| Mastering problems |
The transfer of Babylon 5 to DVD created significant problems with regard to special-effects/CGI footage. Several factors complicated the process.
Although originally broadcast in the standard television aspect ratio of 4:3, all live-action footage was filmed on Super 35 mm film (with a ratio of 1.65:1). The idea was that, once widescreen televisions (with an aspect ratio of 16:9 or 1.78:1) became more popular, the episodes could be easily converted into a widescreen format.
CGI shots were rendered in the 4:3 ratio, but designed so that the top and bottom of each shot could be removed to create a widescreen image without ruining the image composition.
All of the purely live-action shots were stored as high-definition digital images.
However, CGI shots, and shots combining live-action with CGI, were stored in the much lower-definition NTSC digital format. (Again, the expectation was that it would be relatively cheap in the future to recreate the CGI in widescreen.)
Over the years, the original computer-generated models, etc., have been lost, making it necessary to use the old 4:3 CGI shots.
This has resulted in several consistent flaws throughout the Babylon 5 DVD release. In particular, quality drops significantly whenever a scene cuts from purely live-action to a shot combining live-action and CGI. This is particularly noticeable on the PAL DVDs, since CGI shots had to be converted from NTSC, as well as being blown up to fit a widescreen television. In addition, while the live-action film was originally widescreen, shots were composed for 4:3, resulting in a conspicuous tendency for actors to clump up in the middle of the screen.
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