100 Days, 100 Renders— Day 31


Hey, I made it a whole month! How about that.

After the Babylon 4 picture yesterday, I felt like continuing the theme. This one is actually based on a specific shot from Babylon 5’s season 3 finale, “Z’ha’dum.”


One thing that occurred to me almost as soon as I thought of doing an image on this subject was, “Wait a minute: In that whole sequence, we only see Shadow ships and some Starfuries around Babylon 5. What about the Minbari and Non-Aligned ships that started patrolling the station earlier in the season, specifically in case of an attack by the Shadows or President Clark?” It occurs to me you might say most of those ships would be off being repaired after the big battle in the previous episode, except we saw at the end of that one that the damaged ships rendezvoused at Babylon 5.

This gets at a tricky point about redoing Babylon 5 with more modern-style effects; standard definition TVs were tiny. Looking at visual effects from ’90s television, it’s a bit shocking how cramped the compositions are to modern eyes. The square aspect ratio leaves no room to spread out, and the low resolution means everything needs to take up a large portion of the frame to be seen (nevermind concern about making things clear in staticy over-the-air broadcasts). I noticed a similar dynamic in my Voyager image a few days ago, which had a similar composition to a shot from the episode, but in the episode, the two ships were practically about to run into each other.

Babylon 5 had a similar issue, which was made obvious a while ago with the release of the “Lost Tales” move. Mastered in high definition, one of the many updates to the visual effects was a more open composition for the establishing shots around the station. Take this shot; on a 480i CRT, you may not even be able to tell what the ships in the background were. Granted, the wider dispersal of ships had as much to do with hiding hiding the imperfections of ten-year-old models from the pre-HD era, but it also sets an interesting precedent, and one that I’ve found it hard to shift to in my own B5 pictures. It could have to do with the fact that I still work on a laptop, and once I switch to some massive 27-inch desktop display, I’ll find it easier to scoot ships further into the background.

Here’s my point: Adding the ships protecting Babylon 5 would’ve made the frame an incoherent jumble. I had more options when I widened the frame, so I added the defending ships on the periphery (on the rationale that the Shadows came into normal space within their perimeter) though I’m still not quite willing to put things as far into the background as TLT did.