Communiqué from the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group (ACAG)
The Cinema Access Implementation Plan
- The Cinema Access Implementation Plan is an agreement by the four major cinema chains (Hoyts, Village Cinemas, Event Cinemas and Reading Cinemas) to provide 242 accessible screens in 132 cinema complexes across Australia by the end of 2014.
- The roll-out of accessible technology, as outlined in the Plan and agreed to by the cinema chains, involves the installation of closed captioning and audio description.
- Historically, accessible cinema was limited to just a handful of sessions per week at major city locations, with sessions often of the same movie for two or more weeks running.
- The transition to digital cinema has allowed for a more streamlined production of captions and audio description by producers, providing exhibitors with a wider range of movies to offer patrons. Digital cinema also offers exhibitors the ability to offer accessible movies to patrons every day of the week, many times per day.
Progress against the Cinema Access Implementation Plan
- Cinemas are making excellent progress against the original targets in the Plan. The Cinemas believe their transition to digital accessible cinema will be finished early, with Village advising their roll-out will be completed this month, Event Cinemas have stated they expect their transition to be completed by the end of 2012, and Hoyts anticipating completion by mid-2013. Reading Cinemas have experienced some delays but are committed to completion by the end of 2014.
- Details of accessible cinema screens and roll-out dates are provided in the updated Plan available from the DSS website.
Sony Closed Caption Glasses
- Sony Australia has advised ACAG that they will not be supporting the roll-out of their closed caption glasses into the Australian markets. This means that while the glasses are available in some other countries, there are no plans to introduce them in Australia.
- The Plan does not include a commitment from cinemas to open captioning.
- There continues to be discussion about the ability of cinemas to provide open captions. Whilst possible, it is not straightforward.
- In Australia, exhibitors are provided with two composition playlists in a digital cinema package in order to play access features. The original version includes the movie itself and the secondary playlist for our local market will include the audio description and closed captions. This is known in post-production as the ‘disability version’.
- Providing open captions in the disability version is possible but comes at a significant cost, which is to do with the remastering of the caption file. For further information please see the Questions and Answers document about accessible cinema at the DSS website.
- ACAG has developed a Feedback Card, printed in large print and Braille, which will be available from cinemas when collecting your Captiview/Audio Description equipment. We hope that cinema patrons will provide feedback to the cinema or ACAG about their experience with accessible cinema. Your feedback will assist cinemas to improve your future accessible cinema experience. You can provide feedback to ACAG by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Media Access Australia (MAA), a member of ACAG has also developed a short online questionnaire around the use of closed captions and audio description in cinemas. This will be available until the end of the year. If would like to participate, the questionnaire can be found at the MAA website.