"Digisub" is short for for "digital fansub
," and refers to the new generation of fansubbed anime
titles that are being made available over the Internet
In the early 1990s, fansubs were starting to die out as more and more American anime import studios sprang up and started licensing anime movies, OAVs, and TV series often before they even completed airing in the Japanese market. Since reputable fansubbers cease operation on a series as soon as it is picked up, this meant that source material for fansubs were also drying up.
However, with the growth of broadband Internet; the appearance of advanced video compression algorithms such as mpeg, DivX, and XviD; and the inventions of the hard drive based digital video recorder (DVR) and peer-to-peer file transfer, fansubs have recently been given a new lease on life.
In the past it was necessary for fansubbers to wait for laserdisc or DVD to come out so they would have high-quality originals that would survive the quality loss to dub over multiple generations of VHS. (There were fansubs of taped-off-of-TV series, such as Macross Seven, but they ended up looking really lousy.) But now, thanks to digital recording and high-definition broadcasting, a show can be "taped" right off the air in Japan, uploaded to an American subbing group, fansubbed, and distributed digitally with almost none of the quality loss that would come from multi-generation VHS dubbing. Similarly, OAVs and movies can be fansubbed direct from DVD and delivered in near-DVD quality.
Digital fansubs currently have two primary distribution channels: IRC DCC servers and BitTorrent.
In the case of IRC, the user is required to join a channel on an IRC server, message a DCC bot with a key phrase, then queue the file(s) he wants for download. He must stay in the channel until that download is complete. As one might expect, an always-on broadband Internet connection is required for the download of most of these files in any reasonable length of time.
BitTorrent is a torrenting download system implemented in Python scripts. When a user starts to download a BitTorrented file, he then begins uploading the chunks of that file he has downloaded so far to other people who are also downloading. In this way, the bandwidth for uploading the files is distributed among all the people who are downloading it. (It is considered good BitTorrent etiquette to continue uploading the file for a time after your download of it has completed.) The best BitTorrent site for finding anime digisubs is http://www.animesuki.com.
Digisub titles may also be found circulating on other peer-to-peer networks, such as KaZaa or eDonkey, or on binary USENET groups, but not as frequently or in as great a selection.