The Power of the Senses
Audio description is a technique that is used to help blind or visually impaired people to better understand and perceive visual processes. To this end, special commentators, trained in individual sessions and familiar with theoretical knowledge, comment on any ongoing action. Since the idea of audio description is essentially to replace what would usually be perceived through the eyes, the primary task is the conversion of all images into vivid headlines. Much more difficult for the commentator is the expression of atmosphere without adding personal emotion and opinion – the main difference between this and a radio commentary.
To prepare for “Wetten, dass...?”, the commentators analysed previous shows, took part in training sessions, and attended rehearsals for the show. Extensive preparation was also made with regard to the audience members. “In sports, the audio description is most commonly mixed exclusively with the atmo. For an entertainment show, however, the audio description has to be embedded carefully and delicately into the show in such a way that the listener doesn’t realize a thing,” explained Michael Kastelic, CEO of Datamatix Datensysteme GmbH.
AUDIO2 has been responsible for creating the audio description for matches in the First Austrian Football League and other sports events for three years. Now, the company has added another highlight to its résumé with the Saturday evening “Wetten, dass ...?” – its first live-audio description on German television – aired on January 19, 2013. Broadcast from the Baden-Arena in Offenburg, the operation was centred on a container located next to an OBVan operated by national public broadcaster ZDF, who was responsible for the international broadcast.
This container was treated with acoustic absorbers in order to improve sound quality. For a show of this size and cost, AUDIO2 employed very high-quality equipment for everything from microphones to the loudness meter and mixing console – a Lawo crystal. “The demands on the technology and everyone working on this project were extremely high, so we really appreciate all the positive feedback we received! It shows us that we did a good job,” explains Kastelic. “Lawo provides systems with a high degree of flexibility that allows us to employ them in the best possible way in this sort of project. The other very important factor for us was Lawo’s quick and reliable support.”
The crystal console was chosen for its compact size and modular fader unit. “After a comprehensive market analysis, it became clear to us that Lawo’s crystal console would be the most flexible and powerful solution. It also beat all its competitors in terms of cost-effectiveness. The basic unit can be extended easily, either with MADI or SDI-embedders, and allows us to use it in all types of setting, from football arenas to theatre productions and even TV shows.”
With its brand AUDIO2, Datamatix Datensysteme GmbH, founded 2003, has developed into a modern enterprise and expanded its operations into large parts of Europe. Beside audio description, the company develops hardware and software solutions for wireless data transmission to vehicles and locations as well as providing professional advice and support.
In Austria, AUDIO2 has been contracted by the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB), Austria’s premier football league, and the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting) to handle the audio description for all football matches. Further audio description of sports events, film and TV are a major part of the company’s operations.
Lawo, headquartered in Rastatt/Germany, specialises in developing, designing and manufacturing mixing consoles and matrix systems for radio and TV broadcasters, as well as for use in live events. Standards of high quality and innovative technology are supported by more than 40 years of experience in the field of professional audio technology.
Lawo’s product range covers digital audio mixing consoles for use in radio, broadcast, production and live applications, including the required software. In addition to the provision of matrix systems and audio networks, Lawo also carries out project engineering tasks and acts as a main contractor for radio OB trucks; these services include user training and maintenance. This high level of expertise results in a comprehensive support service for Lawo customers.