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 Post subject: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2015, 14:35 
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I've been doing research on how the anime fan community started in the US (not for school or anything, just genuinely interested) and have naturally read a lot about VHS tape trading. What I don't know much about is exactly how these fansubs were made outside of "use an LD player, genlock, subtitling program and S-VHS VCR... and somehow you have your fansub!" No one online explains the specifics. How would you connect all the hardware? What specific programs would you use to overlay the subtitles? (I'm also not exactly sure what a genlock actually looks like. No one provides pictures when they write about this stuff.) Also, would there be any modern equivalents to some of this equipment?

You're probably thinking, "why bother?" but I have enough unsubtitled anime LDs where I'd like to try getting subtitles applied during playback so other people can watch with me. Also, the old fansubbing method sounds interesting enough that I want to try it myself at least once!
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2015, 15:41 
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I can't say for sure. I know I was asked by this one anime club I once belonged to to make a few VHS masters from an LD they sent me so that they could sub it (they were the Ruroni Kenshin movies and OVAs.)

I never asked how they went about doing it (or if they ever got around to actually subbing it since it was licensed shortly thereafter.)
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2015, 15:53 
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I think Amigas were used a lot. Wasn't involved in that scene at all though.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2015, 20:45 
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By the time I got into it Amigas were passé. I assume they used Video Toaster? The windows program of choice in like, I don't know, 1996, was Sub Station Alpha which you can find here and there online.

I'd use a basic Windows PC, any LD player, and a Televeys Pro genlock. The computer has to output medium res analog RGB, something like 640x480. The PC generates a green screen and the subtitles. Scripts are written in .ssa format. Both the PC and the LD player are fed to the Televeyes Pro which then combines them into one NTSC stream which, back in the day, was usually recorded into SVHS. This would then be the "master" used to make a few dozen distribution copies which then went to satellite fan clubs around the country where they would be dubbed into standard VHS for wider distribution.

Amazingly, I still have all this junk and it actually works! I watched some of 0083 last year. Something is up with my Televeyes Pro though, the colors are way out of whack. I think it needs a recap or something.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2015, 23:32 
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I've actually done this, although not to videotape, but in order to overlay subtitles on anime videos when showing them. I'd be willing to provide a walkthrough of the process.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2015, 23:43 
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publius wrote:
I've actually done this, although not to videotape, but in order to overlay subtitles on anime videos when showing them. I'd be willing to provide a walkthrough of the process.

:D Yes, please do!
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2015, 00:21 
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I'm doing it too.
And there are no secrets involved at all.

The Amiga software was called "Jacosub" iirc.
The (mostly used) Windows software was called SubStationAlpha.
Other programs existed back then, which had their own script formats.
Converters were available for most popular script formats to be converted
to be used with other programs, even on other platforms.

For genlocks, probably standard stuff was Multigen/Deltascan, anything from VineGen.
It basically works like this:
Record audio from LD -> time subtitles to audio -> Translate ->
fine tune stuff (like text events, scene bleeding etc) -> after
several hours (or days of work) the script is done.
Connect genlock to the computer (via VGA/RGB) -> connect video out from LD Player to genlock ->
connect genlock video out to vcr video in -> put subtitling software into "play" mode -> have it all sync perfectly ->
record master tape with fansubtitles -> copy master tape and send it off -> done

What the genlock does, very basically said, it mixes the incoming video with the video from the computer:
And the video coming from the computer is a black screen displaying only the subtitles nothing else.
And the genlock ignores the black screen and only takes the subtitles (which cannot be black, but any
other color) and imposes them over the picture from the incoming video source, i.e. the LaserDisc.
What you end up with, if you have a good script, is a perfectly subtitled LD.
You can also apply this without recording anything, like if you want to watch your japanese LD's with
subtitles, which is what I have been doing for some time now. The genlock I use is the Coriogen Eclipse.

http://www.pustan.com/test/k_coriogen.jpg
This is what the genlock looks like

http://www.pustan.com/test/k_ssa.jpg
Subtitling software looks like this (SSA in edit mode)

http://www.pustan.com/test/k_subs.jpg
And the subtitles look like this.
But you can use any color, font, size you like really.
Most important thing is the timing.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2015, 21:08 
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I was actually going to try connecting a genlock, but somehow I got lost. I still got the stuff to resume one day. But it seem where it stopped where actually to find subs for the lds ? Not many seemed eager to share them anymore. But maybe its just me not knowing where to look.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2015, 23:25 
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lons_vex wrote:
I'm doing it too.
And there are no secrets involved at all.

The Amiga software was called "Jacosub" iirc.
The (mostly used) Windows software was called SubStationAlpha.
Other programs existed back then, which had their own script formats.
Converters were available for most popular script formats to be converted
to be used with other programs, even on other platforms.

For genlocks, probably standard stuff was Multigen/Deltascan, anything from VineGen.
It basically works like this:
Record audio from LD -> time subtitles to audio -> Translate ->
fine tune stuff (like text events, scene bleeding etc) -> after
several hours (or days of work) the script is done.
Connect genlock to the computer (via VGA/RGB) -> connect video out from LD Player to genlock ->
connect genlock video out to vcr video in -> put subtitling software into "play" mode -> have it all sync perfectly ->
record master tape with fansubtitles -> copy master tape and send it off -> done

What the genlock does, very basically said, it mixes the incoming video with the video from the computer:
And the video coming from the computer is a black screen displaying only the subtitles nothing else.
And the genlock ignores the black screen and only takes the subtitles (which cannot be black, but any
other color) and imposes them over the picture from the incoming video source, i.e. the LaserDisc.
What you end up with, if you have a good script, is a perfectly subtitled LD.
You can also apply this without recording anything, like if you want to watch your japanese LD's with
subtitles, which is what I have been doing for some time now. The genlock I use is the Coriogen Eclipse.

http://www.pustan.com/test/k_coriogen.jpg
This is what the genlock looks like

http://www.pustan.com/test/k_ssa.jpg
Subtitling software looks like this (SSA in edit mode)

http://www.pustan.com/test/k_subs.jpg
And the subtitles look like this.
But you can use any color, font, size you like really.
Most important thing is the timing.

Thanks for the info! I've played around with Aegisub a little bit - apparently that's the subbing program used by a lot of fansub groups nowadays. SubStation Alpha looks very similar.

Some questions, though. The genlocks in use back in the day most likely work just with NTSC video and low resolutions (much less than 1080p), correct? Would it be possible to use them with modern computers and HDTVs?

My equipment rundown is like this:
- 2010 MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard (option to boot into Windows 7 or run a VM with Windows XP), with VGA out through the mini DisplayPort
- HDTV with PC input (VGA and 3.5 mm audio jack)

What resolutions are the genlocks compatible with? I'm not quite sure how low of a resolution my laptop can output.

johan184 wrote:
I was actually going to try connecting a genlock, but somehow I got lost. I still got the stuff to resume one day. But it seem where it stopped where actually to find subs for the lds ? Not many seemed eager to share them anymore. But maybe its just me not knowing where to look.

There used to be a website a while ago that had a large script repository (ScriptClub) but it's been long gone. I've just been ripping srt files from digisubs to get workable scripts (demuxing mkv files only - I still have nightmares trying to OCR hardsubbed avis! :shock: ) I sometimes also ripped subs from DVDs I'd borrow from the library (same OCR method, but easier since they weren't from blurry VHS-rip fansubs!)
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2015, 23:52 
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Aegisub is for digital subtitling only.
It does not have the "Playback" function that you need for the genlock.
If you look at SSA's drop down menu, the third is called "Playback".

What kind of resolutions you can use depends on the genlock itself.
Different models have different max. resolution.
I display subtitles on my 1080p Plasma, so that is no problem at all.
I never used my genlock in PAL mode, but you can switch it, or some
may even auto-switch between PAL and NTSC. Others may not.

I don't know anything about subtitling on the Mac.

In SSA go to Preferences -> Playback to set the overlay resolution.
It will only set the resolution of the subtitles, the LD video will stay at
its native resolution. I use 1024x768 pixels @ 16-Bit (32k Colors).

Yeah finding subtitles is the hard part. And even if you find them,
they will likely not sync with the particular LD you have, you'll need
to do manual work, lots of it. Ripping scripts out of mkv files is a good
idea, but I've never had a script that was perfectly useable on its own.

Hope this helps.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2015, 00:46 
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Most of the genlocks I have dealt with work best at 640*480 or 800*600 resolution of the VGA from the computer, although some will work OK at 1024*768. The output is NTSC video (composite or on some models S-Video), which you connect to your display's input just as you would the video from the LD player itself.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 06 May 2015, 05:09 
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Not really fansubs, but Animeigo has a rundown of their original subtitling process on their company history page.
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 Post subject: Re: LD to VHS fansubbing - how was it done?
PostPosted: 02 Jun 2015, 21:21 
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I'll be doing this live, Saturday at Project A-Kon in Dallas, in order to show Gundam F91.
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