Contents: Overview - Backplot - Questions - Analysis - Notes - JMS
While travelling from Minbar to Babylon 5 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance, Sheridan picks up an unexpected guest with a dire warning. Meanwhile, Lochley summons a priest to the station to help with a problem that may have supernatural implications.
Production number: 235024 DVD release date: July 31, 2007 Written by J. Michael Straczynski Directed by J. Michael Straczynski
Many of his powers seem consistent with psi abilities: making people see and feel things (abilities demonstrated, e.g., by Talia in "A Race Through Dark Places"). However, Lochley also claimed that he was covered in blood at one point, and that the blood was analyzed and found to contain no DNA. Unless Asmodeus' powers of illusion extend to making lab technicians think they're reading imaginary test results, it's safe to assume he has some ability to influence the physical world.
Technomages also have the ability to make people see and hear things, as Galen does to Sheridan in the second half of the story. They also have the ability to create physical objects seemingly from nothing: Elric conjured an orange blossom for Sheridan in "The Geometry of Shadows."
It's also not clear where the Alliance picked up that stray Vorlon technology. Perhaps from the Vorlon homeworld, or perhaps from some of the wreckage of Vorlon ships and bases left over from the Shadow War.
No. It comes from visiting New York many times.
The problem with any studio is that they're terrified of losing money on something, anything, so they hedge their bets...they don't give the ad money you want because they're afraid sales won't support it, and end p with a self-fulfilling prophecy more times than not.
Your appraisal of the situation with WB is spot on.
However, despite this, they are most pleased as sales have been several orders of magnitude beyond what they anticipated.
More on this when I know more about what this actually *means*.
Lochley's quarters were real, we shot against a real wall (you can see it in some of the behind-the-scenes footage where I point to it).
The lamps were also real.
The hallway she walks down is also real. Again, you can see it in the behind the scenes material.
Two quick things, since I'm still on deadline lockdown....
1) Let us remember that time travel is also a form of technology (which is all I'll say about this for now).
2) Galen would likely have been content with either solution, as noted, as long as one or the other was implemented. But this one is better.
This first DVD, entitled "Voices in the Dark," covers the same 72 hour period of time as Sheridan travels on board a Presidential Cruiser en route to Babylon 5 from Minbar for a celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Interstellar Alliance. One part of the story follows Sheridan as he picks up an unexpected visitor on the edge of Centauri space, Prince Regent Dius Vintari, and a warning about what will come afterward delivered by the techno-mage, Galen. The other part of the story is set aboard Babylon 5, as Colonel Lochley summons a priest from Earth space to deal with a problem that may have dark supernatural overtones. The two parts of the greater story intersect at certain key plot and thematic points, so that they overlap and complement each other while telling separate, but simultaneous, stories.
The first DVD is going to require nearly 200 EFX shots, taking us all over Alliance space, and Babylon 5, which is being redesigned using the latest CGI technology. The same CGI is being used to create virtual sets a la Sin City, but on an even more detailed basis, in many cases integrating them with practical sets based on the original blueprint designs for Babylon 5.
A number of behind-the-scenes pieces were shot for inclusion on the DVD, as well as a number of original short pieces that will be filmed in February which feature glimpses into the future of Babylon 5 and her characters.
We have set-up a temporary webpage of photos from the shoot from my personal collection. These images mark the very first photos to emerge from production. [http://babylon5scripts.com/TLT-JMS-photos.html]
For more information, keep an eye on www.babylon5.com as well as Babylon5scripts.com. WB will be integrating the internet as a key component for promoting B5:TLT and we are pleased to be a part of that effort.
The B5 we see here is similar to but somewhat more sophisticated or rethought in places. For instance, in B5 halls we used to have wooden strips painted green or blue or red to signal various sectors. Here we ran these really lovely light panels that can change colors and at the same time add a light source and warm up the halls. We also went back to the original B5 blueprints and found some elements that we wanted to do in the show but couldn't, and we've incorporated them into the new sets. We're also re-engineering the look of B5, the starfuries, various alien ships and the like.
Tonight there was a dinner with Doug, me, Tracy and Bruce, with Peter Woodward scheduled to fly in tomorrow so everybody's here for a couple of pivotal scenes that will cross the two segments. (One aside...Bruce was openly lamenting the small sub-section of british fans -- most of whom we all agreed couldn't be niftier -- who are determined to try and drive a wedge between him and me and the rest of the crew. No sooner was his involvement announced than this same "bunch of whackos" started the same rumors again, including the one where he supposedly burned his crew jacket after the end of B5. Determined to put that to rest, he pulled out all crew coats we made up for him that were personalized by the wardrobe department and -- minus the one that was auctioned for charity at a well publicized convention -- brought them ALL up here to dispel that myth once and for all. So tomorrow we're going to get a picture of him and me, with either all the coats, or at minimum the one the nutcases keep saying he burned, just to put THAT baldfaced lie to bed. The photo will be posted on the nets somewhere soon.)
Otherwise, all is good, and the scenes are cutting together well. Three days down, seven to go.
And in regard to that...the initial goal was to try and do three big stories in one DVD. So I wrote three scripts, featuring Sheridan, Lochley, Galen and Garibaldi. (I wanted to focus on the human characters initially so we'd have more time for prosthetics R&D for the next one.) The stories, as noted previously, were huge...all over the map, from Minbar, to Earth, Mars, the future, the distant past, as well as B5 itself obviously. We're also going to be trying some new production technologies, again trying to stay ahead of the tech curve, the way B5 has always stayed ahead on these things.
And over the last few days, as we began to bring on crew and lay out the production, looking at just how complicated these mini-movies were going to be, the idea of making three of these monsters began to become a bit much for us to pull off on out first time out the gate, especially since I'm still kind of new as a director. So we decided to postpone one of the three to the next DVD, and lengthen the other two to make up the difference. GIven that the Garibaldi story was the most complicated visually and technically, also the most difficult from a CGi perspective, that's the one that got pushed until, potentially, next time.
And if the sales are anywhere near what WB expects, and I think they will be, there's no question that there will be more of these down the road. So we're gong to focus in on those two stories and knock them out of the park. Same length, same running time, and now even bigger than at first anticipated since the budget on number three will now be applied to the other two.
Part of what we're doing is to re-think the look of B5 to some degree. The show was created using 1993 technology, video toasters and amigas, and was to some extent limited by the paradigms and production methods we used in that. But it's now 13 years later, and while I will keep the feel of the show the same, and the silhouettes and designs, there's no reason to limit the look of the feel to what we could do six years ago (from when we stopped). So we're going to invest a lot of time, effort and money into really re-imagining some of the visuals at the present level -- looking at shows like Battlestar and the like -- and bringing those tools into B5 while still maintaining the feel of the show.
I also managed to work in a nice nod to Andreas and Richard in the two mini-movies.
So with that...the team is now in place, the last personnel have been hired, and as soon as I get back to Vancouver, I get to take off the producer's hat and put on the director's hat.
Just got back tonight from Vancouver, and we've now nailed down/hired nearly all of our key department heads and the Director of Photography who I'll be working with closely during production. We spent today in the first informal production meeting going over how we're going to shoot this, reviewing the storyboards, determining what's going to be green screen and what's going to be practical set...this should be a pretty cool looking project, with some sights we haven't really seen before as well as some more familiar sights.
What I can say about the three episodes is that we go to Mars, Minbar and of course B5, we introduce a new kind of Minbari cruiser, and there's a rather startling sequence on Earth. I've decided to shoot each segment a little differently from each other, so they each have their own visual style that complements that particular story. On Monday the B5 team up north will be checking out the stages, and about a week or so from now the actual B5 offices will open up and folks will start moving in.
It's starting to feel a lot like fun.
We'll also be working with WB to put together a special reel from the shoot that we can bring to debut at San Diego Comic Con next year.
By this time next week, about 80% of our crew will be in hand, the rest coming aboard during the start of prep.
In for a penny, in for a pounding, I say....
Yes, we're shooting this HD, so this is going to be quite a learning curve for me as a director, since I've never shot HD before. There's also a HUGE amount of green-screen involved, so again, lots of learning to be done.
For those who are getting the B5 scripts books -- and eventually the B5:TLT scripts will be released -- you'll notice a substantial difference between them and these scripts in that I decided to kind of direct them on the page more than usual: calling out specific angles and camera directions, locations and setups more than in any prior B5 script. It probably resembles an animation script more than a standard TV script, because it incorporates my directorial notes, shot for shot, as we go.
The first three-segment DVD is called "Voices in the Dark." We've narrowed down the cast, and hope to have their deals closed this week. There are already ten crew members working on this thing up in Vancouver, pulling together stages, offices and other prep work. The first day of shooting will likely be either November 13th or 14th (due to a Canadian holiday). The last twiddlings to the script should be done by this coming Monday. Storyboarding starts the end of this week.
It's balls-to-the-wall right now, but it should be fun in the end.