One of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, recently announced that it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or have visual impairments in all of its first-run theatres. Cinemark is installing audio description systems on a rolling basis across its circuit in conjunction with the chain’s conversion to an all-digital format. Installation is already well under way, and all of Cinemark’s theaters in California already have audio description capability. Cinemark will be able to offer audio description at all of its first-run theaters by mid 2013.
In audio description (also known as descriptive narration) a narrator provides vocal description of key visual aspects of a movie, such as descriptions of scenery, facial expressions, costumes, action settings, and scene changes, described audibly during natural pauses in dialogue or critical sound elements. Narration of these elements is then woven into the soundtrack of the program or film, so that the finished version is a mix of program audio and descriptive narration. The description, which is provided by movie studios, is available only to members of the audience who choose to receive it via personal headsets and a receiver provided at the theater.
The California Council of the Blind (CCB), a consumer advocacy organization of people who are blind and visually impaired, and individual blind Cinemark movie patrons applauded Cinemark’s commitment. Cinemark has worked closely with CCB and individual patrons with visual impairments on its audio description initiative.
Rio Popper, an eleven year old sixth grader who lives in Redwood City, California, was thrilled with Cinemark’s announcement: “Going to a movie with audio description is way more fun than having to have my parents or friends tell me what’s happening on the screen. There’s a Cinemark movie complex near my house that has already installed the equipment and I love going there.”
Donna Pomerantz, president of the California Council of the Blind, also praised Cinemark’s announcement: “We are pleased with Cinemark’s support for audio description. This national initiative makes first-run movies available to millions of patrons who are blind and visually impaired. They deserve to participate in this quintessential American experience.”
Cinemark selected the Fidelio audio description system from Burbank-based Doremi Cinemas LLC to provide descriptive narration to audience members who desire the service.
“Cinemark was pleased to collaborate with the CCB and some of our blind patrons,” said Michael Cavalier, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Cinemark, USA, Inc. “The conversion to digital cinema has facilitated the development of audio description systems like Fidelio. We now have a platform that makes full implementation of an audio description system viable. Cinemark has worked closely with our suppliers to make certain that we are providing the highest quality descriptive narration system,” he added.
Michael Archer, Vice President of Digital Cinema at Doremi noted, “When we began the in-house design of the Fidelio product, we worked closely with Cinemark, our long-term partner, to create a viable, high-quality system that provides audio description for digital cinema. We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with Cinemark to provide described movies to their patrons across the country.”