Guest blogger Jeremiah Taylor (pictured at left with his wife Jo-Ann) is the founder and CEO of ProActive Sales, Inc., a full-service sales management company. In 1999, Jeremiah became suddenly and totally blind as a result of complications during routine back surgery. You can read more about Jeremiah’s (and Jo-Ann’s) long, steady, and inspirational journey – from sudden blindness through rehabilitation to full employment – at the VisionAware website.
In addition to his talents as a dynamic sales professional and motivational speaker, Jeremiah is a serious movie buff. “Going to the movies,” he says, “is not just the movie! It’s a night out with friends and family, hanging out together, enjoying conversations in the car or on the train as you travel to the theater. Movie night is pure Americana! Just because I can’t experience the entire event visually doesn’t mean I can’t be a part of it!”
Descriptive Audio and the Sony Entertainment Access System
During the past several months, Jeremiah and Jo-Ann have been “test driving” the new Sony Entertainment Access System, which provides descriptive video service (or descriptive audio narration) for blind and visually impaired film-goers, as well as closed-captioning and volume control for deaf and hearing impaired audiences.
Descriptive video service (DVS) provides audio narration of key visual elements inserted into natural pauses in the film dialogue. Key visual elements are those cinematic features that viewers with vision loss would ordinarily miss and include actions, costumes, gestures, facial expressions, scene changes, and onscreen text.
The Sony Entertainment Access System (explained and demonstrated in this YouTube video) is available at approximately 6,000 Regal Cinemas since mid-2013. The service can be accessed on any film for which captions and descriptive text have been included with the digital print. You can check online at the Regal Cinema website for the availability of the system in your local area.
For deaf patrons, the system includes lightweight glasses that project holographic subtitles on the lens, keeping the captions within the wearer’s direct line of sight. The system also provides volume control for patrons with hearing impairments. For patrons who are blind or have low vision, the system includes headphones that provide descriptive audio narration.
The Sony Entertainment Access System
Jeremiah, Sony, and “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Following is Jeremiah’s first-person experience using the Sony system at a showing of Academy Award-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. The Wolf of Wall Street is based upon the true story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who served 36 months in federal prison for defrauding investors in a major 1990s securities scam and widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world. (Please note that VisionAware strongly advises viewer discretion: The Wolf of Wall street has been rated “R” by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for scenes that portray sexual activity, nudity, drug use, strong language, and violence.)
Well, “The Wolf” has arrived! The Wolf of Wall Street has its supporters and its haters – and I am a supporter! Originally, I resisted seeing The Wolf, as it was a three-hour-plus movie and many reviews described it as three hours of nudity and obscene language.
Yes, the movie could have been shorter, but the three hours passed faster than I expected. The descriptive narration was excellent and handled the sex scenes in a matter-of-fact manner. It was clear the narrator didn’t describe every nude or sex scene but did tastefully provide enough to allow the listener to get the idea of the film.
Yes, there was plenty of strong language but it fit the movie, fit the characters, fit the story and became just part of the dialogue.
The story was totally entertaining. Surprisingly, it was a humorous film, with many great scenes that came alive through excellent audio narration, along with the spoken word.
DiCaprio was terrific! He is clearly a candidate for a best actor Academy Award. He was on the screen most of the time playing a 22-year-old shy trainee who morphed into a sex-and-drug-crazed, out-of-control egotistical corporate leader. His great portrayal came through, even to this blind moviegoer!
Each person has to make an individual decision about the film and the necessity of the nudity and sex scenes. When I had sight, I was not offended by nudity or sex in movies, but I also feel they are not necessary if the acting and dialogue are good. The Wolf of Wall Street would have been an excellent movie even without any nude or sex scenes, but the strong language did add a real feel to the characters and the Wall Street corporate culture of that time.
But this review is primarily about descriptive audio narration provided by the new Sony system. Because of this great service for blind and visually impaired movie fans, I was able to enjoy this very visual and action-filled movie – plus, I can now participate in discussions of this very controversial film!
- AMC Theaters provide Descriptive Video and Assisted Listening Devices in select theaters
- Regal outfits almost 6,000 theaters with Sony closed-captioning glasses at Engadget.com
- Enjoying Theater, Film, and Television When You Are Blind or Have Low Vision at VisionAware.org
- Video Description Explained at American Foundation for the Blind