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Babylon 5 Project - The Film Series

subjectzero

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Originally, this was just going to be the first season but I expanded it (ambitiously) to the full series. The whole thing has already been roughed out into 21 films, most of which are around 2 hours or so long. There's a few that push beyond 2.5 hours but no film hits the 3 hour mark.

Here's the current progress. Films marked with an * are little more than 3 episodes strung together in a row. One of the things I noticed while putting this together was that JMS seemed to like writing heavy arc episodes in 3 or 6 episodes. Since 3 44 minute episodes is roughly 2 hours, that made my job a lot easier! I've broken this down by season although I don't really think of this film series in those terms. It just gives you a good idea of where things are.

SEASON ONE
Babylon 5 Project I: Dawn of the Third Age — COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project II: Signs and Portents — COMPLETE


SEASON TWO
Babylon 5 Project III: Moments of Revelation — COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project IV: The Coming of Shadows — COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project V: The Long, Twilight Struggle — COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project VI: The Fall of Night — COMPLETE


SEASON THREE
Babylon 5 Project VII: Point of No Return — COMPLETE
*Babylon 5 Project VIII: Severed Dreams — COMPLETE

Babylon 5 Project IX: Interludes and Examinations— COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project X: War Without End — COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project XI: No Hiding Place — COMPLETE

Babylon 5 Project XII: In the Shadow o f Z'ha'dum — COMPLETE

SEASON FOUR
*Babylon 5 Project XIII: The Summoning — COMPLETE
*Babylon 5 Project XIV: Into the Fire — COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project XV: Lines of Communication — COMPLETE

*Babylon 5 Project XVI: Moments of Transition — COMPLETE
*Babylon 5 Project XVII: No Surrender, No Retreat — COMPLETE
*Babylon 5 Project XVIII: Endgame — COMPLETE


SEASON FIVE
Babylon 5 Project XIX: A Tragedy of Telepaths — COMPLETE
*Babylon 5 Project XX: Darkness Ascending — COMPLETE
*Babylon 5 Project XXI: The Wheel of Fire — COMPLETE
Babylon 5 Project XXII: Sleeping in Light — COMPLETE


Original Post as follows:

Any fan of B5 will probably tell you that season 1 of the series is weak but required viewing for the rest of the series. I just started toying with cutting the first season down to three films which I'm calling The Babylon Project. The basic idea is to use a couple episodes as a base story and seeing if I can cut in the B-stories from other episodes to fill them out. Shooting for 2 hour+ films which is about 3 full episodes put together.

Currently piecing the first film together which will be built mainly around Midnight on the Firing Line and Babylon Squared. This movie will deal with Sinclair's missing day in a very different way than the series and I'll be relying on a bit of footage from "In the Beginning" and "And the Sky Full of Stars” to frame it all up. I think I came up with a fun streamlined solution! I'm going to try and see if I can undo the Zathras continuity error.

Movie 2 will be an amalgamation of A Voice in the Wilderness and Signs & Portents. Haven't put as much thought into this one but I think I can splice S&P throughout Wilderness rather than doing one and then the other like movie 1.

I put even less thought into Movie 3 but that one will definitely string Chrysalis, Points of Departure, and Revelations which means it actually moves into season 2 quite a bit.

I'll be cutting the Ironheart story (and, unfortunately, Bester) so Talia won't be getting any of her Teek powers. Just jettisoning that plotline entirely since it goes no where. Gone also is Neroon's introduction in "Legacies" which really doesn't affect anything. Catherine Sakai is pretty much gone completely although I might use her Sigma 927 sequence although it isn't needed since Ivonava finds them again with the great machine. But if I do use Sakai, she'll basically be a one off guest star with no affiliation to Sinclair. Quality of Mercy sets up the alien healing machine so I'm stuck with that one.

Things that are on the fence:
• "By Any Means Necessary" - I really want to somehow fit in the G'Quan Eth storyline because it sets up G'Kar and his religion.
• "Born to Purple" - I really want to cut this out entirely! Maybe I can shorten it or something but since Adira plays an integral part later on, I feel like I should keep it.
• "Believers" - Very unlikely but there's a subplot with Ivonava going after raiders that I might be able to use in movie 1.

Unfortunately, I haven't owned a DVD player in years so I'll be working from old video files instead. If I can make season 1 work I'll look to do the rest of the series but by the time we hit season 4, there's very little to cut.
 

lapis molari

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Noooo! Don't cut any Bester. Oh, wait, it's to allow a cut in Talia's story. Okay, I can see that.


We differ on season 1: I don't think it's weak. A.o. I thoroughly enjoyed the philosopher statesman approach that Sinclair brought to the command seat.

More love for Babylon 5 is good. Good luck with your project!
 

TM2YC

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The more B5 edits the bester better.

subjectzero said:
Any fan of B5 will probably tell you that season 1 of the series is weak but required viewing for the rest of the series. I just started toying with cutting the first season down to three films which I'm calling The Babylon Project. The basic idea is to use a couple episodes as a base story and seeing if I can cut in the B-stories from other episodes to fill them out. Shooting for 2 hour+ films which is about 3 full episodes put together.

This could definitely work but I'd find more value in a series of edits that condensed the story elements that are necessary to set up the other seasons. e.g.

- A movie concentrating on those plot threads that setup the Clarke regime and Psi-Core shenanigans. Mentions of Santiago, the Nightwatch, mentions of dark forces at work on Earth. e.g. 'Eyes' where Sinclair is aggressively investigated.
- A movie concentrating on setting up the Shadow threat.
- A movie concentrating on London and G'Kar and seeds of the Narn/Centauri war.
- A movie concentrating on the building Shadow threat.
- A Delenn/grey council, battle of the line pre-history and Sinclair abduction focused movie.

etc etc

Basically it's the idea you are talking about but focused in a different direction. Skip all the filler and keep all the essential stuff. Just an idea, so feel free to ignore me and go your way.

subjectzero said:
Unfortunately, I haven't owned a DVD player in years so I'll be working from old video files instead.

^ Precisely, what does that mean?
 

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TM2YC said:
This could definitely work but I'd find more value in a series of edits that condensed the story elements that are necessary to set up the other seasons. e.g.

- A movie concentrating on those plot threads that setup the Clarke regime and Psi-Core shenanigans. Mentions of Santiago, the Nightwatch, mentions of dark forces at work on Earth. e.g. 'Eyes' where Sinclair is aggressively investigated.
- A movie concentrating on setting up the Shadow threat.
- A movie concentrating on London and G'Kar and seeds of the Narn/Centauri war.
- A movie concentrating on the building Shadow threat.
- A Delenn/grey council, battle of the line pre-history and Sinclair abduction focused movie.

etc etc

Basically it's the idea you are talking about but focused in a different direction. Skip all the filler and keep all the essential stuff. Just an idea, so feel free to ignore me and go your way.

The plan is to be able to watch the movies and have no trouble watching the rest of the series. The plan is to touch on every point you made as best as I can in the most streamlined way possible. The only real major change is how Sinclair finds out about his missing 24hrs but the outcome is the same.


TM2YC said:
subjectzero said:
Unfortunately, I haven't owned a DVD player in years so I'll be working from old video files instead.

^ Precisely, what does that mean?

I decided over a decade ago to rip my entire DVD library of films so I'll be working from those files. They're probably not the best quality (ripped with HDD space in mind) and I haven't had a DVD player for the past 4 years so I won't be able re-rip them. Quality warning, basically.
 

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subjectzero said:
TM2YC said:
subjectzero said:
Unfortunately, I haven't owned a DVD player in years so I'll be working from old video files instead.

^ Precisely, what does that mean?

I decided over a decade ago to rip my entire DVD library of films so I'll be working from those files. They're probably not the best quality (ripped with HDD space in mind) and I haven't had a DVD player for the past 4 years so I won't be able re-rip them. Quality warning, basically.

Thanks for the reply. We do have video quality standards for edits listed on ifdb, which could be problem. You are always free to make and discuss the edits here in the forum though.
 

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subjectzero said:
Any fan of B5 will probably tell you that season 1 of the series is weak but required viewing for the rest of the series. I just started toying with cutting the first season down to three films which I'm calling The Babylon Project.

I like season one myself, but I know a lot of people don't, so yes, this seems like a good idea.


I put even less thought into Movie 3 but that one will definitely string Chrysalis, Points of Departure, and Revelations which means it actually moves into season 2 quite a bit.

That strikes me as an odd choice. Yes, the episodes would work together, but it doesn't fit the goal of condensing season one. I'd suggest a movie that ends with Chrysalis instead.

Should viewers watch The Gathering before your movies? Or would you incorporate any of it into your first movie?
 

subjectzero

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GelflingHand said:
I put even less thought into Movie 3 but that one will definitely string Chrysalis, Points of Departure, and Revelations which means it actually moves into season 2 quite a bit.

That strikes me as an odd choice. Yes, the episodes would work together, but it doesn't fit the goal of condensing season one. I'd suggest a movie that ends with Chrysalis instead.

Should viewers watch The Gathering before your movies? Or would you incorporate any of it into your first movie?

Yeah, that was my original intent. But the more I looked at it (and the more math I did on runtimes), ending on Revelations makes better narrative sense. Otherwise you have two full length movies and an episode. Besides, season 1 is more or less a test bed and if it works I'll do the entire series as a film series so it should work together.

Not including the Gathering. I never did like that movie, personally so fans can watch that one first if they want.
 

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Finished an assembly cut and it works as a trilogy. The rules I set out for myself for the runtime was each film has to be around the 2 hour mark and no longer than 2:30. Things may be edited down further but so far here's the run down:

Babylon Project: Dawn of the Third Age
• Main narrative: Midnight on the Firing Line and Babylon Squared
• Opens on the Battle of the Line from In The Beginning
• Dr. Franklin's storyline from Quality of Mercy has been fit in
• Born to Purple has been abridged for Adira's and Londo's storyline (she's just a slave given her freedom)
• Added Sinclair's memory from And the Sky Full of Stars replacing the flash forward in Babylon Squared
• Assembly Runtime: 1:50

Babylon Project: Signs and Portents
• Main narrative: Signs and Portents and A Voice in the Wilderness
• Added Catherine Sakai's trip to Sigma 957 but removed her affiliation with Sinclair
• By Any Means Necessary G'Quan Eth storyline added (wanted to highlight G'Kar's religious side)
• Assembly Runtime: 2:13

Babylon Project: Moments of Transition
• Main narrative: Chrysalis, Points of Departure, Revelations
• Opens on Sheridan taking on the Black Star from In the Beginning
• Also split Sheridan's first scene into 2 scenes so I could give him something during the events of Chrysalis
• Added in Lord Refa's introduction from Geometry of Shadows
• Abridged the Cortez story from A Distant Star so we can get Keffer's introduction with a Shadow Battlecrab 
• Assembly Runtime: 2:18

Overall, I think each film works surprisingly well! I'm planning out the details for season 2 right now as well so I'm going to probably do the whole series. Season 2 is a bit of a different animal because there are a lot of subplots to weed through so I'm not entirely sure how many films it will be. My gut feeling is that it will be four films.
 

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Another update! Decided to do the entire series so I'm roughly editing the whole series into 2hr films which should work very well when you get to season 4. I expect that season to be the easiest since very little needs to be cut. Here's where I'm at and where I'm going:

Season 2 is nearly assembled into a trilogy that ends on the season 3 premiere "Matters of Honor" which makes the Marcus introduction a bit more seamless. I did the same thing with the season 1 premiere to ease in the introduction of Sheridan. Season 3 will definitely end on "Z'ha'dum" and season 4 on "Rising Star".

The episodes in season 2 were actually very difficult to cut together because of the plot threads that need to be touched on while trying to streamline the whole thing as much as possible. Episode order has been changed around for dramatic purposes but it should be mostly seamless. The only real change is that the Talia reveal won't be so revealing as she helps Bester brutally murder telepaths.

I suspect the first film in season 3 to be another hard edit going since I need to condense six episodes (Convictions to Exogenesis) into 2 hours. From there it's pretty much easy going until season 5. 

I doubt this will be possible but I REALLY want to edit the entire telepath storyline into a single film (which covers 11 episodes). Both "A View from the Gallery" and "Day of the Dead" can be cut completely but then I have to find about 4+ hours to cut out. The rest of season 5 shouldn't be a problem until the finale.

Sleeping in the Light is perfect as is but I feel weird about tacking it on as a coda to Objects in Motion and Objects at Rest. I might try to see if I can splice the future bits into the present to create a cohesive whole. Another idea would be to somehow mix in the future segments of "Deconstruction of Falling Stars" but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Once these rough cuts are done I'll go back and refine everything. I'm hoping that the whole thing will be 21 to 22 films making the whole Babylon 5 story about 45% or so shorter.

Interesting notes: they really like uninterrupted medium shots on this series! Makes cutting things down harder because there are only a couple shots per scene. There's also a change in fonts for the title cards moving from the Babylon 5 font to Handel in season 2.
 

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On to season 4! These are still rough cuts but I'm making my way through the series. I don't expect many cuts to the season 4 storyline although I will be getting rid of a couple of my favorite episodes in order to create a streamlined B5 experience.

Looks like War Without End will be the shortest entry at roughly 90 minutes. Way more continuity issues than I originally remember from Babylon Squared! So I edited in B2 footage into War Without End to try and make it all make sense. I've gone back and added those edits back into B-squared. War Without End will keep all of that footage to give it a bit more breathing room and to really give that look from the other side experience.

Z'ha'dum will be the longest film clocking in around 2:44. It's built from Walkabout to Z'ha'dum but I've removed the Franklin falls for a singer storyline and Grey 17. I don't think anyone will miss either of those.

The first six episodes of season 4 have barely been touched so that's 2 more films. Currently working on a film that runs from Epiphanies to Lines of Communication. Atonement might be cut out as I don't think the "child of Valen" thing really comes up again. You do lose that Delenn was the deciding vote during the Earth-Minbari war but, again, plot-wise it doesn't add anything. 

From that point it becomes a trilogy of films that deals with the Minbari and Earth civil wars which I doubt I'll be cutting out much of. The only episodes really cut out entirely would be Intersections in Real Time and The Deconstruction of Falling Stars. I might skip editing these and move on to the really hard film...

...A Tragedy of Telepaths. I really hope I can take the first 11 episodes of season 5 and truncate them! I don't know if I can pull it off in under 2.5 hours but I'll try my hardest.
 

TV's Frink

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Since you are now doing separate threads for each project, I've moved this thread to Ideas.

Be aware that you can only have two active project threads until you achieve approved editor status.  This idea thread will not count against that two thread limit.
 

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Thanks for the move @"TVs Frink"! Still waiting to hear back on the process of submitting to the academy.
 

TV's Frink

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Assuming you PM'd @"DominicCobb", just have patience.
 

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Time for a bit of an update on this project!

Finished my (almost) final cut of the third film Babylon 5 Project III: Moments of Revelation and is available for anyone who wants to preview it. Just PM me!

The entire film series will be 21 movies long with the bulk of truncating happening in seasons 1, 2, and 5. I was able to cut the Byron storyline down to a single film so season 5 won't feel like it is spinning its wheels. I hope that'll make it a much better watch since a lot of great stuff happens in the back-half of that season. Roughly, this is the film count for each season:

  • Season 1: 3 films
  • Season 2: 3 films
  • Season 3: 5 films
  • Season 4: 6 films
  • Season 5: 4 films
I'm hoping to have this whole thing done in the next 6 months or so. It is a huge undertaking but it's coming together nicely and the further I go into it, the easier the edits will become since there are quite a few places where three episodes are just mashed together into a film. Looking at you Severed Dreams...
 

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These edits are getting better and better, fine selection of stories to interweave, no commercial fades and perfect transitions.  Keep going.
 

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The feedback I've been getting on them has been super helpful so it's with your help that they've gotten better! As I go further into this project, it actually becomes easier to produce since less episodes need to be weaved together as the story arc comes to the forefront.
 

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Another update!

Babylon 5 Project IV: The Coming of Shadows is nearing completion. Just a few odds and ends that need to be tidied up but I'm going to try and have it done by Monday. I've gone ahead and created two new DVD covers for B5 Project 3 and 4 which you can check out below.

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As of film 4 we're halfway through season 2. This movie needed a bit of work from the original assembly edit since I decided to put the Streib kidnapping Sheridan story back in. It also makes this the longest film to date but not as long as I'd feared it would be.

For those that are curious, here are the runtimes so far:

B5 Project I — 1:53
B5 Project II — 2:11
B5 Project III — 2:14
B5 Project IV — 2:25

I'm hoping to get the next film back to around the 2 hour mark but we'll see!
 

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Digging the covers...and I love that the running times are getting longer the more dense the story gets.
 

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Thanks! Generally, I try to hit the 2 hour mark and keep it below 2.5 hours. There are 3 films that go above that mark including the Byron story... however, I was able to get the telepath colony arc down to a single film so I think it's a pretty good trade off!
 

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Alright! A viewable copy of Babylon 5 Project IV: The Coming of Shadows is ready for preview. PM me if you want to watch it!

As I've put these things together, I've realized that most of these films come in two flavors:
  1. Arc heavies: These are the easy edits. Babylon 5 really does a lot in 3s so the heavily arced stuff tends to take 3-6 episodes of about 40 minutes each to tell. That means you can glue them together with some light edits and you get a 2 hour movie.
  2. Compressors: The harder edit. Here is where you get some episodes that have arc pieces in them but the whole thing isn't needed. So far, all of the edits I've released for preview fall in this category.
B5 Project 4: The Coming of Shadows features A Race Through Dark Places which is our first meeting with Bester in this film series. A few edits were made to remove any reference to his previous visit and Jason Ironheart. Franklin is also no longer involved with the telepath railroad which makes for a different ending.

All Alone in the Night is also part of the film that cuts along with A Race Through Dark Places. Originally I wanted to somehow cut it out as much as possible but key things happen in this episode that I couldn't cut around.

Next up we have Hunter, Prey which is mostly left intact followed by the episode The Coming of Shadows which kicks off the Narn-Centauri war. Note that both All Alone in the Night and Hunter, Prey take place after The Coming of Shadows in release order but it doesn't seem to have too much of an effect on the story as the conflict isn't mentioned.
 
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