More than you always wanted to know …
What is Fansubbing?
Fansubbing is a phenomenon that began with anime, and has now spread across all different genres, notably Asian Dramas. As the name implies, fansubbing is the process by which a video is translated and subtitled by fans. There is no funding or profits in fansubbing, just the pure desire to share a common passion.
Who are WITHS2?
WITHS2 members are Korean Drama fans who are willing to put in countless hours to help share the great Korean Dramas we are all crazy about. The more people there are to watch and understand the dramas, the more people there are to gab, laugh, criticize, and gush with!
What is the WITHS2′s fansubbing process?
Most people who download fansubs have very little idea of what goes on to make them available. It’s quite an operation, and a time-consuming one at that. For WITHS2, the general process is a drama gets selected, a team of translators, timers, and editors gets recruited, and as episodes come out, each episode is translated, timed, spotted, edited, and released.
How does this process all work?
First and foremost a fansub group, as all groups do, essentially needs a core infrastructure, consisting of people, processes, and systems to make it all run.
The coordinators and admin create this core infrastructure system, which must include some online community component like a bboard or forum where the fansub group can communicate and collaborate. The coordinators and admin recruit the rest of the staff, both in general for the team, and one by one for each drama episode.
The coordinators also act as project managers, managing the entire lifecycle of a drama subtitle project, collecting all the info about a drama, setting up forum threads, and managing all the staff involved to make sure the process continues to move forward. The coordinators resolve stalls and disputes, and facilitates communication
within and outside the group.
Finally, the coordinators post the completed subtitles on this website for you to enjoy. WITHS2 coordinators also step in from time to time when needed as editors or to sync a subtitle to a different video version.
Translators translate the drama episodes into flat lines of text. Translators are both Korean speakers translating the raw drama episode and Chinese speakers/readers that translate Chinese subtitled versions of the Korean dramas. It’s a tedious exercise of play-pause-type, and more typically, play-rewind-play-rewind-play-dictionary-type.
For Korean speakers, it’s often a challenge to make out quick, slurred, accented, or quiet speech and quirky idioms. For Chinese speakers, the challenge is to translate dialog that’s already been translated with varying degrees of accuracy. Ever play the game of telephone? It’s tough.
For an hour long episode, the average translation time for a translator is 6 hours, though it has been as short as 4 hours, and as long as 12 hours. The difficulty of the vocabulary has a big impact.
Timers take the lines of translated text, and using specialized software, must time the subtitles to display in sync with the actual dialog of the episode. This is much more difficult than it sounds. The timer must anticipate the timing of the next line to be spoke and click accordingly. In many cases, a timer may have to watch a scene before timing it, and ultimately re-time it over and over again if it is a difficult scene. Think about the overlapped screams in car chases and fights.
Another challenge is having to adjust line breaks if the timing doesn’t work with the lines or if lines are overly long. WITHS2 offers timed versions of the subtitles to sync with the most commonly available raw videos of the drama episodes (usually Ental, and HAN).
For an hour long episode, the average time to time subtitles is around 5 or 6 hours.
Editors ensure that the subtitles make sense. With many different people providing translations, editors attempt to provide some consistency in naming and titles. Editors look at grammar and punctuation to ensure the lines are understandable. Editors make judgement calls when a dialog doesn’t seem to make sense in context.
Editors will also make certain lines are of an appropriate length to display properly, style the lines to distinguish between dialog, written text, voiceovers, and Soundtrack lyrics when appropriate. Editors also check the timing.
For an hour long episode, editors can spend 2-4 hours editing subtitles.
There are spots within an episode that a translator just cannot tackle. It could be that it’s hard to hear or discern, it could be that a word is not understood and cannot be found in a dictionary, or it could be that the Chinese sub is missing the line or offers a translation that seems off. A spot translator goes through and fills those missing or questionable lines.
A translated episode could have a handful of spots, or could be riddled with spots if it were based on a weak Chinese translation or if the characters speak throughout with an accent/dialect that the translator just can’t understand very well.
So the time it takes to spot an episode can be 5 minutes for a single line to several hours if there are many difficult spots.
How long do I have to wait for subtitles to be released?
We’d love it if you didn’t ask. Please remember we are fans who volunteer our time with no pay. We have day jobs, school and family. We do it because we love it. But even fansubbers get dismayed and discouraged when we are continually hounded about when the next sub is going to come out, and in some cases, see outright demands that we pick up the pace. Almost everyone on our team has considered quitting at one time or another (and some actually have) because of the feeling that people don’t appreciate what we do and feel entitled to rush us and make demands.
If you read about our process above, you can see all of the hours that go into translating an episode. There is also the lag time in recruiting staff and lag time between each step in the process as the team members communicate and handoff. It is also particularly difficult and time-consuming to find someone who can handle difficult spot translations. And, of course, all throughout, life gets in the way, whether it’s an exam at school, a big project at work, a sick child or parent, a houseflood, the flu, etc.
If you appreciate what we do, please be patient with us, and for those that are patient, we promise not to let you down.
How can I help?
Well, all of your thanks and kind words always help! Then, we know we are doing what we set out to do, spread the enjoyment of Korean dramas. As mentioned above, you can be patient and not rush us, as we are trying our best.
You can help cover our expenses by donating. Currently, we are not only volunteering our time, but some of us are putting personal money into our infrastructure expenses. Unfortunately, our current rate of donations still require personal expenditure and that is not a reliable or scalable source. Ad Clickthrough revenue also goes towards covering our expenses.
Finally, you can join us! Don’t be intimidated, really! We’re all friendly and understanding. We don’t require any minimum time commitments. We know that people have lives and we’re not asking you to give up your firstborn. We appreciate all the help we can get! You can also email us if you’re interested.