Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I did a brief interview with Vivi from who helps provide English subtitles to many of the Chinese dramas appearing on their website. Vivi discussed the challenges of subbing the new series The Journey of Flower and about other aspects of the process, including the translation of musical lyrics. is a streaming site devoted to global programming with an emphasis on Asian series. Presently they are airing a new martial arts fantasy series called The Journey of Flower. 

Here is my interview with Vivi. 

Brendan: Did the Journey of Flower series present any particular challenges to sub? 
Vivi: All wuxia dramas are challenging to sub due to the old language used and the terms that are not common in modern day language. Also due to the numerous number of extended casts. Since "The Journey of Flower" is a fantasy drama, this also add another layer of challenge for all those terms and names use in fantasy stories.
Brendan: How long does it take to sub an episode of a drama series? 
Vivi: Each video takes about 15 to 20 hours of work from downloading and uploading of the video, the gathering of notes, segmenting and English translating the videos to 100% for your entertainment. Afterward, the English translation-editors spend another few hours to go through the translation before the video is release for other language subbers to translate it into their language. By the time the video is 100% subbed into other language, a total of 25 to 35 hours of work has been put into the one video. So it depends on how many episode the drama has. 
This does not take into account the time that it took for the English translation of the song lyrics. There are 6 songs for this drama. I have to surf the web for the lyrics and the mp3, then organize the lyrics and have a subber translate the lyrics. Then I proofread and edit and revise the translation with the subber. This process could take days depending on how long and how hard the lyrics are to translate. Song lyrics are like poems, so it's a lot harder to translate than a dialogue as we have to pay attention to the flow of the translation and the usage of the vocabularies and try to paint a picture with words.
Brendan: Sometimes the percentage of subbed content varies from episode to episode (some have 100% while others are still being subbed and have 80 or 90%). What are your recommendations for viewers who find themselves watching a series that is only partly subbed. Are there synopsis they can read or reviews that might help them if they need to skip episodes not subbed in English? 
Vivi: I would suggest that viewers use their imagination and educated guesses from previous episodes and viewers' comments. However, I would not suggest skipping any episode. If a viewer watch each episode in order, they can pretty much guess what is going on even without the subtitles.
Brendan: What are some difficulties of subbing that may not be readily apparent to viewers? 
Vivi: Trying to get all the subbers to be consistent with the spelling/translation of the cast names, place names, names of things, terms and titles. Also trying to keep the subbers motivated and trying to keep the fans from being too demanding.
Brendan: Why do you sub these programs? 
Vivi: I have always like wuxia drama from a very young age. So I am subbing these programs because I want to share these great dramas with others who does not understand the language, to keep my promise to the volunteers, make friends, practice my language skill, etc...
Brendan: Are there any programs on the horizon you are particularly excited about subbing?
Vivi: The Legend of Zu (upcoming); The Four (completed); The Legend of the Ancient Sword (completed), The Lost Tomb (upcoming).

If you enjoyed the interview feel free to check out The Journey of Flower on at (HERE). 

She is the last god of the world and a Lone Star (an unlucky star). On the day of her birth, flowers wilted and the skies turned dark as her mother passed away during childbirth. Therefore, she was named Hua Qian Gu, meaning a thousand flower bones. 
Her body has a strange scent that attracts and provokes demons. Taking the advice of her dying father, Hua Qian Gu set on her journey to seek for a teacher to teach her martial art skills so that she could protect herself. On her journey she met friends such as Dongfang Yu Qing (Andy Zhang Dan Feng 张丹峰), Meng Xuan Lang (Joe Xu Hai Qiao 徐海乔), and Sha Qian Mo (Ma Ke 馬可).
Dongfang Yu Qing is a champion scholar. Meng Xuan Lang is an emperor of the human realm. And Sha Qian Mo is the Demon Ruler.
Bai Zi Hua is the superior immortal guardian of the common people from Chang Liu, an immortal sect. He is gentle and yet cold. Will Bai Zi Hua be able to help Hua Qian Gu with her trouble? Or will she be his downfall?

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