About the Project Leader

The project leader Maija Hirvonen

Hi, I’m Maija Hirvonen!

I work as the principal investigator in MUTABLE as well as in the MeMAD project.

Have a look at my research profile at the university website. If you understand Finnish, you can watch my talk at the Young Academy of Finland in which I introduce my research on audio description and blind-sighted interaction. (Video recording of the talk below.)

I have studied audio description since 2008. My PhD thesis (Hirvonen 2014) combines Translation Studies, Film Studies and Linguistics with the aim of defining similarities and differences between the linguistic description in AD and the audiovisual representation in narrative films. The study includes intermodal comparative analyses of the visual-pictorial and the linguistic modes (Hirvonen 2012, 2013b, and 2013b) as well as multimodal analysis of the auditory resources in audio described film (Hirvonen & Tiittula 2012). On the basis of earlier work, I have identified the need of analysing the AD process in order to gain insight of how textually observable translation solutions and strategies unfold in the translation process. More research on the auditory resources is also necessary to complement the knowledge of multimodality in AD.

Today, I’m still involved in the research of audio description but from wider perspectives: I’m interested how audio descriptions – or translations overall – are created collaboratively between users and translators (blind and sighted describers). You can read more about this in the MUTABLE publications. Another area of interest for me is the application of AD to content description. Content descriptions are metadata of visual and audiovisual contents, such as films, TV programs or artworks, whose function is to describe these non-verbal data verbally in order to improve their findability in search engines and digital libraries. As the amount of visual and AV data increases, more efficient methods are needed, and this leads to an interesting research question: What can automatically produced video/content description learn from the human-made AD, and vice versa? These questions are tackled in my other ongoing project at Uni.Helsinki, MeMAD (Methods for Managing Audiovisual Data, EU Horizon2020, 2018-2020).

One of the great things in science and research is that they make a difference in the world. In this respect, it is important to me to participate in developing the society toward the greater Good. I am member of the Young Academy of Finland, a multidisciplinary organization for young researchers that aims to promote research and strengthen the status of science and scholarship in society. With my colleague, Tuija Kinnunen, I participated in Hack for Society, a kind of research accelerator that aimed at transforming research into practical solutions. Our idea was to create a tool for accessibility to public participation and citizenship, which could cope with the challenges produced by multilingualism and diversity. More about our solution in Finnish at Kokeilun paikka.

I participated in Skolar Award 2016. This was a science pitching competition aimed at postdocs, with a prize of 100,000 euros. Although I did not win the prize, I was selected among the 6 finalists (of nearly 70 applications) and got to pitch at Slush 2016. What a great experience, and highly recommendable! After all, we got lucky and received funding for the research from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program: the project MeMAD is up and running in 2018-2020.

Project leader

Maija Hirvonen

Associate Professor (tenure track), (Saksan kieli, kulttuuri ja kääntäminen)