Fansubbers research project
Thread poster: funsubber

funsubber
Austria
Local time: 22:18
English to German
Oct 31, 2011

Hello,

for a small research project I need information about funsubbers. Digging deeper into the subject I've found out that there's not too much written about funsubbers yet. I hope I come across funsubbers here who could give me some advice. Any help (literature, articles, links, interviews, contacts etc) is much appreciated!

Many thanks in advance.

PS: Are you a funsubber yourself? Would you be interested in doing a brief interview with me?


 

Sylvano
Local time: 22:18
English to French
Hum... Nov 1, 2011

This is a forum for professional subtitlers. I am not sure your request will be much appreciated around here.

 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:18
English to German
+ ...
With Sylvano. Nov 2, 2011

Sylvano wrote:

This is a forum for professional subtitlers. I am not sure your request will be much appreciated around here.


Maybe you would like to try some amateur and dilettante forums where the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is still unheard of?


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Can you read Brazilian Portuguese? Nov 2, 2011

A few months ago I wrote my answer in an article in Portuguese (BR) about fansubbing vs. professional translation for subtitles - http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/legendas_gratis.html - however I haven't had the time to search for the same kind of evidence regarding translation into English.

One major reason is that it's unlikely to find Brazilian movies translated into English by fansubbers. Therefore it would involve other languages that I speak, but don't translate. If I did it, I'd be playing their (the fansubbers') game, not mine.

The questions are:
  • Why do video distributors and networks still prefer to "waste" money on cheap translators when fansubbers would do it for free?
  • Why do producers - when they launch international/multilingual versions their movies or TV series collections on DVD or Blu-Ray - resort to professional translators?

There must be a good reason, right?


(Please keep in mind that videos sent for professional translation are unsuitable for illegal distribution: usually in small screen, lo-res, and covered with logos, notes, TC, etc., so fansubbers wouldn't have the thrill of being the first to upload that new release, nor profit from selling pirate copies of it.)


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Looks like career subtitlers don't like hobby subtitlers Nov 2, 2011

Sylvano wrote:
This is a forum for professional subtitlers. I am not sure your request will be much appreciated around here.


There are professional translators who take part in volunteer translation projects. Would there not also be professional subtitlers who take part in volunteer subtitling projects?

There is no separate forum for game translators here, as far as I know, but if you (the original poster) do a search for "game translation" or similar keywords in the forums, you may find more people interested in game fansubbing. Or are you only interested in film fansubbing?


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The highs and lows of fansubbing Nov 2, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
A few months ago I wrote my answer in an article in Portuguese (BR) about fansubbing vs. professional translation for subtitles - http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/legendas_gratis.html - however I haven't had the time to search for the same kind of evidence regarding translation into English.


Interesting article (if Google Translate is to be trusted). Of course I can't judge the examples you give, but the comments are telling nonetheless. It shows typical translation errors, but it also shows how a fansubber can misinterpret the film and so give a completely new meaning to it.

I recently watched "Legend of Earthsea", a Sci-Fi Channel adaptation of Le Guin's book. The film differs from the book in certain very important ways. It occurred to me, however, that with limited editing (e.g. showing a few scenes in mirror image so that it looks like characters are running the other way) and with largely new dialogue, the film could be made into something that is very faithful to Le Guin's original story. If fansubbers (or fandubbers) could do that, their product would no doubt be called a "very poor translation" but it would make for a much better movie.

In the same way, I think one should see fansubbing as an adaptation, not a translation. Not all of the originally intended audience will catch all the nuances and jokes, and just so the fansubber may interpret things differently, according to his own experiences, and that will colour his translation, but is that really such a bad thing? The fansubber ensures that his audience experiences the film in the same way or a similar way as he does. Can you really be sure that a professional subtitler will not make similar mistakes as the ones you mention?

You state in your article:

Some [fansubbers] do so ... trying to gain experience to enter the market of translation for subtitling. [They] never get there: how can they reach the professional level if no one requires them to control or quality?

It is a mistake, I think, to assume that anyone who does fansubbing because he wants to make a career of it will not impose quality control on himself and will not try to improve himself and his work in various ways, which may include discussions with or feedback from other fansubbers or career subtitlers. What leads to quality is often not the requirement for quality but the desire for quality.

Why do video distributors and networks still prefer to "waste" money on cheap translators when fansubbers would do it for free?


This is a silly question -- the fact that clients are willing to pay for a quality product does not mean that the work produced by all non-paid workers are of low quality, nor does it mean that all work that is paid for is automatically of high quality.



[Edited at 2011-11-02 09:44 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A few comments Nov 2, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:
In the same way, I think one should see fansubbing as an adaptation, not a translation. Not all of the originally intended audience will catch all the nuances and jokes, and just so the fansubber may interpret things differently, according to his own experiences, and that will colour his translation, but is that really such a bad thing? The fansubber ensures that his audience experiences the film in the same way or a similar way as he does. Can you really be sure that a professional subtitler will not make similar mistakes as the ones you mention?


To this regard, there is no difference between fansubbing and professional translation for subtitles: the constraints are the same: often too little space/time to make a spectator from a different culture to get the gist of it.

Samuel Murray wrote:
You state in your article:

Some [fansubbers] do so ... trying to gain experience to enter the market of translation for subtitling. [They] never get there: how can they reach the professional level if no one requires them to control or quality?

It is a mistake, I think, to assume that that anyone who does fansubbing because he wants to make a career of it will not impose quality control on himself and will not try to improve himself and his work in various ways, which may include discussions with or feedback from other fansubbers or career subtitlers. What leads to quality is often not the requirement for quality but the desire for quality.


My point here is that a paying client will have bought their right to complain about any flaws, and to demand that they be fixed. Who would bother or dare to complain about the quality of free work? A sane individual would expect a response to the tune of, "Want a better job? Then PAY someone more capable to do it!". If there is a free lunch, gourmet food should not be expected there.

Discussion among fansubbers might lead to the pot calling the kettle black. One professional translator, after having taken a course in subtitling, sent me a few minutes of her first subbing job for critique. I found many fansub-typical flops there, and pointed them out. She was quite thankful. Most likely she'll have some professional reviewing for a while, and then she'll be able to fly high on her own. Yet who would do this in fansubbing?

Samuel Murray wrote:
Why do video distributors and networks still prefer to "waste" money on cheap translators when fansubbers would do it for free?


This is a silly question -- the fact that clients are willing to pay for a quality product does not mean that the work produced by all non-paid workers are of low quality, nor does it mean that all work that is paid for is automatically of high quality.


It was silly for the purpose of evidencing a fact: Distributors try to pay the lowest possible rates, however they won't - AFAIK - resort to fansubbers. They want to buy the right to complain about quality; if they don't, it will be a relinquished privilege. Yet we see plenty of subbing crap on TV.

One subbing studio once offered me translation work that - if I took it - could keep me busy 24/365... for just under one-third of my standard rate. Someone else must be doing it, right?

Disney demands high quality in all their products (though mostly dubbed, due to their audience). Other producers don't have such control on their distributors. However when the original producer launches a multilingual DVD for global distribution, they'll go for the pros.


 

funsubber
Austria
Local time: 22:18
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Well Sylvano,... Nov 2, 2011

Sylvano wrote:

This is a forum for professional subtitlers. I am not sure your request will be much appreciated around here.


I’ve read that quite a large number of subtitlers started by subtitling for voluntary translation projects before they became professionals. So I suppose I’m not too wrong when I post here. I might come across subtitlers who are willing to share their experience.

[Edited at 2011-11-02 13:32 GMT]


 

funsubber
Austria
Local time: 22:18
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks... Nov 2, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Sylvano wrote:
This is a forum for professional subtitlers. I am not sure your request will be much appreciated around here.


There are professional translators who take part in volunteer translation projects. Would there not also be professional subtitlers who take part in volunteer subtitling projects?

There is no separate forum for game translators here, as far as I know, but if you (the original poster) do a search for "game translation" or similar keywords in the forums, you may find more people interested in game fansubbing. Or are you only interested in film fansubbing?



for your feedback and keywords. I’m focusing on translators/subtitlers who translate scientific documentaries and speeches rather than films and Mangas, etc. Maybe the word funsubbers is a bit misleading in this context and I should search for ‘voluntary subtitlers’ or ‘freelance subtitlers’.


 

funsubber
Austria
Local time: 22:18
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Unfortunately not Nov 2, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

A few months ago I wrote my answer in an article in Portuguese (BR) about fansubbing vs. professional translation for subtitles - http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/legendas_gratis.html - however I haven't had the time to search for the same kind of evidence regarding translation into English.

One major reason is that it's unlikely to find Brazilian movies translated into English by fansubbers. Therefore it would involve other languages that I speak, but don't translate. If I did it, I'd be playing their (the fansubbers') game, not mine.

The questions are:
  • Why do video distributors and networks still prefer to "waste" money on cheap translators when fansubbers would do it for free?
  • Why do producers - when they launch international/multilingual versions their movies or TV series collections on DVD or Blu-Ray - resort to professional translators?

There must be a good reason, right?


(Please keep in mind that videos sent for professional translation are unsuitable for illegal distribution: usually in small screen, lo-res, and covered with logos, notes, TC, etc., so fansubbers wouldn't have the thrill of being the first to upload that new release, nor profit from selling pirate copies of it.)



Many thanks for your article. As my Brazilian Portuguese is fairly limited, I’ll give it a try with Google-translator.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@José Nov 2, 2011

José, what is your take on this video?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUYlqLlbix0 (part 1 of 5)


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Answer to Samuel Nov 2, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:
José, what is your take on this video?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUYlqLlbix0 (part 1 of 5)


The entire issue is about the spectator being able to read the subs to understand what's being said, and still have some time left to watch the action without having to use the PAUSE key. Otherwise, e-mail them the entire script translation in TXT; they won't be able to watch any of the action.

This is one of the first items covered in my explanation (intended for clients) at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/subtitling.html

I wasn't thinking about anime. As a matter of fact, I've never watched one in my life.

I was thinking about (mostly American) feature films and TV series available for (yes, illegal) free download on the web, with their corresponding subtitles. If cheap distributors and TV networks decide to further increase their profits, they might download these subtitle files by fansubbers for commercial use. Professional subtitle translators will be out of work, and spectators will often have to endure gibberish.

BTW I am immune to fansubbers, as I work mostly in corporate video, yet I see this danger to the translation industry as a whole, considering its visibility.


 

Sylvano
Local time: 22:18
English to French
What's your definition of fansubbing exactly ? Nov 2, 2011

funsubber wrote:I’ve read that quite a large number of subtitlers started by subtitling for voluntary translation projects before they became professionals.


Where did you read it ? Never heard of that. 99% of people I know in the field have been trained to audiovisual translation. Anyway, I don't think fansubbing and 'voluntary translation projects' are quite the same thing.

So I suppose I’m not too wrong when I post here. I might come across subtitlers who are willing to share their experience.


OK, let's wait.


 

kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:18
English
+ ...
I can't say I've heard of any fansubbers who've turned pro Nov 13, 2011

Almost everyone I've worked with has either done a language degree or been a translator before starting to subtitle professionally. I can only think of three exceptions to that - myself and one other colleague who graduated in sciences and one who started out as a secretary in the early days of broadcast subtitling and was one drafted in.

I have a feeling that companies tend to weed out fansubbers in the recruitment process purely from the point of view of it being easier to teach someone from scratch than to retrain someone who thinks they know it all already.


 


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