Friday, November 7, 2008

How to create a decent fansub in two to three hours

Fansubbing is kind of a hobby of mine, and in the time I've been doing it I've collected a lot of tricks for speeding up the process (and then come up with a few of my own). Currently, the only groups I know of that even come close to three hours do so by cutting out major portins of the subbing process (like, say, editing and QC :p); the groups that do decent quality speedsubs generally do so in a 12-24 hour timeframe.

You will need:
1 encoder, with a fast Internet connection (or better yet, a server dedicated to encoding)
1 or more translators
1 timer (the person who synchronizes the subtitles with the video)
2-3 editors / QCers
1 typesetter (the person that places/styles signs correctly, and stuff like that)
Some kind of collaborative editing system, there are a couple of good ones
Plenty of motivation

Step 0. Encoder downloads the raw, and creates a workraw. A workraw is a raw that's had commercials cut in the same way they'll be cut in the final release, and is usually encoded at a low bitrate. With some raws, such as TV-Japan raws, this can be omitted since the raw is already cut pretty well. (30 minutes)
Step 1: Everybody downloads the workraw. (5-15 minutes, depending on connection speeds)
Step 2: Translation (30 minutes or so)
Step 3: Timing (30-45 minutes, depending on the timer)
Step 4: Editing / QC / Typesetting - These three jobs are traditionally separated, but they're similar enough that they can be combined into one step if you're in a hurry. The fastest thing is for all the editors and QCers to work on the script collaboratively, since at this point there should be no more structural changes to the script. Meanwhile, the typesetter can do their thing, and merge in the changed lines. (1 hour)
Step 5: Final encode - During all this, the encoder should have been doing the final encode(s?), and they should be uploaded by this point. (2 hours)
Step 6: Mux - With softsubs, the finished script can be added to the video in a few seconds, from the command line.
Step 7: Party :3

Pipelining: You can often get some not-insignificant speedups by splitting the episode into chunks of a few minutes, and doing those individually.

The main problem with this method is the difficulty of getting everybody together in one place at the same time, which is probably why it doesn't happen. In the group I'm in we tried it once, and despite the usual problems associated with trying anything for the first time, we managed to sub an episode of Naruto from start to finish in about three hours. 


Frank Church said...

Naruto - I remember watching that, long ago, partly thanks to your prodding. I suppose it's still going on. I'm impressed that you're still doing fansubbing, seeing as how I have hardly any free time these days. :( But you do! I guess I should have majored in honors CS here, eh? (Or possibly gone to a different school.)

Also, I really liked the Tesla music. I look forward to the day when someone performs In C on Tesla coils.

Kiriska said...

I think fansubbing is a great hobby to have. You're chilling with (often) awesome and capable people within your fandom (as opposed to the general perceived idiots) and you're learning lots of cool shit about production, collaboration, and technology in the meantime. I wish I were awesome enough to fansub. :P

I don't really imagine it'd be too hard to collect a team together if you all gather to watch the streaming raw as it airs? :o

I've always been pretty tolerant of speedsubs -- I mean, I didn't really mind Chihiro ever, despite that they were cross-subbing from Chinese and therefore abused English now and again -- but I appreciate quality when I see it. (I guess that's my excuse for watching every episode of CG R2 three times, once with each sub.)

How often do you sub things these days?

P. Static said...

kiriska: Well, we're still subbing Bleach weekly - maybe one day we'll even get around to releasing it. >_> Gathering a team is actually pretty hard though, because the best people are almost always already busy :(

frank church: Yeah, the Tesla music was neat. :D You would have liked Maker Faire.