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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old November 12 2012, 11:29 PM   #1
The Squire of Gothos
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Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

I'm aware that every CGI model save the Star Fury was deleted, but was the film stock damaged as well? Quite a few scenes appear to have white flecks, like you'd see on an old film. Was the film (I assume it was shot on film) stored badly prior to being transferred to DVD?
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Old November 13 2012, 12:48 AM   #2
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

There were some issues, but John Flinn also liked to use naturally grainy film.
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Old November 15 2012, 03:30 AM   #3
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

Nah, no conspiracy. The CGI was tied to Netter Digital. That old dude Netter was half of what made Babylon 5 get to air and get 5 seasons. He handled the production side of things, making all the deals, setting up the CGI production. Didn't Netter Digital fold? The assets might have been liquidated or deleted if it was tied to an affiliate's computers (Foundation Imaging? I'm a bit hazy on that side of B5's production). And Warner Bros didn't seem to value it, so they didn't try to archive the models. Sometimes it is just an issue of space. Look at Square of the video game world. Final Fantasy VII was their best-selling game & their 2nd most profitable game, yet they refuse to remake it. Rampant word is the real reason is they deleted all the code for the game and would have to not just remake the graphics, but reprogram the entire game from scratch, in addition to the logistical scale of trying to do the game justice (it's a whole world, a world map, several towns and dungeons. Games since, take FFXIII, are linear tunnels with not much 'world in them'). TV/video game companies treated their data early on in this CGI era like comic books were treated back before the '80s (and '70s to lesser extent), something disposable... but worse. At least Marvel, DC, et al, have archives of everything they put out. With B5 & many video game companies, they're effectively destroying the equivalent of the master copies, plates, etc.

I do know why B5 looks so bad in the new screen size ratio is the CGI was rendered in the old size ratio and without the models, it did not handle the conversion that well. B5 was very advanced for its time in terms of extensive CGI, but the downside was they didn't do it in a way that could easily be adjusted (see Star Trek, which went full CGI in the mid-late '90s).
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Old November 15 2012, 03:52 AM   #4
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

^Well, a better comparison might be the archiving policies of the BBC in the 1970s, which is why a bunch of old episodes of Doctor Who, The Avengers, & other shows of that era no longer exist. With Doctor Who, even the episodes that do still exist, none of the original master tapes from the 1st 8 seasons exist anymore. All we have now are black & white film prints shot with a telecine machine, fan made off-air color video recordings, and some high quality American tapes that still need to be back-converted from NTSC back into PAL (which still yielded some pretty poor converted images until a few years ago when they were finally able to use computers to adjust the color and diminish the extra motion-blur).
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Old November 15 2012, 04:14 AM   #5
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

One would have thought studios would have learned something from the Doctor Who disaster. I could understand if it were all stored on huge reels of film. But it still boggles my mind that not one production person who probably spent hours or days working on these designs thought to dump copies of a few files onto spare harddrives and carry them home.

The short sightedness of some of these companies is mind-boggling.
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Old November 15 2012, 04:17 AM   #6
Ian Keldon
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

^Would that have been legal?
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Old November 15 2012, 04:26 AM   #7
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

The Borgified Corpse wrote: View Post
^Well, a better comparison might be the archiving policies of the BBC in the 1970s, which is why a bunch of old episodes of Doctor Who, The Avengers, & other shows of that era no longer exist. With Doctor Who, even the episodes that do still exist, none of the original master tapes from the 1st 8 seasons exist anymore. All we have now are black & white film prints shot with a telecine machine, fan made off-air color video recordings, and some high quality American tapes that still need to be back-converted from NTSC back into PAL (which still yielded some pretty poor converted images until a few years ago when they were finally able to use computers to adjust the color and diminish the extra motion-blur).
This happened to He-Man & She-Ra. The entity that bought up the rights destroyed the NTSC copies of it. What's on DVDs on air on Qubo is episodes that went from NTSC to PAL back to NTSC, which is why the quality is so degraded. People with old VHS tapes might have better quality copies than the official copies. That should be a crime, to destroy master copies of tv episodes or movies.
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Old November 15 2012, 10:04 AM   #8
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

Ian Keldon wrote: View Post
^Would that have been legal?
You'd think it would be. At least for the people who created the designs. What, none of them ever worked at home?
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Old November 15 2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

I just read that J. Michael Straczynski had Babylon 5 shot in HD format back in the 1990s. Is that true?
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Old November 15 2012, 11:30 AM   #10
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

Well he shot it in widescreen format, so if the orginal film exists it might be possible to do a HD transfer, however all the CGI elements would have to be re-done.
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Old November 15 2012, 05:15 PM   #11
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

DeepSpaceWine wrote: View Post
Nah, no conspiracy. The CGI was tied to Netter Digital.
They only did the CGI for seasons 4 and 5. Ron Thornton's company, Foundation Imaging, did the CGI for the pilot and the first three seasons.

DeepSpaceWine wrote: View Post
The assets might have been liquidated or deleted if it was tied to an affiliate's computers (Foundation Imaging? I'm a bit hazy on that side of B5's production).
Warner Bros. owns all.

Cutter John wrote: View Post
But it still boggles my mind that not one production person who probably spent hours or days working on these designs thought to dump copies of a few files onto spare harddrives and carry them home.
By contract, all material could only be held by Warner Bros itself: film, CGI, etc.
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Old November 15 2012, 05:52 PM   #12
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

Sometimes they delete things because of physical space. Match Game in the 1960s had 1067 episodes (I think that's the number, it's over 1,000), but there are only 8 episodes that are still around because film was expensive and people thought the daily show had no value, so yo save space and money they just retaped over old episodes.
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Old November 15 2012, 06:02 PM   #13
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

EmoBorg wrote: View Post
I just read that J. Michael Straczynski had Babylon 5 shot in HD format back in the 1990s. Is that true?
Regular, old-fashioned film has a "resolution" that far surpasses HD. If that original film still exists, you could do what they're doing for Star Trek:TNG, re-scan all the film elements with today's technology and re-render the CGI at a higher definition. The problem with the CGI is already known, it was done at much lower resolution and all the original files are lost.
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Old November 15 2012, 06:12 PM   #14
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

Cutter John wrote: View Post
Ian Keldon wrote: View Post
^Would that have been legal?
You'd think it would be. At least for the people who created the designs. What, none of them ever worked at home?
With SFX many people don't have the powerful machines and the licensed software needed at home to effectively work there and why would they?

Do you take work home when you don't need to? The entire infrastructure you need is at your workplace so why bother setting up a duplicate at home.

Additionally many companies fear the theft of IP and want to control it as much as possible and working at home is a giant leak possibility.
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Old November 15 2012, 08:24 PM   #15
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Re: Babylon 5, did someone have a vendetta against the series?

Weren't the original film masters partially eaten by rats or something?

So unless those rats were DS9 fans... it just looks like bad luck.

Also if they are ever going to do a remaster like TNG-R, they will also need to redo all the space ship CGI in HD quality which would cost lots of money. This is the same problem that late DS9 and VOY will have if those shows are ever remastered.

TNG-R gets away with it since all the space ship scenes used models instead of CGI.

The problem is that Warners never treated B5 as an important asset like how Paramount treated Trek.
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