Karaoke (fansub)

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Synonyms: kara, karaoke effects, karaoke timing, k timing
See also: subtitle timing, typesetting
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Karaoke is a specific form of subtitle used in many modern fansubs. It is used for the opening and ending songs of television series and derives its name from the popular activity karaoke, where groups of people sing along to instrumental tracks of popular songs, usually in public.[1]

Karaoke subtitles are intended to allow viewers, regardless of their level of skill in the original language, to sing along to the OPs and EDs of shows as they watch. This was a popular pastime in anime clubs, but was made difficult by the presence of only translated lyrics on fansubs. Many fansubbers, even in the video tape era, offered either romanization or original language lyrics on screen for this purpose. This practice continued into the digital subbing era, but was augmented by timed effects that would visually mark each syllable and cue the singers.

Many anime fansubs now offer three sets of text on songs: the original Japanese lyrics, romanization, and translations. The Japanese lyrics and/or romanization may be altered to help singers keep their place in the music. For example, the Strawberry Panic release by Froth-Bite had strawberries fall from each syllable as it was sung, while Shinsen-Subs' version of RomeoxJuliet had each syllable disappear into a scattering of white petals that matched the series' flower symbol. Simpler forms of karaoke include syllables moving as they're sung, as in Chihiro's version of K-On, or syllables changing color, as in Doremi and Kaze no Koe Fansubs' joint release of Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~. Typically, OPs receive more attention and complex effects than EDs.

Karaoke effects require both programming and artistic skills. As jfs explained on the Aegisub forums:

All advanced ASS effects are created using by writing a program (script) that transforms some simple timed input into complex effects.[...] The choice of actual programming language is irrelevant, any modern language should be useful for creating karaoke effects. There are some libraries/environments designed for creating karaoke effects (like Aegisub Automation with Lua) which are obviously more suited for working with/in, simply because they provide a framework so you can focus more on generating effects than eg. reading the input, but in the end they're just helps, not requirements, and anything can be used. (In fact I'd recommend trying to do karaoke without using a framework, or write a framework for yourself, since that gives a much better understanding of the mechanichs and eventually should lead to yourself becoming a better karaoker.)[2]

Common programs used for karaoke effects include Aegisub and AFX.[3] Once a song is typeset and timed for karaoke, the data can be reused for future versions of the same OP or ED, so long as the initial timing is carefully checked.

Some fans consider the presence of karaoke effects and their complexity and accuracy to be key indicators of the quality of a fansub release, and many fansubbers now use karaoke effects to show off their skills[1]. Due to the effort required and potential acclaim for skilled work, many karaoke artists treat their work as "trade secrets" and do not offer their coding to the public.[4] Some speedsubbers skip karaoke or use the simplest forms possible, which contributes to negative views of speedsubbing quality. Karaoke is rarely offered by professional subs (for example, Crunchyroll); when it is, it tends to be of minimal quality and complexity.


  1. ^ a b Glossary:Karaoke effect in the Aegisub manual. "[...]a karaoke effect is a visual effect synchronised with a song, used to help singing karaoke. Reality has it that karaoke effects in the fan subtitling community today are used more for "eye candy" and showoff than the real purpose of karaoke subtitles, assisting the viewer sing along to the song." Accessed Nov. 19, 2012.
  2. ^ HOW TO LEARN MAKING KARAOKE posted June 13, 2009. Accessed Nov. 19, 2012.
  3. ^ Karaoke Effects & Subtitles posted June 22, 2011. Accessed Nov. 18, 2012.
  4. ^ Karaoke Effects (list of, how to) 'People don't often share their effects, they're regarded as "trade secrets".' Posted Jan. 5, 2011. Accessed Nov. 18, 2012.