"Babylon-5" High-definition Blu-ray Petition

Babylon 5: Lightyears Ahead of Anything Else on Television
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Edit: 2018-09-22

Document Revival (2017-10-31)

This web-page has been offline for a number of years because I ran out of disk space at my old hosting site. In 2017, I moved to a new location with more disk space so I revived this page. 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 one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever shown on TV or movie screens.

If you want to connect to other B5 fans then l suggest you start here: https://www.reddit.com/r/babylon5/

Overview

Mars DomeI just (September-2009) finished watching all five seasons of the 2009 DVD release of Babylon 5: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (2009) (ASIN: B002DUJ9Q6) on a 61-inch JVC digital TV and discovered that these 2009 DVD discs seem not much better than the 2004 release.
(In fact, the 2009 optical media has the same part stamped numbers 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.

 Petition

Babylon 5 - Descending to Mars DomeWarner Bros. should publish Babylon-5 in high-definition on Blu-ray using 1080i or 1080p. Since all episodes were recorded on film (1.65:1) in anticipation of high-definition Television (1.78:1), this should not be a major problem.

p.s. CGI shots were not recorded on film because, at the time, producers thought it would be easier, and cheaper, to recreate special effects on future computer equipment. This assumption turned out to be wrong.

=== What You Can Do To Help ===

  1. Signal your intentions to the publisher (Warner Bros.) by signing the "Babylon 5 Hi-def (or higher-def DVD)" petition:

    http://www.petitiononline.com/B5HiDef/petition.html

  2. Visit this Facebook page then click the LIKE icon:
     
    https://www.facebook.com/Babylon5HDRemasterPetition

  3. Tell internet retailer Amazon.com
    1. I just (2009-10-24) noticed that Amazon.com appears to be soliciting customer interest in a Babylon-5 Blu-ray release.
    2. If you haven't done so before, create an Amazon.com account (this is free)
    3. Next, click this link: http://www.amazon.com/Babylon-5-Blu-ray-Richard-Biggs/dp/B001CUFI7M/
    4. Now click the yellow "Sign Up" button in the right-hand-side "Alert Me" panel (this is free)

      Note that you are not committing to buy this product, and Amazon isn't committing to sell it. But a sufficient level of interest will allow Amazon to pressure Warner Bros. into doing a Babylon 5 release on Blu-ray. If you don't think this is possible then read the following excerpt from the "Babylon 5" at Wikipedia:
      According to producer J. Michael Straczynski, as of mid-2006 "The DVD sales have raised over $500 million in revenue". The financial success of the DVD box sets has led to a renewed interest in further Babylon-5 work.
      Think of it, a half billion dollars in net revenue.

 "Babylon-5 DVD" compared to "Star Trek Remastered"

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.

Information about the Avatar release

On April-22, 2010 Avatar (the first serious 3-d movie) was released to retail channels in multiple packages:
  1. two disc high definition package (Blu-ray + DVD)
  2. one disc standard definition package (DVD)
  3. one 3d Blu-ray disc

 Hacking/Exploring

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.

Just for comparison Purposes:
  1. MPEG-encoded standard-def TV will give you bit rates between 3 and 6 Mb/s depending on how much compression was introduced by your satellite or cable provider. Some talking-head stuff (the news) can get away with 1.5 Mb/s
  2. Standard-def 480i DVDs will give you rates bursting up to 7.x Mb.s
  3. Standard-def 480p DVDs will give you rates bursting up to 8.x Mb.s
  4. My Blu-ray copy of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" burst up to 37.5 Mb/s

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".

Title ASIN Release FPS Aspect
Ratio
Babylon 5 The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Repackage) (2009)
Season 1 disks contain this stamp: Widescreen 22855
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 5 disks contain this stamp: Widescreen 24275
Note: these same numbers can also be found on the 2004 discs
 B002DUJ9Q6

(B0001M3MXY)
2009

(2004?)
30 1.33:1
Widescreen
(Letterbox)
Babylon 5 The Lost Tales B000PHX8RA 2007 24 1.78:1
The Legend of the Rangers (2002) B000CEXFYW 2006 30 1.78:1
The Karate Kid (Special Edition)
( from a $9 bargain bin )
B0008JIJ2E 2005 30 1.85:1
Widescreen
Crusade - The Complete Series (1999) B00061QJSK 2004 30 1.33:1

 External B5 Video Links

Two Psi-Cops:  Alfred Bester (Walter Koenig)
and Unknown (Harlan Ellison)
Babylon5 - Two Psi Cops

 Other B5 Stuff

JMS shuts out the lights

Beware illegal clone disks

2018-09-xx Update

Title ASIN Release Aspect
Ratio
Comments
Babylon 5: The Complete Series + Move + Crusade Collection (2014)
Season 1 disks contain this stamp: Widescreen 22855
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 5 disks contain this stamp: Widescreen 24275
comments: these same numbers are found on the 2004 + 2009 discs)
 B00COTLTU 2014 1.78:1
( 16/9 )
61-inch hi-def TV display: No problem viewing actor scenes in hi-def but space-based scenes are noticeably sub-standard
 
24-inch hi-def computer monitor: much more enjoyable

Most "additional material" is rendered in 1.33:1 (4/3)
Babylon 5: The Movie Collection
Disks contain this stamp: Standard 33437
  24-inch hi-def computer monitor: enjoyable
Crusade - The Complete Series
Disks contain this stamp: Standard 390720
1.33:1
(4/3)
24-inch hi-def computer monitor: enjoyable

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Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.