“Art of Babylon 5″ is a book that doesn’t exist. But we think it should.
The following was brought to our attention by Krypton Radio fan Tom Smith (not the famous filker, whose music we play on Krypton Radio -this is a different Tom Smith.) He’s got It seems there’s an idea afoot to create an “Art of Babylon 5″ book, and this isn’t just doodles on a restaurant napkin idea. There’s some meat on these bones.
You’ve seen the big coffee table Star Trek and Star Wars art books. There’s never been one for Babylon 5, and it’s as though this landmark television show had been swept under the carpet. Babylon 5 aired between 1994 and 1998, and spawned five feature length motion pictures, most of which went straight to DVD, not counting the pilot episode, The Gathering.
Let’s start with the Babylon 5 Scrolls- Tom Smith’s B5 archive site. Visiting this site is like visiting an old friend. It’s all here – the interviews, the photos, the design sheets, the FX. Smith has probably the largest single collection of Babylon 5 production art in the world.
From his web site:
“This site started out by simply listing a few of the computer generated ship designs that appeared in the Babylon 5 television series. More by accident than design, it now contains information on a number of subjects relating to the CGI and VFX in general, like this:
- Who developed new techniques while moonlighting on B5 and introduced them to his day job at Industrial Light and Magic?
- How producers quietly set up a new FX group before letting Foundation Imaging know their services were no longer required
- What was the true inspirations behind the design of the Starfury and what it has to do with the movie Terminator 2
- The reason why the CGI wasn’t produced in widescreen and why the widescreen conversion for the DVDs turned out so badly
- Why the weapons officer for the Liandra appears to be having a screaming fit in Legend Of The Rangers
- And basic stuff such as who designed the Omega destroyer
The show was groundbreaking in several respects. It was the first to use computer animation each week. It was the first to make use of a five year story arc. And it made use of some cutting edge (for the time) computer animation software that ran on ordinary PC’s – up to that point computer animation was done on expensive SGI Unix workstations that cost as much as a Mercedes Benz for each workstation. The lower cost Lightwave software made it possible to produce computer animation for the space scenes that rivaled the best Hollywood had to offer, and do it on a budget. Stracyznki’s production company Babylonian Productions was in near constant communication with NewTech, the makers of Lightwave, suggesting bug fixes and features as they went along.
Helmed by visionary J. Michael Stracyznki (who left his job running the fabled radio program “Hour 25″ to go work on this cool new television project he’d come up with), Babylon 5 launched dozens of careers and cemented many more, and earned a place in science fiction and television history.
The idea for the book is Tom Smith’s – he’s still in touch with many of the creative people that brought Babylon 5 to reality. He thinks this is a project that needs to be done, and wants to see what the rest of the world thinks. Here’s his post on Facebook about it:
This is likely to fall flat on it’s face . . . and on top of me.
Hit the like button for this post if you’d like to see some kind of Babylon 5 ‘art of’ or ‘behind the scenes’ book, DVD, or print on demand thingy put together by a bunch of Emmy award winning artists.
If it’s ever put together one thing is certain – I WOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM.
Most of those I spoke to when putting B5Scrolls together were happy to be involved in creating something, but to a man, they believe there just isn’t the interest out there to warrant the effort.
I’m not so sure, even though there are millions worldwide, interest in the kind of wide ranging thing they could create would reach far beyond the fan base of one television show. At least, that’s what I suspect.
I’m not saying pressing a virtual button will make one any more likely. I’ve no idea, I haven’t spoken to any of them about this. But rather uniquely (unlike most petitions, for lack of a better word) those who can actually put one together do occasionally visit this page. So it’s as good a place as any to show your interest. I’ll even point every one of them to it. ; )
If you know any hobbyist, amateur, student or professional artists along with just fans of sci-fi who may be interested – hunt them down and get them to ‘like’ this post as well. Not the facebook page, *just this post*.
B5Scrolls just barely scratched the surface – and contained the more boring stuff. There’ plenty of other stories to tell, facts to share and, literally, boxes of full colour artwork and hand drawn sketches for things you don’t even know exist – and I’m not just talking ship designs here. ; )
Remember, some of these guys were not just among the pioneers in what may be considered the modern era of Computer Generated Effects – they’re still considered to be amongst the best in the business.
Of course it’s not as easy as sitting down and scanning in some images and typing stuff up. It’s quite a complicated process. Though on the positive side, copyrights for various images isn’t as cut and dried as you may think.
But one things for sure. As it stands, they won’t even try, because they don’t believe anyone would want to buy it. I disagree. So am prepared to potentially make a right royal prat of myself posting this and asking the question.
So if you want to see one, for whatever reason – like this post and get others to like it. Because I don’t think a couple of hundred, or even a thousand or two is going to cut it.
Saying all that this post will get 55 likes, confirming what they suspect, and I’ll dig a very large hole and throw myself in it. ; )
We think they’re vastly underestimating the appeal and the importance of an “Art of Babylon 5″ book. After all, there’s already a “making of” book, and The Babylon 5 Security Manual, and that made it to press. The time to get a project like this going is now, while all the artists, animators, technicians and other production people who actually worked on the show are around to interview for it, and the paper trail on the show is still reasonably fresh. We also respectfully disagree with Tom Smith on one point – if anybody has a chance of herding all the cats necessary to make a Babylon 5 art book project happen, it’s going to be him. Modesty aside, Tom, can you think of anyone more qualified?
Hold your breath. Make a wish. Stranger things have happened – and maybe we can make this happen together. Babylon 5 deserves its place on the shelves. What do you think?
If you’re on Facebook, go here and click the like button on the post. Let the guys know how much you want this.
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Some Existing Books On Babylon 5
Babylon 5 General Links