Behind the Scenes at Funimation DVD Production

This panel featured Christopher Bevins and Clarine Harp from Funimation as the hosts. Clarine is Funimation’s Director of DVD and Blu-ray Production, so she had a lot of information to share on the subject.

When describing quality control, Clarine started by saying that it sounds glamorous to have a job watching anime all day, but quality control is actually very tedious work. During quality control, all programming on a disc has to be checked (this includes testing every menu item), ensuring there are no audio or video problems (Clarine said they almost have to watch an episode without blinking), and checking on subtitling placement.

The selection process of titles for Blu-ray depends on the specifics of the license and the quality of the show. Clarine mentioned that sometimes titles are initially only licensed for television and DVD and they may have to go back to negotiate for Blu-ray rights as well. Blu-ray does seem to be a technology that Funimation is paying close attention to, as they plan to continue releasing more titles on Blu-ray. Clarine mentioned that they have noticed anime fans are early adopters of technology, and that Blu-ray was popular practically from the beginning.

The production process for anime starts with translation. The next stage is in the production department, where a script adaptation is developed for an English language dub. This is where directors and script writers look at the original materials (video and translation) to make decisions regarding the script and plan how to make the characters unique and engaging. Then subtitling is added. The final step before DVD/Blu-ray production is doing some research on the show to determine what was offered in the original video release in Japan, what was the tone and intent of the creator, decisions about whether or not commentaries will be made, and any other features they may consider. They are currently interested in adding more special features to releases on physical media, to make them more collectible. Clarine noted that she likes collecting physical releases herself, and extras add to the collectibility of releases.

When questioned about the look of subtitles, Clarine said that Funimation generally opts for white text with a black outline and try to only switch to yellow text if it is otherwise difficult to read. The intent with subtitles is to make them non-intrusive, but they also need to primarily use standardized fonts for an expanded character selection. Special characters with accents and uncommon symbols may not be available in all fonts, so that can limit choices.

It was stressed that Funimation always releases uncut DVD and Blu-ray discs. Sometimes content may be censored by Funimation for streaming based on appropriateness, and television broadcasters may censor more than what Funimation would censor for streaming – but this is done by the television broadcaster, not Funimation.

For fans interested in how long it takes for an anime to go from being licensed to being on the shelf, Clarine and Chris said it tends to take about 9 months on average. A shorter series can be released in as little as six months, but this isn’t as common. Scripts usually take one to two weeks per episode to develop. Recording dubs is generally done in batches of six episodes, and this can take one to one and a half months on average if the episodes are dialogue heavy.

This panel was a very informative look behind the scenes at how Funimation produces DVDs and Blu-ray discs. I found it pretty interesting to hear about how long it takes to complete different parts of the process and it was nice to hear that key people involved with the video production at Funimation are thinking about how collectible releases will be, from a fan’s mindset.

Photo credits: Clarine’s photo from, Chris’s photo taken by Emily

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