"Babylon 5" anamorphic

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Joseph DeMartino, Sep 2, 2001.

  1. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    According to Ken Crane's "DVD Planet", Warner Bros. will be releasing B5 in anamorphic versions where appropriate. Here's the synopsis from the website:
    quote: Synopsis:
    Contains two made-for-TV feature films. The Gathering (Full Frame): In the series pilot, an interstellar summit strives to negotiate a lasting truce -- if an assassin's arrival does not have the opposite effect. In The Beginning (Letterboxed 1.85:1 16x9): Set a decade before the Babylon 5 project existed, Earth inadvertently starts a war with Minbar, shaping interstellar events and paving the way for construction of the universal safe port.[/quote]
    All of this is based on material received from Warner Bros. (The original listing contained a couple of mistakes, including a reference to "an assassin's bullet" - the assassin in The Gathering uses poison - which Ken Crane's assured me were in the original Warner Bros. text.)
    The 1.85:1 is almost certainly a mistake (the Sci-Channel broadcast of In the Beginning is framed at 1.77:1, as are the episodes - which is what was intended since they were shot with HDTV in mind.) But it is heartening to see the word "anamorphic" associated with B5. This would seem to indicate that when they went back and created new masters from the original elements last year for the Sci-Fi widescreen edition, they were smart enough to do hi-res digital masters, instead of making them NTSC-only. (The previous widescreen versions, created beginning in 1997, were PAL-only because Warner Bros. didn't believe that there would be a market for a widescreen edition in the U.S. This made them essentially useless for either anamorphic DVD or the Sci-Fi Channel, since a straight PAL-to-NTSC transfer would not be of DVD quality.)
    So it looks like they have grown a brain in the interim, and while creating the Sci-Fi widescreen version they produced the hi-res masters that they will eventually need for HDTV syndication, and then downconverted it to letterboxed NTSC for the broadcast tapes. This is the best indication to date that the episodes will be presented the way they were always meant to be seen - in anamorphic widescreen.
    Not surprisingly, the sound format is given as "surround." I didn't hold out much hope that Warner Bros. would go to the expense of remixing either the movies or the series in DD 5.1 - certainly not for the first, barebones, "test" disc. It is even more unlikely that they will go to such an expense for the 110 regular episodes, although there is a chance that some of the later movies might qualify for a re-mix. (A Call to Arms was originally mixed in DD 5.1 and downmixed for broadcast, as were all the episodes of Crusade, so that film should be DD when it arrives on disc.) Still, Dolby Pro Logic on DVD should sound better than any previous TV broadcast. Because B5 used a very dynamic sound mix, many local stations "clipped" the sound during the original broadcast, and many cable systems don't carry channels like TNT and Sci-Fi in stereo at all. Sci-Fi has also had sound problems with some episodes, although JMS has said that the original master tapes, which he reviewed after the original widescreen screw-up, all sounded fine to him.
    Anyway, this looks like good news. I'm also encouraged to see that retailers other than Amazon are now taking pre-orders for the disc, which should increase sales. (DVD Planet is selling the disc for about a buck less than Amazon.com, by the way, an incredible $13.99.)
    Regards,
    Joe
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    P.S.
    If I haven't totally screwed this up, here's what the cover is going to look like:
    [​IMG]
    [Edited last by Joseph DeMartino on September 02, 2001 at 10:04 PM]
     
  2. Junaid

    Junaid Auditioning

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    Let's hope they don't decide to screw us over like Star Trek: TOS when the finally start releasing episodes from the B5 series. If they give us Season boxsets then I'll happily buy them. If it's 2 eps a disc then I won;t be buying them. Just have to make my VHS copies last until they finally give us season boxsets.
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    "Your tears say more than real evidence ever could."
     
  3. Rob T

    Rob T Screenwriter

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    Warner Bros. probably would have done the 2 episodes per disc if Paramount found it to be profitable, but since not too many people wanted the ST: TOS in the 2 episodes per disc setup it wasn't successful at all which means that Warner Bros. will most likely go for season box sets. [​IMG]
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  4. Daniel L

    Daniel L Stunt Coordinator

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    Star Trek: TOS may have not been succesful in you mind, but I'm sure Paramount's not crying.
    It didn't sell tons solely becuse it was only two episodes a disc. You have to consider how many people already own these shows. I believe there were even two runs on LD for the Original Series!
    Trust me, WB will probably try to do two epsidoes a disc, out of order, because they still don't understand how to release TV.
    Daniel L
    [Edited last by Daniel L on September 03, 2001 at 12:04 AM]
     
  5. Iain Lambert

    Iain Lambert Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the great news, Joe. It seems they may have learned their lesson with the laserdisc and VHS tapes after all (i.e. don't release a version that we will all expect to be replaced soon with a better one). I'm putting my preorder in asap!
     
  6. Heinz W

    Heinz W Second Unit

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    Excellent news! I hope this disc sells well so Warner might be more inclined to try season sets for the series. They've done the video right, and ProLogic II will make the regular surround track sound better than ever; all they need now is to do the season boxsets.
    If they only release 2-4 episodes per disc then I will, at best, likely only pick up several discs, containing maybe three seasons total, depending upon the price. If they release sets, then I WILL BUY THEM ALL, UNEQUIVICALLY.
    Warner, do the right thing. I'm sure the accounting dept. will be happy with this decision. The many fans of Babylon 5 will be as well.
     
  7. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    quote: Star Trek: TOS may have not been succesful in you mind, but I'm sure Paramount's not crying.[/quote]
    Paramount didn't do nearly as well with the ST:TOS discs as they'd hoped and assumed - given that anything the slap they Trek logo on is usually a pretty good seller. A lot of people have also been "cherry-picking" the TOS discs, buying only the episodes they really like. Since the dogs that sit there unsold cost just as much to master, replicate and package as the ones that sell thousands of copies, this becomes a problem. One sign that this is the case is that Paramount has announced that they will not be following this release pattern for future series. If 2-episodes per disc were doing well for them, they wouldn't be changing.
    According to one account I've heard it was precisely the lackluster sales of the Trek discs that caused Warner Bros. to abandon its original plan to release B5 in barebones, 4:3, 2-episodes per individual disc form in late 1999 or early 2000. (JMS mentioned these plans at an SF convention in the fall of 1999, and The Digital Bits had an item about them at around the same time.) They figured if an institution like Star Trek couldn't sell on DVD, a cult show like B5 didn't stand a chance. Reportedly it was Fox's unexpected success with the X-Files boxed sets that got them interested again. (That and the fact that Warner Bros. Television was footing the bill for new widescreen transfers for the Sci-Fi Channel broadcast.)
    We won't know if this is the case until WHV actually announces the episodes (probably early next year assuming the movie disc sells enough copies.) But several sources that have proven reliable in the past have indicated that WHV is thinking boxed sets like X-Files, so for now I'm cautiously optimistic. Certainly the indication that at least ItB is anamorphic indicates that they are taking some time and trouble in producing this first disc, and that they have been listening to fan feedback. (Since their first impulse in mastering a TV movie for DVD would certainly have been to go 4:3.)
    I also don't think that previous VHS and LD sales were much of a factor in the sales of the Trek DVDs. There are several times as many DVD players now as there ever were LD players in this country, so there are plenty of DVD-owning Trek fans who never had the chance to buy the LDs. Conversely there are many more VCRs than DVD players, so most of the VHS tapes would have sold to fans who don't have DVD and don't plan on getting it. The ones who do either never bought the tapes or are willing to replace them with discs.
    Regards,
    Joe
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    [Edited last by Joseph DeMartino on September 03, 2001 at 12:29 PM]
     
  8. Vincent Matis

    Vincent Matis Second Unit

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    Great news!!!
    Anyway, I'll say cautiously "Wait and see", I'll only believe it when a major site will review the disks...
    I hope the eps will follow soon !
    Vincent
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  9. Michael St. Clair

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    Hopefully the special effects were not upconverted from letterboxed versions or converted from 16:9 PAL.
    Yes, I am cynical.
    Yes, I am buying the disc.
     

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