Sharing Audio Description
My reasons for sharing audio description scripts.
by Brett Coulstock. .
I don't think I've ever seen an audio-description script that I didn't write.
Where are all the audio description scripts?
The closest I found was included on the CD of some of the BBC Audio Doctor Who Original Television Soundtracks included “linking” scripts, such as Doctor Who: The Daleks' Master Plan.
There are no time-codes, and the placement is guided by dialogue / sound and music effect cues.
I read those and I thought: “I can do that”.
And I did. It's commendable of the BBC to include those. They also release a number of radio-drama and television scripts via their BBC writers' room, which is a fantastic resource.
But no audio description scripts.
But it's crazy when you think about it. If you want to write for film or television or radio or stage, one of the best ways to teach yourself is to read as many scripts as you can get your hands on.
Part of the problem is that audio description scripts don't stand by themselves. They're something like a film script with all the dialogue taken out.
But still, it's one way to soak up the rhythms of the language, the conventions, the sometimes graceful, sometimes clumsy economy of the writing.
So I resolve — where it is legally possible — to share my own audio description scripts and related material, ideally under a creative-commons attribution license.
That means, if you're a budding audio-description writer you can read them. Maybe even improve on them (you're allowed to make derivative works!)
If you're an aspiring voice-over artist, practice the lines! Record them! Mix them! Even if it's just a favourite scene for your showreel. I don't write scripts as an intellectual exercise; I write them for people to use.
If you're a translator, translate the scripts into your own language! A paper from 2006 tentatively concludes that translating existing scripts is faster than creating a new one from scratch. Do it!
Academic or Researcher? It's plain text with time-codes and annotations. Feed them into your corpus. Analyse the linguistic features, semiotics, inter-semiotics, prosedy, objective vs subjective language, word frequency and usage … whatever you're studying!
If you're a company with the streaming rights to the film, or a company creating a home-media release, don't let me stop you. Please, please record it with human voice talent. I've done half the work here gratis so use the money saved here a job for a human. It's attribution so the only thing the script will cost you is a shout-out!
If you're a programmer, do something clever with the words and time-codes. Make an app. Feed it to your large language model, or your pet artificial-intelligence.
And, lastly, if you write a script yourself, please consider publishing it. Better still if it's under a permissive, open license. It encourages and builds talent, and creates more opportunities and work for people in the future. It might help more works be translated from and to other languages.
It'll make the world, in a small way, a better place.