I’m a casual Taylor Swift fan, and enjoy listening to some of her music, watching music videos, and learning about all of the interesting details she adds to her costumes and videos, but it’s not likely that I’ll ever be able to attend one of her concerts. Having low vision alone doesn’t make it difficult for me to enjoy in-person concerts, but the combination of photophobia (sensitivity to bright lights) and photosensitivity (sensitivity to strobe/flashing lights) makes it unsafe for me to attend elaborate concerts like the one on the Reputation Stadium Tour.
However, thanks to Netflix, I can enjoy the Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour at home with audio description and other environmental accommodations that make it possible for me to enjoy the music and concert experience without putting my health in danger. Here is how I watch the Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour with audio description, and tips for watching concert videos with photosensitivity.
What is audio description?
Audio description, sometimes referred to as descriptive audio or described video, is an additional narrator track that provides visual information for people who otherwise would not be able to see it. Audio description may be provided live by a narrator or pre-recorded ahead of time using either a professional narrator or synthesized voice. At live events such as theater, audio description is typically played on an assistive listening device (ALD), which is about the size of a cell phone, or on an external application- GalaPro is an example of an application that is used in live theater. To my knowledge, there are no dedicated audio description services for live concerts.
For streaming or online content, open audio description is used, meaning that the audio description automatically plays and does not require a special device. Most streaming content uses human narrators, and the audio description is created by an audio description team that watches the content, writes a script, records the description, and then mixes it to ensure that the audio description is played during natural pauses in dialogue or transition scenes.
- Fast Facts About Audio Description
- 8 Myths About Audio Description
- Using GalaPro Audio Description at Chicago
Who benefits from audio description?
The primary audience for audio description is people who have vision loss, inclusive of blind and low vision. However, there are a lot of other audience members who can benefit from watching content with audio description, including people with the following conditions:
- Autism/ADHD/Sensory Processing Disorder
- Epilepsy or seizures
- Flicker Vertigo
- Motion sickness
- Neurological issues
- Photophobia or Photosensitivity
- Visual impairments
- Visual Processing Disorder
Not everyone who has these diagnoses will experience photosensitivity, but it is a known trigger for some people with these conditions.
Outside of disability, viewers who are multitasking while watching videos may prefer to have audio description enabled so that they don’t miss out on interesting visual details.
How I watch concert videos with low vision and photosensitivity
In order to accommodate my light sensitivity, I have a few different strategies for watching concert videos and blocking out strobe lights, which can include:
- Taking breaks while watching content
- Turning off the device screen or covering it with something
- Listening to audio description
- Watching videos with someone else, or having someone pre-screen videos for me
- Using a smaller screen
- Watching videos in a well-lit room
I share more in-depth tips in my post How I Watch Concert Videos Without Strobe Lights, which is linked below.
- How I Watch Concert Videos Without Strobe Lights
- Creating Audio Description for Music Videos With YouDescribe
How to enable audio description for Netflix
To enable audio description for Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour or any other content on Netflix:
- Open Netflix and begin playing the video content
- For mobile devices, tap or click the screen. For Smart TVs or similar devices, press the up or down button on the remote
- Select Audio and Subtitles
- In the Audio section, select a language with Audio Description listed next to it, i.e English (Audio Description)
- To turn off audio description, select a language that does not have Audio Description listed in the title
For Reputation Stadium Tour, the first description that plays should either be for the Netflix title card or the Taylor Swift Productions title card.
- Mainstream Technology and Low Vision: Televisions
- Mainstream Technology and Low Vision: Tablets
- Mainstream Technology and Low Vision: MP3 Players
What’s included in audio description for Reputation Stadium Tour
The audio description for Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour includes the following information:
- Taylor’s facial expressions
- Descriptions of fans in the audience
- Some movement and dancing
- Some on-stage props
- Images projected on the stage screens
- On-screen text
- Descriptions of dancers
- Guest appearances
Taylor’s singing or talking is never interrupted by audio description, and descriptions are only delivered during instrumentals, rest time, or natural pauses in music/dialogue. This means that some details are not mentioned, but I found that this didn’t impact my enjoyment or understanding of the video.
What isn’t included
Information that is not included in audio description for Reputation Stadium Tour include:
- Some movement and dancing when Taylor Swift is singing
- Most lighting effects
- Specific dance choreography- dance moves are not described by name or with dance terminology
- Taylor Swift’s facial expressions while singing
- Some images on the stage screens
Taylor Swift fans (also known as Swifties) have an amazing eye for detail, so there are detailed descriptions of choreography, stage costumes, and high quality photos from concerts that are readily accessible online.
Something I think would be really cool is if someone created an application similar to “David Bowie Is…” for Taylor Swift, which would include high resolution and 3D models of various tour items that viewers could examine.
- How To Create Image Descriptions For Red Carpet Looks
- “David Bowie Is…” Augmented Reality App Review
More thoughts on watching Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour with audio description
- I can’t link to it for copyright reasons, but there is an unofficial live album that contains all of the audio tracks in the video that can be found by running a web search for “Taylor Swift Reputation Live Album”- I’m mentioning it here because it is another way to avoid strobe lights from the original video
- Audio description can be played simultaneously with subtitles, but the audio description track will not show up in the subtitles/captions.
- Want to see another example of audio description used for Taylor Swift’s music? Check out Creating Audio Description for Music Videos With YouDescribe