Friday, October 22, 2010

Hardsubs versus softsubs

This is kind of an open-ended post.  As the encoder, I have two questions which I would like to ask the people who are following us.

1.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of hardsubs and softsubs? I know most of the technical advantages and disadvantages myself, but I would like to see what other people think in terms of "non-technical" advantages and disadvantages.  (If there are technical advantages that I don't know about, feel free to tell me as well.)

2.  As a group, Licca Fansubs tends to frown upon using softsubs for our releases.  How does that change your perception of the group in general and your perception of our releases?

Please answer the questions as comments to this post.  Please be honest about your opinions; there is no need to sugarcoat criticism here.  However, please do not attack other people who are commenting on their opinions (basically, only attack me, not your fellow commenters).

Thank you in advance!


  1. Hello,

    first of all sorry if my English isn't really good, I try to say/describe it as good as possible,

    1. It's a difficult question. Some person of another fansub group said that they prefer "mkv"-softsubs with h.264 because you get a smaller filesize with the same quality (or something like that). I'm not quite sure if it is really correct but their episodes were around 100 MB.
    When comparing softsubs to hardsubs I think one aspect is the way how to update/exchange the subtitle. When using softsubs some groups seem to use a patch programme, for example xdelta to apply a patch for the subtitle of an mkv-file. So people who have a v1-release can download the small patch file instead of a big v2 video file. I'm not quite sure but I think you can't change the subtitle of a hardsubed file because as the name says it's "hard"subbed, so you have to reales a new v2-video-file.
    Another point are the hardware-requirements. h.264 mkv-files tend to have higher hardware requirements when playing the video so it sometimes causes problem. I, for example, sometimes watch an anime episode on my netbook which can't play softsubed-videos verry well.
    One last point is compatibility and on which systems you can watch the video. In my opinion it's more easy to watch e.g. divx or xvid hardsubs, many dvd-players already support it, linux distributions seem to have less problem with it (I'm not quite sure but perhaps it has something to do with the license/"free software").

    2. I prefer hardsubs so I like your releases. If I could choose between hardsubs and softsubs (in most cases) I choose hardsubs. I can watch them on my home-pc and on my netbook, can store them on my portable HD and it doesn't take so much disk space. From the quality aspect I don't need 1080p or 1280p, 480p/720p is enough for me. I don't like to have e.g. 52 episodes with each episode having 350-400 MB, that's way too big in my opinion.

  2. 1) Well apart from technicals, having softsubs does make it a lot easier to get subtitle files without having to OCR if a better source comes along at a later date. Also it's nice to have the RAW files without subtitles hardcoded for those who understand Japanese and would rather not have subtitles being in the way.
    That being said h264 files also can decrease your overall file size. As opposed to what the anon who wrote on top says, h264 is much more useful is sd. A video that is encoded with h264 but with lower bitrate will still look the same as a video done with a higher bitrate on xvid.

    2) It doesn't really change it much and no one else has even translated this wonderful series. I very much thank you for all your work and hope you guys continue till the end (and more). ALthough softsubs would be preferential I am most happy that you guys are doing it.

  3. I prefer hardsubs myself. My CPU id 7 years old, and it often has trouble handling softsubs, especially larger file sizes.

  4. Please keep them coming! I do have a reason for asking this question.

  5. Piroca de Fantasma é GeladinhaOctober 24, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    The main advantage of hardsubs is that your program or hardaware won't change the subtitles. Some people think that everybody watches fansubs using their computers , but this is far from the truth. Me, for instance, watch fansubs using hardware media players: Asus O!Play in the city I work, during the week, and SmartMedia HD Vision in the city I live in the weekends.
    And several modern TVs can play files themselves. I´ve just bought a new TV (LG32SL80YD) and it can play computer files. But, even if it plays mkv files, most of times the subtitles don't appear. With avi and mp4 files with hardcoded subs this isn't a problem.
    The main advantage of softsubs is allowing to turn off the subtitles in anime with fan-service (Motto Love-Ru, for instance), when the subs are covering the girl naked body ^_^

  6. I prefer hardsubs. I don't have a lot of experience with softsubs, but it seems overcomplicated.

  7. with softsubs i can choose the style, some times that you see ok on pc monitor looks bad or the fonts tiny on tv. for many others releases i must change the font size and/or color because readeability issues, i'm really thankful that this hardsubbed release have a clear style, the subs on good size and contrast

  8. 1.
    Pro of hardsubs:
    * harder to rip/steal subs (though not impossible)
    * as avi better playback (e.g. there are some players which can play hardsubbed avis, but no mkvs)

    Cons of hardsubs:
    * it's hardsubbed
    * subs can't be edited/video is ruined (especially when there are spelling errors)

    Pros of softsubs:
    * subs can be extraced and edited like one likes (e.g. changing of fonts or adding/removing honorifics, alter the translations/names etc.)
    * theoretically extracted subs could be used for other translations (i.e. other group doesn't have to do timing again) [maybe state that you don't want others doing this or else you'd stop or something or allow it as long they give credit, what they should do of course]
    * video can be used as raw
    * easier to update (e.g. patches for v2 corrections)

    Cons of softsubs:
    * none

    Just to clarify:
    In fact, there are 3 ways, not only hardsubs and softsubs, but also a 3. one: semi-hard/soft-sub, e.g. dialouges softsubbed, but things like signs, OP/ED or group logo hardsubbed. For me a semi-hard/soft-sub of course is a hardsub.

    2. Afaik you sometimes bring out 4 releases.
    Imho a softsubbed h264-mkv and a hardsubbed xvid-avi is find enough. Of course I'd go with the softsubbed one and usually I'd never download a hardsub anymore (in fact, I once downloaded one of ur eps, 'cause it was a mkv and I thought it should be softsubbed - seeing it was a hardsub I deleted it).

    Btw (also 2 some hardsub-lovers): it's easier to turn a softsub into a hardsub than to change a hardsub into a softsub.
    Hard2soft: time it urself or convert the file into avi, use tools like AVISubDetector/SubRip, eventually write down the translation, fix mistakes, add styling etc. etc.
    Soft2hard: just burn the subs into the video.
    In fact I have once seen someone turning softsubs into hardsubs ('cause for playback reasons like playing on PS/Xbox) and I haven't noticed any quality loses.

    @Anonymous (the first one): "Some person of another fansub group said that they prefer "mkv"-softsubs with h.264 because you get a smaller filesize with the same quality (or something like that). I'm not quite sure if it is really correct but their episodes were around 100 MB."
    That's not a thing of hard- or softsub, but of the codex. h264-mkv (softsub or not is not the point) usually is (or can be) smaller than a xvid-avi, without quality loses.

    Greetings Bernd