Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Big Clue Brick

The results of the Aerandria Proofreader tests were horrible. Horrible to the point I didn't want to open another test file.

Applicants were failing for such a basic reason I still can't believe it: They didn't indicate their corrections/changes. They didn't use something like "Record Changes" in MS-Word. They didn't change the color of the corrected text in RTF. They didn't underline, bracket with symbols, nothing.

Every time you get a test or essay back from a teacher it's marked with a blue pencil or a red pen, isn't it? To show you where you got it wrong, right?

I'm dropping a Big Clue Brick on you right now: We need to see what changes you have made. Be it mispelling, bad grammar, missing punctuation, improper word choice or obscure cultural whatsit, we need to see what it is. Not just to show you know so we know you know, but so we won't make the same mistake again. Proofreading is not just to produce clear and readable copy. Proofreading is to help the Translator, the Editor, the Typesetter and the Readers.

Highlighting the errors helps the Translators improve their English. Correcting mispelled words makes it more enjoyable for the Readers and keeps whoever's Typesetting from breaking into a sweat. Simplified grammar also helps the Typesetter squeeze those big words into those little narrow bubbles. Dealing with cultural mores helps the editors in charge makes policy decisions on how to treat such things in the future.

So show us what you're doing. So this way we'll know that you know that we know what you know and we'll know we're getting a good script.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Alternative to Photoshop

Blog Post: Alternative to Photoshop

I've made no secret of the fact I hate Photoshop. Using PS for typesetting is like using a sledgehammer to crack walnuts. Whenever possible I use a very nice vector editor called "Inkscape." I realize PS is a necessary evil in the scanlation community and I certainly don't advocate getting rid of it. (At least not yet.)

Yes, PS is versatile--but at the cost of a steep learning curve, cluttered UI, labor-intensive and s-l-o-w. 

But I found something that may break the stranglehold PS has. Allow me to present a possible alternative: Photoscape.

This free image editor was developed by a Korean consortium. It has the advantages of being fast, simple and very, very useful. Many of the common needs for the scan community--levelling, brightness, contrast, gamma and so forth are push-button and slider-bars. Also commonly used settings can be saved as profiles. Here are screen shots so you can look for yourself. The editor functions I speak of are on the 3rd screen-shot down. 

I use Photoscape where I work, an electronics manufacturing company, to help develop visual aids for assembly and inspection. I use a digital camera to document processes under far from ideal lighting conditions. With Photoscape I prep the imagery before importing it into Open Office Draw to create the visual aids. 

Could this replace PS? Of course not, especially dealing with "noise" and other cleaning issues. I recommend this as another tool editors can use. If your scans are good quality and just need leveling and contrast adjusted, you can fire up Photoscape and do so with just a few clicks. If scan groups have editors who want to help but are challenged by time--or older PC's--they can help do the initial steps with Photoscape before the imagery is cleaned and tweaked in PS. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Common text formats for scanlation groups

I'm assisting aeriandria in finding new proofreaders. We send out a test to qualified applicants with instructions to proof them and return them. Some of the tests I've gotten back were in .DOCX format. After some research on the web I discovered it's good ol' Microsoft trying to make an open format proprietary; it's MS-Word XML. In practical terms it meant I couldn't open the files, neither with MS-WORD XP nor with Open Office. FAIL.

Why fail? If I can't open the files, how can I review them? My task is not to figure out how to open an obscure text file format, it's to review the tests. I can say with confidence most editors in scan groups are going to immediately email, "Hey, resubmit this in .DOC or .RTF format, okay?"

In my experience scan groups work with three text-file formats: MS-Word .DOC, open-source .RTF or simple .TXT format. Some groups prefer proofreading in .DOC so they can take advantage of MS-Word "Record Changes" feature. Others prefer .RTF due to it's ease and simplicity and x-platform ability. In .RTF you can color the text to indicate corrections/changes. 

Often the initial translated scripts are in .TXT format.  The proofreader then uses an editor to convert it to .DOC or .RTF format. The .TXT file format is often used by editors when they are typesetting. The finished script is given to the editors in .TXT format to allow ease of copy and paste. Note: Due to the multi-national nature of scanlation, the .TXT files are often UTF-8 encoded. 

Here is an excellent (free) text editor named "Rough Draft" designed to work with the .RTF format:
Clink on the link for "Rough Draft" to see the page explaining it further.

Here is a (free) text editor, "EditPad Lite," that works with many encoding formats including UTF-8:

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Step Away From the Mouse..."

BEFORE you do any typesetting proofread the script. Yes, chances are it's been proofread by someone else--but whoever proofed it is not the one typesetting it. 
  • Ending punctuation. If it ain't there, put it there.
  • If a sentence begins with Who, What, Where, Why, When, Did, Have, Has, Could, Would, Can, Will, Won't or How it must end with a "?"
  • Find out if your scanlation group wants "!?" or "?!" used.
  • Search and replace ellipses 1: So you have either "..." or "......"
  • Search and replace ellipses 2: Get rid of the MS-Word "..." that's one unit instead of 3 dots. Fonts such as Wild Words don't have that character.
  • Make sure all names are spelled the same throughout the script.

I Broke My Text Tool Going "KYAAAAAAAA~~~!"

Just how do typesetters fit those big words in those damn narrow little bubbles in manga? These and other questions are the subject of this blog. Soon I'll have a tutorial with examples posted here.