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Babylon 5 season 3..when?


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#21 of 45 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted May 08 2003 - 10:02 AM

Crusade and the B5 movies are apples and oranges. And despite providing the set-up, ACtA is nothing like a "pilot" for Crusade. A pilot introduces the characters and setting for a TV series, and serves as a sample episode. ACtA had only three actors/characters who appeared in the Crusade titles, one of them a recycled B5 character who was going to appear in fewer than half the episodes every season. It also introduced the ship, but the ship was not a character. ACtA was mostly the story of one B5 character who was rarely mentioned in Crusade and never made a guest appearance on the show. (Though there were plans for that down the road.)

A fair number of B5 fans just plain didn't like Crusade. I am not one of them, but I would not support forcing people who had no interest in Crusade to buy it just to get the TV movies. There is no reason to "fill out" a Crusade boxed set. Warner Home Video can use fewer discs and charge less. There is no law that says a season set has to be 22-26 episodes and consist of 6 to 7 discs. Nobody suggested selling some unrelated product to "fill out" the short first season of Buffy, or the A&E 18 episode release of The Prisoner. Posted Image

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#22 of 45 David Lambert

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Posted May 08 2003 - 02:03 PM

That's funny...I told a coworker today about the S3 release coming in August, and HE suggested a box set of the movies! Posted Image

He pointed out that they've been airing as a set on TV, and that it would be great to have them all on DVD together.

My answer was that I hadn't heard a thing about such an idea, but that it was a good idea. But that I was sure that right now they're just worried about getting the season sets out for now. Posted Image
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#23 of 45 Paul McElligott

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Posted May 08 2003 - 07:40 PM

I'm not sure why they are using a Pat Tallman for the season three cover. She wasn't a member of the full cast until season 4.
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#24 of 45 Quentin

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Posted May 09 2003 - 05:21 AM

I wish they'd wait until November. They rushed season 2 out and the video quality is ABYSMAL!! Pleeeeaaaase don't screw up the video on my favorite season...

#25 of 45 Randy Korstick

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Posted May 09 2003 - 06:29 AM

Quentin
They didn't rush the release of Season 2. It was always a late April/Early May Release. Season 3 was intially rumored as November and then September and now it looks like it will be August so this is where the speed up is starting. The video quality has nothing to do with anything being rushed but has to do with the series being released in 16.9 but the effects scenes are now only available in 4.3. This is well discussed in other current B5 threads.
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#26 of 45 oscar_merkx

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Posted May 09 2003 - 06:35 AM

I am about to get Season 1, so by the time August rolls around, I hope to be up to date.

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#27 of 45 Andrew_B

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Posted May 09 2003 - 06:38 AM

While not a stunning transfer, I wouldn't use the word ABYSMAL to describe it.

#28 of 45 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted May 09 2003 - 08:21 AM

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I'm not sure why they are using a Pat Tallman for the season three cover.


Well, the fact is that her character returns to the station full-time in S3, even though we only see her in two episodes. And both appearances are important. Besides, you can't have too many pictures of Pat as far as I'm concerned. Posted Image

The video quality on S2 is certainly not abysmal. Looks just fine on my 56" widescreen set, better than S1 in many cases. There are individual shots that have problems - some of which have always been there but weren't noticable in broadcast or on VHS because of the comparatively low resolution, some of which were caused by the switch to widescreen - this especially applies to CGI/live action composite shots. But since these constitute a tiny fraction of the shots in the series, and since the pure live action and pure CGI shots all look better composed to my eyes (I can see detail in the pure CGI in things like the Icarus expedition that were never visible before), I'm content with the compromise. It would have been nice if the show were such a sure-fire hit in syndication and on DVD that Warner Bros. would have been wiling to spend millions re-doing all the CGI and digitally cleaning up all the film, but since that wasn't the case I'm very happy with what we got. Especially since JMS went into the widescreen experiment knowing that the odds were against their ever re-doing the CGI and that compromises would have to be made. If he's pleased with the result, so am I.

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Joe

#29 of 45 Dave Molinarolo

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Posted May 09 2003 - 08:36 AM

Question, why is it that a problem occurs when there's a CGI and a life-action composite shot? One would think that the CGI would transform (or whatever word is correct here) to the 16:9 image.

#30 of 45 Michael TLV

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Posted May 09 2003 - 09:21 AM

Greetings

There are also quite a few live action shots without any CGI that are zoomed to 16:9 ... particularly live shots following a CGI shot ... in a transition from cgi to live.

This occurs at most of the commercial break cuts ... cgi of the station and the first live action shot after that is zoomed. The moment the camera angle changes ... the true 16:9 live action shots return. Like the flick of a light switch.

In some ways, it feels like I am watching that Beauty & the Beast Work in Progress Cartoon. Distracting.

The CGI stuff done in the documentary portions that are 4:3 look wonderful as they should.

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#31 of 45 Mike Broadman

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Posted May 09 2003 - 10:09 AM

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Or at least Marcus is.


Yeah, whatever. As long as he argues with Franklin in a British accent, acts out the same feelings all of us fanboys have over Claudia Christian, and kicks ass with his stick dealy, he can spell his name however he wants.

#32 of 45 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted May 09 2003 - 10:56 AM

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One would think that the CGI would transform (or whatever word is correct here) to the 16:9 image.

The CGI could only be rendered at 4:3. So it can't "conform" to a wider-frame 16:9 shot. If you tried to take the original Super35 frame, extract a 16:9 wideangle version from it, and then overlay the original CGI, all of the FX would end at the boundry of the old 4:3 frame. Gun beams would end abruptly short of the edge of the screen, CGI creatures and sets would disappear and leave the original backgrounds visible. The only way to overcome the problem would be to open up the original data files (with more modern hardware and software) extend the virtual screen area and expand the backgrounds and the wireframes, and then rerender and recomposite the shot.

And you'd have to do that for every single CGI shot in the entire show. For some of the intense space battle footage, you're talking about over 300 individual elements in a single episode. This would cost a fortune even were it possible - and it ain't possible.

Sometime after the spin-off Crusade went out of production Warner Bros. managed to lose all of the CGI, models, backgrounds and other files that had been produced over six years of filming on the two series, first by Foundation Imaging, later by Netter Digital. By contract Foundation and Netter were forbidden to keep any copies of copyrighted and trademarked Warner Bros. intellectual property, so when their contracts expired they had to destroy their own copies of everything after turning the master files over to WB. So there is no original source material to work from. The CGI shots exist only as fully composited broadcast master tapes as far as I know, and this became the source material for new hi-def widescreen masters - from which both the widescreen broadcast masters given to Sci-Fi and the anamorphic widescreen DVDs were derived.

Regards,

Joe

#33 of 45 Dan Rudolph

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Posted May 09 2003 - 11:20 AM

Joe, there are a few shots that could be okay. Namely ones where the CGI doesn't cross the vertical boundries on the 4:3 area.

They could go and recreate everything, but they'd almost be doing it from scratch and it isn't worth the money.
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#34 of 45 Quentin

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Posted May 09 2003 - 01:39 PM

I actually don't have a problem with the CGI shots. Yes, they have artifact problems, but they don't distract me.

What distracts me are the shots that look blown up and excessively grainy and the occasional scene that is so blurry I can't even make out faces (usually, a long bird's-eye shot of the atrium).

Abysmal may be strong as an OVERALL description. In fact, I'm very happy with most of it. But, I felt Season 2 had MANY more of the grainy and terrible looking scenes/shots than Season 1 had.

Couldn't they clean these up if they took the time?

#35 of 45 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted May 09 2003 - 07:49 PM

Quote:
What distracts me are the shots that look blown up and excessively grainy and the occasional scene that is so blurry I can't even make out faces (usually, a long bird's-eye shot of the atrium).

...Couldn't they clean these up if they took the time?

Not really, no. Those shots are blown up. They are composite shots because most of the "set" is computer-generated. The final composite doesn't exist on film, and the files used to created the virtual portion don't exist at all. The only way to turn these shots into 16:9-enhanced widescreen is to crop and zoom. This exaggerates the grain, and makes them look blurry because they are zoomed. True, you can't make out the faces. You couldn't make out the faces in the original versions either, because they were so small. Now they're blown up and the lack of picture detail is more evident.

No amount of time and money can fix this because the picture information isn't there. Try zooming a JPEG on your computer - same result. You cannot pull up detail the doesn't exist in the source material.

Regards,

Joe

#36 of 45 Dan Rudolph

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Posted May 09 2003 - 08:16 PM

Joe, the live action elements exist on film, right? Theoretically, they could redo all the CG elements given enough money. Of course, it would be very difficult to convince anyone with that much money this is a worthwhile venture.
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#37 of 45 Simon Massey

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Posted May 09 2003 - 10:38 PM

Personally I wish they had left the show at 4x3. Ok so they shot with the intent to allow for future widescreen broadcasts, but with the loss of the CGI files, they should have stuck with 4x3 or paid for the CGI shots to be redone (the latter would be unlikely since Warner was not convinced the series would sell). This isn't like say Angel Season 3 were the 4x3 framing wrecks the composition. The 4x3 framing of the show was fine to begin with.

#38 of 45 PhilipG

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Posted May 10 2003 - 08:10 AM

Quote:
The only way to turn these shots into 16:9-enhanced widescreen is to crop and zoom

I really wish they'd pillarbox all the effects/scene fade shots. The zoom and crop is a terrible solution; for the other scenes, the w/s composition is far superior to the original IMHO.

#39 of 45 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted May 10 2003 - 01:13 PM

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I really wish they'd pillarbox all the effects/scene fade shots.


A "solution" that they rightly rejected. Switching aspect ratios every few seconds is a good way to give an audience a headache, not to entertain it. They had to do all of one or all of another, and they made their choice.

Frankly the CGI FX on B5 always put me in my of Dr. Johnson's dog walking on its hind legs - it isn't the fact that it is done well that impresses you, but that it is done at all. B5 did ambitious things with CGI, things that many people never thought could be done on a TV budget, and every yeart they did more of it and did it better. But it never got away from that "PC game" feel. The FX were never 100% convincing at the time, and a mere 10 years later they look primative. And I don't care. I came to the show for the story, not for the FX. American TV can do dazzling FX, but if they're in the service of a lousy story, who cares? If somewhat shoddy FX are done to tell a good story, who cares? Of all the elements the might be damaged by this transition the one that worried me the least was the CGI. It wasn't that good to begin with, it looks increasing bad as the years go by, it is only marginally worse in widescreen than it would be otherwise.

But the story, and the sweep, and the epic feel are there - moreso with the wide framing of the 85% of the show that doesn't involve CGI. The station feels bigger and roomier when you can see people moving through the corridors instead of the usual tight two-shot walk-and-talk. If fuzzy CGI is the price of the improvement I see elsewhere, I'm all for it. (And really it is only the composite scenes where I see a problem. The 100% CGI shots look fine - and much better composed - on my widescreen set in anamorphic widescreen.)

Regards,

Joe

#40 of 45 Rob T

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Posted May 10 2003 - 01:58 PM

The CGI looks fine to me. Maybe that's just because I'm near-sighted though.

The only stuff that bothers me is the grain in the background of the live action scenes when the scene is just a conversation and the camera stays on one person for a while. The grain really seems to stand out then.
The numerous scratches is the other thing. I wish they clean that up, if possible. It doesn't seem to be too bad in the later episodes though. Maybe season 3 will have barely any. Posted Image


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