Sunday, March 02, 2008

Whoring Myself: For the good of DVD bootleggers everywhere!

Good news!

First off I've finished a third disc for my legit work - damnable kanji in the trailer aside - and with that done I'll be translating some titles with a long time friend of mine for release on DVD-R a certain Asian DVD torrent site, though these releases will not be "Kentai Films" DVDs in the traditional sense: I do the Japanese-English part, and they handle the rest by patching them on top of the completed R2. Honestly this will be good for everyone interested, since the way I've always done it is translated the menus and essentially re-built the whole disc from scratch. I don't particularly like the idea of foreign language menus when I know my customer base speaks English, so I'll continue to do my thing... also, this method doesn't let you put additional material on the disc, which makes dropping in additional extras I have kicking around pretty much impossible.

No biggie though: if I can whore myself translating obscure pinku and it does the community at large a favor, I'm all for it. Plus I may be a whore, but I'm not a particularly cheap one.

The first title I've gotten busy with is an infamous little number from 1983, which was given a heavily edited English subtitles DVD release in Hong Kong. It just got a new scope R2 DVD this year, and (for better or worse) I'm actually working from the uncensored pan-scan Japanese VHS for the time being. Also, lots of terrible Engrish. I'll reveal what the title is once the translation has more than 15 minutes finished, since I'd hate to get someone's hopes up and then my basic Nihongo 6ki77z get totally 0wn3d by some obscure early 20th century monologue I can't make heads or tails of.

I'll also be translating some additional dialog and the making-of a project related to TAKAYAMA Hideki, the manga-ka behind the insanity that is Ichi the Killer. I'll trust that any of you smart enough to use google can probably figure out what this one is.

In other news, I bought a new DVD recorder 2 weeks ago. I'm sending it back tomorrow, because it has the nasty habit of dying on me completely at random. It's a region-hacked Philips 3400, and while I wish I could find something nice to say about it, I really can't. Even when it DID work for all of 5 minutes, the recording had massive EE, constant blocking (during basically still footage), and frankly the crappy Sanyo recorder I was using before was a better choice for a quality recording. Thankfully the return will be a hastle-free affair and I'll get a refund, so I can try again. Much as I was hoping a single DVD recorder could also play back all my PAL/Non-R1 DVDs, the general quality of its' PAL-NTSC conversion was awful, creating ghosting and weird stuttering where my $55 Dawoo player from about 3 years ago does an excellent job. (If only it could scale worth a damn.) In short, if I want an awesome region-free player I'll spring for an Oppo. As far as quality recorders go, I'll be doing more research and hopefully just buy a Pioneer or something and be done with it for the next several years.

Kentai VHS/LD to DVD-R transfers will happen... it's just a matter of me buying a unit that works, first.

It's official: I've finally given up on CCE SP 2.70, the overly noisy MPEG encoder that turns everything you feed it into a sloppy and grainy mess not fit to be seen on most Anime Music Video downloads. So I'm experimenting with the earlier 2.67 build, which (while a bit less user friendly) has so far given me MUCH better results than the later build. I'm still toying with the settings to get it "perfect" (ha!) but expect some VHD and/or Angel Cop screencaps in the near future, as these two ugly ducklings are my most favorite guineapigs. I don't know why 2.67 is so drastically better than 2.70, but it is. As I've bitched about in the past CCE SP 2.70 creates video files that, while lacking anything resembling blocking artifacts at high bitrates (TMPGEnc's fatal flaw), also adds in video noise like someone shook salt all over the encode, which is extremely frustrating when you consider that I spent so much time learning AVISynth to get rid of noise in the first place. There's still some additional noise, even on settings that are built to smooth the video out first (...whut?), but the results I'm getting are certainly no worse than I see on plenty of "remastered" commercial DVDs that have access to far better hardware MPEG encoders than I'll ever know exist. In short, I'm still getting better quality than FUNimation would have a year ago, and I'm only a notch or two down below what someone would expect from a "big" studio release, which isn't too bad for a punk hacking MPEG encoders in his spare time.

Looks like it's back to translating for me, either for my partners in crime on my employers in the legitimate world. Either way, they both lead to "Step 3", and we all know how much I like that step.

P.S. - Bugger waiting, here's a quick look at what CCE SP 2.67, mode Animation 4, 2-pass VBR, 5.5MBPS average, can do. "Source" is the AVISynth script, naturally.

None too shabby, eh? It's just a little too soft, but I may have to live with it, since the sharper the video gets the more noise CCE tends to generate. I'll be back with more tests, I'm sure, but to be perfectly honest if I released the Kentai DVD looking exactly like what you see above I'd have zero complaints.

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