• The new B5TV.COM is here. We've replaced our 16 year old software with flashy new XenForo install. Registration is open again. Password resets will work again. More info here.

B5 Moment.


I had a sort of B5 moment today - where it seems as though something was meant to be. And funnily enough, it involved B5.
For a very long time I have wanted B5 DVDs. I have two of the films on DVD, but none of the main seasons. And at $119.95 per season, it was a wee bit on the expensive side for me.
Well, yesterday, I walked into a record shop that I sometimes go to, and where I have a membership. And, they had 40% off two of the B5 DVDs - which brought the price of each dvd to $71.95.
I asked them to hold season 2, and put down a $20 deposit. Now, I just had to find another $51.95.
I work at a thrift shop where goods are donated - including CDs, which are sold for a couple of dollars each in the shop. For months, I had been buying some of the better CDs, and collecting them.
You see, this particular record shop where the DVDs were, you can sell CDs and DVDs to them - either for cash or trade. And I had been collecting CDs, hoping that one day I would have enough so that I could trade them in, and get a B5 DVD.
I got these CDs - and some of my DVDs that I was pretty sure that I would not watch again, and cleaned them up. Then I took them int the shop, hoping I could trade.
Well, the guy at the shop sorted through them, and then announced that he could give me $70 in cash - or $110 in trade.
I took the trade, realisng that I could not only pick up the DVD that I had put aside, I also could pick up season 3 as well.
I grabbed season 3, and went to pick up the DVD I had put aside, and pulled out my membership card, and handed it over.
This record shop also has a membership discount. Once you have spent $200 - and it does not have to be all at once - or in cash, trade counts as well, you get a $20 discount.
Today, I hit the $200 mark.
So, I got the two seasons for a total of $123.95 - only the $20 I had put down to hold the DVD being paid in cash. I even got change back - $6.10 to be exact.
It was one of those little moments where everything just comes together - it seemed like I was meant to have those DVDs.
A small thing. A silly thing - miniscule in the scheme of things, but I left that store in a high that lasted quite some time.
Now, I just have to get the other three seasons ....
I've just watched the first two episodes of season 2 ... it sure brings back memories. It was stll as enjoyable as when I started watching it all those years ago.
I also watched the Special Feature, where Biggs, Doyle, Christian and Boxleitner discuss the [*]Geometry of Shadows. It was really funny, and it sounded like the B5 cast and crew got on well together.
There were one or two things that I was not expecting. Not complaints exactly ... just different from what I thought.
For instance. I have gotten so used to DVDs being in letterbox format ... I think that's what's known as widescreen. Stick in almost any DVD, and it's in letterbox. But when I stuck in B5, it was fullscreen. I wasn't expecting that.
And usually when you have something on DVD, the better is noticably better than what you would see on VHS or TV. Here, it looked pretty much like a VHS or TV picture. But, I think I might have heard something about that before .... I must admit that I have kind of kept away from reading too much about B5 DVDs ... I didn't want to spoil it.
But, I look forward to seeing more episodes.
when I stuck in B5, it was fullscreen. I wasn't expecting that.

We've got some "techie" types around here that will probably be by to explain that...

It never bothered me that it wasn't widescreen... :LOL: I don't think I even thought about it! :p
Well, the US release, and all other releases on DVD that we've discussed here ARE in anamorphic wide screen, letter boxed format, except for The Gathering. So, I would be surprised if your discs weren't in WS. That would be very strange. Assuming you have a TV with a standard aspect ratio, 4:3, you should be seeing the top and bottom bars, unless your TV, or more likely, your DVD player, is set to fill out those bars, either by stretching the picture, top to bottom, or, cutting off the sides. Most DVD players will let you set it to automatically do one or the other. If you play another DVD, which you know to be WS, without changing any settings, and it plays back in WS, I would wonder if your DVDs aren't bootlegs. Check their boxes, and see if they don't say they are in WS. The LD and VHS releases weren't in WS. Does anyone know of any DVD release that wasn't WS? Very strange...
Well, let's hope KoshN doesn't deliver one of his long lectures to you, explaining the difference, and why you should notice... :eek: ;) :LOL:
Well, let's hope KoshN doesn't deliver one of his long lectures to you, explaining the difference, and why you should notice... :eek: ;) :LOL:

:eek: :LOL: Oh gosh, now is probably a good time then to mention how sensitive I am...

Sorry, KoshN...:( I wasn't looking at the little black bars, :D I was too busy staring at that cute Captain! :D

I'll pay more attention in the future, I promise! ;) :D
Well, let's hope KoshN doesn't deliver one of his long lectures to you, explaining the difference, and why you should notice... :eek: ;) :LOL:

:p Moi? Naah, I leave that to JoeD.
Jade Jaguar

It took me a couple of days, but I finally got around to checking the back of the DVD cases. On both [in very tiny print that gives a new meaning to the term 'small print'], there was the following statement.

'presented in a matted "letterbox" format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. The black bars on the top and bottom are normal for this format."
There is a wee picture next to this explanation of what appears to be a picture of letterbox format with what appears to be the word 'widescreen' inside it [the print is even smaller than the explanation quoted before, if that were possible]. There is the figure 1.77:1 underneath the wee picture. I guess this is the ratio that you were talking about.
I have no idea what my DVD or TV picture ratios are. My TV is a small one - 14 inch. Out of curiousity, I put the DVD discs in another DVD-player that we have. I have no idea what the ratio for that is, either. But the tV connected to that is is a 29-inch - just a little bit bigger! This time, I could quite clearly see the letterbox format bars.
I guess a bigger screen might have made the difference.

Sorry if I sound thick about DVD-players. But when it comes to things technical, I am like the person who can drive a car - but does not have the faintest idea how the actual car works.
Standard TV aspect ratio is, and has been since TV was invented, 4:3, or, 1.33:1. That means that the picture is just 1/3 wider that it is tall. The new, HDTV ratio is much wider, to be more like movies. It is 1.777...:1, or, 1.78:1, but is often called 1.77:1. That is what B5 was released on DVD in, 1.78:1. I'm surprised you couldn't see the black bars top and bottom, even on the 14" TV. Perhaps that TV is misajusted, so that it is cutting off on the sides too.
No DVD player has a setting to "hide the black bars." Players do have settings to alter the output according to what shape your television screen is, which is something else entirely.

All DVD images are stored as 1.33:1 rectangles. For Academy ratio films or open matte and pan & scan material, this is standard. Hard-matted letterbox (common in the early days of DVD, less so now) has black bars on the top and bottom of the image. (Which vary in width depending on the aspect ratio from very small for 1.66:1 films to very wide for 2.35:1 and higher.) [ii]Anamorphic[/i] discs are a differnt matter. Intended for playback on widesreen TVs anamorphic discs take a wide image and "squeeze" it from both sides to produce a 4:3 area in which everything looks tall and thin. For 1.78:1 and 1.85:1 material this essentially eliminates the letterboxing bars, for wider material they are still needed, but they occupy much less screen araa. In order to play an anamorphic disc correctly, both the DVD player and the TV must be set to the right mode. On the DVD player this setup only has to be done once - you simply tell the player if you have a widescreen (16:9, 1.77:1) or standard (4:3, 1.33:1) set. When outputting a anamoprhic disc to a standard set, the DVD player will "unsqueeze' the image horizontally, then zoom the image to the correct size and add in the necessary letterbox bars so that the image appears correct on a 4:3 screen. When outputting the same image to a widescreen set the DVD player sends the raw, squeezed, video to the TV and let's the TV's electronics unsqueeze the image horizontally, which produces a higher resolutiion image.

If you're seeing B5 without letterbox bars on one of your 4:3 TVs, I am certain that in the DVD setup menu the player is set for a 16:9 TV. (This is the default setting for a surprising number of players, given that 16:9 TVs are still comparatively rare.) If you look closely I think you'll find the image is distorted - everthing looks tall and thin and there are no true circles, only vertically stretched ovals.


Some DVD players can be set to hide the black bars. Check what rations your tv and your player are set to.

I mentioned this issue in my first post to this thread, although I did not go into the detail that Joe did. Some TVs, and probably most HDTVs, can also be set to eliminate black bars on top and bottom, for those fools who can't stand the black bars, and would rather the characters look like they are in a fun house mirror. My HDTV has one setting that makes a widescreen picture shown in the 4:3 aspect ratio, (which has black bars on all four sides, on a HDTV) fill the HD screen. But, if it is a 2.35:1, that leaves a bit of black on top and bottom. Another setting will eliminate that by stretching the image vertically. But, I doubt that the 14" TV, that didn't display the black bars, had any such features.

Both of my DVD players offer two different SD (4:3) output options. One is called "Pan and Scan," which crops the sides of WS DVDs, so that the picture fills the screen, without black bars, and without the sides of the image from the DVD. This is not real "Pan and Scan," which is actually a process that recomposes shots of a film, to fill a screen. The other SD (4:3) output is normal, letting you see the complete image, with bars top and bottom. Joe's explanation of the anamorphic WS image, which is output on component cables (or DVI, or HDMI) from a progressive scan player, to a digital TV, is, of course, correct. But, I don't think it is a stretch (pardon the pun) to refer to either the TV top to bottom image stretching, or the DVD player side-cropping setting as a way to "hide the black bars." But, eliminate the black bars migh be more accurate.
The two 4:3 modes offered by most DVD player (sometimes called 4:3 P&S and "4:3 Letterbox" ) usually output exaclty the same image to the TV. The two settings exist because the DVD spec includes the ability to produce a 4:3 pan and scan image "on the fly" from a disc that contains only a widescreen version, thus eliminating the need to include both versions on one disc or to release separate 4:3 and widescreen versions of a film. The disc itself would have to be encoded with the data for which frames to zoom and when to pan across the image. To the best of my knowledge nobody has ever actually produced a disc that was encoded this way, so the two 4:3 selections on your DVD player should have absolutely no effect on how disc look on your 4:3 TV.

Anamorphic widescreen DVDs predate digital television and the anamorphic signal is output exactly the same way via the composite (RCA) or s-video analog outputs as it is via the (analog) component outputs or (digital) HDMI or DVI output. I have an anamorphic laserdisc (analtog video) that came with the 16:9 analog rear projection televison I bought about 10 years ago. It looked better than any other single thing I watched on that TV until the advent of anamorphic DVD some years later - and even then tha laerdisc looked better than many earl y DVDs. (The film was The Fugitive/. I'm pretty sure I still have the disc put away somewhere. I plan to take my laserdisc player out of mothballs sometime soon and try to copy my THX version of the original Star Wars trilogy to DVD, so i may take a look at The Fugtive as well.)