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Old October 18th 10, 13:32   #1
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New FX/Old Show

Over on another site (not mine) there was a discussion about re-rendering B5's graphics so they'd look better on high-def, much like they did with Trek TOS not too long ago (Though hopefully better). Ultimately the guy realized that was going to be a huge lot of work, and that was the end of the discussion.

It got me wondering, though: If you're going to go to all the work to re-render stuff (Which no one is), then why not go a little further and re-design some of the aspects of the show that make no sense. Since it's CGI, there's no real limit to how far you could go with it. Fix the rotating stars outside the windows, remove the goofy external bridge from the Hyperion-class ships, or completely redesign the station to look like something that makes more sense.

The last appealed to me, just for the heck of it. I think I'd redesign the station to look like an O'Neill sunflower design http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spacecolony1.jpg and http://mentatjack.files.wordpress.co...lony3edit.jpeg which is obviously what they were going for, anyway. A lot of this is probably arising from my re-watching season 1 at the moment, and it's just so darn gloomy.

Anyway...

What, if anything, would you redesign from the show?
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Old October 18th 10, 14:24   #2
Triple F
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Re: New FX/Old Show

This is an argument (or point of view) that Iíve seen discussed in a number of places and approached in a number of ways.

Personally I believe itís a terrible idea.

Babylon 5 was a product of itís time. Like it or not, one of the main reasons why the show was a success was the use of CGI Ė and it would never have been made without it.

I know that some B5 fans have this self inflicted view that to appreciate the show you have to be intelligent (jms has pushed that a fair bit in his time as well). I view that complete tosh as quite a distasteful aspect of certain sections of the B5 fandom.

One of the ways that elitist nonsense manifests itself is by people saying things like ďI suppose you can watch the show just for the space battlesĒ. A fair point in itís own, but in the context of ďitís the story thatís importantĒ that attitude is overlooking one, not so small, point.

In television (or movies) those space battles and other fx are a large part of the narrative within that story. Removing the contributions of those that created that narrative (and much of it was their original ideas) and relegating them to a small by-line in the credits is the same as saying lets get some modern writer to take some of Joe Straczynskiís more dodgy dialogue and replace it with something more modern. It should be possible to dub it in with the use of modern technology.

Besides, if you did replace the CGI then the sets would look dated, replace the sets and the prosthetics would look dated, replace the prosthetics and the wardrobe would look dated, replace the wardrobe and the acting would look dated.

Itís a bad idea.
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Old October 18th 10, 17:48   #3
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Re: New FX/Old Show

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Originally Posted by Triple F View Post
This is an argument (or point of view) that Iíve seen discussed in a number of places and approached in a number of ways.

Personally I believe itís a terrible idea.

Babylon 5 was a product of itís time. Like it or not, one of the main reasons why the show was a success was the use of CGI Ė and it would never have been made without it.

I know that some B5 fans have this self inflicted view that to appreciate the show you have to be intelligent (jms has pushed that a fair bit in his time as well). I view that complete tosh as quite a distasteful aspect of certain sections of the B5 fandom.

One of the ways that elitist nonsense manifests itself is by people saying things like ďI suppose you can watch the show just for the space battlesĒ. A fair point in itís own, but in the context of ďitís the story thatís importantĒ that attitude is overlooking one, not so small, point.

In television (or movies) those space battles and other fx are a large part of the narrative within that story. Removing the contributions of those that created that narrative (and much of it was their original ideas) and relegating them to a small by-line in the credits is the same as saying lets get some modern writer to take some of Joe Straczynskiís more dodgy dialogue and replace it with something more modern. It should be possible to dub it in with the use of modern technology.

Besides, if you did replace the CGI then the sets would look dated, replace the sets and the prosthetics would look dated, replace the prosthetics and the wardrobe would look dated, replace the wardrobe and the acting would look dated.

Itís a bad idea.
In fact, I agree with you on every level. Good Space FX/Cheap Sets is one of the thing that really pops out at you in "The Lost Tales."

In the case of TOS, I felt it was utterly pointless to redo the effects because they were the best that could be done at the time, and they had a certain charm. Clean 'em up a bit? Sure. Re-interpret stuff? No, that seems obtrusive. "But it's what the producer had in mind at the time." So what - art is all about limitations. It is undoubtedly cheating to 'fix' stuff you blew the first time around. Don't even get me started on those terrible Star Wars re-edits. Gah!

In the case of B5, the problem is a little different: The show was shot in widescreen, the CGI wasn't, so on the DVDs and such, they blow it up to widescreen, which makes it fuzzy and sloppy as heck. There's no easy fix here, and anything you do won't make it look right, sort of re-rendering some or all of it.

My point, I guess, was "If you're going to go to all the trouble of doing that..." and then I got to wondering what stuff I'd fix. In my case, cool as it is, the station's design is rather halfassed, and occasionally nags at me. I'd like to fix all those dreadful shots of Minbar from "Legend of the Rangers," there's not much else, though. I always felt the visual design aspect of the show was stunning and groundbreaking.

There must've been something about the FX that nagged at you, though...
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Old October 18th 10, 20:50   #4
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Re: New FX/Old Show

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Originally Posted by Republibot 3.0 View Post
In the case of B5, the problem is a little different: The show was shot in widescreen, the CGI wasn't, so on the DVDs and such, they blow it up to widescreen, which makes it fuzzy and sloppy as heck. There's no easy fix here, and anything you do won't make it look right, sort of re-rendering some or all of it.
They were always expecting to have to do this. If you take a look at the Making of B5 bit on the season 1 DVDs (the old special hosted by Walter Koenig) you can see in the background of one of the interviews how when the CGI was being worked out the computer would block out the top and bottom of the EFX so they would know what it was going to look like in widescreen. It's my understanding that the blurriness issue came because they ended up transferring the widescreen back from the PAL tapes to NTSC when Sci-Fi channel first aired the reruns.
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Old October 19th 10, 06:37   #5
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Re: New FX/Old Show

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It's my understanding that the blurriness issue came because they ended up transferring the widescreen back from the PAL tapes to NTSC when Sci-Fi channel first aired the reruns.
Yup, that's the way I understand it. The idea was to recomposite the CGI and filmed elements, but they ran into a problem when they went to do it. Warner Bros. lost all of the CGI files.
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Old October 19th 10, 07:32   #6
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Re: New FX/Old Show

I think the ST:TOS updating was tastefully done. Things looked better, but still looked like they were made in the 60s, just better. I think it would be theoretically possible to do that with B5, but given how much more CGI/FX there was, cost would be prohibitive. Also, there is that annoying tendency of people to want to 'fix' things, change their nature, their look, update them, etc. That would ruin it. If it were possible to wave a magic mouse over the B5 CGI, and make it HD, and in the proper aspect ratio, I'd be all for it. But, it's not possible, and it won't happen. At least not any time soon.
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Old October 19th 10, 14:00   #7
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Re: New FX/Old Show

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Originally Posted by vacantlook View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeD80 View Post
It's my understanding that the blurriness issue came because they ended up transferring the widescreen back from the PAL tapes to NTSC when Sci-Fi channel first aired the reruns.
Yup, that's the way I understand it. The idea was to recomposite the CGI and filmed elements, but they ran into a problem when they went to do it. Warner Bros. lost all of the CGI files.
No it wasnít. ; )

There was never a plan to recomposit or re-render any CGI or composite shots on B5. No one who has ever worked on the show has ever said there was. Itís one of those fan created myths Ė all-be-it a widely repeated one.

Here's a bit of what John Copeland said when asked directly about the whole mess surounding the DVD releases.
Quote:
I was able to convince Warners to let us shot 1:85. The idea being that we would telecine to 4:3 for the original broadcast of the series. But what it also gave us was a negative that had been shot for the new 16x9 wide screen format televisions that we knew were on the horizon. The show was actually broadcast initially in some international markets in 16x9 - but for some reason the UK didn't take it that way - Portugal did though - go figure.

With regard to the VFX. We just couldn't double render stuff in two aspect ratios, no time. But at the end of every season we delivered all the VFX shots for each episode on a exabyte tape (the precursor to DLT) which WB were supposed to run through a "black box" - actually an early TerranX - to upres them and then cut them into the retransferred shows in 16x9 for home video release. For whatever reason, they didn't do it. I think Warren Leiberfarb, then head of Warners Home Video wouldn't authorize the expense for this. . . . . . . . . .

They did another video hack and simply used a digital post production device like a DVE (Digital Video Enhancer) to blow the material up. They essentially stretched it approximately 1/3 to fill the larger aspect ratio. . . . . . . . .

We never had a plan to re-render the VFX footage - rendering takes time, resources and consequently $$ - it's always a question of who is paying for it. You know the old adage - there is no free lunch. Well, there is no free rendering, either. In fact the filmed 16x9 versions - Warners had even forgotten that they had those. They used PAL versions and converted them to NTSC for the US market. They actually didn't go back and retransfer the shows.
The plan was always to just crop the top and bottom off the 4:3 CGI and composit shots to make them appear 16:9 widescreen Ė the problem was that Warner decided to do it on the cheap (not what was originally agreed).

The loss of the CGI files had absolutely nothing to do with the crap quality of what appeared on the DVDís. Warner using the PAL versions to convert over to NTSC for the US market only refers to the FILMED footage (with the actors and stuff ; ).
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Old October 19th 10, 15:22   #8
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Re: New FX/Old Show

There is a difference between rerendering and recompositing. Of course they wouldn't do the former.

You contradict yourself.

Quote:
There was never a plan to recomposit or re-render any CGI or composite shots on B5.
Quote:
The plan was always to just crop the top and bottom off the 4:3 CGI and composit shots to make them appear 16:9 widescreen
Also...

Quote:
Warner using the PAL versions to convert over to NTSC for the US market only refers to the FILMED footage (with the actors and stuff
There is a very discernable difference between the shots presented in their full clarity widescreen nature and the blurry, non-widescreen, cropped shots that either include both live and CGI elements or are live elements that cut to all CGI elements. Everything I've ever read has said that if they could have recomposited, that the shots that combined live and CGI would have been the same clarity and actor-within-the-frame ratio (for lack of a better way to describe it) that the live-only shots on the DVDs have.
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Old October 19th 10, 17:33   #9
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Re: New FX/Old Show

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It's my understanding that the blurriness issue came because they ended up transferring the widescreen back from the PAL tapes to NTSC when Sci-Fi channel first aired the reruns.
Yup, that's the way I understand it. The idea was to recomposite the CGI and filmed elements, but they ran into a problem when they went to do it. Warner Bros. lost all of the CGI files.
I remember reading about them planning to go to widescreen away back in season 1, and blocking out the shots accordingly, but most of the people I've talked to have told me they never bothered to render the 'sides' of the CGI sequences because of the additional time constraints. This is not true?
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Old October 19th 10, 17:34   #10
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Re: New FX/Old Show

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I think the ST:TOS updating was tastefully done. Things looked better, but still looked like they were made in the 60s, just better. I think it would be theoretically possible to do that with B5, but given how much more CGI/FX there was, cost would be prohibitive. Also, there is that annoying tendency of people to want to 'fix' things, change their nature, their look, update them, etc. That would ruin it. If it were possible to wave a magic mouse over the B5 CGI, and make it HD, and in the proper aspect ratio, I'd be all for it. But, it's not possible, and it won't happen. At least not any time soon.
Kinda' what I said from the outset, though of course I wasn't really talking about the feasibility (Since it's nonexistent), but what you'd change if you felt like changing stuff.
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