Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Solution To The Fansub Problem (Maybe...)

One of the things that has really, really been bugging me lately has been the screaming lament of various people in the American anime industry about the fact that "fansubs are killing the industry! Nobody wants to buy anime if they can download it from the Internet via BitTorrent!" Fansubbing has been blamed for everything from haltosis to the end of Geneon Animation US (which, AFAIK, had the lovely trait of trying to sell anime in America in many of the same ways they sold it in Japan).

To the studios, I have a question for you. Serious question, too. If it isn't for fansubs, how in the hell am I supposed to get a English version of Legend of The Galactic Heroes? Or another series that has all the popular appeal of curling to the general audience? Or any of the really high-end, non-ecchi mecha series (like Gundam 00), which doesn't have an American audience, really?

Yet, the question does remain-how does the animation studios combat the problem of fansubs on the Internet? Especially since anime fansubs are reaching the point of becoming like the BitTorrent of Global Frequency-awesome, but killing any possibility of the show ever being "legit".

Answer-beat them to the punch.

This would require studios to coordinate their activities with American and British distributors, but quite frankly they should have done so years ago. Anime studio in Japan produces a new series-let's say it's a harem/mecha show (where the harem girls are the giant robots...). Twenty-four hours after the episode comes out, the American distributor (say, ADV Films) puts up a un-encrypted, digitally open, subtitled version of the episode. Accurately subtitled too (mostly because they have access to the scripts), and perfectly done. Probably a high-end AVI formatted file with stereo sound and all that.

The catch? There are commericals-for both anime that the distributor produces and anime the studio makes (even if it's via another distributor, they can put ads for their shows on there. Deal With It). Each of the ads has a code...which is shut off 24 hours later for special bonus items (like a web-only interview of the staff, a free download of the soundtrack off of iTunes, etc, etc).

This makes the episode about the same length it is in Japan. Yes, people can click over the ads and such...but that's not the point. The point is that the ads are there, and in theory are watched. And, there are reasons why people want to watch the ad, the WHOLE ad... (yes, those letters on the girl's bouncing breasts means something important...)

Which is a traceable demographic.

Which can be sold to other studios ("It looks like American fandom is really, really into series with characters of questionable sexuality and gender. Oh, and openly are doing each other, despite probably being siblings.").

Or used to improve your own internal anime development ("Moon Cow Elisa got twice as many hits as Bloody Opera Marie. More moe!").

Then, when the series comes out...heh, heh, heh...downloadable content. But you have to have entered and collected the codes from the entire Internet run of the series to get it...

I must contemplate this idea more.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Getting Off The Planet, Version 2.0

One of the biggest pushes that NASA has been up to has been building the whole Aries (aka the Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle) system. Of course, to build it means funding and supporting and supplying the whole space launch and industry system. Including all new contracts to do research and development and produce all new space 2012 or so.

Of course, a much cheaper system and proposal is outlined here, in the form of the Jupiter I-V system. This setup would mean man would be back on the five years or less. Maybe six. I would love to work on this the very least, work on writing up all the neat and interesting paperwork and documentation needed. As long as I got a chance to play in the simulators every once in a while.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Social Networking Thoughts...

Sadly, I'm on several social networking systems (namely Tribe, Facebook, MySpace, and Livejournal), and all of them seem to lack features that I keep thinking would be perfect for these networks. In no particular order, here are my thoughts-

1)Let's be fair. There are some parts of our lives that we would want to very much keep a secret from other people in our lives. Our employer doesn't need to know that we are a fan of Green Acres, nor do our parents need to know that we like women dipped in honey and chocolate. Nor do our friends need to read about the frustration we have with them (I have a friend that I love deeply, but hell is she bad on my ego when I play world-saver for her). The concept that I have is what I call the "hive"-six levels of control positive and negative over people you know.

You organize the people on the social network by one of three types-friends, family, and business. Postings can then be segregated on the various groups by type (a dating board, for example, would only let people that are posted as friends and not business). In addition, if you were to post a blog on the social networking site, you could restrict it by type...and by levels of friendship.

Remember I said about six levels of control? You could set the levels on each person that is a friend on your list by 1 ("kinda know them") to 6 ("best friends forever/lovers"). Photos would be controled by levels-from open to the public (0) to the photos you only want some people to see (3) to photos you maybe want one or two people to see (6). Your blog postings would be controlled like this-"only friends 3 and above", "only business three and five", etc, etc. On your friend's profile, you could see friends of your friends...and how they know them, and how their levels are in comparison to yours-a good tool to sort out people you know and don't know.

Of course, we have the reverse controls-the ability to list somebody from -1 (not a fan of them) to -6 (don't want them to know ANYTHING of what I do here). If somebody has a lot of -1s and belows, maybe you shouldn't know them...or let them find things out.

2)At the end, the purpose of social networking sites is user-created content. Groups for things you didn't think there was a need for (kinky knitters of making toys out of yarn, I swear to God they exist), organizing events of all types, finding things to buy and parties to go to. Group control should let you be able to set up everything from parties to sales....of course there will be open, CL-type boards, but the ability to put add-on modules such as event calenders and photo galleries and similar types of hardware.

3)For handling adult content....I'm thinking of a three-tier system. The first tier is the "free" tier-kids and such can reach this level. This keeps them out of content specially designated as "adult" (and, conversely, there are two tier levels, 18+ Adult and 21+ Adult). I'm still trying to figure out a way to keep kids away from annoying people...but the idea hasn't hit me yet.

Second tier is "adult"-and if you want to get to the adult boards, you have to pay...$1 a year. You have to have a credit card that is linked to your name and your address (to prevent fraud), and that gives you access to the Adult boards.

Third tier is "patron"-for a monthly or yearly fee, you don't get any ads, any postings get put on the top of the screen and any friend listings when you're online, etc, etc...

There are other ideas, but they're all being worked through my brain...very, painfully slowly.