March 11th, 2021

drawing, old man

Russian/Soviet animation on Youtube - official channels, and others

Since January, me and Eus347 have been busy adding new films and new translations to Animatsiya.net, a database of subtitled and/or wordless Russian and Soviet animation. (by the way, Eus347 also has a new Youtube channel up, though with only 210 subscribers so far, compared to 27K on his old one)

When adding new films, I try to find the best video source and the one least likely to be removed. Thankfully, most Russian animation studios and archives have official channels and have been putting their older (and newer) films on Youtube (also Vimeo, to a lesser though still significant extent).

Some films end up being "officially uploaded" to more than one channel. And some channels upload them in better quality than others. Most frustratingly, some channels completely disallow playing their videos on any websites other than youtube.com (anyone know why?). This means they cannot be played with the subtitles on animatsiya.net except by a complicated workaround that involves either using a browser plugin or downloading the video to one's computer.

Sometimes, channels suddenly disappear only to pop up again later. This happened to Pilot Studio's Mountain of Gems (Гора самоцветов) channel, which mysteriously disappeared without any warning last week, only to just as mysteriously return this week (I wonder if this was at all related to their sysadmin Vladimir Medvedev passing away in January?). When that happened, the videos also stopped working on Animatsiya.net, and I had to replace them with other copies of the films on Youtube, although not quite all could be replaced.

Soyuzmultfilm, the biggest and most famous Soviet-era animation studio has been uploading their back-catalogue onto Youtube since 2018. Often (though not always) in good quality. They currently have 1.87M subscribers at their newer channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHS2LM1n3f5cyL-ebgkqyLw
and 3.58M at their older channel
https://www.youtube.com/c/ClassicCartoonsMedia/
But, I've noticed some problems:
1) many of their films are uploaded in the wrong aspect ratio, squished horizontally (it seems to be 5:4 instead of 4:3).
2) Some of the films (especially older ones) have ugly interlacing artifacts
3) On some videos, the sound is out of sync with the image, sometimes by as much as 4 seconds! For example, in Mumu (1987, check 1:23 in the video, yet the sound of the spoon hitting the table isn't heard until 1:27!).
None of those would be annoying if Soyuzmultfilm didn't also periodically remove those copies of the films that DON'T have those problems from Youtube.
All in all, it shows a lack of professionalism and care (somebody should have noticed these problems and fixed them).
Their films are also available at the following channels:
Мультфильмы, xmediadigital.ru - 1.86M subscribers
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtV9MJJh8uErNje2amzl4DA/videos
This channel has not just Soyuzmultfilm, but also many from Pilot, and also new ones like "Fiksiki".
StarMediaKids - 230K subscribers
https://www.youtube.com/c/starmediakids/videos
This is an interesting one. They have many excellent image restorations of older Soyuzmultfilm cartoons. Unfortunately, they also entirely replace the soundtracks! They use the original musical scores and scripts, hire new actors and replace the orchestra with synthesized instruments. Sometimes the result is even pretty good, but personally I just don't think it should be done (although it does allow them to easily create dubs in other languages). This channel also has a few newer animated features and series from other studios.

Ekran / Soyuztelefilm was the second-biggest studio in the country, the main "competitor" to Soyuzmultfilm. Their catalogue still seems to belong to the government, and can be found on Youtube here:
Русские мультфильмы - 936K subscribers
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU06hfFzcBjQl9-Ih2SvpoQ/videos
This channel belongs to the VGTRK state-owned broadcaster. They have almost all of the Soviet-era Ekran / Soyuztelefilm animations, usually in quite good quality, as well as many animated films from Pilot Studio. Unfortunately, at the beginning of 2021 they disallowed embedding on other sites for some reason, so their videos can't be watched with subtitles directly on Animatsiya.net. They also don't have subtitles on any of their uploads, and they actively patrol Youtube and take down unauthorized uploads from most other channels. This means that I've been kind of slow to add Ekran-studio films to my site, as they're less accessible to users - they have to use a special browser plugin to watch them with subtitles. Sometimes I can find one of the Ekran films uploaded to another channel (often in lower quality), but often the VGTRK copy is the only option. Rather frustrating (and counterproductive, if the goal is to make Russian culture more accessible...).
Sometimes, some of their films are also on
Gosteleradiofond - 1.69M subscribers
https://www.youtube.com/c/gtrftv/videos
(this channel uploads Soviet TV broadcasts, mostly live-action and news items, but some animation also slips through)

The rest, I will list alphabetically. If anyone knows of anything I missed, please leave a comment, and I will add it in:

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