The USS Quad Damage

Anime and Simlish

I watch a lot of Anime, but don’t understand Japanese. I therefore need to rely on subtitles. Modern Anime “rips” tend to have “soft-subs”, which are computer-readable text embedded inside the video file. This video file is worth a lot more to me than the DVD, as we’ll soon find out. Whilst there is nothing stopping people from soft-subbing material in English, the trend is that this is generally “not done”, even though it’s probably fairly easy if the material were obtained via, say, digital TV. On the contrary for Anime, there’s a veritable army of writers translating Anime series.

MPEG-7 is a standard for defining other meta-data about the video in question and embedding it in the video. Some of it is expected to be computer-extractable, other things would need to be entered manually (say, the description of the video). MPEG-7 is meant so you can search videos for information you want. This includes things like offsets in the video files so you can go straight to the bit you want. It’s naturally easy for soft-subs to be converted into MPEG-7.

Hard drives are big now, and video codecs are pretty great. You can store a lot of videos on a hard drive, possibly your whole collection, possibly enough that it’d take you a long long time to watch. By the time you’ve watched it all instead of deleting it you could probably just buy a bigger hard drive. It’s still cheaper to do that than buy DVD media, for example.

Beagle (or Growl in Mac, or Windows Desktop Search in Windows, or Google Desktop also on Windows) all have neato burrito ways of indexing all the meta-data on your hard drive onto a searchable database. Speaking only of beagle, there’s no plugin for either MPEG-7 nor just straight looking up the subtitles on a video, but it won’t be long, and it doesn’t sound much harder than indexing email or word documents.

Conclusion? Because I watch a lot of TV in other languages it won’t be long before I can search my “desktop” for things which were said or done in the shows I watch. If people who recorded English programs had a habit of storing the subtitles, the searchable web on your desktop would take hold much quicker for video.

On a second note, I was considering the advantages of watching Anime considering I don’t know any Japanese: It’s very much like Simlish in a sense. Watching Anime is, in a way, a much more interesting way of reading a book. There’s music, sound, acting (as far as emotion goes), but what’s being said is something I’m reading. Hell, even what’s drawn leaves a fair bit to the imagination. If I want I can mute it and listen to music. If soft-subs are made a bit better with actor identification (i.e: associating a subtitle with a box on screen which identifies not the placement of the text, rather the object which is associated with the text, such as the person saying the words, the location of the street sign which is being referenced), I could watch Anime as sort of a moving comic book.

Technology is grand, but I won’t be able to enjoy it fully knowing there are starving kids out there.