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I really hate to ask this


Beyond the rim
but i have been spreading the word on the B5 DVD's, and i have had a few questions come to me that i cannot remember the answers to, so i would ask those like JoeD to help me, by posting part of your infinite knowledge here.

about B5, it was shot in what? (letterbox, from what i remember, right?) the details on that please, here is a quote of what i need to answer, and if you do this for me, i will link the people here, and hopefully get more people to see this place and sign up.

He wrote:
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Are these DVD's going to be the fake wide screen versions, where all they did was put the black bars on the top and bottom, or full screen?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd rather see it full screen than wide screen.

I don't like my widescreen movies re-edited to full screen and I do not like my full screen TV shows re-edited to widescreen when they weren't filmed that way.


My response to this was:
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Techy, B5 was originally shot in letterbox format for the future HDTV's when they were in re-run and for the eventual DVD release. A wise decision by JMS, the "Fake" widescreen was a mistake made by sci-fi/WB, it was fixed, these are true letterbox, on Animorphic widescreen, i believe i originally said some of this the last time you asked about what "animorphic" meant in my original DVD post.


He responded with:
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
If that were so and B5 was shot in Letterbox... why is the letterbox version on Sci-Fi channel really just the full screen version with black bars? Why is it that the DVD version of the B5 TV Movies are also just the full screen versions with the black bars, when compared to their VHS counterpart?


Could you please help me out, was i right, was i wrong, could you correct me if so, could you give an appropriate response to him?
I have heard otherwise from others on this site, Gs, but I am no fool and it sure appears to me that what is running on Sci Fi is not natural Letterbox. For example, today's episode had the Voice of the Resistance ....ah what is it called....screen test screen up and it was not only missing a bit of it, over half was missing and it was not even centered within the "letterbox" screen, instead proped against and starting from the bottom and having almost half of the top cut off.

Other stuff too, but if you get a couple independant sources that really have knowledge and are not just "trying to sound authoritative", than you have my thanks too.

I think your friend may be correct, as far as I know and can tell. For whatever it's worth.
well i'm not in the US, so I never actually saw what happened with the sci-fi run

But, look, letterbox - you will get black bars at the top and bottom regardless of whether it is fake or not (unless you have a widescreen tv). I mean, it is WIDESCREEN - is your tv wide? no?, then you'll get bars at the top and bottom - but you DO see all the picture, nothing is cut off, the image is just srunk to fit your tv screen. The full screen version has the SIDES CUT OFF. So you actually see more of B5 in the widescreen version /forums/images/icons/smile.gif It is the same with a movie you buy on DVD.

However, all the CGI shots on B5 ARE cropped as they were not created in widescreen - but they were designed to look better when cropped.

About the sci-fi run:
Just from what I have heard. Warner stuff up the widescreen transfers, so that they were actually cropped, ie the top and bottom WERE missing. Anyways, that was fixed for the second time around and is currently fine
Basically the studio shots are in true widescreen, as they were filmed that way (apart from The Gathering). The cgi clips are cropped versions of the 4:3 format, since they were made that way. That explanation gets messy when there are cgi elements placed on a live action shot (it gets cropped /forums/images/icons/wink.gif )</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Joseph DeMartino:
B5 was shot on Super35mm film, from which both the 1.33:1 (4:3) and 1.77:1 (widescreen) frames were extracted for the live action shots. The 1.33:1 trims material from the sides, the 1.77:1 from the top and/or bottom of the Super35 frame. The directors framed their shots so that both versions would look good, but JMS has said that they favored the widescreen framing where it was difficult to do both well. (They did the widescreen so that the show would be viable in HDTV syndication, and assumed that over the years far more people would see the show in widescreen than ever saw it in 1.33:1. This is one reason why JMS wanted the DVDs to be widescreen.)

[/quote]Joe often links to Bart Barenberg's website which contains more details and screenshots.

The original (two?) widescreen runs on the SFC were straight forward crops of the 4:3 set due to a fluff up at Warner's end. The more recent runs have been as described above.
I believe the incorrect widescreen versions were only shown during the first run of the show on the sci-fi channel. This was disconcerting because, IIRC, the fact that it was widescreen was big marketing point for them, selling it as a reason to watch the show on their channel even if you've already seen it.

As for the claims of being able to "tell" which is the "real" letterboxing- how can you? Either way, it's the same aspect ratio. Unless you have a side-by-side screen shot comparison, it's impossible to just look at it and say, "No, this is wrong."
Well in a lot of important close up shots the actor's faces would be cut off in the "fake" letterbox. So it was kind of a big issue.
Right, but you'd have to somehow know that the actor's face is supposed to be there. Either you have a screen-by-screen comparison, which is near impossible, or you have to have photographic memory and/or be a completely obsessive fan that somehow remembers every little thing.

Of course the widescreens should be done correctly. I'm just saying that they already are, and that this is the version being aired and released on the DVDs. If not, we'd know about it and it would be a huge issue.
thank you all very much, and thanks most of all to SwiftBiscuit, I forgot to mention that part about the cgi, i knew that part, i just forgot to mention it, and now, thankss to you all, i can link the people here to read the answer.
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
...or you have to have photographic memory and/or be a completely obsessive fan that somehow remembers every little thing.


Sounds like a few people I know... /forums/images/icons/grin.gif

BTW, it might interest some of you to know that nearly every 1.85:1 ratio theatrical film you've ever seen has been "cropped" in the theater. Such films are shot on standard 35mm film with spherical lenses at 1.37:1 and matted in the projector. Of course, they're still composed for 1.85:1, and adding the "padded" image at the top and bottom of the frame often destroys the composition, as well as making things like eletrical cables and con-trails visible when the films are shown "open matte" as on VHS or television. The reason people don't complain about this kind of "cropping" is that the see the widescreen version first. (And the SFX footage in these films is usually created for the 1.85:1 ratio, therefore has to be zoomed or panned and scanned for video.)

In all these cases the important thing is not how they were shot, but how the creators intended them to be seen. JMS wanted to shoot for widescreen at a time when nobody would let you broadcast widescreen. So he used Super35 as the best compromise, had the CGI designed to look as good (and often better) when matted to 1.77:1 and did the best he could with the composite CGI/live action scenes. (Which are a tiny minority of shots in the series. More of those shots were rotoscoped, like the PPG bursts, than CGI.)


I would just add that as I recall, on the first SciFi run, season one was true WS, as was season 5, and I think, most of season 4, but all was corrected on the second run. On the second and third runs, Quality Of Mercy, and Racing Mars were both in mono. I hope that is corrected on the DVDs!
GShans: <font color="orange">...thanks most of all to SwiftBiscuit</font color>
Fah, thank Joe. I just know how to use a search engine /forums/images/icons/wink.gif
Joe, did you see the Voice of the Resistance slide in yesterday's episode ("Rumors, Bargains and Lies")? The pictures at the top corners of the slide were completely cropped. /forums/images/icons/frown.gif
If that is true, one can only hope this will not occur with DVD disks, at least in widescreen mode. Having that much cropped would be rather annoying.

To determine if that is likely with DVD, our only good point of comparison would be "In the Beginning". Does anyone have a TV version taped and available -- for comparison with computer DVD player set into widescreen aspect ratio? Computer player because that reduces the possibility of misconfigured DVD player or TV set.
There are side-by-side comparisons between ItB in widescreen and full-screen on Bart Barenberg's site. The link was given by SwiftBiscuit (I believe) in a post above. These are from the U.K. widescreen VHS tape, but I saw no difference between his screen caps and the DVD in scene which I compared.


Thanks. Most informative page. I guess that in some cases, cropping will create problems (for example the "Voice of Resistance" test pattern) while in others, it will significantly improve the footage.

What a pity that they couldn't do computer graphics for widescreen. Scenes with CGI and ordinary footage mixed seem the most likely to exhibit undesirable change.
It does seem tragic that CGI based scenes are set up different from the others. It pretty much guarenteed a problem if the series was ever to make it into a wide screen format. However, I can certainly understand JMS hedging all bets with the rocky nature of the support B5 was given by it's various "benifactors".

Even though I appreciate JMS's hope for widescreen for the series, and the value of widescreen in general, I believe it may have been best to stick to a "full screen" format in the interest of continuity.

Fullscreen was no hinderence to the series when I fell in love with it back on TNT (saw one season 1 episode prior to TNT ownership, but a Blue Delenn was too much for a first time viewing at such an early age) the first time I saw seasons 2, 3, 4, and 5.

With respect to the Artist's vision, sometimes they really do need to let go of some desires that may ultimately be cause for more negative than positive results. The widescreen, IMHO, would only significantly benefit B5 if it were shown in a proper Movie Theater.

Home viewing typically does not capitolize on widescreen unless it is needed for complete viewing of a Movie that "had" to be widescreen to begin with.
Just my 2.01 cents.
In my opinion, improved ordinary footage would outweigh the relevance of *partially* reduced CGI footage.
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
<font color="yellow"> Originally posted by Lennier: </font color>
In my opinion, improved ordinary footage would outweigh the relevance of *partially* reduced CGI footage.


That's definitely not my opinion.

The Delenn scene, releasing the souls in "Soul Hunter" is one example where we'd be better off with a full screen version.

The Voice of the Resistance slide (at the beginning of Ivanova's broadcasts) is another. It's usually better if they take the CGI from the middle, but sometimes they seem to take it all from the top or all from the bottom. In this slide, the picture of Clark with his face circled and with the line through it, was entirely cropped. /forums/images/icons/frown.gif

Now, I haven't watched or taped all of the Sci-Fi "Widescreen" episodes [1], but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some cases where a character is looking at a piece of CGI, and because it got cropped, it'll look like they're just staring out of frame (like in "Racing Mars" where they look to the floor at the dead keeper, but the floor isn't shown (in either the full screen or widescreen versions, in this particular case), and it'll just feel strange and cheap, like they didn't have enough money to do the effect.

[1] Reasons: I got disgusted with the false widescreen eps. of the first run, and then the "teapot" errors, and then the CGI cropping, and ended up thinking "Why couldn't they just leave things alone? If it isn't broken, don't fix it, because then you'll break it for sure."
For my 2 cents on specific faults in the widescreen usage, during season 3 (I believe) the intro credits sometimes are getting bumped up and over the top of the actors faces, and I personally really enjoy a certain look of Vir or Londo, I don't recall off the top of my head, but which is wiped out in widescreen cuz the words cover it quite completely.

I also was rather unimpressed as they were only able to show a pitifully small portion of that test patern in recent episodes. I have a the complete series on tape from TNT runs, and for what ever TNT may have done to screw with things, I dare to say they produced a better quality product because of the Full Screen version.

I hate to think how long the list would be if I were the type to scrutinize a show for it's notable flaws. The list of casualties due to widescreening (minor pun) is probably unpleasantly lengthy over the coarse of all 5 seasons.

While not a fan of pan and scan and such, THIS widescreen edition was really better left on JMS's entertainment center shelf. Just my personal opinion.
However, when I watched "In the Beginning", I did not notice a single disturbing flaw. Yet this movie was computer-graphics intensive...

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