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TADS Project (Translation of Audio Description Scripts)

Description of the project:

Audio description (AD) is a technique to verbalise visual content for blind and visually impaired people. Research on this description technique, in particular applied to films, is carried out in the field of Applied Linguistics within a branch of Translation Studies that deals with intersemiotic forms of translation.

Despite the signing of Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on accessibility requirements for products and services, the current supply of audio described films is rather limited. From the scientific side, therefore, the question of optimising the work processes for the production of audio described films has been raised for several years. This includes the translatability of AD scripts for dubbed films and TV series, a topic which is highly relevant for multilingual broadcasters and their suppliers.

Initial research indicates that AD scripts possess specific text type features. We assume that for this reason, AD script translations cannot be used without the following localisation tasks: consider country-specific AD guidelines, fit the AD units into the dialogue gaps of the dubbed film, and maintain coherence between AD units and the dubbed soundtrack.

Based on current findings in AD research, the TADS project pursues two closely related goals:

1. Contrastive research on the text type AD script by compiling, annotating, and analysing parallel and monolingual corpora containing French and German AD scripts and their corresponding films in original and dubbed versions, if available.

2. Research on the suitability of translated AD scripts for the production of audio described films by means of a study to survey and compare the effort and duration involved in the production of AD scripts: production ex novo versus human translation, or NMT (neural machine translation). We also seek to analyse the quality of the results. The acceptability of the audio described films based on the AD scripts obtained is investigated through a user study.

Our decision to compile a German-French/French German AD script corpus is justified by the fact that to date, little research has been done on ADs in these two languages. Our cooperation partners, the television broadcasters ARTE and SRF, will provide us with AD scripts of dubbed films and series in German and French and for some of them even with their video. In addition, corpus-based and corpus driven research opens up the perspective to identify linguistic features which may help to explain and to face challenges linked to AD script production for dubbed films.

The outcomes of the TADS project are several annotated datasets (some of them multimodal) shared with the scientific community, as well as the developed guidelines for the localisation of translated AD scripts and for AD-specific post-editing.

Main team members (alphabetical order):

German Team: Nathalie Mälzer, Saskia SchulzMaria Wünsche

French Team: Eva Schaeffer-LacroixMaria Zimina-Poirot

in cooperation with the broadcasters ARTE, SRF, the association of blind and visually impaired people DBSV, the film describers Anke Nicolai and Laure Morisset. 

Consultants: Sylvia Jaki, Ulrich Heid, Serge Heiden, and Thomas Schmidt.

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