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A brief Anime Central 2013 media travelogue

Anime Central was last weekend in Chicago. I don’t have as much to say this year as last, but a few media related things were worth blogging:

  • One of the things that’s interesting about anime in the US is how legal streaming has been able to turn the tide against rampant piracy (in the form of fan-subtitled videos distributed by BitTorrent). Streaming sites Crunchyroll, Funimation, and The Anime Network offer most series with official subtitles days or hours after their Japanese broadcast, and the former two are free with ads, or all-you-can-eat ad-free with a nominal monthly subscription. I believe this Spring is the first season where literally every new show in Japan is available through legitimate streams in the US. That’s remarkable.

  • Roku was also brought up again and again by attendees of the industry panels I went to, because it’s a practical way to get most of this stuff on your HDTV, thanks to apps from Crunchyroll and Funimation (and Manga, flogging the same five shows they’ve had since the late 90’s). Crunchy is also noteworthy for being on so many other devices: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Google TV, Samsung and Panasonic smart TVs, even that Western Digital streaming box you’ve never heard of. Is any streaming service other than Netflix so aggressively multi-platform?

  • Related: I’m not using the Apple TV all that much anymore. It’s a one-trick pony, and the trick is AirPlay. SDK or GTFO.

  • That said, I hate the new Roku interface. More on that another time, maybe.

  • Funimation had been doing a series of livestreams on Friday nights this winter, called “Noitamina Nights” (after the Japanese broadcast block that is the source of the Psycho-Pass and Robotics; Notes simulcasts). I had a chance to talk to host Justin Rojas after one of the Funi sessions and swapped notes about what software he was using to produce the stream and how they got on YouTube for their stream. Apparently, YouTube just announced an expansion of their livestreaming, now offering it to anyone whose channel has more than 1,000 subscribers. As part of this, Telestream offers a Wirecast product for YouTube, similar to their UStream-only offering, but with significant discounts for the YouTube-only versions of Wirecasts Studio and Pro. YouTube offered significant advantages for Funimation, not the least of which was the absence of un-timed interstitial ads like on UStream. YouTube could really cause a lot of pain to the UStreams, Livestreams, and Justin.tv’s of the world if they’re eventually inclined to open up the program further.

  • Friday-night concert by anime credits band Kalafina was extraordinary. And of course I immediately bought their latest album for the drive home. Still, they played a bunch of official music videos before the concert, and it’s odd these are utterly un-findable on video sites like YouTube (though live performances like the iframe below are readily available). Wondering if the Japanese seriously play keep-away with their promotional videos (ignoring the obvious point that the videos are meant to promote music sales). A few weeks ago, I went looking for better-quality versions of the “Linda, Linda” video made for the Linda, Linda, Linda movie a few years ago, and every online variant seemed to be from the same taped-off-TV source, with the same overlays and compression artifacts. Why on earth is this stuff so hard to find?

  • [iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/62119083″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen]

  • On Saturday night, I took off early to do some Fry’s Electronics shopping. It turns out they had an anime sale of their own: all Funimation or Sentai Filmworks titles were buy-one-get-one-half-off. I picked up the two seasons of ef (ef – a tale of memories and ef – a tale of melodies), and upon returning home, ripped them for iPad viewing. As I discovered and reported on Twitter, at least one of the episodes of melodies had really bad audio sync, off by almost a second. I posted a clip of the bad sync to Telly:

    [iframe src=”http://telly.com/embed.php?guid=O6NVGF&autoplay=0″ title=”Telly video player ” class=”twitvid-player” type=”text/html” width=”480″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0]

    So what’s a guy to do? It didn’t hit me until a day later: you ripped the show into an MP4… why not just slip the audio track by a few frames and re-export it?

    Slipping the audio track by 17 frames to fix mis-timed audio on original DVD

    Yes, I actually used Motion for this, because my old copy of Final Cut Express HD doesn’t seem to like modern codecs, and I haven’t sprung for Final Cut Pro yet. Still, it worked: Mizuki’s lip flap is much improved, and when she grabs Kuze’s arm, the foley isn’t a half-second late.

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