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The Gathering I & II and the other TV movies.

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  • #16
    I've tried looking on the net at lurkers guide etc - i know the tapes i had are the 1993 versions not the re-edited 1998 versions (cos i bought them in '96 )
    But that version is is also available in the US..

    By what you say CE - i feel like there is somthing more...
    Are there just 2 versions... 1998 and 1993/4?
    Or was there somethingelse released in the UK too, right at the start, with a mistake on it?

    I seek enlightenment
    Last edited by LytaaaarGh; 07-28-2004, 06:02 AM.
    One up for the angry Teep


    • #17
      VHS release history:

      In the UK TG has only been released on VHS in the original 1993 cut. The 1998 re-edit did not become available until the DVD release.

      In the US there have been 3 distinct VHS releases:

      1) When Columbia House launched their Babylon 5 Collection subscription series they offered The Gathering as the introductory tape. Their initial stock was duped from a master supplied by Warner Bros. - which was the 1993 version. Demand for B5 so far exceeded CH's estimates that they immediately sold out of their stock of tapes and had to order more from the replication house.

      2) By that time Warner Bros., presumably at the urging of JMS, had replaced CH's 1993 master tape with the 1998 edition. All subsquent Columbia House tapes have been JMS's 1998 producer's cut.

      3) Seeing how well Columbia House was doing with the show, Warner Home Video decided to produce its own tapes of the series for sale through regular retail channels. The WHV VHS tapes have all been the 1998 version - although the packaging for all US editions (including the laserdiscs and the first two DVD releases) has the credits for the original cut.

      Finally when Warner Home Video started preparing the first DVD master of TG they again automatically went to the vault and pulled the original cut. They were more than $100,000 into the project when JMS found out and persuaded them to scrap what they had done and start over with the re-edited producer's cut.

      So the only legitimate NTSC US tapes of the original cut of TG are those rare Columbia House "first pressings". Anything esle is a bootleg. Conversely there are no legitimate PAL/UK tapes of the re-edit.

      And anyone interested in TG and the other films (at least in R1) should wait for the August 17th movie set which will include JMS and cast commentaries, other goodies and possibly new transfers for TG and ItB. (And definitely DD 5.1 remixes for those two TV movies.)


      Joseph DeMartino
      Sigh Corps
      Pat Tallman Division


      • #18
        Thanks for laying out the details, Joe. I knew you would remember the specifics.

        I would still KILL for a copy of the original cut. Being a filmmaker it would something to have both.

        Anthony Flessas
        SP Pictures

        I have no avatar! I walk in mystery and need nothing to represent who and what I am!


        • #19
          There has to be an official NTSC VHS release before the Columbia House version.
          Maybe it was not released in the USA, but it was released for Latin America, with subtitles. I know it was released in MÚxico...
          This was the original cut of The Gathering, I watched it, around 1994.
          That was my first contact with B5, I rented the tape, it was not a bootleg (you wouldn't expect bootleggers to provide subtitles).
          I'm sorry I can't remember details, not even the exact date, the cover may have had a shot of the station and/or the B5 logo. This was many years ago and I cared more about the effects and the story than the packaging.

          That tape may not have been released in the USA but maybe some copies found their way to the states.

          That's all for actual information, if you wanted to know how I know this then keep reading:
          I'm from Mexico (came to the USA in 1996 for graduate school). My interest in B5 started because the original CGI was made in Amiga computers and in college I did some work creating simple animations in Amigas (2D mostly, but I did some 3D with Image, this had nothing to do with my major, but I enjoyed it a lot). I learned that a TV show was using Amiga computers for CGI effects, and one time browsing through the shelves at a small video rental store (mom and pop type, before megachains took over the rental market) I saw the Babylon 5 tape. I picked it up immediately.
          I found the story interesting, not bad for a TV movie/pilot, the special effects amazing for the time and the technology (the Amiga hardware/software I was using was not as powerful for that much nor anyone in that group had the experience for something so sophisticated).
          I was amazed... then some years went by, I lost contact with the computer animation world, none of the local channels in my town ever showed B5.
          But I was still interested, it looked promising, with potential to be a good SF show.
          When I came to the USA I found more about B5 on the internet and started watching around the end of Season 3, catched up with the Lurker's guide and was amazed by the story. It remains my favorite show.
          But back then I never would have imagined that the details of that VHS release I rented were important... I have no idea if some of those tapes would still be floating around Mexico. I haven't even explored if it was ever shown in its entirety in Mexico since I've remained in the USA for the time being (and I don't think I could stand watching B5 dubbed in Spanish!)
          That's my B5 story... nothing special.
          Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
          James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)


          • #20
            thanks JDM and Capt Montana (and CE ofc)
            Well it now appears then that i havent seen the re-edit!!! and you CE havent seen the original (or maybe you have) but still it remains a blessing that i have something new to go and seek and watch...

            I looked on net for you CE and you should be able to pick up and original version pretty easily either NTSC or PAL


            if you scroll down the the second selection (collectables) there are at least 2 up for grabs very cheap and a couple others in the other categories claim to be columbia house versions
            Last edited by LytaaaarGh; 07-28-2004, 11:58 AM.
            One up for the angry Teep


            • #21
              If I remember correctly, the Biggest change in The Gathering was the removal of the "Alien Zoo" sequence.

              # The alien section looked like a zoo!

              First, we decided that wasn't a right look for the alien sector, and that's the corridor we blew up at the end. But the reason it was designed that way is important. Your reaction -- don't the aliens have any privacy? -- is a very human, and specifically a very *western* point of view.

              Our feeling at the time was, why should alien quarters look at all like human quarters? Shouldn't they have a different perspective than typical Western-style hotels?
              (In some degree, the quaters were patterned after Japanese mini-hotels, where you get basically a slightly larger coffin-like setup, which you crawl into like a torpedo tube, with a window at one end, which has a curtain, a TV over your head, and so on.
              What we discovered is that many people ask for more alien aliens, but when we delivered on that, were asked why these things weren't more like what we expect, why aren't they like human quarters? It's really a losing battle.)

              The other point on this is that if you look closely, there are back areas accessible to residents, which can in particular be seen in the insectoid/antennae'd character's quarters. The idea was that it would be sort of a front porch, where for lack of much else to do, you'd sit out on the porch, watching the passing parade.

              But the reaction was less than favorable, we had to keep explaining that this proceeds from an alien POV, and so our alien quarters are more like human quarters now, minus the alternate atmosphere stuff.
              I'm still not quite sure what to think of this.


              • #22
                A whole lot more: Here are JMS comments on the Re-Edit process.

                Special Edition (spoilers for future episodes)

                * "Now that TNT has set a definite date for airing the series, have they given you a 'go' for re-editing The Gathering? If so, how much will you be able to put back (the character stuff with Sinclair?) Might you even re-score it with Christopher Franke music?"

                We're still negotiating that out, but in hopes of this going, we've begun redigitizing the footage so we can get into the main scenes we want to work on.

                * We're also going to update the CGI, if we can do this.

                * Why were any important scenes cut?
                The fault was mine, not the suits.

                Prior to exec producing B5, I had never edited a show before, never had final cut before...had never even been IN an editing room for more than 5 minutes before. So here I am, given the director's cut...and I know it's real slow, but I haven't done this before, so I don't trust my instincts. I let it go with very minimal changes.

                And I've been kicking myself ever since. I should've followed my instincts, but instead I deferred to the director's cut.
                It's a mistake I have never made since.

                Even so, that first cut just gnaws at me...I *know* I can make it better, stronger, even if only a bit in a few places, that would help salve my soul over this thing.

                * Would you use new music by Christopher Franke?
                Yeah, Chris would re-score it.

                * Is the reedit a dead deal?
                No, the funding was approved, and we're working on it now.

                * Yep, we're working on the re-edit now. There's still just so much that can be done, we can't shoot new material...but it's still going to be tighter, with additional material, new music, and new CGI in many places.

                * Basically, it's new scenes with the characters, new CGI in many places, and new music.

                * What was wrong with the original?
                I was new at exec producing, and deferred 'way too much to the director, whose cut was, frankly, slow and left all the best character moments on the cutting room floor. We lost 14 minutes of good stuff, which is now going to go back and we're going to tighten and make it better, the way we do our cuts on all the episodes.

                * "Will the 14 minutes being restored to "The Gathering" include Marianne Robertson's "hostage" scene?"


                * Today, John Copeland and I finished re-editing "The Gathering," the B5 pilot movie. While there were some areas we couldn't get into because of the complexity in redoing the mix, virtually every scene got tinkered with to one degree or another, and most important, the roughly 14 minutes of footage left out of the original version is now back in. The whole thing is tighter and faster, and there's more recent CGI, we'll have Chris Franke re-score it, and it's just in general a lot better. (Some parts of it even make more sense now.)

                One additional change: because of the desire on PTEN's part to have as many commercial breaks as possible, the 6-act script was jerry-rigged and broken down into 9 acts. One side-effect of this is that 9 acts wears on you, and wears you out, more than the standard 6. You start to get a feeling of being led up to things too often, and there isn't time to dwell on the acts you're in. I was finally able, with this re-edit, to move scenes back around again to what I originally wanted in a 6-act structure (you'll see a number of scenes juxtaposed from their original order).

                Anyway...the TNT Special Edition is much improved over the original.

                * What will be cut to make room for the new footage?
                Not much, just little snippets of things...the show was *very* slow paced, and once you pick up the pacing within scenes, whole vast tracts of time appear.

                * you spare a few words on how you went about the re-edit? Did you start with what you wanted to get back in, or trying to find out how much time you could recapture?"

                The first thing I did was to sit down with the editor assigned to the re-edit, Suzie, and go through the original script for the pilot. My first words to her were, "Put everyhing in that ain't there." To that end, she redigitized all of the footage from missing scenes, and had available all of the available footage of the other scenes for digitizing as we went.

                Note that I said all the *available* footage. The folks at WB who held custody of the film (we don't keep that stuff, we're not allowed to by contract, they store film, negative, prints, all that stuff) put the negative canisters into storage...and at one point in the intervening 4 years, there had been water damage, and on another occasion, apparently rats had gotten in there and chewed some of the original negatives (and in most cases there weren't positive struck of those takes).

                Take your reaction to the foregoing, put it in front of the Hubble telescope, and you will have mine.

                However, we lucked out...where there were some takes that are gone, we were able to find enough others (masters instead of a two-shot, or a close-up instead of an over-shoulder) and B-camera footage that we were able to build solid versions of those scenes. We didn't always have as many choices as we're used to but there was more than enough for our needs.

                Suzi then dumped all of the newly edited additional scenes into the existing pilot, and that gave us the new running time (we added about 14 minutes). So at that point, John and I went in and worked to slice down the previously existing scenes, doing what we do with B5: tightening every loose screw and nut as much as we could. One or two incidental, unimportant scenes in the original pilot went out, because they added nothing and shouldn't have been there in the first place (a total of about 3 minutes). The remaining 11 minutes we made up in just tightening scenes, which were *so* lax and slow that it's amazing at times.

                In some cases, we substituted one take for another in the pre-existing pilot when we had a better reaction, or played scenes closer for more intimacy. (One of the problems with the pilot is that it kept the audience far from the action, and the actors far from each other, something we changed in our shooting style for the we tried to change it when we could and when we had the coverage.)

                Tiny example: when Kosh falls down upon arriving at B5, that sequence ends with a big honking wide downshot of a nearly empty docking bay, with Kosh far from us, and Sinclair looking down (away from us) when he says "Damn." Then we go from that to a wide shot of the medlab. Same framing. So I had Suzie look for a take where we panned up from a close on Kosh, to a close on Sinclair for that line, so it's more immediate, more personal, and the jump to the next scene doesn't feel like the one before.

                See, directors like to stay wide in their cuts, so you can see their nifty camera angles, see the set, the lighting...but after you've established where we are, most people want to see the *characters*, not the walls or how the camera moves. That was what we tried to fix where we could.

                We couldn't totally re-edit the pilot, because we hadn't been given the money for something that intensive (the main expense is in opening up all the audio stems in the sound mix). But all the stuff I wanted back in, is now in, and the scenes I wanted to fix, I fixed.

                I also got the thing back to its original format. All TV movies are 6 acts. Because PTEN wanted more commercial breaks, I had to re-jig the structure of the thing into 9 acts, which meant moving some scenes into places where they weren't as effective, and frankly after 9 acts you just get tired of watching. Here I was able to move scenes around and get back to the original 6 act structure that was intended for the thing, and that alone makes a huge difference in how the film feels.

                One of the biggest changes is the one least immediately apparent. After we finished the original pilot, some folks at WB felt that Laurel was too...strong. They will rarely put it in terms quite as blatant as that, but that was the message...she was "unlikeable, unsympathetic, harsh." Meaning some of the guys felt she was too strong, let's cut to the chase, okay?

                They wanted her to loop her lines, soften their (her) delivery. I fought this tooth and nail. I fought this until finally I was pulled aside and it was communicated to me that B5 was, after all, still an unknown property, could be a big failure, and if we ever wanted to see this thing on the air, we'd accommodate this note (which was, I have to admit on balance, one of the few they had). The advice was, in essence, "Pick your battles."

                So, reluctantly, I let it get looped by Tamlyn.

                But now, when the re-edit was commissioned, and with the person at the studio who insisted on this now no longer AT the studio, I told Suzie, "Screw it, put back her original production track and trash the loops." Instantly, Laurel's energy level comes up, the performance is just *feels* more natural now.

                So basically, we did a lot...some of it may not be immediately apparent (improving a sound here, altering coverage, adding additional sound layers, redoing a composite shot of the garden), but over the duration of watching it, it's just *better*. It's still a *tad* slower around the middle than I would've liked, but that's a WP (writer problem), nothing that can be fixed in an edit. It's just exposition-dense there, and nothing of a sort that can be cut.

                * "Also, the reworking of Sinclair's narration of the Battle of the Line, with Requiem for the Line and the battle transmissions was just gripping, it really showcased Michael O'Hare's strengths as an actor."

                * Why would Kosh tell Sinclair he was Valen?
                Internal dialogue...what he was thinking, his reaction.


                • #23
                  Originally posted by colonyearth
                  If you've happened across an original release of TG with the director's cut and the Copeland's a rare find and count yourself lucky as hell. And what I wouldn't give for a copy of it.
                  If your player hasen't got any problems playing other Region Codes, it's rather easy to pick up a copy of the original version of the pilot: Just pick up the german DVD. Since releasing the SE would have demanded substantial re-dubbing-work which Warner Germany wasn't willing to pay for, that's the only version that was released in Germany.

                  Here's a link to the DVD at

                  FAITH MANAGES


                  • #24
                    I'm stunned with admiration and B5-dread :

                    Joe man, you freak me out! Wait till I tell my (B5-fan)-girlfriend that there are people much much worse than me when it comes to B5...
                    "En wat als tijd de helft van echtheid was, was alles dan dubbelsnel verbaal?"


                    • #25
                      <<(mom and pop type, before megachains took over the rental market)>>

                      In preparation for the movie release tonight, I went back and read about TG and notice the above statement.

                      Blockbuster sucks. I stopped going to them when not once, but twice, they called me two days after I returned a movie and said I hadn't returned it. They tried to charge me once, and I had to talk to the district manager. Next time I went in to return a movie, I asked them to check it in before my very eyes and they got snooty.

                      There is a so called mom and pop here in town with about five stores, and the great thing is, you rent one, you get one free. AND you get five days. That's unbeatable.
                      Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.