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This page has been offline for a number of years because I ran out of disk space at my old hosting site. I've moved to a new site and now have more disk spaced so have decided to revive this page (2017-10-30). I no longer believe that we will ever see Babylon-5 reissued in hi-definition so I leave you with this page as a tribute site for a sci-fi story I consider one of the greatest ever shown on TV or elsewhere.
(In fact, the 2009 optical media has the same part number stamped on as the 2004 release so this really is just a repackaging operation; 2004 disks came in a card-board box while the 2009 disc holders are in a plastic flip box)
Probably due to the high level of MPEG-2 compression, these discs looked slightly better when played on a standard-def Sony DVD player than a high-def up-converting Sony Blu-ray player or a high-def up-converting Toshiba HD-DVD player. I suspect this may be because 2004/2009 Babylon 5 DVD episodes were recorded in 480i (interlaced) format rather than 480p (progressive) format.
To be fair, the 480i disks are still quite beautiful when played on a PC connected to a 19" LCD monitor.
As an aside, the remastered release of Star Trek: The Original Series (ST:TOS) uses eight DVDs per season or seven Blu-Ray disks per season. These Babylon-5 disks only use six DVDs per season -AND- also contain extra material including bloopers. Now consider the fact that Star Trek was originally produced for 1960's TV in a 4x3 frame whilst Babylon-5 was produced for mid 1990's TV in a 16x9 frame then broadcast in a letterbox format. It should be much easier to release Babylon-5 in high-def on Blu-ray since there is more original material to work with.
Most non-technical people are surprised to learn that shuttered 3d goggles where first appeared in the mid-1980s for UNIX workstations. At that time this niche technology was only used by organizations with big budgets like NASA, the aviation industry, and Hollywood. Sun Microsystems was able to corner support for this technology by creating a 3d API for their Java language. For the past 5-years NASA people at JPL have used 3-d goggles every day to plan trajectory changes for the MARS rover missions.
In case you haven't noticed, all new technology for the past 20-years has been first developed for the computer industry then migrated over to home entertainment systems when it reaches a critical mass. For example, progressive-scan CRTs first appeared on computers. This innovation was quickly followed by larger resolution displays then finally LCD hardware. Why should you care? Many people today use Sony's Playstation-3 game console (a special purpose computer) to play Blu-ray movies on their big-screen TVs. Well, Sony has just announced that their Septemeber-2010 firmware upgrade will contain 3-d support. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20010230-1.html
If you are playing discs in a stand-alone player, poke around at some of the extra keys to see it anything special comes up. For example, when playing DVDs in a PS3 (PlayStation 3), press the small button under the red key to see encoding values as well as video bit rates. You will see the CODEC Type (eg. MPEG-2) but not other stuff like the frames-per-second (FPS) etc.
If you've got a Windows-based PC and are using video player software like Nero ShowTime or PowerDVD or VLC then you already have access to some non-expert tools for further poking and hacking. For example, under Nero ShowTime you can enable the OSD (On Screen Display) to view technical parameters like frame format (e.g. 720x480), frames per second (FPS), encoding methods (e.g. MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG/AVC, VC1, AVC), etc. Some programs will actually display the phrases "480i" or "480p" while others will display phrases like "video mode: interlaced" or "video mode: progressive".
Babylon 5 The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Repackage) (2009)
Season 1 Disks Contain this stamp: Widescreen 22855
(which can also be found on the 2004 discs)
Season 2 Disks Contain this stamp: Widescreen 24242
Season 3 Disks Contain this stamp: Widescreen 24243
Season 4 Disks Contain this stamp: Widescreen 27972
Season 4 Disks Contain this stamp: Widescreen 24275
|Babylon 5 The Lost Tales||B000PHX8RA||2007||
|The Legend of the Rangers (2002)||B000CEXFYW||2006||
The Karate Kid (Special Edition)
( from a $9 bargain bin )
|Crusade - The Complete Series (1999)||B00061QJSK||2004||
The pilot "The Gathering" was rendered by eight interconnected Amiga 2000 computers with Video Toaster boards which were connected to an IBM computer that stored the images in five gigabytes of memory. Foundation Imaging's computational power has increased tremendously with each work station now being equivalent to the original eight Amigas and Ron's being the equivalent to sixteen Amigas.
"We don't use expensive silicon graphics machines. We don't use high-end software. Initially all the 3-D computer animation was done on Amigas using the Video Toaster. Today, however, all the 3-D computer animation is done on PC clones and DEC Alpha platforms running on a readily available piece of software called LightWave 3-D. LightWave was originally part of the Video Toaster, but has been ported out as a software program available for many different computer platforms.
All special effects for Babylon 5 are computer generated. Foundation Imaging, headed by Ron Thornton, produced the special effects for the pilot movie and seasons one through three. Starting in season four, the special effects were moved in-house to Netter Digital Imaging, another subsidiary of the parent of B5's production company. The B5 effects teams, both at Foundation and at NDI, use Lightwave 3D by NewTek and specialized software to design and render the visual effects. For the pilot, the effects were rendered on a network of Amiga computers; later, Foundation used 12 Pentium PCs and 5 DEC Alpha workstations for 3D rendering and design, and 3 Macintoshes for piecing together on-set computer displays. The NDI team uses a similar array of equipment; see George Johnsen's comments below. CGI space scenes are clearer and have more realistic movement than model shots. Some interior shots such as docking bays are "virtual sets" combining live action with computer imagery. Computer-generated aliens make regular appearances on the show as well.
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.