Perhaps we should organise a conference :)
Btw, Frank & Timme (Berlin) will be publishing an edited volume on fansubbing as part of its translation series.
Thanks for the comments. Yes, the issue of flows (which directions?) seems very important. I have not noticed that Viki is increasing US content! Perhaps we see two potentially contracting phenomena: the increase in the volume and speed of dominant flow + fans' free use and circulation of the dominant content without getting the copyright holders' authorisation. What does this mean for cultural globalisation and global cultural business…?
Viki is indeed very interesting but unfortunately not much info is given in the web regarding the technology behind it.
A crucial issue behind their business model is the issue of copyright.
Since money is now requested for the use of their subtitles, I wonder if the work of the subtitler is paid, and the rate.
Also workflows and distribution are interesting info that I can't read in their web.
Thank you for your post. I've been looking at Viki for some time as well and have found the self conscious elements of the site to be some of the most interesting. Your post has me thinking about whether this is a fan site or a translation engine (made of people). Viki has tried in the past to automate parts of its translation processes and the results have never been up to par with the fan work.
I'm thinking specifically about transfer here as well. Oftentimes fan translation is seen as a hobby or sub-par work, however, Viki utilizes the technical and language skills that fans build working on channels to feed into these more globally conscious projects. Work on the Billions Word March might seem more professional. Giving volunteers the opportunity to transfer what they've learned on fan channels to these larger projects are skills I hope my students develop. I wonder how much professional ethos Viki pulls from the fact that it is a corporate venture doing these kinds of projects.
Lots to think about. Luckily there's more to come on Viki for this survey.
Thank you for this post. Your mention of the symposium actually has me thinking about where the best conferences are to go to discuss translation studies. Translation is part of my research but not the whole thing. As such, as I present at more general media conferences. However, I find these papers often get put on more general panels and then when I or a colleague are presenting on fan translation we don’t tend to get good feedback. I think the SCMS fanstudies SIG is trying to do more of this, but as translation studies is part of global and crossover media, fan studies, platform studies, and audience studies, it seems hard to get a good conversation going. Likewise, the community is so dispersed across the world we aren’t going to the same conferences. I wonder if you or any of the responders have ideas for the best conferences or forums to present on translation studies.
This is a great post drawing attention to the complexity and diversity of fan translation and related activities. In my forthcoming post on Viki, I allude to some of these same issues, particularly the crossover between fan and crowdsourced translation.
One issue that begs further consideration is that of cultural flows, counter flows, and the growing prominence of US content amongst fansubbing circuits. Even Viki, far more linguistically diverse than most fansub communities, is moving in this direction, having added some big US-based investors to its funding in 2013 specifically with the aim of growing US content on the site.
A lot of current research into fansubbing in Europe, Asia and South America also confirms this trend, reporting on fansub groups that form around US TV shows like Lost, Supernatural, Glee, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory and CSI. Often these same TV shows are available on commercial platforms; fansubbers try to beat their offerings, in terms of speed and sometimes quality.
This increased level of fansub activity focused around access to mainstream US content, shows how subcultural or informal modes of media engagement facilitated through digital, networking technologes can end up mirroring or supplementing, rather than disrupting, industry norms, replicating rather than redressing language hierarchies and access gaps.
The quickest agreeing example I can use for Crunchyroll's embracing of their fandoms and practices is for Digimon Tri. When it was announced that Digimon (a popular show from the 90s) was coming back with its third incarnation but in the form of a theatrical movie, American fans (which is a pretty big fan base for he show) were immediately disappointed in not being able to view it. However Crunchyroll then made it possible for American viewers to watch as the day it is released in Japan, it is released on the site with English subtitles. Much like manga scantron sites as well as YouTube uploaders there are people that are very aware of intercontinental fandom that goes along with pop culture and will work as hard and as long as they can to make sure their content is available for others to read in whatever language is needed. Not only are these people potentially bilingual to do it, but they're giving up their free time to do so. I had not heard about US producers suing those that translated American dramas into their own language with subtitles and it really does stand to show the US could move forward with these ideas if it's a popular thing to have on YouTube and to share.
Fan translation certainly should be researched more. Not only in terms of the communities that come from it, but also to see the bigger picture of how it could be beneficial for multiple parties and not just the fans that are readily consuming it. It brings to mind what would happen if all of it were to be stopped.
There are a few platforms but one that I like very much is amara, check it here http://amara.org/en/
Technology works really well, but it isn't cheap. Also if you want a good quality product you need to tailor it to your language model, language field and your specifications. YouTube is a free demo, as Google Translator, so basically they are models which are getting trained with the input from users. As you mention, the number of languages and their diversity makes a "universal" free machine something like utopia. A nice budget, some determined languages, and a semantic field will offer great results.
As to the reason why close captions are so different from … what? Are the close captions produced in real time? Because there are several modalities for close captions and they affect directly the result. If done by stenotype what you get is not close caption but a court report, almost verbatim. No annotations for sound though. If they are produced by a respeaker, you get a decalage of text and image, plus heavy edition of original dialogue. Finally if they are done not in real time and in the old fashion way, with someone typing and editing, you get really nice close captions, sometimes with colours, emoticons, etc, etc.
Automatic tools to monitor quality and to endorse labels are not yet fully developed, with unsolved legislation at European level and also at national levels. Agencies to independently monitor quality would also have to be established, and in this new scenario the translator will slightly change his working profile from first hand producer of assets, to editing and monitoring quality.
This is such a salient point and I have been thinking a lot about this. I know that several automated translators exist, but that they look a bit like YouTube's closed captions. The cultural translation and context remain outside of these current automation systems. However, with the volunteer force that many translation and scanlation communities provide, humans could easily quality check the computers. Not to always refer back to YouTube, but it's ability to identify copyrighted (or in this instance region coded) material seems to way-too-conservatively favor the copyright holders. Will these algorithms be able to handle the cultural understandings that go into the many facets of translation. I would love to hear more about the models that are already being suggested.
I wonder, also, if this software will align with what volunteers want. Many translation volunteers are either interacting with a source material they love or they are using these crowdsourcing communities to develop language skills. Does automation software remove what makes these communities attractive to their members?
Thanks for your response! What a great opening to the conversation.