to last for 45 minutes into the film.

So, its the old, old story. Vue have ticked the box. They can advertise Audio Description. They can hand out headsets albeit on limited films at limited times. But they can’t ensure that they will work correctly.

Once you’ve seen the film, missed most of it due to lack of AD and then come out, had a word with the manager, received your complementary cinema ticket and gone on your way feeling very disappointed and frustrated, you end up giving away said ticket to enthusiastic nephew because you really wonder whether you wouldn’t be better waiting for the DVD instead of going to the cinema.

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About Mel Griffiths

I live and work in Nottingham, England and am blind. This blog is often centred around things that happen to me because of being blind. This is my space to write and sometimes people will disagree with what I write, but its the one place I have in which to be frank and honest. I also like to reflect on the funnier side of life from time to time.
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One Response to Audio Description at the Cinema

  1. fleurette67 says:

    Rant justified
    Hi Mel! As far as I’m concerned, you have posted another rant here which is definitely justified. For heaven’s sake, if these cinemas are going to do audio description, why can’t they do it properly? Those headphones have to work for the whole film, not just 45 minutes! Also, they should either give you lighter headphones so that you can hear the film while you wear them, or transmit the film’s original sound through them as well as the audio description if they insist on giving you those big heavy can things! At least you live in a country where they try to do audio description as much as they can, even if it doesn’t always work: here in France audio-described films are not shown in mainstream cinemas, they tend to be screened byassociations or schools for the blind for a very very limited number of showings, sometimes just a one-off showing, and it’s pretty rare that these screenings include an up-to-date film. Most of these screenings are in Paris anyway, so hard luck to blind people in the rest of France, especially as audio-described TV shows are definitely few and far between here! Sorry, here I am ranting again in a comment on your LJ, but there is much more audio description in the UK than in France, so UK residents should be grateful for that, in the hope that it usually works better than when you went to see the new Harry Potter film in Bristol as described here.

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