• 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.

Production Question


New member
Hello, everyone! I noticed that in seasons 1 & 2 the guys in charge of the special effects used Lightwave as their program, but it seems like in the latter seasons they switched over to Maya which is rare since Lightwave guys usually stick with Lightwave. Does anyone here know when they switched over and why?

Thanks to those who can help!
Well, I do know that Foundation Imaging handled to CG effects for the first three seasons, and seasons 4 and 5 were done by Netter Digital.
Thank you very much! That actually answered my question because those at Netter Digital are Maya guys, but I knew seasons 1 & 2 were done with Lightwave (I wasn't sure yet about season 3).

My boyfriend is a computer animator and did special effects for a movie in Lightwave, so when I introduced him to Babylon 5 he recognized right away what they were using. When we watched the 'The Making of Babylon 5' in the first boxset, they actually showed the computers that he learned on and the Lightwave version on the screen was the version he used when he first started out (he even found me a screenshot on-line to compare it to; plus, he found actual screen shots the CG guys took from the first and second season and was able to view them on his Amiga).

Well, here's where the confusion came in (and what brought me to this site). Netter Digital is hiring, but they said they needed Maya guys and I saw that they did the CG for Babylon 5 and got a bit confused since my boyfriend was sure they used Lightwave. Now that I know the switchover, we can look for it when the season 4 boxset comes out.

Once again, thank you!
LoneVoice, are you saying that Netter Digital is hiring NOW? I thought that they had long since gone belly up and been dispersed, lock stock and barrel. If this is true, I wonder what may be up?!?

And I could be wrong, but I thought Netter continued with Lightwave all through Babylon 5 but converted to another software (Maya?) for Crusade. I'd swear the conversion and associated learning curve was cited as one of the problems in getting their effects up to snuff.
Lightwave was used for all seasons of B5, and I don’t think there is any evidence of Netter ever switching over to Maya, even for Crusade. The CG DOES start to look different toward the tail of B5 season 5. That look remains constant through the last 2 TNT movies and Crusade. But I believe that can be attributed to the fact that Netter grew a brain and finally decided to render the CG frames at 24p rather than the bizarre 30i.

But that is a another post for anther time.

I was also under the impression that Lighwave was used all the way until the Rangers movie was produced. That was when they switched to Maya because the original CGI files were lost and they changed effects companies as well. *scratches her head*
The CGI files weren't lost until after Crusade went out of production. Up until that time, Netter Digital had the CGI files, which were legally the property of Warner Bros.

B5 decided to bring the effects in-house after S3, at a time when Foundation Imaging had fallen on hard times and begun to lay off workers. (Many of whom were hired by the Babylonian CG production team, which eventually became Netter Digital. Foundation's fortunes turned around not long afterwards when they got the contract for Voyager. By contract Foundation had to turn over to Warner Bros. all of their CGI models and files, and these passed to Netter. Later when Cruade folded everything again went to Warner Bros., which lost it all sometime between the summer of 1999 and the start of production for Rangers.)

Netter Digital wasn't organized as a company until well into the shooting of S4 and doesn't appear in the credits until "The Illusion of Truth". Various software packages were used for model building, textures, lighting and animation at different times under both companies. (Not to mention different hardware platforms ranging from Amigas to Wintel PCs.)


Quite true, Joe. They would've used some paint programs for textures and I believe I read an article with Joe Johnston about using some Mac software for compositing, but the VAST majority of work was always done with Lightwave (on various platforms). B5, especially the Foundation years, are a joy to behold to die hard Lightwavers.


Latest posts

Members online

No members online now.