B5: And the Sky Full of Stars PAL mastering error

When the first season box set of Babylon 5 was first released end of 2002, the PAL master for the episode "And the Sky Full of Stars" (episode 8, on dvd 2) contained a mastering error (details at the end of the page). The episode has been remastered and at the end of March 2003, Warner UK was the first to offer a way for customers to get their faulty discs replaced, thanks also to the work of a few insistent people at this forum. WHV Germany is now following suit. Hopefully Warner Home Video will do the same in other R2/R4 countries as well now that corrected discs are available.

Getting your disc exchanged

At the moment of the last update of this page, only Warner Home Video UK and Warner Home Video Germany are confirmed to offer replacements. A replacement should be obtained from the organisation which delivered the disc (so if you're in the UK, but bought your set at for example amazon.de, you bought the german set, and WHV Germany is where you should get your replacement).

UK:

The temporary address for the replacement is:

  Steven Hill
  Warner Home Video
  Warner House
  98 Theobald's Road
  London
  WC1X 8WB

Return ONLY Disc 2 (not the full box) together with full name and address. A covering letter explaining that you wish to replace the disc is a good idea. More details can be found at the forum mentioned earlier.

Germany:

People who contacted customer service (at WHVKundenservice2@warnerbros.com) got back this email, stating that you can send the disc to them (same procedure as in the UK, just send them to the Hamburg address mentioned in the email). They also state that the normal procedure is to go via your retailer. So if you haven't received the email yet, you can either mail WHV Kunden Service, or go via your retailer. It might take awhile before retailers know what is going on. The latest reports from amazon.de are that they are checking, but keep an eye on the fault-statement on their website for the box. When that disappears, they should have corrected versions. A good source for the latest news is also de.rec.sf.babylon5.misc.

Others:

WHV Netherlands is reportedly looking into the problem so hopefuly they will offer a replacement soon (The dutch WHV can be contacted at telephone number 020-5411211).

If you have any more details that I can put here, let me know and I'll include them here.

Details on the mastering error

The table below shows images resulting from the following experiment: A few stills were captured of the same frames (from the first fifteen minutes of the episode) from both the region 2 dvd (the januari 9th release at amazon.de), and from the region 1 dvd. These images were then scaled down to 384x216 resolution for display on this webpage. These 16:9 images show a small version of what you see on a widescreen tv watching those dvds. As you can see, the region 2 image on the left appears horizontally stretched (because it is a 4:3 image stretched to 16:9), whereas the region 1 image (in the middle) shows a proper aspect ratio (no flattened faces).

As an extra check, I've cropped the captured 576-line region 2 image to 432 lines (to select a 16:9 area from the 4:3 source material). I tried to crop to the same region as used for the region 1 dvd. I then again scaled the resulting 16:9 sub-picture to 384x216 pixels. This is the column on the right. As you can see: it very closely matches the image as available on the region 1 dvd. This shows that indeed the region 1 (ntsc) mastering was done by selecting a 16:9 portion of the available 4:3 image, and scaling that to proper anamorphic dvd resolution.

R2 DVDR1 DVDR2 DVD 16:9 crop

Remarks:

The copyright of these images lies of course with Warner Brothers Home Video
Last updated on April 6th 2003 by Bart Barenbrug