Here's what it looks like right now:
And here is the story of how it came to be:
The last time I posted on this blog was November 2012, just over a year since I shut down my Youtube channel after receiving two copyright strikes from a company representing Soyuzmultfilm (later, they told journalists that they had no objection to what my channel was doing, but the damage had already been done and the strikes were never retracted).
Since then, I've continued subtitling Russian animated films from time to time, and some of those translations have even shown up here and there. One of the places that a few of them have shown up (some entirely mine, others copy-edited by me) has been the Youtube channel Russiananimationeus347subtitles, which was run by a fellow enthusiast, a Dutch gentleman who goes by the name Eus347 (or Eus, or Eus47). His channel had been up since May 2015 (an earlier one existed from 2010-2014), and had over 1200 subtitled or wordless Soviet and Russian animated films. Like mine, it was a non-commercial project (although if rightsholders wanted to, they were able to get revenue from the videos by placing ads over them).
And like mine, it could be removed from Youtube at any second by someone who wanted to lodge a complaint, and would be extremely time-consuming to rebuild. Since I went offline, I'd been thinking about how this issue could be solved - and about the discussion that went on in the three previous posts which I've linked to above. In November 2019, I finally resolved to do something about it.
The key was to separate the subtitling from the video uploading. I would create a database of Russian/Soviet animated films in which people could find exactly what they were looking for, and watch it subtitled in the language they wanted, but the actual videos could be hosted by official sources - the studios, film archives or directors themselves. Moreover, now that Youtube has disallowed any user comments on "children's videos" there should be a way for people to comment on the films, and send messages to each other.
But web coding was entirely new to me, so it took a long time. I had mostly finished the coding by this December, and was tracking down some remaining bugs. I'd planned to open to the public once that was all done, but events at Eus347's channel forced an early opening.
The first sign of trouble was on December 18, when his channel was suddenly deleted "due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy on nudity or sexual content". As his channel contained very little such content (only Anatoliy Petrov's "Greek" cartoons might have qualified), he decided to object to Youtube, and his channel was reinstated the following week.
However, on January 14, his channel got two strikes from Soyuzmultfilm LLC, from the email firstname.lastname@example.org . One more strike would have meant permanent removal. So he did what I did almost 10 years ago - he made the channel private, but right before that, he made a post sending his 27,000 subscribers to my new website. I don't think that many of them saw it (it all happened too quickly), but hopefully some of them will search for his username on Google and find this post, or the new site where he is now active.
He also sent a letter to that email address, which you can read in the 2nd image above (pardon the mistakes - English is not his first or even second language). He references my own situation in 2011, particularly paragraphs 3 and 4 in this post.
In the meantime, his channel remains offline. But, if you are a fan of Russian and Soviet animation, don't worry! This is where the new website comes in. Now, I shall paraphrase the words that are currently on the main page:
The purpose of animatsiya.net is to make the full, rich tapestry of Russian and Soviet animation accessible to people all around the world.
To this end, this site hosts a collection of animated films spanning over a century, and allows them to be watched online paired with good-quality subtitles in different languages. The videos come mostly from the studios and film archives, which in recent years have begun to upload their back-catalogues online, or the directors themselves. This is a great way to learn the Russian language and culture (as well as the other cultures and languages of the region).
Alternately, you can also find animation without any words, as well as relevant documentaries and news reports. You can also browse by genre, director, studio, animation technique, and more.
First time visiting? Watch something from the "favourites" (award-winning, popular, or critically-acclaimed films).
If you register as a user, you will be able to add your own comments to film pages, send private messages to other users, save films to your Likes and Bookmarks lists, propose edits to the site (subject to approval by the site administrator), and keep track of every film you have visited. You can also become a translator yourself.
The site is still very new, and is being frequently updated. If you find any problems or have a question, please make an account and send a message to the administrator.
In the coming weeks, I will be making more posts here about how the site works and why certain things were designed the way they were. Stay tuned for those.
The site still has some issues. The major ones I'm aware of are:
-Mobile support. While the site will work on mobile phones (better so in landscape mode), it has not yet been optimized for them, and there are some odd CSS issues that I need to fix. Nevertheless, you CAN navigate to any film on the site and watch it on your phone with subtitles of your choosing, even now.
-Sessions. The site currently only uses PHP's built-in server sessions, so if you log in with your account, it will sign you out after 24 minutes if you stay on the same page. If submitting a comment or a new edit, and signed out, it will lose all of that - this can be very frustrating. I can't change the 24 minute limit, so to fix this, I plan to set cookies with a unique session number so that the same user stays logged in until they explicitly log out (perhaps expiring after a week or so). This is actually what is happening already, except that currently that cookie is deleted after just 24 minutes, or when the page is closed, or the user clicks on the "sign out" icon.
-But the biggest issue at the moment is that the site is still young and there is a lack of content - only just over 150 films. Eventually, I expect the number to be perhaps 1500 or even a few thousand (all Soviet/Russian animated films with English subtitles and/or that are wordless). It will take a long time to get there, but I hope the journey and the result will be worthwhile.