Babylon 5: Something new about something old.

No easy way to introduce this subtly, so.

After contacting Ron Thornton, to find out who designed one of the ships on Babylon 5, one thing led to another, and a quick exercise in learning how to code up a web page turned into a unique reference site. (5 years, 15 FX artists and one producer later). Among those contacted included Steve Burg, Everett Burrell, Eric Chauvin and Kevin Kutchaver.

The site isn’t going to stay up forever, It was just a hobby, a one off, so I made it downloadable for anyone to keep – no strings, popups, adverts or anything else attached. Just a lot of frank, revealing, wide ranging and occasionally funny interviews from a bunch of artists with enough Emmys between them to field a couple of football teams (that answer a lot of questions and bust a few myths) and a fair bit of previously unreleased concept art, like this.

It’s not so much about the show, but the artists, the art and the technology. Steve Burg (who recently designed the Prometheus for the Ridley Scott movie) described what we talked about as the most in-depth examination of his methodology and approach to design ever carried out. Which, considering Steve’s career, came as a bit of a surprise.

This is a link to a facebook page highlighting the site.

If you read the top post you’ll see why I joined FB and set it up, and why I’m pointing there. It’s far from ideal (a lot of folks aren’t on facebook), but it was the best idea I could think of to let as many know as possible, before the site disappears.

If anyone’s interested, and ain’t on facebook, here’s a link to the website itself. Though if you can ‘like’ that Facebook thing, that would be helpful.


Awesomeness… I was a big fan of the series though it sadly feels very outdated watching it today, at least the first two-three seasons… But an horribly underrated series.

If I remember correctly, B5 was also the first sci-fi series with digital vfx used for all space scenes…m All made in Lightwave I think? Lightwave was also used in ST: Voyager, I think the renderer was really, really fast (which was even more important back in the day when a workstation had less computational power than an Iphone 4s… ;D)

Edit: I was mistaken, it was even earlier than Lightwave… VFX was originally made on Amiga! But Lightwave was used later on in the production. :O)

No, your right the first time. ; )

It was lightwave from the beginning. Though for the pilot and first season it was still hooked into the video toaster card that was plugged into the Amiga’s. The initial FX team on the show (pilot and first three seasons) worked closely with Alan Hastings & Stuart Ferguson during the early development (and testing of the PC version) of LW.

Aag, Lightwave was on the Amiga - didn’t even know that, it was way before my time. Though I had a lot of friends doing music using Amiga I myself was on Mac’s until 1996 when I switched to NT just to be able to run Softimage|3D… :slight_smile:

Those were the days. ;D

But Lightwave seems pretty awesome, the ST: Voyager intro is amazing for when it was done but THIS, made in 1998-99, is still unbelievable shot for it’s time, no simulation, pure animation & faking it. Absolutely awesome!

…but I checked LW out several times, there’s just no way I’m getting used to the interface or the workflow, hehe, no way… ;D

Love the site…gave me in-sight into the fact that Ron dislikes the generic tiles nowadays (And that He was heading towards custom maps right before foundation imaging got kicked out)…so in all my IFH Game models I try to avoid those old generic tiles and I try to replace them with something better looking and more High res.

I recently became Babylon 5 fan around, oh say around 5 years ago. Still haven’t see all the movies, and crusade (Lost tales I’ve seen just because I wanted to see the CGI and how it was updated from the original show) Heck I think Babylon 5 was the catalyst the made me look at blender as a modeling tool…I wanted to create B5 models.:smiley:

Ah one of the “I’ve Found her” team. ; )
Posted this over in Firstones a little while back, but keep forgetting to add it to the IFH forum over there. How’s Black Omega coming along.

I didn’t get into B5 - but at some stage I will probably watch the whole series back to back on DVD. Seems that more TV series are on DVD these days then not.

Reading about it on Wikipedia it says it was all shot in 16:9 but as it was cropped for TV I wonder if the DVD’s are in 576i widescreen - that would be so awesome, though feels unlikely… :frowning:

Err…I seem to remember that the dvds are in widescreen…The CGI is not however…:((it’s scaled and stretched badly)

That’s probably what I was remembering :slight_smile:

One question I really wish you could of asked Ron was what type of texturing style from nowdays would he like to see on the old B5 ships. But if you read between the lines you can figure out what he would prefer. (custom uvmapped textures that hold up on the still shots and the textures should that align with other current Scifi texture map standards.)

Might still do that. ; )

Although there’s no plans to add to the site, there’s been a few things popping up that might result in a fairly hefty update at some point in the future. Maybe.

Just a FYI type thing. Those hosting the site renewed their agreement last year, so it should stay up for the next two. Plus I just added an update, new interview as well as new production concept art.

The links at the start of this thread still work. ; )