Fork your fansub

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.  I forgot to note the episode number.

One of the many questions that sprouts like a weed goes something like, “What is the cost of a fansub?” Current practice is to deploy the pesticide known as, “Lost sales (maybe),” one whose long term effectiveness is dubious at best.

That’s a cost to the industry, and a monetary one at that. But what about the viewer?

Apparently the cost is absolutely huge in some cases, kind of like the price paid by a person allergic to nuts in the presence of a large open container of cashews. Free education and aesthetically displeasing (although beauty is in the eye of the beholder) visual value-adds make people watery in the eyes, uncomfortable in the gut, prone to violent threats and militant outbursts, and making videos that put kids in their place by treating them like…kids.

The “free is a license to do whatever” is an old defense, at once obvious and tired. Sometimes, the truth is just boring, like remedial school. YouTube is pretty much free, and doing whatever includes putting electronics in the microwave and setting your peers on fire. In free there are no hard standards, but maybe that’s why it draws all sorts of people. Somewhere hanging around Free, chances are good that you’ll find Technology, so tinkerers (hackers?) tend to be well-represented.

Maybe you could call old school fansubbers white hats. They self-regulate, climbed the learning curve of technology that was state of the art over a decade ago, have a strong sense of tradition, or whatever passes for tradition. Not sure what passes for a black hat; if you know anyone that subs for organized crime, call the police.

And then there are script kiddies (see what I did there?), and they require no further elaboration.

I keep running off on tangents. Anyway, have you ever considered a modification to the above argument? Free also happens to be a license for you to do whatever. Suppose you’ve got a soft-subtitled Fansub.mkv sitting on your drive. Apparently the poor grammar and honorifics are like a stake through your eye socket, a desecration of your eternal soul. Don’t look now, but I think that makes you a pretty good editor, so I’ve got an idea.

Demux the ASS file. Edit it in Notepad or Aegisub. Remux. Select your scrubbed subtitle stream. Chill out and stop crying into your alcoholic beverage of choice.

There are limits. Most of the more complicated typesetting, including moving signs, logos and karaoke effects, are trade secrets and/or difficult to render in real time, so they are superimposed onto the the video stream itself. But, chances are good that you can scrub any and all translator notes, something that ought to make a few of you delirious with joy.

Soft-sub capable machines need only apply. If you don’t happen to have one, you could always try and hard-sub, but I leave that as an exercise to you, the unfortunate reader.

Afraid that you’ll upset somebody? That’s alright, since it’s better (and easier) to say sorry than to say please, but if you keep your bloody mouth shut, no one has to know. That means: don’t go on some group’s IRC channel and brag about it, don’t release it, and don’t be dumb and talk about what you’ve done on your website. As if the first two weren’t.

Not worth the effort? Then clearly Fansub.mkv is not sacrilegious enough. Rename it to akuma.mkv and try again.

Fork your fansub. Be legendary.