When fansubs happen, their goal is generally the same: provide friends with a way to understand something a person who already understands something already enjoys. For the sake of brevity it doesn’t matter who does what or how it gets done (we’ll touch on that if this series takes off), but rather that they are non getting profit but providing a way for someone to enjoy something they enjoy. But what kinds of results do we have? While no complete standard exists for it, I’d like to give a perspective on the kinds of things that you may see, and what type of subs I would call them.
1. The speed sub – aka “I’d think your wonderful” – speed subs for all intensive purposes are done with releasing fast and first at the forefront. Whether the reason for this is to “be on the cutting edge,” “provide people with content immediately,” or the less mature, “beat another group from doing it too,” the concept is that you want to put out a translations immediately. The problem with most speed subs is quality. You’ll notice that speed subs usually lack in one of three ways: a. typesetting is minimal or a reused template design, b. translations are sometimes confusing, blank, or blatantly wrong, c. referential (in-joke or references to past events), grammatical and typographical errors are medium to high.
Pros: Content usually comes out fast, might be the only way to get some content (for Idol works, things like variety show appearances that are short, or news show snippets fall under this category)
Cons: Quality suffering means that some ideas might be misunderstood, could stop better versions from being released, does not feel very reliable.
Note: Speed subs are referred to by the speed in the amount of work, not their actual speed, some speed subs maybe month/years old, but done with the same amount of time dedicated as something subbed in a day.
2. The casual sub – aka “I wanna do this!” – casual subs are done by small or non-serial groups for the purpose of providing translations for something that they feel really needs subs. They aren’t always going to do everything, and mostly focus on one type or perhaps one series, but do so with dedication in mind. In Nantonaku’s past “freelance” translators have fallen into this category providing 1 time participation for certain projects.
Pros: Output is clean, usually of a higher quality than a speed sub, and with a better understanding of references made within the video (since the people who do the subs know more about the background of the people involved in it due to their interest).
Cons: Sometimes slower (both because of the higher quality and because of the lack of experience), cannot be guaranteed to occur for anything.
Note: casual subs may be part of a “bigger” sub group, but the output is based on those with particular interest and they may not be part of the groups “regular” releases.
3. The serial sub – aka “Here’s this weeks ___” – These people are very regular and very use to their content. This means that visuals, references, and output should remain very consistent throughout productions or increase in style from beginning to end. These can be the best thing to get, but at the same time can be the hardest to find as they only exist if material comes out on a regular basis (TV shows/dramas/etc.).
Pros: Quality is consistent, work becomes familiar and easy to recognize.
Cons: Only occurs for serial content, sometimes starts off worse before getting better.
4. The karaoke sub – aka “Sparkly!” – Karaoke subs get their own category simply because their outlook is completely different from the rest. Not only is translation secondary in many karaoke subs, the ability to read the words also sometimes become secondary to a typesetters own desire for creativity. This results in works with neither are true subs nor karaoke, since they are hard to follow. (Karaoke subs may get their own article in the future if interest is shown)
Pros: fun to look at, sometimes good for learning songs, sometimes teaches you words
Cons: sometimes unreadable, sometimes ill timed (words will not show up till milliseconds before they are sung), sometimes not translated well
In the past N!N translation has done each of these, LDK’s first releases could be considered both speed and karaoke (which are a great shame for us even today), and N!N fansubs has done many casual sub variety shows as well as a couple of serial titles. We’ve seen what happens in each of these situations and feel like these are the results.
Do you disagree? Have a better system? Want to make this series on subbing and translation background more regular? Leave your comments below!