Guide to Pro Fansubbing

Being around the fansubbing community for a while (about five years now) has led to making a few observations here and there. A lot of groups are doing really stupid shit in really inefficient ways, so here are some guidelines to better fansubbing:


  • Have more than two QC’ers. If you need more the script was probably not worth doing anything with in the first place, or the QC’ers aren’t doing their job properly.
  • Recruit fucking useless QC’ers who only QC and do nothing else. They should at least be able to fix simple TS problems they spot and stuff like that, or else you’ll have to wait for that lazy ass typesetter to come around again and that alone will probably delay your release by a day.
  • Hardsub. Anything. For any reason. Ever. Hardsubbing is the best way to burn out encoders and delay releases forever. If you think you need hardsubs to make a good release, you’re either retarded or a TS perfectionist (they’re mostly equivalent anyway).
  • Think you have to make a release “perfect”, because it won’t ever be. Small errors that do not affect the translation accuracy or the viewer’s ability to enjoy the episode don’t matter; fix them if you have the time and ability, otherwise don’t.
  • Do useless things like letting the TL look over the episode a final time before release. If you can’t trust your editor and QC’ers to do shit right, why do you have them in the first place? If the TL really wants to do this, drop one of the QC’ers and let the TL QC instead.
  • Recruit people who are only around for two hours a day. Fansubbing is a job for NEETs.
  • Filter your encodes with slow filters. Most broadcasts are pretty shitty and you know they’re gonna fix the animation on the bluray anyway, so why waste time improving something that is going to look shitty anyway?
  • Do RC’s. Since everything is softsubbed, just upload a premux and then you can just mux it server-side and release when everything is OK. Let someone with a fast connection download it and check it if you’re paranoid, but full RC’s are for faggots.
  • Involve too many fags in fucking with the script (related to the “no more than two QC’ers” rule above). It usually just leads to confusion, drama and inefficiency. Each additional person you involve is an additional bottleneck that you have to wait for. TL, editor, two QC and optionally TLC (if you don’t trust your TL) is enough. Ruling by council is inefficient and so is fansubbing by council.
  • Don’t let people have multiple passes at the script, either. You can create infinite QC loops if you do.
  • Try to translate every fucking background sign everywhere. Nobody cares and it takes fucking forever.
  • Let people block progress for more than 8 hours. If their job takes longer than that they’re really fucking slow and should be fired or skipped. You should also consider timezones when filling a position.


  • Use transport stream raws, assuming that your encoder has a non-retarded connection and a good computer (if he doesn’t you should fire him anyway because he’s fucking useless without those two). They’re really simple to get these days, even if you only use torrents. If you use anything else, don’t bother reencoding it unless it’s 120fps or something retarded; just remux it instead.
  • Temporarily replace or skip people who can’t be around to do their job. If they’re not 12 years old they shouldn’t have a problem with it.
  • Recruit multi-talented people and keep a team that is as small as possible. More people means more timezone issues and more potential bottlenecks.
  • Have fun. If it’s not fun, why are you doing it?
  • Be lazy.

Comments (28)

  1. DrX wrote:

    Someone should teach this to Saizen.

    Friday, April 23, 2010 at 00:03 #
  2. Calan wrote:

    Look, you make some fairly valid points, but I just can’t agree with all of them.

    If every fansub group ran like this, we’d probably get half the shows subbed that we currently do. There are only a handful of people who can pull off good fansubs in a very time-efficient manner. This does not include gg or CoalGuys.

    Some groups need than a day to do something half-decent. Some groups need 1-2 weeks to do something good.

    For groups with good, reliable staff, yes that’s how fansub should be done. For groups with decent to bad, unreliable staff, applying these sorts of standards would flood teh erth with bad fansub.

    Friday, April 23, 2010 at 00:25 #
  3. TheFluff wrote:

    so basically you’re saying that shitty people make shitty fansubs?

    Friday, April 23, 2010 at 14:30 #
  4. Yumi` wrote:

    Those are guidelines to faster fansubbing; faster doesn’t necessarily means better (or worse) – “better” being highly subjective and all.

    Capable ppl can make good fansubs, given they (can) take the time they need.
    Fast ppl can make fast fansubs; that doesn’t automatically mean it won’t be shitty though. More than usually it’s going to be the opposite.

    Capable people that also have the will and the luxury to show off their speed all the time are extremely rare.
    Shitty people with too much free time are too abundant.

    Friday, April 23, 2010 at 16:40 #
  5. TheFluff wrote:

    The problem is that people think that spending six redundant QC rounds on fixing three very minor typos, typesetting every single unreadable background sign perfectly and making the encoder encode the same thing four times makes a fansub better. What it actually results in is a fansub that nobody gives a shit about since it’s released a week or two late, and that’s a very bad fansub regardless of its “quality”.

    In 2005, it was sorta okay to let shit take a week. Today, we have simulcasting and raw streams and TS torrents posted within an hour after airing; if you release more than 36 hours after airing it’s already too late.

    These guidelines aren’t guidelines for speedsubbing. They’re guidelines for EFFICIENT subbing. There’s a significant difference.

    Friday, April 23, 2010 at 19:16 #
  6. RandomFansubber wrote:

    Every single letter you wrote here is another bunch of blessings sent from god.

    Now I can flame (and other ppl) my staff with this Qur’an.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 08:53 #
  7. TGEN wrote:

    But all this is based on the premise that you actually give a fuck about what The Leechers think of you? Which, admittedly, should be the case if you’re after “professional” fansubbing (nice juxtaposition there).

    Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 18:28 #
  8. nudelbubu wrote:

    opinions are like assholes. everybody has one.
    i as a leecher don’t really care if a release takes a week or two. thats basically because i think RL _always_ comes first.
    also “DON’T DO KARAOKE, YOU RETARDED FAGGOTS”? woot? i watch the kara at least once (and usually more often, if the music doesn’t suck) and would definitely miss it if it wasn’t done.
    while at least most of this guide applies to speedsubs, why would every group have to do it that way? as already stated above, that would lead to a lot less groups and a lot less shows subbed. and who would want that?

    Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 13:58 #
  9. Yumi` wrote:

    They’re definitely all good for efficient tv subbing, and I in fact agree with most points for any subbing; I just want to point out that efficient is not the same thing as better – at least not to everyone.

    Personally, I don’t give a damn how many days a tv release takes, you have to wait a week for the next episode anyway, and even more weeks for the final one. If my preferred group takes a few days/weeks more, I’ll just watch something else in the meanwhile, or even until they’re done entirely – it’s a big internet. Drooling and whining weekly for fast fansubs while one can just watch complete (dvd/bd) batches from earlier seasons/series is a retarded obsession imo.

    Actually, the more perfect tv subs are, the better the dvd/bd rips based on them will be.

    Also it’s fansubbing, not customersubbing. Not all fansubbing is about catering to leechers, it’s not like they’re paying for it (excluding here the speedsubs with donation pages for the “server/disc costs”). There’s no reason whatsoever to mind their petty needs.
    If you like catering, join the industry; they sure can use some more efficiency (and brains overall). Granted, it doesn’t look like they care for our petty needs either – even when we’re paying.

    Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 14:46 #
  10. DrX wrote:


    Those groups think that the same QC can catch a mistake they missed the past 3+ rounds (if said mistake does exist).

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 05:05 #
  11. Anonfag wrote:

    This is pretty nice for trolling “good” fagsubbers.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 02:25 #
  12. anonymous bastard wrote:

    they should also according to the otaking video. faggoty weeaboo fansubs are retarded.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 20:15 #
  13. Anonfag wrote:

    >woot? i watch the kara at least once (and usually more often, if the music doesn’t suck) and would definitely miss it if it wasn’t done.

    That’s because you’re a fucking weaboo.

    Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 03:52 #
  14. psuedonymous wrote:

    For rapid subbing of new shows: MOST EXCELLENT ADVICE. For subbing of old shows, or news shows for those without an ADHD need to watch everything right away: SOMEWHAT APPLICABLE ADVICE

    Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 12:54 #
  15. onii_chan wrote:

    Agreed on everything except:
    “Do useless things like letting the TL look over the episode a final time before release.”
    I can understand for TV releases but for Blu-ray you would be revising it (yeah- disregard the fact that it’s pointless in the first place) and you want it to be perfect, I think the person who wrote the script would be best suited to check it for obscure errors. One person doing it alone goes nuts after about an hour, if you can spread the workload it’s much easier on everyone involved.
    “Have fun. If it’s not fun, why are you doing it?”
    Very much agreed.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 10:31 #
  16. Sachiko wrote:

    As always : “define efficiency”.

    If you want predictable and accurate release times, fast process, etc., I agree with your observations (and most of them come under the common sense, anyway). However this is an industrial view of subbing.

    There are people who are very capable but still have some kind of life out of subbing or computers. There are people who think that “ruling by council” is fulfilling and efficient from a democratic point of view and put these values above production efficiency. There are people who don’t want to have the impression of having a second or third job (with all the negative sides of this word) while fansubbing. And on the other side, people not always have time to watch the show episodes as soon as they are ready, or they discover the show weeks, month or years after it’s been broadcast. Others just wait that it finishes to collect opinions, and compare releases and look for the best translations, before dl all episodes at once. Therefore fast subbing is quite overrated, in my opinion.

    But the main problem with the fan part of the fansub is that the quality is generally low whatever the time spent working on each show. My native language is french. French subs are mostly second-hand subs (jpn->eng->fre), indeed jpn->fre TL are extremely rare. One would think it leads to bad subs because of the two layers of translation, but the main problem is that people just can’t write decent french. Most fansub sentences make no sense, one can guess the english phrase behind, and they are rarely structurated to make the ideas progress logically, with consistency.

    Furthermore, most TL totally ignore subbing constraints : they translate everything as if they were writing a book (no conciseness’ shake), composing long lines spreading all across the 16:9 screen, making them hard to read in time while looking at the pictures without having to press pause every 10 s. Therefore, watching for timing accuracy, typesetting, spelling… is almost useless if nobody cares for the main defects. I feel that english fansubs have the same kind of problem, although my english is not good and fluent enough to give a definite opinion.

    I think that paying attention first to sentence conciseness, reading speed, line breaking and text compactness would definitely improve fansubbing (as a “guideline to better fansubbing”).

    Monday, May 17, 2010 at 19:32 #
  17. TheFluff wrote:

    So basically you’re saying that shitty fansubbers make shitty fansubs and focusing on being less shitty would make them better fansubbers? Cool conclusion, bro. I don’t get what it has to do with not wasting human resources though.

    Monday, May 17, 2010 at 19:45 #
  18. Sachiko wrote:

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I try to analyse why and to explain how to improve things. Exactly the same thing you’re doing with advices about human resources, but with different criteria about what would be an improvement.

    Monday, May 17, 2010 at 19:55 #
  19. TheFluff wrote:

    No, in the first part of your post you said some things about why people might not necessarily want to be efficient. That’s cool and I have no particular comments about that, it’s okay to be intentionally dumb occasionally.

    In the second part of your post however you go off on a completely unrelated tangent and basically state some self-evident facts, namely that bad fansubbers that aren’t very good at their own language and break the most basic screen translation rules make bad fansubs. This is completely unsurprising and I’m not sure what point you think you’re making. The entire second half of the post is just huge tautology that basically amounts to “bad fansubbers who don’t know shit about fansubbing make shitty fansubs; getting better at fansubbing would lead to them making better fansubs”. While this is obviously a true statement, it really doesn’t mean anything specific and it has nothing to do with my post (which has to do with how to fansub without wasting human resources and applies to all fansubbers, good or bad) nor with anything else really.

    Monday, May 17, 2010 at 20:08 #
  20. Sachiko wrote:

    Sure, I’m not saying anything new. However, you’d be surprised [oh, that’s purely rhetorical] how many people think differently and would disagree with what I wrote. Probably some of them are reading your blog.

    Your post was about efficiency. For me, efficiency has a broad meaning, and I think a part of this efficiency is closely related to quality. If your subtitles are unreadable and disappoint people, you have not been efficient and somehow lost your time.

    Sorry if I missed the point that you wanted to focus ONLY on process and organisation.

    Monday, May 17, 2010 at 20:53 #
  21. djahandarie wrote:

    I agree with all points aside from the QC point(s). What you mentioned about QC definitely applies to speedsubs, but in the case of not having time constraints I think an extra QC pass would be fine and helpful.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 00:28 #
  22. EvilLinkz wrote:

    So hire incompetent people, bitch about how much they suck and how it can’t be helped. Fansubbing at its best. “MY TL SUCKS, CAN’T BE HELPED, GOTTA BE SLOW.”

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 01:21 #
  23. RielDeis wrote:

    This kinda a noob question, but since I’m being a lazy fag without nothing to do, I decided to waste my time and burn my pc, and join a fansub as encoder, but for being “pro at fansubbing” is a must encode from .ts, I have some experience encoding using MeGUI and avisynth, but I guess it’s way diferent when your source is a ts, I’m not asking to being teached since I know it’s a bother take someone who might not know a shit about this nor a fabulous all-you-need tutorial, I’m just asking if there’s a place where I can learn, such as a forum or something, I was thinking about doom9’s forums, but it would be awesome get an advice from someone with experience.

    On topic: About karaoke, I think romaji+TL is enough, people will complain about your karaoke not being accurate and what not, and I. Fucking. Hate. AE.

    Monday, August 23, 2010 at 04:45 #
  24. Onanymouse wrote:

    “DO: Have fun. If it’s not fun, why are you doing it?”


    Seriously. Karaoke is the reason I learned timing and I built a huge Python library over the years for ever more fancy effects. I’m not even in a fucking fagsubbing group. I do it simply for fun.

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 18:10 #
  25. Whoever disagrees with this is as bad as Doki.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 03:38 #
  26. manma wrote:

    You’re the only person ever who would have fun with Karaoke.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 17:12 #
  27. Onanymouse wrote:

    ^ I take that as a compliment.

    (Why did I come across this page again after more than a year anyway?)

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 08:34 #
  28. DaVince wrote:

    Nice post! Saizen is doing fine breaking some of these, but then again it’s not like these are exactly hard rules set in stone.

    Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 00:19 #

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