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Old September 6th 06, 12:51   #1
darth_librarian
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Babylon 5 and HD...

From the newsgroup:

Quote:

shabaz.x@gmail.com wrote:
> JMS,
>

> Star Trek: The Original Series is getting a
> makeover for the HD era (more info can be found on their website here:
> http://www.startrek.com/startrek/vie...cle/23775.html ). The
> show is being remastered for High Definition video, and the effects
> scenes are getting a CGI makeover. I had a twofold question about such
> an HD makeover, if I may. A deal with the Sci-Fi Channel got us a
> widescreen version of the show. How realistic is it to expect a similar
> HD treatment for original B5, maybe when HD has become as common as
> colour television now, after another network or syndication deal?
> Possibly with the CGI re-rendering we never got because WB lost the
> computer files?
>

That's a studio question, far outside my expertise. I suppose it's as
possible as anything else.

> Second, is it _technically_ possible to do an HD version of original
> B5? Does the Super 35 film that I believe the live action was shot on
> offer the option of re-scanning for HD? For the live action / CGI
> composited shots, are the live action parts of those still stored in a
> format that would allow rescanning into a higher resolution and
> different aspect ratio? And last, with new CGI assets being created for
> The Lost Tales, would that make it in any way easier for the CGI to
> finally be re-rendered at some future point in time, even with the
> original files missing?
>

Yes, you can up-rez 35mm to HD fairly easily, especially since we had
to deliver film negative masters to WB...but again you'd have to crop
the CGI if you wanted it in wide. We tried experimenting with
up-rezzing Jeremiah to HD and it looked fine.

jms
http://www.jmsnews.net/msg.aspx?id=1-17593

This brief discussion on the news group got me thinking, if Trek is getting a make-over for HD, would folks object to the original B5 getting one, using the 'new' CGI assets developed for The Lost Tales as a framework?

Or is messing with the original B5 as silly a concept as messing with the original Star Trek?

Eitherway, we will probably see B5 to HD in the next few years...
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Old September 6th 06, 14:43   #2
GaribaldisHair
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

I imagine it would be easier to do convincingly with B5, since you are replacing CGI with CGI, rather than model work with CGI, but I would still prefer not to see it done. After all, B5 pioneered the use of CGI on television and, over the course of 5 seasons, you can see the technology develop before your eyes.

B5 is what it is, produced with the best tools available for the budget at the time and it seems pointless to me to spend money on updating the effects. Re-master the image, sound, whatever to take account of improvements in technology, yes, but that doesn't mean actually changing anything, just restoring/improving the quality of what is already there.

Artists don't go back and touch up their old paintings, simply because some great new tool has become available that wasn't around when they originally painted it. Likewise, photographers don't "photoshop" their classic pictures to make them look like they were shot digitally rather than on film.

For me, there are some artforms that invite this kind of revision, such as music and theatre, because by their nature they can change and evolve over time in order for the ongoing performance of the piece to meet the needs of the current audience.

TV and movies are more like paintings and photographs, they were produced at one point in time. How they were originally produced is what defines them - that is what they are, and that is what they should remain.

Just my $0.02 of course. YMMV.



[Editted to add]: Of course, the problem with B5 going HD is that they will likely have to produce new CGI in order to meet quality standards, since the original models and footage have long since disappeared in the bowels of WB. I can't imagine anyone thinking that blowing up the 4:3 footage and trimming it to size will look good enough to work with HD live footage.
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Old September 6th 06, 15:11   #3
Shabaz
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

I browse these boards every once in a while as a lurker, and I saw this topic. Since I am the one who asked the original questions, I thought I'd share my thoughts.

First of all, maybe a tad off topic, but I don't think it should be assumed that everyone thinks the Star Trek TOS HD editions are a silly concept. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised at some of the slightly knee jerk reactions over at the usenet group, although some had their points. Personally, I've seen a lot of arguments that go along the lines of 'everyone knows the SW Special editions sucked (seemingly a well established fact among SF fandom), this sound a lot like those Star Wars editions, so this will suck'. Which I don't think is entirely valid, since the original Trek versions, unlike SW up until a short time ago, will still be easy to get, and as far as I can tell, no story changes are being made for these Trek HD versions.

I wouldn't say doing a re-telicine of the Trek master tapes for HD is messing with the series, and I actually think that redoing some of the effects might actually help the storytelling, which is what it is all about, by being less distracting to modern audiences. Now, I'm a fan of original Doctor Who, so I know how to turn of my modern sensiblities of television watching, and enjoy these old shows for their story, but these new versions are making old Trek relevant again in a way that has actually given them a new and big syndication deal, that will bring them to living rooms of millions again, something that people who love these stories should be happy about. As far as the CGI effects go, they've only released one shot so far, of a CGI enterprise, so it's a bit hard to tell exactly how it is going to look. But that one shot did seem to indicate that they were trying to hit a same aesthetic, only a lot sharper, that will fit in well with the high detail HD picture. I really would not write it off as 'messing up Trek' at this point.

So err... that's my little rant on HD Trek, now on to the questions you raised. <g>

Would I like to see B5 in HD? Yeah, sure. It was shot on 35mm film, so when they shot the show, they did shoot all this extra detail. And I would love to see it. I like how the show looks, and to see it in a sharper way would make me happy. Also, an HD version could give the show new appeal to both networks and HD-DVD/Blu-ray consumers, and the more done to keep the format in which the story is told relevant, to give it a longer shelf life, to keep its appeal to those who would've written it of because of age or low budget looks otherwise, the better. To quote JMS, talking about the new Widescreen versions that got made a few years ago:

Quote:
Because of the trend to HD, the widescreen versions, even with these small glitches, will still have a longer shelf life than if we put them out in regular aspect ratio. And that is the purpose of the story, to keep it around.
Would I like to see to see the CGI redone? Oh yeah. If only because that was always the original intention when going to a widescreen version, and we only were denied that because WB lost the original computer files. And redoing it by hand then was going to be too expensive for the widescreen versions. And the CGI shots that are 4:3 frames cropped to look like widescreen are less than ideal. It's not even that bad for the space CGI shots, which look a bit blurry and aliased, but the framing looks sort of ok (to me), but with the CGI/live action composited shots, it just looks off. Because very often, you go from this nice full widescreen frame, to this 4:3 cropped frame to look widescreen, and it just looks jarring.

And those would probably stand out even more in a high resolution HD version, which was sort of my idea behind asking if such a hypothetical version could move whoever was funding to redo the CGI and composited shots, in a similar way to the Trek stuff.

In fact, small confession here, but I personally would actual care more about the CGI and comped shots being redone properly than HD. But I know that it is really unlikely that someone is going to come along and finance the CGI widescreen reworkings that were originally planned, but not done because of missing computer files. However, an HD version seems not totally unlikely to happen, and if that could prompt someone to redo the CGI and comped shots, it would make me happier for that than for the HD.

As for it being like a painting that shouldn't be messed with; they already sort of did. With the widescreen version. Which worked out really well for all the live action bits, and a bit less so for the comped and CGI shots.
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Old September 6th 06, 16:09   #4
Londos6
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

Quote:
Or is messing with the original B5 as silly a concept as messing with the original Star Trek?

IMO yes it is. For me B5 is about the story, not about the CGI. Might it be made to look better? Possibly. Would I buy a whole new set of dvds? No way. Just my opinion, of course.
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Old September 6th 06, 16:29   #5
darth_librarian
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

Shabaz, thanks for dropping by!
I should clarify my last sentence in my first post, personally I am quite curious to see what the new Trek episodes will look like, even if the concept does seem a tad off the wall.

As for Star Wars, I liked a lot of the special edition fixes, especially those in Cloud City where windows and the odd filelr shot were embellished. Doing this in Trek whould probably be ok.
Recoil summed this up nicely for me in the other thread, it works when things are enhanced, but not when narrative is changed.

The argument regarding B5 is interesting, as there is a clear technical need to produce new CGI, given that the old models were lost and the footage is not effecitvely scaleable to HD resolutions.


Either way, it is a question that Warners and JMS may have to tackle at some point. Demand for HD versions of the original series is going to rise when we get MORE NEW B5

By the way, has anyone written to Warners to thank them for making more B5? We all had a good letter writing campaign over TMOS a few years back, maybe we should write something nice...
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Old September 6th 06, 16:45   #6
Shabaz
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

I'd say I agree with your assessment of the Star Wars special editions. And "it works when things are enhanced, but not when narrative is changed" sounds like a really good way to approach these things.

And where you mention that you can't rescale CGI for a new resolution in the same way you can with film, I would like to add that with the 4:3 CGI shots we have with B5, you actually have to actively degrade them to make them work in widescreen or HD (which in all its resolutions is widescreen). Which is probably why they intended to redo those shots for widescreen, if the original computer files hadn't gotten lost.

And I don't know if a letter writing campaign is needed. It's all about the money, so I have a feeling that actually buying the DVDs will be a much better way to let your opinion that these stories are appreciated known than letters, for the studio. <g> Of course, they can't hurt either, but since there is no middle man in the form of a network with a direct to dvd project, the studios have the advantage that they get their money pretty much directly from the fanbase, and that the fanbase can pretty much directly 'vote with their wallets'.
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Old September 6th 06, 17:48   #7
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

What happened with the CGI? Was it lost, destroyed? Any chance that now WB thinks they can make more money from B5, that someone will suddenly find the CGI in some archive?
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Old September 6th 06, 18:07   #8
Shabaz
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

Lost, far as I know. To quote JMS again:
Quote:


Understand, however, that we did not *have* that software, or those images. WB
had literally lost all the CGI archives we gave them every season. All we were
able to get, at the very last moment, was a copy of the ship files we had
given Sierra for the B5 game. That's it.

jms
And at the moment that the widescreen versions were made, to recreate all those archived CGI files that were lost would've been too expensive. Quoting from the JMS post I linked in my first post in this thread:
Quote:
Nor can this footage be re-rendered because the separate elements do not exist
anymore, only the original un-comped film elements are there. The CGI files
are not around anymore, and to recreate every shot would be prohibitively
expensive. In a big way.
If they ever will be mysteriously found again? I rather doubt it, but who knows.
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Old September 6th 06, 18:08   #9
Jan
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

Quote:
What happened with the CGI? Was it lost, destroyed? Any chance that now WB thinks they can make more money from B5, that someone will suddenly find the CGI in some archive?
Lost, basically. When B5 was ended they had to turn over all of the CGI files. When they were needed again for Legend of the Rangers, they couldn't be found. It would seem that WB isn't great about keeping their archives. We've all heard the story of how they discovered that th 'The Gathering' negatives had been stored in a cracked vault and literally eaten by rats.

Jan
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Old September 6th 06, 19:15   #10
Shabaz
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Re: Babylon 5 and HD...

Makes you wonder who they have in charge of their archiving, eh?

Still, B5 fans have it better than Doctor Who fans, probably the most extreme case of archiving gone wrong. Where the BBC archivists quite literally trashed a good part of the first six seasons of the show to make room in their archives. Although some of that survives, a good chunk doesn't.
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