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Old 2008-01-08, 21:56   Link #1
ArchMageZeratuL
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Parallel colaborative fansubbing proposal

Today, I had an idea that some people in #aegisub judged to be interesting. After a brief discussion there, I've decided to post it here to gather the opinion of more fansubbers.

I already expect a lot of flaming, especially from the "speedsubbing sucks" groups, although this proposal would benefit everyone, not just speedsubbers.

The idea is to have some sort of client-server system (with the client integrated into Aegisub) so multiple people can work on different stages of the fansubbing pipeline of a single episode all at the same time.

Basically, there's a server that you connect to (with login and password). The server lists all active projects. You pick one, and assign yourself a specific position, for example, "timer". Then, every connected member can start working on it as work becomes available.

It all starts with the translator, of course. As he watches, he will enter lines in a text editor-like interface (with a few additions, such as F1-F12 keys to quickly switch current actor). As soon as a line is entered, it starts to "count down" (say, a minute). The translator can still change the line while the countdown is going. When the countdown is over, the line is sent to the server as "ready for the next stage".

That way, the translator doesn't have any extra work, and the next stage can start as soon as the translator has typed in a few lines. Alternatively, there can be a "flush" button, to flush the current pending lines. This is up for debate.

After the lines were submitted, the server understands them as "translation OK, waiting timing and editing". On that moment, both the editor and timer will have the line available for them. The timer will only be able to change the actual times, while the editor only the actual text, therefore their work is completely independent. As they are done with lines, they are also auto-set for the next stage, or flushed manually. Maybe typesetting could also be done in parallel at this stage.

After that, if typesetting was already done, all that is left is translation checking and QC. Translation checking can happen immediately after editing, and might be optional (server-side option).

The final stage, QCing, will likely be slightly different: the program will wait for a reasonable ammount of lines to be "ready", and, once they are, tell the user that it can has more stuff to watch. Then the user watches the fragment and hits a key whenever he sees a problem. The program then pauses the video and asks what kind of problem it is, translation, editing, typesetting, etc, and the user picks it, with optional comment. The current timestamp is marked as "in need of revision", and the appropriate person assigned to the episode is notified of such.

If you've been keeping up with my logic, it should be clear that such a system would allow an entire episode to go through the entire fansubbing process, including more than one QC, in an hour or so, if the team is all available and works at typical speeds.

Also, the server would work in a somewhat SVN-like fashion, preventing version conflicts and keeping a history of all changes.

It's up to debate how would "late revisions" work... For example, if a translator wants to change something after it's already been edited. Either way, it shouldn't be too hard.


Now, this is just mindstorming. I had the idea and decided to share with the community. This all could feasibly be implemented in Aegisub after the planned 2.10 reformation (yes, we still need to release 2.00 before, we KNOW ), but we will only really consider it if there is sufficient community support for it.

The server itself would be a lightweight cross-platform program, which would be administered remotely by clients with admin privileges. A single server could potentially host many different fansubs, and each fansub could be organized in projects, and each project in episodes. Each user would them assign themselves in a position for some project (or maybe the admin would?) in order to work on it.

There's also some question on how to share the raw - should that be done manually, or should the program deal with that in some way? That way, once the "distro" client has the raw, it could stream it to other users, so they can start working as they receive it... Although that's probably overkill.


Anyway, I'm not promising anything!

This is just an idea, for now. It MIGHT become reality someday, who knows? But how the community reacts will largely influence that.


Thanks for your time and sorry for the long post!


[EDIT] BTW, the mentioned 2.10 reformation is mostly source-wise, not interface-wise, but will allow things such as multiple subtitle files loaded at once, which is pretty much mandatory for proper Mac support.


[EDIT2] Here's the log from #aegisub:
Spoiler for Long IRC logs:

Last edited by ArchMageZeratuL; 2008-01-08 at 22:18. Reason: Clarifying the 2.10 reformation.
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Old 2008-01-08, 22:21   Link #2
p-static
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Like I mentioned on IRC, basing this on obby (the collaborative editing part of gobby) would give you about 90% of what you're describing here. (For those of you who weren't on IRC: In Flomp, we use gobby for a good bit of the subbing process, and it works really really well. In actual practice, using a system like this, we can finish an episode in 3-5 hours.)

A few suggestions:

* Instead of the minute wait for the lines to be sent to the server, it'd probably be easier (and more useful) if the text was sent as it was being typed. Also prevents race conditions when two people are editing the same line.

* Having the server be aware of what stage a line is at is a really good idea - that should be developed further, it'd be really useful, especially if you allow the user to re-label lines that need to be redone in some earlier stage.

* gobby already has a lightweight, cross-platform server available - one more reason to use it
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Old 2008-01-08, 22:58   Link #3
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Great idea, impossible in implementation.

p-static... What group are you with? I'm a very experienced fansubber and I've never heard of a 3-5 hour turnaround unless you mean an uber speedsub with no editing or QC. The fastest I've ever done is 10 hours, and believe me, that's considered extremely fast.

-Tofu
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Old 2008-01-08, 23:07   Link #4
ArchMageZeratuL
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Impossible?

I don't even see anything as particulary CHALLENGING...
It's just a LOT of work, but none of it is *hard*.

Or do you mean something in particular that I've overlooked?
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Old 2008-01-08, 23:14   Link #5
p-static
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Yeah, it's a speedsub, but the quality is actually pretty decent. We have a fairly efficient pipeline set up, where everybody can work simultaneously, which takes off a lot of time. Releasing softsubs also helps, since we can encode in parallel with everybody working. That breaks down somewhat if we need to do any complicated typesetting that can't be reliably done in a softsub, of course, but for the most part that isn't a problem.

In the end, the speed of the process is basically TL time + timing time + edit / tl check / qc / typesetting time, since everything after timing can be done simultaneously. So with collaborative editing built into aegisub, that could be improved even more. :3
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Old 2008-01-09, 09:45   Link #6
cyth
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The fansubbing community is already being perceived as a tool (even moreso than before), now you want to make it a part of an actual tool?

All hail efficiency and progress!
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Old 2008-01-09, 09:54   Link #7
Ijuki
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I agree with Tofusensei.

Although, go ahead and try, if you manage to get it to work, I am more than willing to try it. Shame that every one lives in different places of the world, which slows the things downs no matter what tools you are using.
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Old 2008-01-09, 09:57   Link #8
CelesAurivern
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Sounds like a recipe for chaos : D
Beside's how many real speedsub groups are still out there anyway?
Even that ninja show takes over 12 hours to hit the shelves.
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Old 2008-01-09, 11:12   Link #9
comatose
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If you're willing to take the time to implement this, then go ahead. It sounds like it could, in most group, at least speed up the process somewhat.

The only problem for some groups might be a place to put this server on, but I guess they all have at least one member who stays online 24/7.

In any case, I don't like the countdown parts.
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Old 2008-01-09, 11:53   Link #10
ScR3WiEuS
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i guess it would need some kinda of color code to show which lines are final and which not. but even then, i personally don't work from beginning to end, in a linear way. as i edit, i skip around the script, change stuff everywhere, etc. i guess it might work for like, translating and timing at the same time or so, but that would mean that the timer would have to time without having tled lines, something not many timers like to do. it would also have to mean that the people are able to work at the same time, and that they can communicate directly as to not interfere or change each other's work.
in short, it's an interesting idea, but not worth pursuing. i don't think anyone but speedsubbers would successfully make use of this idea. it's too risky for groups that prioritize quality over speed.
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Old 2008-01-09, 12:02   Link #11
ArchMageZeratuL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScR3WiEuS View Post
i guess it would need some kinda of color code to show which lines are final and which not.
Yes, I was thinking of something like green for lines already committed by you, yellow for sent, but waiting for someone to pick it, white for what's currently yours and red for those not yet available for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScR3WiEuS View Post
but even then, i personally don't work from beginning to end, in a linear way. as i edit, i skip around the script, change stuff everywhere, etc. i guess it might work for like, translating and timing at the same time or so, but that would mean that the timer would have to time without having tled lines, something not many timers like to do.
No, my idea is to do timing after translation, but only offset by a minute, on average - That is, assuming that the timer can keep up with the translator, the timing will be done 1 minute after translation. Same for editing and typesetting, if they're parallel with timing.

The whole POINT of this system is that even if you NEED a particular task before yours, you don't need it to be DONE: you can work on the partial work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScR3WiEuS View Post
it would also have to mean that the people are able to work at the same time, and that they can communicate directly as to not interfere or change each other's work.
The system won't allow people to change each other's work. This will be constrained so that you are only capable of editing what you are SUPPOSED to edit.

Of course, people being able to work at the same time is the biggest issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScR3WiEuS View Post
in short, it's an interesting idea, but not worth pursuing. i don't think anyone but speedsubbers would successfully make use of this idea. it's too risky for groups that prioritize quality over speed.
It's not risky, indeed it's safer - for example, timers wouldn't be able to accidently change the script (some people on #aegisub said that has lead to several confusions before).

But, yes, speedsubbers would benefit from it the most.

Now that I think about it, I can imagine that non-speedsub groups would want to oppose this idea on grounds that they don't WANT speedsubs to release so fast... Thoughts?
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Old 2008-01-09, 12:09   Link #12
dj_tjerk
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'quality' groups get a lot of their work done out of aegisub. So it's probably not gonna make a lot of difference for those groups, as aegisub isnt really what's the bottleneck for them. Though.. I like more efficient/parallel QCing (in case of more QC'ers that is.. 1 good qc'er should be fine too :P), and the 'tracking changes' stuff.
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Old 2008-01-09, 12:18   Link #13
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Frankly, I would think this would be best implemented in a hosted website application, ala google aps, instead of a stand alone program.

Implement the whole thing in java or perl or some web-application construction toolkit, host it with some space on a cheapy webserver and THEN you'll have the easy for anyone to use, always on, anyone can fansub simultaneously solution that might be interesting to me. Then anyone with a web browser, from anywhere, could work on the show, even at the same time as you propose.

P.S. While you're at it in Aegissub, implement a chat function for basic chatting with people currently working on the same server. Or maybe even a meta-server which links all the smaller ones, thus creating a basic IRC style network with each channel being a working group (groups could talk to one another for help/advice, etc).
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Old 2008-01-09, 12:25   Link #14
dj_tjerk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
Frankly, I would think this would be best implemented in a hosted website application, ala google aps, instead of a stand alone program.
I'd not make that a priority..maybe optional. It's not easy to make a full GUI in Java when most people work on their own pc anyway, and various dll's/plugins are needed for most tasks (how are you going to load audio over a website, let alone video).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
P.S. While you're at it in Aegissub, implement a chat function for basic chatting with people currently working on the same server. Or maybe even a meta-server which links all the smaller ones, thus creating a basic IRC style network with each channel being a working group (groups could talk to one another for help/advice, etc).
Or.. just enter the channel on IRC >_> Or maybe let aegisub play an irc client and enter the chan via aegisub.. but no need to make a whole new chatting network/protocol.
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Old 2008-01-09, 12:32   Link #15
ArchMageZeratuL
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I can't see why would a web-app be any better.

It would be considerably harder to code, wouldn't have access to all of Aegisub's features... and how would you typeset to video and time to audio with that?

As for the chat, a simple chat is trivial to implement, so it'll probably be there.
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Old 2008-01-09, 12:42   Link #16
p-static
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That brings up another thing I had forgotten about: another *really* nice feature in gobby that should definitely make it into aegisub if this happens is a built in chat thingy.

Also, I don't really see the need to have strict restrictions on what anybody can do to the script at a given time. If you don't want somebody messing with your stuff before you're done with it, there's nothing stopping you from just asking them to hold off for a bit. ^_^
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Old 2008-01-09, 13:06   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchMageZeratuL View Post
I can't see why would a web-app be any better.

It would be considerably harder to code, wouldn't have access to all of Aegisub's features... and how would you typeset to video and time to audio with that?

As for the chat, a simple chat is trivial to implement, so it'll probably be there.
From a development side, yes, it would pose challenges, but from a user side I think a web-based solution would be the most platform independent (run off any web browser, if flash-based for the video you have mac, windows, and linux covered), and location independent (no need for any files to be on your computer). Plus the previously mentioned issue about who's computer is the server would be a lot easier if it could be hosted on a true web-server that's always on.

Now your timer no longer can give the excuse "But I'm on vacation at my grandmother's house for 3 weeks!" As long as grandma has internet explorer and DSL, they no longer have an excuse .

As for the chat suggestion, the point of having a built in chat-room is to have the entire fansub development platform in one program. Timing/translation/edit/qc, and a crucial part of that is communication between the people involved. No need to reinvent the wheel of course, it might be simplest to just include a basic IRC server/client protocol in Aegissub itself. Or you could go more modern and implement it with an instant message like system like Jabber or something. Either way, I think that's a needed part of the "suite" you're proposing.
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Old 2008-01-09, 13:54   Link #18
ArchMageZeratuL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
From a development side, yes, it would pose challenges, but from a user side I think a web-based solution would be the most platform independent (run off any web browser, if flash-based for the video you have mac, windows, and linux covered), and location independent (no need for any files to be on your computer). Plus the previously mentioned issue about who's computer is the server would be a lot easier if it could be hosted on a true web-server that's always on.
The server could be hosted via PHP, regardless of a web interface. Aegisub already works on most platforms, with enough tinkering... Either way, it'd be far less work to fully support Aegisub on the problematic platforms than to do anything flash-based.

And that still doesn't touch the most important point - replicating all of Aegisub functionality in flash would be daunting, not to mention a waste of time... And, I don't know about you, but I'd rather do work on a "real" program.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
Now your timer no longer can give the excuse "But I'm on vacation at my grandmother's house for 3 weeks!" As long as grandma has internet explorer and DSL, they no longer have an excuse .
If she has IE and DSL, that's all it takes to download and install software.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
As for the chat suggestion, the point of having a built in chat-room is to have the entire fansub development platform in one program. Timing/translation/edit/qc, and a crucial part of that is communication between the people involved. No need to reinvent the wheel of course, it might be simplest to just include a basic IRC server/client protocol in Aegissub itself. Or you could go more modern and implement it with an instant message like system like Jabber or something. Either way, I think that's a needed part of the "suite" you're proposing.
IRC is far more complicated than this would require. A custom made chat system would be waaay easier to implement than anything based on IRC. Perhaps Jabber would be easier, but we couldn't easily integrate that with the server so people working on a given episode share a chat room.

In the end, "reinventing the wheel" would be the easiest and most effective solution.
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Old 2008-01-09, 14:11   Link #19
ScR3WiEuS
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i do agree that it sounds interesting. didn't want to diss it so badly. it might work out, but it will be hard to balance out. i'd advise you to gather some experienced subbers and try to brainstorm a bit.
i just meant that personally i wouldn't be able to use it very well in menclave, since we usually do things at different hours, and some people are too reluctant to try out new things.
@dj_terk, letting multiple QCs edit the script is a no-no, imho.
if it's just 1 excellent QC, that's fine. but good QCs are extremely rare.
as i see it, this function would only be useful to get TL/Timing/Editing done quicker.
@amz
"The system won't allow people to change each other's work. This will be constrained so that you are only capable of editing what you are SUPPOSED to edit.
Of course, people being able to work at the same time is the biggest issue."
well, tls, editors, and timers all have to have access to the same things really.
even if a tl approved a line, he might see the need to change it later, or do a second run.
i mean, the main "function" would be the possibility to work simultaneously, which is also its biggest fault. otherwise it's just the same as SVN
not to mention that if you use this to get work done faster, you might end up doing it slower. not everybody works at the same rate, so in the end, some people
would have to end up wasting more time keeping an eye on the changes than they would originally.

oh well, perhaps i just don't understand what you mean
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Old 2008-01-09, 14:11   Link #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchMageZeratuL View Post
If she has IE and DSL, that's all it takes to download and install software.
I don't know about YOUR grandma, but mine gets very upset if you even move an icon on her desktop... let alone *gasp* install some software...

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