December 28th, 2009

drawing, old man

Animatsiya Wiki

Some of you already know about this, but I think it's about time I made an official announcement. Here's something that has been in the works for the past while:

If you would like to edit it, you can either make an account there, or (the lazy option) simply reply to this entry and wait for me or someone else to see your suggestion.

It was started for a number of reasons. One being, I noticed more and more that there are now a number of people doing translations of Russian animated films, and sometimes the same films are accidentally translated twice or even three times by different people, none of whom were aware of the other translations. So I thought it would be good to make a list of all translations of Russian animation, both to avoid duplication of effort and to give non-Russian-speakers an easy way to search for films that they haven't seen. Here it is:

List of Russian animation subtitled in English

There are currently 201 films on the list. It is possible to sort the table by English film title (default), by translator, by year, by studio, by director, by animation technique, by length, by the Russian name and by the Russian transliterated name.

Of course, much Russian animation has no words at all, and so presents no language barrier. There's a list for this, too, though I think it's not as complete yet (currently at 101 films):

List of wordless Russian animation

Finally, here's a list that will mainly be of interest to translators and researchers:

Translation of Russian film crew titles


Out of curiosity, I tallied up how many times the names of translators appear on the first list (mostly for solo translations, but sometimes for collaborations):

39 - Niffiwan
35 - julia2night
25 - houzdog03
10 - monsieuricon
8 - nadejg
6 - netravidushu
5 - MiaRossa
4 - noiseemitter, ValerieChatoner
3 - 0xDD, Ilya Belkin, axmxz
2 - Pseudologic, Excelenz, Peter Klassen
1 - Seth Graham, Humanophage, trueboltsfan, Artem, Lesha & Co., hykao, Lidia Kocherezhko, yeliza0veta

The company Films by Jove (which controlled the rights to Soyuzmultfilm's catalogue outside of Russia until September 2007) also appears 38 times. But the great majority of the Russian animation (that is readily available for viewing) was actually translated by hobbyists within the last two years. From what I've been able to make out, Houzdog03 and myself were the first. Though we started at almost the same time, we were unaware of each other for many months. Houzdog03 released his first translation (Here There be Tygers) on January 15, 2007, and I followed a few days later.

It looks like a little fansubbing community for Russian animation has now sprung up, about 20 years after it happened for Japanese anime. Like the situation with anime back then, there is nobody in Russia right now who is really interested in exporting Russian animation. Since Films by Jove sold their rights to the Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov two years ago (he bought them as an act of charity, likely to repair his social image with the public, then gave them as a gift to Bibigon state TV channel), no use has been made of them. Of course, there are still people in Russia making translations for international film festivals, as there always were; once those films make their festival tour and are seen by a few people, they and the translations get put into a box and are never seen again. Any commercial international releases are not seen as profitable. And so the task of cultural communication is left to a few hobbyists.

P.S. julia2night has created a nice website called Digital Cake recently. Digital Cake and the Animatsiya Wiki both have similar goals, but there are some pros and cons.

-more colorful, and you see an image from the cartoon, not just the name
-searchable by genre
-has live-action translations as well

-not as comprehensive (currently only 135 animation entries, compared to 201 in the wiki) EDIT: As Julia says in a comment below, series of films only count as 1 entry on her site
-not searchable by any of the categories that are in the wiki lists, only by title and genre
-not editable by anyone except the admin, so it could get outdated if Julia stops working on it
-no list of "wordless" films
-no choice of versions if a film is translated more than once
drawing, old man

By studio, by decade

Just a few statistics from the wiki. I thought it would be interesting to tally how many Russian animated films have been translated into English by studio, and by decade:

Out of 201 films:

95 - Soyuzmultfilm
17 - Ecran/Multtelefilm/Soyuztelefilm (from 1990)
11 - Peterburg
8 - Kievnauchfilm
5 - Pilot
3 - Animakkord, Belarusfilm, Flashcafe
2 - Sverdlovsk "A-Film" Animation Studio, Argus International, Armenfilm, Goskino, Gosteleradio, Master-film, Melnitsa, Mezhrabprom-Rus, National Television Company, SHAR School-Studio,
1 - 3rd Factory of Sovkino, Cinema-Moscow+, Leningrad factory of Sovkino, Animos Studio, Classica Film Studio, Dago, Legion, Soyuzfilm, Studio "Mult.RU", Sverdlovsktelefilm, Sverdlovsk Film Studio, Uzbekfilm

Also, 28 films (25 from the 2000s and 3 from the 1910s) were not made at a studio.

Now by decade:

1910s - 3
1920s - 6
1930s - 2
1940s - 9
1950s - 1
1960s - 20
1970s - 43
1980s - 46
1990s - 13
2000s - 58

Unsurprisingly, Soyuzmultfilm takes the lead by a wide margin. I think Pilot Studio is underrepresented, compared to the influence it has had since the fall of the Soviet Union and the high quality of its films.

The "decade" data is also interesting. I'm not surprised that there are just two films from the 1930s, as it was a turbulent decade for animation in the USSR. Some big projects begun in the first part of the decade were canceled in the middle, when all animation studios were ordered to combine into Soyuzmultfilm, move to Moscow, learn a completely different technique and make animation in Disney's style. The latter half of the 1930s doesn't have many good films, and a lot of films were also lost in WW2. Likewise, the lack of interest in the 1990s isn't too surprising either; a lot of the best talent either left animation or went to work for Western studios (sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently). The lack of translations from the 1950s does surprise me, since it wasn't actually a bad decade for Soviet animation. Though perhaps there is a reason, after all: of all the decades, Russian animation from the 1950s may be the least suited to modern sensibilities. It is highly refined yet stagnant stylistically, features heavy use of rotoscoping, tends to be slow-moving, and is aimed at children more than usual. On the other hand, it's in the 1950s that the only Russian animated film that many Westerners have ever seen was made: "The Snow Queen" (1957) was dubbed into English and shown yearly at Christmas time for many years. All the Russian names were removed from the credits, so most people had no idea where it was made. But there are other beautiful films from that decade, and it doesn't deserve to be forgotten. Something to work on, I think. :)