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Old 2008-07-03, 23:18   Link #1
Rekunoto
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More Translators= "Perfect" Fansub Community

As you all probably know, translators are the most "in demand" members of the fansubbing community. Pretty much all of the other skills (typesetting/editor/etc) can be self taught (youtube taught?) in less then a week.

So, I was thinking today " If there was more translators, the fansubbing world would be perfect", however there was a flip side of this thought.

Basically, as technology has become better/easier/cheaper over the years, fansubs have become more numerous. Some people think this has helped fansubs, and some people think that this has lowered fansub quality dramatically.

So, in my view, translators are the last straw. If translators became highly plentiful like the rest of fansub positions, do you think fansub quality would increase, or decrease.

I personally think better technology and more translators would help fansubs. A lot of people complain about low quality, but I mean, come on, it's just subtitles right?

Please dicuss
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Old 2008-07-03, 23:37   Link #2
Hyrrokkin
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Personally I'd rather have slower releases with few good translators than speed wars with translators that have learned the language off anime/manga or other such things.

The translation doesn't have to be perfect but I really hate it when there are some quite big errors in it, either few big ones that change the story a bit or many little ones that just get really annoying.

So yeah, I think it'd depend on the proficiency of the language whether it could help or not. But a release needs good timing etc. to be good too, so those positions shouldn't be underestimated either. They may be easier to fill but are still just as important as the translators. Also, you're not going to become good just by one week of studying tutorials and youtube videos. Practice makes perfect, and you should try to practice a lot.

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Old 2008-07-03, 23:45   Link #3
Rekunoto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyrrokkin View Post
But a release needs good timing etc. to be good too, so those positions shouldn't be underestimated either. They may be easier to fill but are still just as important as the translators. Also, you're not going to become good just by one week of studying tutorials and youtube videos. Practice makes perfect, and you should try to practice a lot.

(:~
Yeah. I guess I was trying to show that typesetters/editors/encoders need translators more than a translator needs them. Any translator could pick up a copy of Aegisub and Virtualdub and do the whole fansubbing process by themselves , but obviously a typesetter/editor/encoder could not do the same (without acquiring Japanese, of course)
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Old 2008-07-04, 01:16   Link #4
Ledgem
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Translation is the only task that can't be computer-assisted. Not to the extent that other jobs can, anyway. Obvious remark, but the "learning curve" is much higher as well.

While there have been one-man or two-man fansub teams, I think it'd require a lot of dedication on the translator's part. My level of Japanese isn't that high (JLPT level 3; with another year or two of study maybe I could take on level 2 - I didn't translate much and I don't recommend JLPT L3ers to be a translator unless you have a lot of time and are actively studying your ass off) and when I tried translating I realized just how great it was to have... an editor. Very few people seem to have the same grasp of English that I do, so I thought that I wouldn't need an editor's help. I'd always figured that the editor was a sort of useless position compared to the other positions. After killing myself over figuring out how to translate a sentence and make it sound nice, I realized that I could just throw the translation down and let the editor figure out how to make it sound nicer and more natural. It was a huge load lifted off. I appreciate editors a lot more now.

Obviously the translator plays a very critical role in the fansubbing process. If you think about it, every other job in fansubbing is designed around working with the translations and making those translations presentable. It's a lot of work to translate an episode, though, and being able to pass on translations to be handled by the rest of the team is quite nice.

If there were more translators then there'd probably be more fansubs. Interesingly, when I was an active subber I often wondered what would happen if the supply of translators dried up. It's sort of the opposite of what you were pondering. In my experience, a single translator would do a ton of shows while other translators would do a single show at a time, or they'd begin a show and then disappear. What happens when the few translators who seem to be doing practically everything disappear, as well?
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Old 2008-07-04, 02:06   Link #5
Ayanami9870
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I wouldn't say that having more translators automatically means a "perfect community." I liken a fansub translator to a chef of a restaurant. If there's nobody creating dishes in the kitchen, of course the place is shutting down. That aside, there are other factors. You have QCs, typesetters, timers and encoders much like how you have waitresses, cashiers, janitors, and so on. Then you have to consider the translator's ability. How good is their food? Would you come back for more? Does the place look well kept? Do you receive food within reasonable time? Are the tables big enough to serve tons of leechers? Are the waitresses hot? etc. These are all areas various leechers consider and place different value in.

Like anything in fansubbing, each position is a different kind of resource. That said, more translators means more groups can potentially exist, the same way more chefs allow more restaurants to run. Likewise, shortages have the same effect. In the past, we had shortages in distro (which BT addressed), and now we may see shortages in raws. You can imagine how a raw shortage affects translators too. Even if they can cook, there's no place to find groceries or livestock.

So, one way of defining a perfect community is that there's no shortage of any one thing. Either there are enough subbers in each area, or current subbers learn different tasks. Some like a.f.k. do everything solo, meaning it's a one-man operation handling all aspects of the group.

Now, before you take this word for word, two caveats to the readers:

1) a restaurant involves real money and other complicated legal/business procedures. Fansub groups are hobbyists who do everything for free. While I would never condone and caution against anyone viewing fansubbing as a place for free lunch, it's easier through a real-life metaphor to understand how things are interrelated.

2) Perfection is definitely a subjective thing. For one person, a perfect community could be one that is free of drama, like script stealing and e-penis. Another might be one that sees nothing but softsubs. Others may believe in a place devoid of DVD ripping, or one that embraces an Adobe After Effects movement. Then you have those who talk about the "good old days" and desire communion/agreement between subbing groups, and those who want everything released in high-definition. The list goes on.

Aside from that, the concept of "no shortages in any area" would probably suffice. If translators are the shortage at the time, then yes. If it's raws, then it's raw cappers. The view would change based on what is most at need. But I would agree personally that the translation and the raw has more weight than the rest of us; it is possible to translate a raw, post the script on a forum, and let people read or download the text file attached on the forum.
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Old 2008-07-04, 20:06   Link #6
Access
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More translators, but more translators that are willing to work on older works, or out-genre works, or just anything that wasn't subbed from years past. If all the translators want to sub current or mega-popular shows, it doesn't help much. There could be two times their number, three times their number, but if they wanted to sub the same stuff, it wouldn't make a difference.

Also more cooperation would be necessary to make realistic improvements. Often times what happens is a translator goes on haitus for a period -- unable to do work in the present but promising to return or become avaliable 'soon'. This causes work on the project to halt. Having another translator ready to fill the void immediately, without politics getting in the way, would stop things from getting stalled or projects from falling apart.

By politics I mean the ability of an individual to put the group's benefit above one's own, or one's own ego, and of members of the group to cooperate in solving problems for mutual benefit or just 'getting it done'. Too often what happens when someone important disappears, or goes on hiatus for an extended time, they keep insisting they will return (and then don't); or if anyone even talks about finding a replacement, they or others get offended and try to stop that, etc. That's the point, having a replacement or someone who can step in isn't of any use if that can't actually happen.

But that's enough to say on this topic, speaking of theoreticals really doesn't accomplish much.
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Old 2008-07-04, 21:41   Link #7
mandarb916
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Well, from a "just subtitles" perspective, I suppose a large pool of translators in and of itself isn't a bad thing, but as the pool increases in size, you're going to get a higher and higher absolute value of crummy translations...maybe not a % change but something like...
100 translators -> 3 bad translations
1000 translators -> 30 bad translations

That said, from my perspective (I do document and patent translation, English to Japanese and Japanese to English, for the pharmaceutical industry) the types of translators I would want to should meet the following requirements:

a) intimate knowledge of US/Western culture
b) intimate knowledge of Japanese culture
c) Native level proficiency in English
d) Native level proficiency in Japanese

It's relatively easy to come across 'a', 'c', and 'd', but I haven't seen too many that have the 'b' qualifier and it seems the lack of 'b' is where a lot of misinterpretations/mistakes in translations seem to come from. This is a trend that I see in the particular industry I work in as well, but due to the fact that the translation work we do is based outside of cultural influence it's not a critical criteria. On the contrary if 'b' is satisfied, then counter to the prior example, I find the person is lacking in the 'a' and 'c' criteria.

So to begin with, to accomplish what you would want to see happen, you're already dealing with a (not to sound derogatory) crippled translator pool and even if you can find someone with a very high level of translational skill, it would be difficult to find a person who actually enjoys anime and also wants to fansub. So while it would be neat to see an increased translator pool, I think you're going to see a degradation in quality rather than an improvement.
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Old 2008-07-05, 02:06   Link #8
getfresh
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From my experience more translators does not equal better. There are more translators than ever in the community now, yet the translations of average are far worse than that of when the community was much smaller. This is because there are far more people with around 3 years of Japanese classes attempting to translate and give translation with 40% of it being guess work, very little background/historical research, and the fact that they value speed of accuracy.

I personally don't feel like arguing about how so and so can translate fast and accurately. If you are looking for that and try it I will just ignore you.

Also, typesetting is not something you can learn fast by yourself. Yes there are guides and new apps for making work faster, but just because someone reads a guide and learns how to use commands does not mean they know how to do good work. That is like says, "Because I have a Japanese dictionary, I can translate." I my self have been TSing for quite some time and am self taught as there were no guides when I started. This is because .ass and textsub had just come out. But I learned the commands and such and could work fairly fast. But my work at first was of the likes that these days I'd call crap. It was for a few years subpar, as was most everyones.

Editing is the same. You can't edit without a few of years of COLLEGE English and being a native speaker imo. This is not something we are born knowing how to do.

The problem that I see with the fansubbing scene as of now is that people think just what you are implying, "I can DL this app, and read this guide and I'll be great." This is a major falsehood. Yes, you can get good. But this takes experience, trial and error over time, and learning to have an open mind to new ideas that are presented in relation to your field. This is true with any type of profession or in this case, hobby.

I can understand if some ppl feel this just is not true. And to those people all I have to say is, ask any person who is an expert on a subject, doing high quality work. You will find they will say the same thing.

Now, do I think it is bad to try doing it before hand so that you can learn. No of course not. But do not present something as being correctly done and ready for mass viewing if you are not up to that level yet. Don't run around competing with groups to release first when you are releasing something that is just plain wrong. Have pride in your work. Do it right and to the best of your ability.
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Old 2008-07-05, 14:32   Link #9
Mystique
Honyaku no Hime
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayanami9870
2) Perfection is definitely a subjective thing. For one person, a perfect community could be one that is free of drama, like script stealing and e-penis. Another might be one that sees nothing but softsubs. Others may believe in a place devoid of DVD ripping, or one that embraces an Adobe After Effects movement. Then you have those who talk about the "good old days" and desire communion/agreement between subbing groups, and those who want everything released in high-definition. The list goes on.
Indeed, but it does make for interesting topic seeing as it is subjective.
What i bolded would have to be my version (well wouldn't make it 'perfect' but it'd sure make it a damn sight more pleasant in irc fansubland.)
What happened to having fun with a hobby instead of having to tiptoe around fansub politics? x.x
- Not to mention personally seeing as i'm female, this e-penis measuring up, testosterone filled, e-muscle flexing, arrogant ego imposing, op power abusing craziness on IRC somedays is just tiring, pointless and trivial.
I can only shake my head like this somedays and think 'men...'
(or more than often 'boys...')

Quote:
Originally Posted by getfresh View Post
From my experience more translators does not equal better. There are more translators than ever in the community now, yet the translations of average are far worse than that of when the community was much smaller. This is because there are far more people with around 3 years of Japanese classes attempting to translate and give translation with 40% of it being guess work, very little background/historical research, and the fact that they value speed of accuracy.
It's not only that. Having an advanced level in japanese and english also doesn't equate to being a good translator. Translation in itself for most part especially with the cultures of english and japanese requires a good level of cultural interpretation and idiom usage in both languages to add some colour to the words instead of reading it grammatically accurate but stiff.
- This does at times mean that a translator often has to be prepared to research for minutes at a time.
(yes, research, japanese wikipedia is a pretty handy tool) - and i think that despite a lot of fans having the passion and initial dedication to try their hand at it, i wonder if many actually realise the weight of the task they're about to undertake when they say 'i want to be a translator'.
As i've seen with a friend of mine who is a japanese translation graduate compared with me who's a japanese language and culture graduate, i'm now finding that i'm having to learn all the basic linguistic and technical skills of translation as a art, which he already has to make real good of those words on the screen.

I don't think it'd hurt for new translators to pick up a book on the art of translating in itself or study the theory on it to be honest; it does have certain technical aspects to it like other creative aspects of fansubbing such as karaoke, or typesetting and as with some things, understanding the theory sometimes makes the practice a little easier.

Quote:
The problem that I see with the fansubbing scene as of now is that people think just what you are implying, "I can DL this app, and read this guide and I'll be great." This is a major falsehood. Yes, you can get good. But this takes experience, trial and error over time, and learning to have an open mind to new ideas that are presented in relation to your field. This is true with any type of profession or in this case, hobby.
Couldn't have said that any better.

Quote:
Now, do I think it is bad to try doing it before hand so that you can learn. No of course not. But do not present something as being correctly done and ready for mass viewing if you are not up to that level yet. Don't run around competing with groups to release first when you are releasing something that is just plain wrong. Have pride in your work. Do it right and to the best of your ability.
*high fives*
I was beginning to think that doesn't exist in fansubland anymore.
A: you've got the ever rabid leecher lot who some groups feel the need to keep them sweet 24/7 - else they'll lose their leecher count and cry, thus it becomes a speed > quality issue or just something to toss about together for the sake of popularity.
B: You gain this sense of 'i can't be arsed, too lazy, no one will notice, it's only a hobby, not getting paid' a hell of a lot lately or a 'im bored, so i thought 'why not' - but are you actually enjoying/liking and feeling proud of what you're tossing to the public around the world or even just creating for your own pleasure and improvement in skill?

As for more translators = perfect?
Only if they were translators of high literacy, interpretation and cultural comprehension, then it will make things easier for an editor and QC'er in terms of subtitles.

At the end of the day however, the quantity of any position in fansubbing won't make things any more perfect or better, but the quality, care and teamwork of all will
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Old 2008-07-06, 02:30   Link #10
seaghyn16
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my $0.02 says that it depends. There are a great number of fast subbing communities out there, that put alot of work into good translation, and an asthetic appeal while watching.

For example, look at some of the series done by Aone. The intro subs are flashy and neat, accurate in translation. They glow and fly and do all sorts of things, and you can still read them easily and follow the context with a good translation.

Competition will usually create a demand for better quality, as they vie for watchers, but unless all the groups banded together, to make their lives easier, I can't see any really dramatic loss in sub quality.

It's the "official" dvd releases you need to watch out for. Just switch on subtitles in most of those dvds, and watch it in japanese, and you haven't got any good feelings. They are usually yellow, plain at the bottom of the screen, and have no attractiveness. They're translation is also not much different that what a hardworking sub group could put up, and sometimes I wonder who was stealing who's script =) (with the fansubs coming out first ^_^)
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Old 2008-07-06, 05:39   Link #11
mandarb916
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaghyn16 View Post
For example, look at some of the series done by Aone. The intro subs are flashy and neat, accurate in translation. They glow and fly and do all sorts of things, and you can still read them easily and follow the context with a good translation.
God...that kind of stuff upsets me to no end...it's like the subs (well the subbers in this case maybe?) are attention whoring themselves out saying "watch me instead of the actual anime"...

it's easier on my eyes when it's just plain white or yellow text with nothing flashy going on...to each their own I suppose though.
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Old 2008-07-06, 12:32   Link #12
Ledgem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaghyn16 View Post
It's the "official" dvd releases you need to watch out for. Just switch on subtitles in most of those dvds, and watch it in japanese, and you haven't got any good feelings. They are usually yellow, plain at the bottom of the screen, and have no attractiveness. They're translation is also not much different that what a hardworking sub group could put up, and sometimes I wonder who was stealing who's script =) (with the fansubs coming out first ^_^)
You probably know this, but that's a limitation of the DVD specifications. Companies can't release colored or stylized subs on DVD unless they hard-code them to the video. From what I remember, soft subtitles have three different fonts and can be in either white or yellow. I don't know if Blu-ray has changed this to make soft subtitles a bit more free, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has the same limitations as DVDs.
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Old 2008-07-06, 14:35   Link #13
jfs
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Uh sorry for leading the thread further off-topic, but DVD subtitles are bitmap images. Low-resolution images. There's heavy limitations on the number of colours and there's also limitations for the bitrate of the subtitle stream. While bitmap subtitles are arguably the most freeform (no limitations from fonts or character sets) the low resolution and limited bitrate and number of colours makes it hard to do anything really fancy with them.
But there are no limitations to fonts in DVD subtitles, you can easily put arbitrary graphics in there, as long as you can fit them within the colour limitation. You could also put animations in the subtitles if it wasn't for the bitrate limitation combined with the bitmap-ness of the subtitles, meaning that too many subpictures in too short time will break the bitrate limit.

The reason you most often see yellow and white in DVD subtitles is that those two colours provide the best readability/contrast, even if it might not be the most pretty.
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Old 2008-07-07, 18:10   Link #14
getfresh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfs View Post
The reason you most often see yellow and white in DVD subtitles is that those two colours provide the best readability/contrast, even if it might not be the most pretty.
Same reason fansubs originally used those colors back in the VHS days. Next most readable color set is light-green/black, followed by white/black.
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Old 2008-07-07, 19:51   Link #15
Tofusensei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getfresh View Post
Same reason fansubs originally used those colors back in the VHS days. Next most readable color set is light-green/black, followed by white/black.
That and they tend to hold up pretty well over multiple generations of copying.

-Tofu
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Old 2008-07-07, 23:00   Link #16
getfresh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tofusensei View Post
That and they tend to hold up pretty well over multiple generations of copying.

-Tofu
aye, they don't go bad when washout happens ;p. Yellow becomes more white, black grayish, white stays the same, and green becomes yellow green, so they all stay within their original group of colors. Unlike red which causes black to become brown and become orangish it's self during washout. And blue which goes gray along with black during wash out. Purple I have no clue about, but purple subs would just look kinda gay. I guess it would work for weiss kreus or gravitation though ;p.
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