[B5JMS] Plea to JMS & Fans: The B5 Widescreen Madness Must Stop!!!

b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu
Thu Dec 5 04:24:54 EST 2002

From: mojo at devilrock.whiteoaks.com (Morris Jones)
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 02:27:51 +0000 (UTC)
Lines: 32

I'm watching the Babylon 5 DVD set on a widescreen TV (Loewe Aconda 30").
It does indeed make me sad when I see cropped or stretched CGI graphics.

For example, notice the "lens flares" in the opening titles.  On the
DVD, they're oval instead of circular.  The original scene has been

Throughout any episode, it's painful to see the cuts to any composite
footage.  Either the composition is trashed to crop the scene, or the
geometry is trashed to stretch it.

But even so ...

When the full-resolution principal photography is available, it's
stunning to see the richness that I never noticed before:  The textures
and patterns of the costumes, the detail of Kosh's encounter suit,
the stubble of Sinclair's beard ("By Any Means Necessary").

I too would prefer a full-resolution, undistorted 4:3 presentation.

Given that re-rendering the CGI is impossible without recreating the
lost models from scratch, and recomposing the composite shots even less
likely, this is what we get.

Morris Jones         <*>
San Rafael, CA
mojo at whiteoaks.com

From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 05 Dec 2002 05:19:09 GMT
Lines: 49

I don't think this got through the momentary message blockade, so I'm sending
this a second time....

There are a number of elements to this discussion that need to be addressed.

First, a lot of the flaws being seen on the film were there in the beginning;
the difference is that the DVD transfer shows those little flaws more clearly
than when the show is broadcast on tape over the air.  Just as a CD will pick
up any glitches in the original analog master, so a DVD will show any
shortcomings in the film or the transfer.

On the CGI question, bear in mind that we were making this show at the very
beginning of CGI effects, and that they had never been done for TV on this
scale before.  Many andvancements have been made in the intervening years, but
at the time, the hardware and software we had was pretty rudimentary.

We did not have the tech, at that time, to do our comps in widescreen super35
versions.  The software that we used to dump the footage into couldn't handle
it.  So we had no choice but to render the CGI and the comps in standard ratio.

We cannot intercut full-frame CGI with widescreen non-cgi stuff because
sometimes we intercut in two-second intervals or less, and the banging back and
forth between aspect ratios would be extremely hard on the eyes.

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.

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.

We were the prisoners to the tech that was available to us at the time (for the
first season we were using home Amigas, no less).  It was all experimental and
by the seat of our pants kind of stuff.  But it was the best anyone was doing
at the time, and we did the best we could with the tools we had.


(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd., 
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine 
and don't send me story ideas)

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