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

Babylon 5: Lightyears Ahead of Anything Else on Television
Text Resize
Zoom In   : Ctrl +
Zoom Out  : Ctrl -
Zoom Reset: Ctrl 0

Quick-Navigation Menu

Edit: 2013-10-05 (html maintenance)

 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 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 are recorded in 480i (interlaced) format rather than 480p (progressive) format which is necessary for optimal hi-def up-converting.

To be fair, the 480i disks are still quite beautiful when played on a PC connected to a 19" LCD monitor.

 Petition(s)

  1. Babylon 5 - Descending to Mars DomeHigh-definition Blu-ray (option #1) (preferred)
     

    Warner 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.

  2. Higher-definition DVD (option #2)

    Since Blu-ray players are not (yet) ubiquitous in North American home, Warner Bros. may wish to publish existing Babylon-5 content on more than 6-DVD discs per season using 480p along with lower MPEG-2 compression. Additional (extra) material could be moved to a blooper-disc or even just posted to YouTube.
    (Update: as of December-2011, it appears that half of the optical players in North America are now Blu-ray)
    Of course we all know how mental sci-fi people are for sci-fi content. I am convinced that most sci-fi people either already own a Blu-ray player, or would get figure out a way to buy one once their favorite sci-fi series was available in hi-def. If not, most people could fall back to playing Blu-ray discs on a Playstation-3 (PS3)

=== 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)

While a very small fraction of consumers complained that they missed extras on these discs, it is my experience that "extras" are rarely viewed more than once. I would have no problem seeing a bunch of extras squeezed onto a cheap "extras" DVD -OR- just made available for download over the internet.

3-D Technology

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

Don't wait to buy a PS3 in September. Sony publishes PS3 firmware updates every 4-6 weeks using  the built-in wi-fi interface (so all you need is access to an open wi-fi port; almost every technophile will already have one built into their cable/DSL routers; if you don't have one then maybe you can trade a case of beer for access to your neighbor's router)

PREDICTION: I'd bet a week's pay that Avatar in 3d will make its first home appearance on the Sony PS3.

 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 Format FPS Aspect
Ratio
Noticeably
Better On
All Displays?
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
 B002DUJ9Q6

(B0001M3MXY)
2009

(2004?)
menus:

480p

episodes:

480i

30 1.33:1
Widescreen
(Letterbox)
 
Babylon 5 The Lost Tales B000PHX8RA 2007

480p

24 1.78:1

Y

The Legend of the Rangers (2002) B000CEXFYW 2006
menus:

480p

movie:

480i

30 1.78:1  
The Karate Kid (Special Edition)
( from a $9 bargain bin )
B0008JIJ2E 2005

480p

30 1.85:1
Widescreen

Y

Crusade - The Complete Series (1999) B00061QJSK 2004
menus:

480p

movie:

480i

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

 External DVD / Blu-ray Links


Back to Home
Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.