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Werthead

Babylon 5

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JMS confirms that a B5 remaster may be possible after all.

It's not quite the all-singing TNG-style remaster, but it's a lot better than what we have. It turns out that Warner Brothers created a master film copy of each episode at the end of each season, transferring the CG etc straight onto film without going to videotape first. That means these archival copies will be much easier to use as a HD source as you don't need to re-render all the CG, as it's already in a higher quality than what we saw originally (as Foundation Imaging rendered in a higher res than they actually needed to; not HD, as per JMS, but maybe closer to 720p than the horrible cropped 480 of DVD).

The reason this has never come up before is that the master film copies were meant to archive the original TV broadcast versions, which has the unfortunate side-effect of meaning they only exist in 4:3, not widescreen, and Warners have always assumed that fans would prefer shitty widescreen to pristine standard aspect ratio. So if we do get a HD remaster of B5 without it costing $40 million, it's going to be in 4:3 resolution, which is kind of ironic and frustrating for the first ongoing TV show ever shot in widescreen. Oh well. I'd take it.

Edited by Werthead

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Another reason besides Amazon picking up The Expanse to support Prime I guess.  Long ago I converted my B5 DVDs to digital.  I'd be all over a remastered release, in any form it may take, and count myself fortunate.  I wonder if the B5 tv films would be included in a remastered release, hear anything about that Werthead?

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9 hours ago, SerHaHa said:

Another reason besides Amazon picking up The Expanse to support Prime I guess.  Long ago I converted my B5 DVDs to digital.  I'd be all over a remastered release, in any form it may take, and count myself fortunate.  I wonder if the B5 tv films would be included in a remastered release, hear anything about that Werthead?

2 posts back. JMS has confirmed that a film master of the original series (including CG elements transferred direct from the original render files) exists that could be converted to HD. It wouldn't be as good as a total remastering (going back to the original film reels and re-extracting a HD to 4K image, cleaning up artefacts and redoing all the CG and composites from scratch) but it'd be far superior to the existing version of the show. Unfortunately Warner Brothers haven't shown any interest in doing anything with it, and it'd only be available in 4:3.

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Since this is finally on a streaming service, I'm FINALLY getting a chance to watch it.

I'm only three episodes in to seeing it for the first time and ho boy - that's some dated CGI. I can't imagine that was even good CGI at the time, but maybe it was? I'd love to hear the opinion of some folks that watched it back in the day.

But, the writing was clearly strong. And, I'm assuming it will get stronger as the series finds its footing after a while. So, I'm looking forward to this watch. Even if the CGI completely takes me out of the story at times.

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The first season was definitely rough visually,  but B5 was absolutely a pioneer by bringing extensive CGI to television. It improves as it goes, as far as VFX goes, over the next couple of seasons.

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6 hours ago, MisterLewandowski said:

I'm only three episodes in to seeing it for the first time and ho boy - that's some dated CGI. I can't imagine that was even good CGI at the time, but maybe it was? I'd love to hear the opinion of some folks that watched it back in the day.

At the time, it was incredible for what it was showing, including large numbers of ships and in particular a lot of movement that couldn't be achieved with physical models. Contemporary Star Trek: TNG model shots mostly consisted of the Enterprise just sitting there, or maybe a slow pan across the model, and relatively recently we'd had things like Battlestar Galactica (original) which had some impressive shots but reused the same footage over and over, and Doctor Who and Blakes 7 whose effects were... variable. It wasn't indistinguishable from reality like modern CGI, but we didn't expect that back then, and it served its purpose in telling the story. And the designs were great.

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Yep. Great designs, often, and to this day it has some of the best, epic space battles ever put on the small screen. "Severed Dreams" is a particular highlight. And a lot of it is simply having the Starfuries moving around with generally realistic Newtonian physics, which opens the space up to a much greater three-dimensionality than you tend to see in Star Trek (which, even when it moved to CGI, was still hampered by the legacy of the models which had defined how things should move and look and fight). BSG definitely took lessons from B5 on that score, and The Expanse has certainly taken it to another level.

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So, I've now watched the opening title sequence seven times. And I'm well aware that Baylon 5 is the last of the Babylon stations. But I'm really curious if I'll learn why that is. Is the fate of the other Babylon stations discussed at some point in the series?

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2 hours ago, MisterLewandowski said:

So, I've now watched the opening title sequence seven times. And I'm well aware that Baylon 5 is the last of the Babylon stations. But I'm really curious if I'll learn why that is. Is the fate of the other Babylon stations discussed at some point in the series?

Did you watch the pilot with Takashima and Lyta Alexander and Dr Kyle ("The Gathering")? There's a brief discussion in that explaining that the first four were lost or destroyed. You will find out a bit more about what happened to B5's predecessors over the course of the series. If you haven't seen the pilot, you should watch it now; it's not as good as the main series, but parts of it are important. Don't watch "In the Beginning" yet - it's a prequel, but it's full of spoilers, and you really want to avoid spoilers.

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Babylon 5 ran on a rather limited budget and was broadcast in NTSC, which wasn't exactly high definition, so the special effects didn't have to be very good. There also was the threat of cancellation and the show lost its lead character after season one, which required major changes to the main story arc. Still, it was a great show.

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12 hours ago, felice said:

Did you watch the pilot with Takashima and Lyta Alexander and Dr Kyle ("The Gathering")? There's a brief discussion in that explaining that the first four were lost or destroyed. You will find out a bit more about what happened to B5's predecessors over the course of the series. If you haven't seen the pilot, you should watch it now; it's not as good as the main series, but parts of it are important. Don't watch "In the Beginning" yet - it's a prequel, but it's full of spoilers, and you really want to avoid spoilers.

For some reason, Amazon started on Episode 1 instead of with the pilot. I had to scroll back to find it. It was listed as Episode 0. I'm glad I did. It explained things that I didn't really get in the first 9 episodes. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series now.

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On 7/2/2018 at 3:45 PM, MisterLewandowski said:

Since this is finally on a streaming service, I'm FINALLY getting a chance to watch it.

I'm only three episodes in to seeing it for the first time and ho boy - that's some dated CGI. I can't imagine that was even good CGI at the time, but maybe it was? I'd love to hear the opinion of some folks that watched it back in the day.

I actually watched some episodes of it in the 90's as I came back from football practice.

I had never seen something like this before and immediately thought it looked great. If you look at the designs, and the space battles in season 2 3 and 4, it still holds up today.

The thing that I always thought looked dated, even then, was the costuming. I never liked that, not in Star Trek, and not in B5  either, that is what makes it feel outdated to me. The visual aspects like B5 itself, the designs of the ships, the whole feel of it, that still looks very good.

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I think the costuming is mostly okay, not so much the aliens, but certainly the human designs of muted formalwear. Nodding towards contemporary fashion without just being contemporary fashion (as in BSG). It works quite well.

Compared to 1990s Star Trek's fashion, which suggested that everyone would be either be wearing a uniform or pyjamas.

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I watched B5 as it aired (and recorded it on VHS) from the first time the pilot episode aired. I was also going to cons then too. There was a camp even at the beginning that complained about the effects being too "cartoony" but it only kept a small portion from actually watching the series, for most of us though they were good enough, some of us thought they were really good, but most of all it was the writing and the story being told that enthralled us and we were happy enough with the effects to allow for the stories being told.

All the effects for the "The Gathering", the original version, were done on an Amiga computer.

 

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

I think the costuming is mostly okay, not so much the aliens, but certainly the human designs of muted formalwear. Nodding towards contemporary fashion without just being contemporary fashion (as in BSG). It works quite well.

Compared to 1990s Star Trek's fashion, which suggested that everyone would be either be wearing a uniform or pyjamas.

I agree with that, the costumes of the humans officers looked perfectly fine, it's when it goes beyond that formalwear into what the alies were wearing or some of the regular humans on the show.

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12 hours ago, Calibandar said:

I agree with that, the costumes of the humans officers looked perfectly fine, it's when it goes beyond that formalwear into what the alies were wearing or some of the regular humans on the show.

Is there a show that you think does better at costuming a variety of future/alien cultures?

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All the changes between Season 1 and 2 almost did me in. I really struggled through the first handful of episodes at the beginning of the second season. Really didn't like the new captain and the changes to Delenn just seemed silly. I stuck with it though and things are starting to heat up now that I'm around the midway point of the second season. 

The whole mystery surrounding Kosh is getting a little old though. They're stretching it out too slowly and it just doesn't seem believable. I don't even understand why he's on the station from a practical standpoint.

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39 minutes ago, MisterLewandowski said:

 

The whole mystery surrounding Kosh is getting a little old though. They're stretching it out too slowly and it just doesn't seem believable. I don't even understand why he's on the station from a practical standpoint.

Understanding is a three-edged sword. :P

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55 minutes ago, MisterLewandowski said:

All the changes between Season 1 and 2 almost did me in. I really struggled through the first handful of episodes at the beginning of the second season. Really didn't like the new captain and the changes to Delenn just seemed silly. I stuck with it though and things are starting to heat up now that I'm around the midway point of the second season. 

The whole mystery surrounding Kosh is getting a little old though. They're stretching it out too slowly and it just doesn't seem believable. I don't even understand why he's on the station from a practical standpoint.

J. Michael Straczynski had a rule that no mystery on the show should be left completely unresolved longer than a certain period of time, as he knew the audience would get tired of it, but in the revelation of that mystery new questions should be raised, as we saw with us discovering what happened to Sinclair's missing memory but that in turn generating new questions which won't be answered for another while. So generally speaking, if you're getting bored of a mystery on B5, that means there may be an answer lurking on the horizon.

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