Archive for September, 2009

Mahoutsukai ni Taisetsu na koto

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

mahou01Over the weekend, I had another anime marathon.  This time, I watched both season of Mahoutsukai ni Taisetsu na koto.  The second season especially had a strong impact.  And through these series came an ordinary, but strong reminder—whatever projects we handle, they must be done with its total context in mind.  In the show, it was taken as understanding the requester’s true need and execute the most appropriate magic accordingly.  By concept this isn’t hard to do, even outside of the concept of these shows.

But in practice?  I rarely see it happen anymore.  Maybe I need to reset my skepticism filter.  But more and more, I hear some service providers say “This is exactly what you asked.”  It’s easy to take a request literally, execute it literally word for word, and call it done.  It is not easy to understand what the requester really needs, and accommodate it appropriately.

This somewhat reminds me of the story of the treeswing.


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Damn the corporate firewall

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Earlier, I went out to Google Docs to update my translation log… and got blocked by the company firewall.  What’s funny is the categories that the firewall gave to Google Docs.


Mike Mason? WTF? Who the hell’s that?

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Closing another project

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

When a fansub project slows down, it’s difficult to regain momentum.  Spice & Wolf is a big exception.  Nodame Paris is a typical example.  The feeling of “another day of delay won’t hurt” drags on and on, along with “even if I don’t do it, someone else will” or “I’m not the only one who’s holding up the project.”  It creates a terrible cycle.  It was a difficult one to finish in that sense, but it’s all done.  For now.

Now I must go finish two more nagging projects.

Lupin vs Conan is another one of those.  About 3 weeks ago, someone in the team (thanks, TheDeath) bought the Blu-Ray for the show.  It’s been ripped, and now we just need to refit the current subtitle to this new clip.  And it’s been stuck at this stage for 3 weeks.

Black Jack has a brighter outlook.  It’s still slow, but at least it has a visible progress overall.  It probably won’t take 3 months before the next release.

Now, let me get back to work…

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Friday, September 4th, 2009

The other day, I was listening to Niacin‘s album (Live! Blood, Sweat & Beers), and quickly got a bit uncomfortable.  And this is my small analysis on it.  And how this relates somewhat to fansubbing.

Back in college, I took 3 semesters of pipe organ lessons.  One of the things my teacher taught me was on phrasing.  Specifically, the organists must construct phrases such that they let the audience breathe.  What does that mean?  If you’re a trumpet, you normally can’t keep blowing without any breaks.  (Forget circular breathing for now.)  And audience expects that slight pause while the trumpet player catches his or her breathe between phrases.  The same goes for singers, obviously. If a player plays for 5 minutes without any breaks, it’s suffocating to the listeners.  Or it is to me.  That’s what Billy Sheehan (Niacin’s bassist) was doing.  His phrases were staggered from one to the other.  It just felt very weird.

It was pretty shocking to me, as I did think about this subject recently on another occasion.  I recently decided to start working on Weber‘s First Piano Sonata, the last movement.  It is a type of piece known as Moto Perpetuo – perpetual motion.  In this particular case, the right hand plays the sixteenth notes throughout the piece.  No breaks.  Nada.  So, in theory, I knew I had to play wisely so I don’t suffocate the listeners.  I still haven’t found the answer.  And the problem seems even bigger, now that I’ve experienced the suffocation with Niacin.  The answer should lie somewhere on putting some kind of mental break between adjacent phrases even while the motion is continuous.

Now, how is this related at all to my fansubbing experience?  For one run-on sentences.  For the other, run-on sentences left on the screen.

This entry was actually entirely inspired by this post called Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don’t Want to Work at Writing.  Not all points apply to fansub translations.  But “Speak what you write” is a very good practice to follow.  In fact, I often speak out my translation before I type it out.  Sometimes, I even try to match the rhythm of the lines spoken in Japanese with English equivalent version.  I really have no idea how well it’s working, but this is one technique I use.  This becomes difficult when the original lines become insanely long.  Run-on sentences seem to be less of a crime in Japanese than in English.  But when translated, the line always sounds horrible.  It’s much better to break those lines up.  I must make this entry as a reminder to myself to remember this more often.

I have much less involvement with the second point.  Some long lines are unavoidable.  For example, in the soon-to-be-released Nodame Paris ODA, there was one line that explains the piece being performed by the conductor.  It was a fairly lengthy lines, but it fit well within 2 lines on the screen (our usual limit).  But as couple of the quality checkers pointed out, it stayed on the screen for 9 seconds.  That actually is a really long time.  The original timing guide I read about 8 years ago, if I remember correctly, said that any one line should not stay on the screen for more than 5 seconds.  I think most of us lost our focus after seeing one sub for that long.

Either way, the goal is simple – don’t let the viewer suffocate from your sub.

A remotely related sidenote – the strip of musical score used on site design is Paganini‘s Moto Perpetuo, Op. 11, No. 6.  My first exposure to this piece was a rendition by Wynton Marsalis on cornet.  See if it feels suffocating to you.  If it doesn’t this entire entry meant nothing to you.

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