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As an avid Chinese fan of American TV shows http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Stephon-Gilmore-Jersey/ , Yang (pseudonym) hated to fall behind on her favorite shows. For quite some time, the only way she could stay up to date on the latest shows was by downloading pirated episodes that were made available on websites organized by other avid fans.
In this way, Yang was able to watch new episodes of US shows usually within 24 hours after they were released overseas. Not only did these pirated releases allow her to stay in step with US audiences, they always came with Chinese subtitles that would sometimes even explain a difficult to understand punch line or reference, which helped break down language barriers for her.
Heading to these illegal sites was pretty much a daily habit for her http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Stephen-Gostkowski-Jersey/ , that is until local Chinese streaming sites began streaming foreign shows to which they had purchased the broadcast rights. Far less complicated than downloading, she could now watch her shows at the click of a button.
Lately however, she has been thinking of returning to her pirating ways since recent regulations for online shows have made staying up to date extremely difficult.
Currently, the State Administration of Press, Publication http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Shea-Mcclellin-Jersey/ , Radio, Film and Television requires all streaming sites to submit entire seasons of foreign shows for review before they can be streamed, which means Yang can fall an entire season behind audiences in the US.
For example, although one of her favorite shows, FX's Fargo http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Shaq-Mason-Jersey/ , began airing its second season in the US in the beginning of October, it only hit Sohu TV recently. This nearly five-month wait to watch the first episode has been nearly unbearable for this true fan as it has been difficult to avoid spoilers on the Internet.
While China's watchdogs have cracked down on most illegal websites, where there is a will, there is a way - with a little work she can always find what she wants to watch.
Fansub groups, a group of fans that voluntarily produce subtitles for foreign TV shows http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Ryan-Allen-Jersey/ , can take much of the credit for broadening the horizons of TV watchers in China. Working quickly to translate shows as soon as they are able, their Chinese subtitles can be made available as early as just a few hours after a show is broadcast overseas - all this work provided completely free of charge.
"The ability of Chinese moviegoers that have been cultivated by these fansub groups to appreciate film is far ahead of the Chinese film industry," movie critic Yuan Dengyu told the Global Times. He believes the dedication of fansub groups has greatly improved Chinese's tastes in films and shows.
Most of these groups were founded by fans of foreign shows who chose to use their knowledge of foreign languages to provide a means for other people in China to share in their enjoyment of foreign movies and TV series.
For instance, YYETS, one of the most popular fansub groups online until it was shut down in 2014 http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Rob-Gronkowski-Jersey/ , was started by overseas Chinese students in Canada in 2004. Brought together through their common interest in TV and movies, members of the group spent long hours producing high quality subtitles without any financial compensation.
From classic movies to the latest films, TV shows legally available in China and those that are not, and even ceremonies like the Academy Awards, almost everything can be found on fansub sites.
Some fansub groups in China have even expanded their coverage to other languages besides English http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Rex-Burkhead-Jersey/ , like Japanese, Korean and Spanish. The Tianxiang fansub group is a well-known group that has provided subtitles for Japanese TV shows and anime for nearly a decade.
However, since most of the content provided by these fansub group websites is provided illegally, controversies over copyrightshave always been a major issue.
For instance, the sources for movies usually come from group members overseas who buy a DVD or blue-ray http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Phillip-Dorsett-Jersey/ , transfer it into a digital format and put it up on the Internet for free download.
How the cake is made
The process, while quick, can be a little complicated and involves several people handling different jobs.
Most important is a video source, as translators can't do their job unless they've watched the episode. Those in charge of providing the show are usually people who are living abroad and can record an episode as it airs and then send it to the group as soon as possible.
Once the show is received, the translation process can begin. Although fansubs are not meant for commercial use http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Patrick-Chung-Jersey/ , episodes are usually translated by people with a high level of proficiency in the original language, preferably those who can understand what is being said without the need for any subtitles.
Once translated, subtitles aren't just thrown out the door. Just like professional translations they need to be proofed first. Translations are often handed over to those with even higher language ability to double check for mistakes or improve the wording in Chinese.
Once the editing process is done the technical experts come in to start putting the subtitles into a digital file. Timing is key here as the subtitles have to appear on the screen at the right time.
The final leg of the journey involves compressing the subtitles and video into formats such as AVI, MKV or MP4 to make sure it can be displayed in different players. Then the new file is uploaded to the fan site.
While groups jump through quite a lot of hoops to get shows to audiences in China, most aren't looking for financial compensation.
"As long as I find this work interesting http://www.patriotsrookiestore.com/Patriots-Nate-Solder-Jersey/ , I don't mind doing it at all. It's like volunteer work, I'm happy to do it even though I don't make any money," said a member of Tianxiang who goes by the screen name Xuancaobing.
A portion of this article was previously published in the Global Times article 'Sub'title fig If you are se.