Releases and Completions
We finally started releasing the Bluray episodes of Kyoto Animation’s most tear-jerking series. We initially launched it with no file-size limitations, but after receiving feedback from our fans, we decided to cap the file-size at 1 gigabyte in order to facilitate DDL’s and faster downloads.
After suffering three months of delays, we finally began releasing Code Geass R1. The Bluray episodes feature a different ED than the TV releases, but everything else is pretty much the same. Despite the fact that the series is encoded in 1080p, the file sizes have always been less than 1 gigabyte. Regardless, the quality is still absolutely fantastic.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
We picked up Haruhi in anticipation of the movie. Even though we weren’t able to finish this before the release of the movie—and we’re nowhere close—we anticipate this series to be one of the most popular ones.
We finally wrapped up one of the best anime this year. It’s written by the same author who did Bakemonogatari, so it’s no wonder that this series was incredible. We will not be releasing a batch of the TV release. Instead, we’ll be releasing the Bluray encodes for this and batching those up. Furthermore, we’re redoing several BD episodes that exhibited frame corruption.
This was probably one of the best romantic comedies of the year. It was really heartwarming to see our protagonist win most of the time. Unfortunately, we will not be doing the BD’s of these. There’s no real motivation to do them—unless there’s some hidden sex scene, then I’d be getting that shit out real fast. Regardless, it was refreshing to see an anime where the main character actually had the balls to confess to the girl.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
This was one of our largest and most intensive projects. We actually took a RAW and proofread and retimed subtitles from Mazui’s camrip. As of this writing, we have managed to ship out the 720p version of this, but the 1080p is almost finished encoding and will be tested on the Playstation 3.
The 1080p version will be the first 1080p release since we began offering Xbox 360 compatibility to be encoded at H264 level 4.2, which effectively makes it a Playstation 3 exclusive.
Major and Minor Events
Dropped Support for 1080p on Xbox
After getting reports from our fans and testers, we began investigating stuttering issues associated with the Xbox 360 and our content. It turns out that native 1080p content doesn’t play smoothly on the Xbox 360. After exhausting every possible encoding setting, we decided to drop all support for 1080p content on the Xbox 360. Instead, we’ve opted to encode 720p variants with 2 channel sound to make up for the lack of support. Furthermore, we will not be offering batches or torrents for our 720p encodes unless it’s a movie.
Have you noticed the side bar lately? We started asking a new brain teaser every week and posting its corresponding solution a week afterwards. They’re primarily Number Theory questions, but clever minds out there have managed to do them without any experience in Number Theory.
2010 | Year in Review
We actually haven’t been alive for more than a year, but we felt that it would be necessary to recap all of the major events that have happened over the past six months.
File Tags | CRC32
Ya know that random string of numbers and letters at the end of our releases? That’s called the CRC32 checksum and it allows you to verify our releases and ensure that the file you downloaded is actually the one we intended. Most people probably don’t bother checking the integrity of the file since all torrent clients automatically check the integrity of their pieces, but it’s just an extra layer of security for people who want it.
In addition to the CRC32, we’ve added descriptors to our files that allow you to quickly understand what each file is meant for. “X264” designates the encoding library we used, “PS3” obviously means that our file is capable of being played on a Playstation 3 console, “720p” or “1080p” tells you the video mode, “AAC” or “AC3” tells you the audio compression technique we used, “XBOX” tells you that our media is capable of being played on the Xbox 360, and “BD” tells you that the source was from a Bluray disk. Not all of our Bluray releases have the “BD” tag, because we only use the “BD” tag to distinguish between TV releases and BD releases (such as HSOTD).
Title Safe | Overscan
Deciding to make our releases title safe was probably the largest paradigm shift N LogN had to make this year.
We knew about the overscan issue before people began reporting about it, but decided to not address it in lieu of the fact that most LCD television screens have the ability to display 100% of the picture. And then our poll showed that 13% of our fanbase actually experiences overscan—and all of them had LCD televisions. We had initially estimated that approximately 8% of our fanbase would experience overscan and that all of them would be using rear-projection televisions.
As a result, we decided to completely change up our encodes and offer 100% title safe releases that can suffer up to 10% overscan and still be completely viewable.
As you can imagine, certain anime make this harder for us. For instance, SYD and Katanagatari make use of signs and/or large text that blot out the entire screen. Squeezing in subtitles and translations for those signs can be quite tricky.
Now, many people wondered why we bothered with making such a large change in direction when a relatively small minority is suffering from this problem. Well, that’s because we assume that most of our fanbase will view our media on a television set, not a computer monitor.
Most fansub groups assume that their media is being viewed on a computer monitor—and an LCD one at that. They don’t usually consider the difficulties in viewing their media on a television set. This is further laminated by the fact that they use the MKV container and ordered-chapters.
So now, this means that most of our time is spent running through the scripts and ensuring that the subtitles are farther than 5% from the edges of the screen.
The most common comment we receive is,
Can you reseed X?
Sometimes we can. Sometimes we can’t. We are limited to a certain amount of online storage space and bandwidth. So, in order alleviate the need for reseeds, we began offering DDL’s for files that are less than 1 gigabyte.
The file size limit is there to ensure that everyone can download the file from MU. The suggestion to archive the file and split it into pieces was considered, but we decided not to do that after realizing that some of our Bluray movies can reach file sizes of up to 10 gigabytes.
Nobody really remembers M2TS, but support for the file container was dropped after Sony introduced support for AC3 streams multiplexed in the MP4 container.
Despite the fact that M2TS is the container used by Bluray movies, it’s inferior to MP4. It doesn’t support reverse seeking and isn’t supported by as many media players.
Font of Choice
After all of the random font changes in HSOTD, we decided to settle on a standard style-guideline should the group not like the font used by a fansub group. Our primary font is Corbel.
We’re not too particularly enamored with huge beveling and dark shadows used by many groups, so we’ve decided to use light outlines, gray tint, and semi-transparent shadows instead. Hopefully, this comes off as tasteful.
Domain | Name Change
In our initial conception of N LogN EG, we imagined ourselves with a translator. But then we decided to switch over towards being a highly technical and specific group dedicated to Playstation 3 media playback. But our webmaster had already reserved the domain nlognfansubs.wordpress.com.
With the switch towards becoming a group that pays particular attention to technicalities and having nothing to do with the Japanese culture, we figured that the word “fansubs” in our name would probably throw people off.
In a maneuver to change our image, we decided to purchase the domain nlogneg.com and change our name to N LogN Encoding Group.
Speaking of not being a fansub group, we would like to ask all of our fans to not list us on myanimelist.net, anidb.net, or any other fansub listing website. We don’t fansub anything. We do not have a translator. We are an encoding group and plan to stay one. If there are any Japanese translators out there willing to help us out, we’d be more than happy to become a fansub group, but I doubt anyone is willing to help us out.
Fast Blogging | Twitter
In addition to our WordPress blog, we also have a Twitter feed for you guys to follow. Since posting every little thing would amount to a lot of work for nothing, we set up Twitter so that we could quickly post updates about very specific processes that are occurring in N LogN without actually having to do a full write up. Check it out: http://twitter.com/nlogneg
2011 | Strategic Outlook
OP | ED Karaoke Consistency
The entire staff hates the OP and ED karaoke. If we could have it our way, we’d just eliminate them altogether. But, many people out there feel that it’s just as much a part of the episode as the subtitles are. So, the result of this clash in beliefs is an inconsistent and seemly random selection of anime that get to keep their karaoke and anime that don’t.
We want to reach some sort of agreement on whether to keep the karaoke or not. The only issue is that some groups tend to mistime, hardsub, and/or mistranslate the OP and ED, which almost certainly makes this a case-by-case basis. This is further aggravated by insert songs.
In the RAW | Divisions
What N LogN would really love is nice supply of RAW’s instead releases from other groups. Of course, this isn’t always feasible, but we can always dream.
Personally, I would just work on Blurays instead of encoding shows that are currently airing on Japanese television. But, that wouldn’t elicit much support, so we’re trying to split the group into two divisions: Helios Division and Strike Division
Helios Division is basically all the projects that I’m in charge of and we’re responsible for most of the Bluray releases. We’re moving towards solely doing Blurays and movies rather than televised releases, but this isn’t 100% feasible for the reason below.
Strike is in charge of the projects in this division and it’s primarily concerned with encoding current television programs. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Strike tends to like ecchi shows and tentacle-loli-hentai stuff, so Helios Division will probably encode one or two tv shows a season just to assuage the fans. =P
Larger Online Storage
We’d like to have a larger repository to place all of our releases on, but with the tight budget we’ve decided to settle with what we have. With over 100+ Bluray HD encodes coming, at least two more 1080p movies with 720p variants, and all of our previous releases, space and bandwidth is going to be tough to manage. So, one of our goals is to expand to a larger provider, but who knows when that’ll happen.
N LogN EG isn’t just another HD group. In fact, there are very few groups who dedicate themselves to purely encoding HD content and I still haven’t found any specific group for the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. Furthermore, nobody seems to care about the difficulties in viewing anime on the television screen—the way it was meant to be viewed. Most people in Japan are watching anime on their televisions, not their computer screens.
N LogN EG doesn’t just strive to encode anime but we strive to make watching it on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as painless as possible. No need to transcode our material. No need to worry about ordered-chapters. No need to worry about whether or not the subtitles are going to get cut off. That’s what we’re supposed to worry about.
Aside from our releases, N LogN EG is much different from other groups. You never actually hear about or hear from anyone other than myself. Unlike other groups, all of our staff communicates via IM or phone. We don’t use IRC like other groups. Everybody here is an adult that’s in college or working. Furthermore, we know each other personally—as in, face-to-face.
We look forward to the upcoming year. Some possible BD’s we’ll be releasing include Ore no Imouto and The World God Only Knows. But we’re definitely going to be encoding The World God Only Knows Season 2, so I hope you guys are excited about that.