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Any Active Fansub groups out there?


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Hi guys,


I've recently found myself with quite a lot of time on my hands and I thought it might be nice to finally indulge in some fansubbing. Seeing dodgy English translations has been bugging me for a while and I'd like to take an axe to my ego by giving it a go personally.


Unfortunately, I don't really know where to start. I've checked out Viki and even did a few touch up translations on a show or two. The problem is that shows on Viki can disappear at a moment's notice due to copyright claims (the same with Youtube), and I'd hate to have all my hard work erased like that.


I've done a cursory google search and I've turned up mixed results. I've come across D-Addicts which is a forum for Torrent/subbing/discussion but seems be dying a slow death, DoReMii which is also on the way out and not replying to my emails, and Darksmurf forum which seems to be much like D-Addict.


Can anyone point me in the direction of groups/forums that are active and recruiting, or better yet give me an introduction?





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LiMo, I have been doing subbing for Viki on and off and, yes, sadly, all your hard work can disappear overnight when the videos are taken off - sometimes they are replaced but the timing of course is all wrong. 


However, Viki now has more licensed Chinese shows. Those don't disappear until the license runs out, which may be years ahead. I think it would be a good place for you to start and get some 'know-how', and the software is the easiest to use. It's not as free for all as it used to be. Now you have to be accepted as a member of a team to be able to work on any project, you just choose any project that is being subbed and send a message to the manager of that channel. My main peeve with Viki (apart from some dodgy English translation and historical misinterpretations) is that their choice of licensed programs tends towards the 'popular and modern', not much for a history buff like me.


It depends a little on what sort of programs you like.If you're into martial arts and historical drama, Jiang Hu are always on the look out for good subbers. They used to be very active and very good. Unfortunately the top guy left and things kind of stalled, it too is dying a slow death and is no longer the same kind of group that did such a wonderful job with Three Kingdoms. But work is still ongoing on some drama series. I'm on-and-off translating "All Men are Brothers" (aka, The Water Margin).


Having said that, I'll be glad to join if any new group that includes some good historical drama or documentaries. I have been toying with the idea of subbing The Great Qin Empire Parts 1 and 2 for a long time but haven't yet even started, and it's a massive project...anybody else tempted? The one caveat is that without a formal license, anything one does would have to be private or else illegal.

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yes, sadly, all your hard work can disappear overnight when the videos are taken off - sometimes they are replaced but the timing of course is all wrong.


Is it the case that it just starts a little off so all of the subsequent timings are all off (but by the same amount), or are all the timings off by different amounts? Because if the former, couldn't you just use aegisub to shift all the timings?

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Is it the case that it just starts a little off so all of the subsequent timings are all off 


It depends on the video, it can be off by a lot. Videos from different sources are cut differently, the timings rarely match. The timings can be corrected easily with the Viki software, but it takes time. It more or less requires doing all the timing again.

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Thanks for the replies guys.


I am quite interested in starting a group, nice to see others are interested. I would lean towards dramas but I'm interested in expanding my vocabulary and documentaries/historical pieces would be very interesting to work on too. It sounds like Luxi already has some interesting ideas in this department. 


Something tells me the technical side will be more difficult than the translations. I would prefer to keep a hold of as much of the content as possible, I suppose that would require getting hold of the raws(?), and all that jazz which isn't exactly legal. But at least then we don't lose our work. Is it still illegal if we produced a file of subs without the actual show? I'v heard a little about that too.

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I have an idea. Why don't you talk to 乐视 or 爱奇艺 and translate content legally? If the company is working legally, you can translate legally. Maybe CCTV for documentaries.

Most Chinese people I know are watching shows originally made in English with Chinese subtitles. There is simply more good quality TV. Maybe it is better to start with English-Chinese. However, Chinese-English could work too.

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The main problem with legally licensed drama in commercial outfits is the poor choice, at least in my view. I find most popular Chinese drama of the kind Viki and others tend to license pretty mind-numbing, There some good drama series but few and no documentaries, at least in Chinese


You Tube has plenty. and some channel owners include the option to add or edit captions directly in their videos, but none of the semi-official Chinese TV channels do. Obviously a non-official channel doesn't normally hold the right to show those videos and depends on license owners turning a blind eye. So we're back to start.


I'm quite sure CCTV and similar want to do it all themselves, partly because of not wanting to lose control (especially after recent legislation) and at least partly because they don't believe that a laowai can do it correctly or has the necessary background in language, culture, history etc., etc., etc...and let's face it, there's no shortage of Chinese would-be-translators, Many of the Chinese TV programs subbed officially in recent years are actually quite well done, they omit sometimes a lot and have minor editing mistakes or poor timing - subs run so fast they become subliminal in some videos - but they are improving all the time. Perhaps Taiwan is more accessible, does anyone know?


It's not illegal to create subtitles and there's nothing to stop private individuals subbing a TV program and keeping the timed srt files, or exchanging or selling them. I'm not sure whether it's actually illegal to download the raws for the purpose of subtitling, if you don't share the actual video. Especially if it's from a non-illegal source like You Tube or Youku. Unless otherwise arranged, the srt files are intellectual property of the people who created them. That's why the subs in Viki have a "Creative Commons" license.


By extension, I think, a small closed group subtitling for themselves, for learning purposes, without sharing the videos outside the group might be able to work without problems (some bigger groups obviously manage). The law has enough to do chasing illegal commercial file sharing to bother with a few cranks subtitling some non-popular documentary to study Chinese language and culture.


As for the technical side, Aegisub is not difficult to use and is very powerful. With some previous practice of subbing and timing (especially timing) with Viki, without software worries, the jump into Aegisub and independent work is a lot easier.

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The illegal can not exist without the legal. There must be a legal channel where those people who are creating the original content are sharing it.

I think the following steps make sense:

1、Find TV you are interested in, e.g. 《西游记》86年版;

2、How is this being distributed? Are you going to use traditional channels? Are you going to use the same channels where the original is shared?

3、Talk to the artists (and bureaucracy if any-the less of it the bettter);

4、Are there any more efficient ways to transmit it? Think mp3 and similar, where efficiency won (past tense, torrents are as passé as cassette tapes) over legal issues;

5、Technical. Software. Are you supposed to learn how to use any new tools? Device any yourself?

Things happening in TV these days:





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  • 6 months later...

Reporting back after quite some time, I can say for anyone who's interested that I've found an easy way of obtaining the videos myself.


OBS Studio is a free program that you can download online. I think it's original intent was for live streaming and recording simultaneously but the screen capture feature works perfectly fine offline and this function seems to be a well known side benefit.



The interface is pretty simple and you can get started immediately, although it can get more complicated if you want to produce high quality recordings (HD, 60FPS etc.) in which case your computer specs and advanced settings will be really important. I've found google and Youtube help with any fine tuning that you might need.


It's been pretty simple to pull up a Chinese drama on Youtube, full screen it with OBS in the background, and use the hotkeys to start the recording. It records in .flv format (which is apparently safer than .mp4 in case the recording glitches out) and then you can "remux" it to .mp4 which you'll need for the next program.


For subtitling I use Aegisub, another free download. I've been told it's pretty basic but so far the features seem versatile and have been more than enough for my needs. 



As long as you have the video in .mp4 you can open it here and begin subbing. However, I personally prefer to go through the video first and just translate the Chinese subs directly into a text file, line by line. I then open this in Aegisub and half the work is done for me, I just have to adjust the timings.


I haven't yet finished a full episode but it looks pretty good from what I see in the preview screen. Getting the subs timed well can be difficult and it's certainly not a quick process (probably a week per episode, full time), but I do enjoy being able to make my own subs. I'm currently working on the first episodes of 《一仆二主》 (Servant of Two Masters) and 《欢乐颂》 (Ode to Joy).


As far as language learning goes, I've been pretty low on motivation recently so I've mostly just been translating without paying too much close attention. But at a later date I will begin to take down keywords and maybe even put together some sort of translation guide for myself, optimal ways of translating certain structures etc. 


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