The Reason Why …

In a previous post, Path had discussed the much-bemoaned “The Reason … Is Because” (TRIB) construction. A closely related phrase, “The Reason Why …” (TRW) is considered frowned upon as well. After all, these extra words—“is because”, “why”—are superfluous and add no meaning. Why should we include them?

But Jonathan Owen on Arrant Pedantry recently posted a defense of “the reason why”. To summarise his post, “why” in TRW serves a syntactic role as a relative adverb, joining a subordinate clause to the main one (just like other conjunctions). “The reason why I wrote this” is not technically wrong or superfluous as a sentence; “why” joins the main fragment “I wrote this” to the subordinate fragment “the reason [for my writing this]”.

Technical fastidiousness alone does not defend the use of a construction in fansubs though. In The Elements of Subtitles (EoS), on Dialogue Flow, Bannon argues that “subtitles should never interfere with the flow of the scene” (pg32). They do so when they force the reader to slog through unnecessarily long lines, and lines containing “the reason why” can often be shortened without losing syntactic meaning. Take the following examples:

Before: “That is the reason why it happened.”
After: “That is why it happened.”

Before: “The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have gotten.”
After:  “People give up quickly because they look at how far they have to go, instead of how far they have gotten.”

Before: “… and that is the reason why.”
After: “… and that is why.”

Again, neither construction is wrong, but in the above examples the “After” lines bring the point across without abducting the viewers’ attention for as long.

However, earlier in EoS, on Natural, Faux Natural & Unnatural Voice, Bannon also adds a contrasting warning: “if space allows, use it to share the nuances of the dialogue with the viewer. Brevity has its place, but brief subtitles run the risk of being bland—and losing important subtleties.” If you have good reason to use “the reason why”—to characterise a character’s speech pattern, or to set off a clause—don’t be afraid to use it.

Status Update

What’s been going on:

  1. I am still working on Versailles no Bara/Rose of Versailles, which I first mentioned long ago.
  2. Clannad is … still in progress >_> (ask IX!)
  3. I’ve been doing more reading, and will soon get off my ass to do more writing on editing and typesetting.

I mention #3 here to give myself some pressure so I don’t keep putting off these long-delayed posts. If I’m not going to be releasing subs, I should at least write useful things to justify the existence of this blog …

First: a follow-up to The Reason … Is Because. Expect this within the week.

Clannad Project Status

Though it took me far longer than I had hoped it would(much like this project), here is the status update that I promised inside an earlier post’s comment thread.

ZUM’s Clannad project is not dead. I might as well just throw that out there straight away. Neither is it stalled. Granted, it has stalled quite a few times since its initial announcement back when I was running the one-man show called MII; that much is obvious. However, it is currently being worked on, so given the rocky history the project has had, that can only be taken as a good sign.

I will refrain from giving out anything resembling an ETA, because, frankly speaking I’d rather not cultivate any unreasonable expectations in anyone. I can only say that the project will be completed. The point where I would have dropped this project came and went a long time ago and I’m still trucking away, so it’s more than safe to say I’m in it for the long haul.

I appreciate both the patience and impatience shown from the people that learned of and came to expect the completion of this project. For the time being, my advice from here on out would be to not anticipate anything. At its core, ZUM is still less of a fansub group and more of a hobbyist group. We spend more time learning about what we’re doing than actually doing it. This mindset is, on occasion, going to skew our release times toward the obscene, but we’re fine with that. You should be as well.

The latter months of the year are when we get the most work done. Here’s to many productive days ahead.

Dialogue timing and visual cueing

In an earlier post, I commented that Eve no Jikan presents some rather interesting challenges in timing. Here, I’d like to discuss one of these challenges in more detail and explain how we tackled them.

Rapid lines

Even before Eve no Jikan, from shorts like Mizu no Kotoba, Director Yoshiura demonstrates a fondness for sequences of short, quick, jarring clips; the camera snaps from position to position quickly, and audio cuts in and out. This tends to create scenes with very short dialogue lines; one such scene is shown below (at around 0:31:39 in the movie).

One thing that irked me about the typesetting and timing in that clip is how some of the lines merge together visually, especially around 3 or 4 seconds into the video. Lines with similar lengths and very short screen time appear almost similar as they appear one after the other, and viewers would hardly notice the change if they were focusing one’s eyes elsewhere on the screen.

Separate dialogue lines

I had a short discussion with Hale on the issue. His preferred method is to leave a short time gap (1–2 frames) between the lines, creating a “flashing” effect that alerts the viewer to the line change subconsciously. This is one way of doing it, but I didn’t feel comfortable removing 2 frames of screen time from a line that was already only about 12 frames long (~0.5 seconds). In addition, I personally dislike the “flashing” effect and try to avoid or eliminate it at every opportunity.

Some inspiration struck; DVD subtitles do often put dialogue lines for two characters on screen, indicating them with prefixed hyphens (although typographically they ought to be dashes). What if I do that, but use separate line timing to do the demarcating?

Transitions between lines are much clearer now, but the lines are still as short and difficult to read. What can we do about that?

Line pairing

Here, I pulled in a timing technique I’ve been using on and off with other projects: line pairing. Some short dialogue lines don’t get much screen time before the next line appears. Keeping these lines on screen while the next line appears allows slower viewers to read the next line without missing the previous line. This works well in certain dialogue situations, e.g. “Why? [‘Nande?’ Usually a very short line]” “Because you didn’t wait for me at all.”

With line pairing, the result looks much more readable:

Visual cueing is tricky business. Timers need to ensure that line changes are visible from the viewers’ peripheral vision, yet at the same time we don’t want to distract the viewer with excessive visual signals as well. Do let us know other alternative solutions you’ve seen in use.

Minor update: Taipu merge

Slight update, for those about to kill me for spamming their RSS. I have a *job* now, and would like to keep my subbing work as surreptitious as possible. I also intend to write about more topics on Taipu, not all of them subbing-related. Therefore I’ll be moving many of my typesetting posts over to ZUM instead.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be going through the migrated posts and cleaning up the formatting to better fit this blog. Drop me a note if you spot any inconsistencies. If you’d like to contribute a guest post on typesetting, let me know as well.

Eve no Jikan (v2)

This is our first v2! (The first version was released under [Chaos-MII]; you won’t find it in ZUM archives.) Just about everything has been changed in this release (aside from the audio): Southrop made a large number of translation corrections/refinements, I made just as many edits and timing changes, and IX decided we’d give this 10-bit toy a spin. The typesetting grid I used in this release is a refinement of the one I tried in Adolescence. (More details on it in a future Taipu post.)

Eve no Jikan presents some rather interesting challenges in timing. Director Yoshiura Yasuhiro seems to be fond of sequences with a sudden stream of overlapping or back-to-back events, sometimes involving rapid camera angle cuts. The timing challenge here is to ensure that each line gets enough screen time to be read, yet is synchronised to scene cuts where necessary, and doesn’t eat into the next line. In some parts it was just as challenging to keep the lines short and readable in what little screen time they have. We hope you like the results of these efforts.

This v2 is, for us, a look back at where we stand now, compared to when we first released Eve.  And as always we look forward to hearing your comments.

The torrents are up on Nyaatorrents, for 1080p and 720p.

1080p torrent link
720p torrent link

Files are also up on Boushi-sama, our xdcc bot.

Maiola: Utena Movie – Adolescence Mokushiroku

Continue reading

Shoujo Kakumei Utena – Adolescence Mokushiroku

Despite our name, Utena isn’t quite ZUM’s raison d’être, but it needs no mention that were all huge fans of this anime title. I’ve had this project in my list for a long time, and now I’m finally feeling sort of ready to release it. Video and main audio is from EtB’s release, remuxed with CoR’s commentary track and english dub.
(Yeah, yeah, “dubs yuck” etc. It’s just 60MB anyway, and not the default track.)

In some ways this is not a “final” release; I’m trying a lot of new timing and typesetting things, inspired and supported by IRC discussions and ideas. I’m throwing these ideas into this release because other stuff I’m working on don’t fit these ideas as readily. There are kara styles in here I can never use anywhere else, and subtitle text flow I won’t get to try in many other places.

We anime viewers watch our anime under a variety of conditions: on a large-screen HDTV at least three feet away, on a 24″ IPS panel, on a 15″ laptop screen, on a 10″ tablet, on a 4″ smartphone, just to name a few. Some typesetting metrics work well in some situations, some settings in others. I do not have all of the above-mentioned devices, and even if I do I’m sure my viewing setup is rather different from yours. Let me know how the new typesetting metrics are working out for you; let me know what your viewing setup is like as well. I’ll detail my ideas in a future post.

Good typesetting should be invisible, and I might have gone overboard on some of this over-thinking. If you find anything in this release overly distracting, do leave a comment!

Shoujo Kakumei Utena info on Nyaa (torrent download)

Anamorphic Scaling in Substation Alpha Subtitles Part Five: VSFilter PAR compensation

With PAR compensation set to “accurate size”, VSFilter users should see subtitle files with PlayResX and Y set to display AR being rendered without any stretching (assuming ScaleX and Y are 100%). This emulates mplayer behaviour with -ass-vsfilter-aspect-compat=off. Subtitles with PlayResX and Y set to source AR should still see subtitles stretched.

I have not tested this extensively so I can’t guarantee there aren’t any corner cases, but keep the comments coming and I’ll poke into them whenever I can.

See also

Anamorphic Scaling in Substation Alpha Subtitles Part One
Anamorphic Scaling in Substation Alpha Subtitles Part Two: -vf scale behaviour
Anamorphic Scaling in Substation Alpha Subtitles Part Three: -ass-vsfilter-aspect-compat
Anamorphic Scaling in Substation Alpha Subtitles Part Four: 4:3 anamorphic subtitle scaling

One-hour project: VOTOMS – Roots of Ambition

There really isn’t much to write about this release—it’s relatively boring, typesetting-wise.

Title

Meta Plus Bold and Gotham Bold Condensed: Title

Dialogue and Signs

Trade Gothic Bold: Dialogue (size 35, margins 97/35)

Trade Gothic Bold Condensed: Signs

You might notice that the margins I used are a little different from my usual numbers. I’ll explain them in a future post.

Script

The script can be downloaded here.