Babylon 5 20th Anniversary Conventions: The Fan Experience
Being re-issued in digital format in 2023
✔ Coverage of Both Monumental Events: Phoenix Comicon & Space City Con
✔ Two Softcover Books of Annotated and Elucidated Transcripts Covering Each of the 22 Panels
✔ 22 Hours of Panel “Reference” Videos
✔ Official, Authorized, Uncut and Uncensored
These conventions were unlike anything in B5's history—and The Fan Experience gives you unprecedented access. And when we say access, we mean access. Get ready to...
- Be in the audience for every panel with every B5 celebrity—something you couldn't do even if you attended both conventions, since many panels overlapped on the schedule.
- Get up close and personal with the stars of B5, and see them at their absolute funniest—unscripted, uncensored, unguarded and completely willing to embarrass each other. But they were also heartfelt and even vulnerable, reliving what was possibly the best time of their lives. In some cases, it was their first reunion since shooting wrapped way back in 1998.
- Feel the energy of sitting in a room filled with hundreds of fans. The panels are presented in real time, virtually uncut from beginning to end, so you can experience every laugh, every gasp and every last second of applause.
- Hear in-depth discussions about every facet of the Babylon 5 saga, including the ever-changing five-year arc, the sequels, the movies, the books, the short stories, the comics and the stories that never made air.
- Go behind the scenes and find out how the show was made, with insights and anecdotes from those who were there on the set—as well as the raw recollections of J. Michael Straczynski himself.
- Understand all the in-jokes, the obscure references, the side points and the loose ends, thanks to the incredibly detailed and impeccably researched annotations from B5 Books Senior Editor Jason Davis.
- Join fans and experts in analyzing the science, the themes, the philosophy and the legacy of the show that changed the way television is made today.
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE VIDEOS:
Hope you've got a comfy chair available. There are 22 hours of panel discussions from the two conventions, broken down into 22 separate videos on 7 MP4 Video Data Discs and every panel is complete & uncensored—no clips, cutaways or edits.
Plus, there's an exclusive bonus disc with PDFs of the convention programs, as well as MP3 audio files of every single panel—so you can listen to them on the go.
In total, that's 32.7 gigabytes of data, featuring 31 Babylon 5 stars and notables.
THE INCLUDED TRANSCRIPT BOOKS ARE A TREASURE
There are two books, one for each convention totaling 700+ pages. Each book contains the complete transcript of every panel, fully annotated by B5 Books Senior Editor Jason Davis.
And the annotations are really something special. Jason has been a full-time editor at B5 Books for more than six years, and in that time he has emerged as the undisputed, number-one Babylon 5 expert on the planet (non-JMS division). His annotations are more than just footnotes and reference points—they're full-on commentary, adding a whole new dimension by finding the pulse of fleeting mentions and adding heartbeats to the facts. Click here to see the four sample pages below (link opens in a new window).
Babylon 5 101
(Thursday, May 23, 2013, 7:30 to 8:30PM)
Oh, frak. This was supposed to be a well-meaning panel to kick off the festivities, with a spoiler-free overview of B5 designed to draw in the newbies. That lasted about three minutes. Soon enough, folks were blurting out major plot points, important themes and memorable moments from all five seasons. We get it. It's hard to temper your enthusiasm for B5. But still, whoops!
(Friday, May 24, 2013, 10:30 to 11:30AM)
Fresh from seeing Star Trek Into Darkness, the actor who portrayed Pavel Chekov on Star Trek reveals his opinion on the film and recalls his experiences portraying Alfred Bester, Babylon 5's ruthless psi cop.
(Friday, May 24, 2013, 12 to 1PM)
A lively hour with the actor who played the pessimistic-Jewish-bisexual-Russian-renegade-Earthforce-officer unlucky in love. Claudia gives frank answers to fan question about her life and career.
Points of Departure
(Friday, May 24, 2013, 12 to 1PM)
What if Jeffrey Sinclair stayed in command? What if Andrea Thompson never left the show? A catalog of what-ifs and storylines not taken. Includes discussion of the original ten-year outline (not a typo!) for Babylon 5 (and its spin-off, Babylon Prime), the changes in the storyline that kept the arc on course and the original plans for Crusade.
The Promise Panel
(Friday, May 24, 2013, 1:30 to 2:30PM)
The biggest mystery in Babylon 5's long, complicated history—finally revealed. J. Michael Straczynski sits down for an emotional solo panel where he shares his personal recollections of Richard Biggs, Andreas Katsulas and Jeff Conaway...and concludes by keeping a 17-year-old promise to Michael O'Hare, sharing with fans the real reason the actor left the show.
(aka Never Try to Solve a B5 Problem with a Trek Solution)
(Friday, May 24, 2013, 3 to 4PM)
We're sure they meant well. This panel was intended to contrast the disparate approaches to SF TV taken by Babylon 5 and the modern Star Trek series, but it quickly devolved into a Trek-bashing bonanza. For the record, this is our least favorite of all the panels. Tell us what you thought.
A Day in the Strife: The Making of Babylon 5
(Friday, May 24, 2013, 6 to 7PM)
Get the inside scoop on what it was like to create an iconic television show—straight from the folks who were there. Featuring B5 writer Peter David and CGI effects wiz Emily Albee, this panel goes way behind the scenes to explain how the crew managed expensive-looking series with prosthetic makeup and cutting-edge special effects with such a low budget.
Babylon 5 102
(Saturday, May 25, 2013, 10:30 to 11:30AM)
Redemption can be sweet. This was a sequel to Babylon 5 101's botched attempt at an introductory series overview, but this time, the panelists succeeded. Everyone stays on topic, giving insightful tips and starting points for your own Babylon 5 recruiting.
I Was There at the Dawn of B5 Fandom
(Saturday, May 25, 2013, 12 to 1PM)
Babylon 5 didn't just change television, it innovated fandom. Veteran fans (who are now all B5 pros) recall how J. Michael Straczynski created an ongoing dialogue with viewers well before the show ever aired, providing an illuminating history lesson in the early days of the internet and a sterling example of how to respect your audience.
Babylon 5 Fandom Endures
(Saturday, May 25, 2013, 7:30 to 8:30pm)
A late-to-fandom group discuss what it's like to discover the series in the fifteen years after its original broadcast. Fun interactions with co-panelist JMS include his opinion of why fandom endures.
The Great Machine: The Technology of Babylon 5
(Sunday, May 26, 2013, 10:30 to 11:30am)
From Starfuries demonstrating Newtonian physics to the destruction of the station based on NASA's experiments with fire in micro-gravity, a panel of scientists and engineers distill the nuts and bolts of technology in the B5 universe. No PhD required. Really. This panel is fun, accessible and recommended to all B5 fans.
J. Michael Straczynski Spotlight
(Sunday, May 26, 2013, 12 to 1pm)
The creator of Babylon 5 shines a light on his most recent endeavors from Superman to Sense8—his new Netflix series created, written and produced in partnership with The Matrix's Wachowski siblings.
Interludes and Examinations
(Sunday, May 26, 2013, 3 to 4pm)
The final B5 panel of the Phoenix Comicon looks at the show's greatest theme: the belief that one individual can make a difference...and culminates in an alarming surprise at the end.
(Friday, Jan 3, 2014, 12 to 1pm)
Andrea Thompson (Talia Winters) and Robin Atkin Downes (Byron Gordon)—when not pretending to transmit private messages teep-to-teep or feigning precognition of fan questions—discuss the dangers of working on futuristic sets and talk about their characters' sex lives. So much to talk about. So much.
The Earth Alliance
(Friday, Jan 3, 2014, 1:30 to 2:30pm)
Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova), Joshua Cox (David Corwin), Bruce Boxleitner (John Sheridan) and Tracy Scoggins (Elizabeth Lochley) all take the stage, and nothing is off limits. The four of them get into the nitty gritty of working with problematic guest stars (and Jerry Doyle's solution for them), filming near airports, seeing their own personalities show up in the scripts—and other fun surprises.
Zoe & Lochley
(Friday, Jan 3, 2014, 4:30 to 5:30pm)
Sixteen years after they filmed “Day of the Dead,” Bridget Flanery (Zoe) and Tracy Scoggins (Elizabeth Lochley) reunite for the first time. Emotionally charged, the duo look at how Neil Gaiman's brilliant script redefined Lochley and detail the unique opportunities Babylon 5 offered.
The Legend of the Rangers
(Friday, Jan 3, 2014, 5:30 to 6:30pm)
The off-the-wall Jason Carter (Marcus Cole) meets his verbal match in the loquacious Dylan Neal (The Legend of the Rangers's David Martel). Their spirited discussion includes all things Anla-Shok: working with Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar, the bridge between the two series), the dangers of stunt work, what it's really like working for the Great Maker and how not to negotiate a television contract.
(Saturday, Jan 4, 2014, 11:30AM to 12:30pm)
Mira Furlan (Delenn) and Bill Mumy (Lennier) discuss every shade of their careers—light, dark and grey—in an intimate Q&A with fans. The panel highlights the physical impairments of the Minbari prosthetics, the challenges of delivering pages of dialog as well as their treasured memories of Andreas Katsulas.
(Saturday, Jan 4, 2014, 1 to 2:15pm)
Marshall Teague, a not-to-be-missed storyteller, shares his Babylon 5 experiences as Nelson Drake (aka the Ikarran bioweapon) in season one and as Ta'Lon in seasons two, three and five. Bonus: find out how being an undercover cop can lead to an acting career.
I Was There, the B5 Universe
(Sunday, Jan 5, 2014, 11AM to 12:15pm)
Dylan Neal (The Legend of the Rangers's David Martel), Maggie Egan (Jane from ISN) and Arne Starr (unofficial publicist for B5's launch) participate in the most varied of all the 20th anniversary panels. Fan questions came from left, right and center field, winning the award for the most diverse mix of topics covered in any of the anniversary panels.
(Sunday, Jan 5, 2014, 12 to 1:15pm)
We call this one “Centauri Under the Influence!” Watch Stephen Furst (Vir Cotto) stoned on painkillers for an injured foot while Peter Jurasik (Londo Mollari) fights off the effects of extra-strength cold medication. The “lit-up” duo provide hilarious moments as they reflect on their Centauri lives and parallel careers.
(Sunday, Jan 5, 2014, 1:30 to 2:45pm)
Claudia's second solo appearance is just as much fun as her first. She spills even more Babylon 5 secrets, and gives fans the scoop on her current documentary film, video game voiceover work and recent film and tv roles.
HOW WERE THESE TWO CONVENTIONS DIFFERENT?
Phoenix Comicon and Space City Galveston were staged only seven months apart but are the opposite of each other in content and “vibe.”
Phoenix Comicon was comprised of expert panels and “fans-turned-pros” and focused primarily on the themes of Babylon 5 and its impact on popular culture. It also hosted five high-profile panels: three with JMS, a fan Q&A with Claudia Christian and a fan Q&A with Walter Koenig...all included.
The Space City panels featured the stars and guest stars of Babylon 5 exclusively. So while the Comicon panels would often discuss a topic as a group, in concert with the audience, Space City Con was a chance for fans to have a conversation with the stars of the show.
WHICH BABYLON 5 STARS WERE AT WHICH CONVENTIONS?
Bruce Boxleitner appears at Space City, but did not make it to Comicon while Jerry Doyle and J. Michael Straczynski attended Comicon but could not be at Space City. Otherwise: basically everyone! (See the panel descriptions above for more details.)
IF SOME OF THESE VIDEOS ARE ON YOUTUBE, WHY BOTHER WITH THE VIDEO DISCS?
We'll cover the specifics next but the short answer is that the online footage is often woefully incomplete—and could disappear without a moment's notice.
You are getting the complete footage of all the panels at Comicon and Space City Con. Yes, some of what you'll see can be found on YouTube, but much of it is ours exclusively. While the overall quality of the Space City Con vids is very good, Phoenix Comicon waxes and wanes. Watch this clip to see the range for yourself:
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY REFERENCE VIDEOS?
A reference video is a single camera viewpoint that stays in the same position for the length of the panel. The downside is that it's not visually interesting. The upside is that you really do feel like you're sitting in the room for the duration of an entire panel. Quality of the sound and picture ranges from “watchable to very watchable” with a couple “best effort, but not great quality” for two of them.
WHAT'S THE ADVANTAGE OF AUTHORIZED AND LICENSED?
It means that you are getting the absolutely highest quality exclusive footage, and that we own the rights to reproduce this material. It other words, it won't suddenly disappear from YouTube.
By having the discs the videos don't suffer from typical streaming issues, such as low-resolution, website buffering, poor sound quality and being broken up into multiple parts.
WHY IS THE SPACE CITY FOOTAGE HIGHER QUALITY THAN COMICON?
As much as it kills us to admit this, the professional team hired for Comicon did not deliver. Panels were only partially covered instead of fully recorded, the shots were often out of focus and instead of getting audio straight from the soundboards, they just recorded the ambient sound in the room. By crowd-sourcing footage we were able to fix a lot of the issues, but not all of them.
But with Comicon behind us, we hired a different group for Space City—and they did great work. Our Space City footage, which is exclusively actor panels, is comprised of steady reference shots, with accurate focus and excellent, clear audio straight from the actors' microphones.
While you can find a smattering of Space City clips on YouTube, they were all recorded on shaky cellphone cameras with ambient sound. You won't find a minute of what you get in our video reference collection, because none of it has been uploaded.
✔ 32.7GB total with the bonus disc
✔ High-quality, molded discs that withstand repetitive use
✔ Replicated using a glass master
✔ Front label silk-screened directly onto the disc
✔ Videos average 1 gigabyte per panel
✔ Video codec used is H264 MPEG-4 AVC
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR PLAYING THE MP4 VIDEO FILES?
- iPhones, iPads & Apple TV
MP4 videos are iTunes compatible. iTunes will import the files from the discs and then transfer MP4s to any video-enabled Apple device. Using Apple TV, you can also stream the videos to your television.
- Android Phone or Tablet
Connect your phone or tablet to your computer using your device's USB cable. Copy the files from the discs directly onto your device. You can also transfer the files to an SD card and insert that into your Android tech. (A 32GB card will hold all the videos.)
- Blu-ray Player
Pop the disc, as is, into virtually any Blu-ray player. It will read the disc, list the MP4 files and ask you which files you want to play.
- Any DVD Player
This is rewarding if you want a set of “playable in virtually any DVD player” discs. Start with 22 blank DVDs. Copy the MP4 files from the disc to your hard drive, then burn a playable DVD with either your Mac (using iDVD) or Windows PC (using Windows Media Player).
- USB Port Via a Thumb Drive / Jump Drive / Flash Drive
USB ports can be found on most recent flat screen TVs, video game players, even the back of DVD players. One 32GB drive will hold all the MP4 videos.
- All Computers with a Disc Drive
Just pop the disc into the drive. It should launch a player automatically.
WHAT IF I NEED HELP FIGURING OUT THE BEST WAY TO PLAY THE MP4 VIDEOS?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have tech support in place by phone or email, whichever you prefer. You probably won't need the help, but know that we're here for you.
WHY MP4 FORMAT? WHY NOT PLAYABLE DVDS (AKA VIDEO DVDS)?
We had two considerations:
1) The package would have gone from 7 discs to 22 discs, meaning the contents would be split into three separate cases. This is expensive and, frankly, reference videos don't really need it.
2) While the MP4 videos are fun to watch, the viewing experience did not warrant Blu-ray treatment or the added expense to fans of instantly-playable DVDs.
WHAT'S NOT ON THESE DISCS?
This package does NOT include the cast reunion panels at either convention. These were released in a separate package called THE CAST REUNIONS. Adding additional discs to this collection would have put the price out of reach for most. To make it affordable, we divided the content into two parts: the Fan Experience and the Cast Reunions.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHICH FILE GOES WITH WHICH PANEL?
So glad you asked because we paid special attention to this. We've named the files in a way that makes it easy to identify the panel you are looking for and ensures that you are playing them in the order in which they occurred. Ditto for each file's meta-data. Here are two examples:
The fifth panel at Phoenix is named:
PHX 05 - J Michael Straczynski Promise Panel - Phoenix Comicon 2013.mp4
And the eighth panel at Space City Con is named:
SCC 08 - The Centauri - Space City Con 2014.mp4
WHAT ARE THE SPECIFICS OF THE BONUS DISC?
The bonus disc contains two buckets of content: PDF files and MP3 files. The PDF files are the official Phoenix Comicon Program, the Phoenix Comicon Babylon 5-only Programming Guide and the official Space City Con Program.
In addition, there are 44 MP3 files. 22 of them are in one folder at a bitrate of 128kbps, which totals 1.25GB, and 22 are at 320kbps, which totals 3.14GB.
The 128kbps files are meant for portable devices so that you can load up all 22 hours of audio and still have room to spare. The 320kbps files are for folks who have room to spare on their devices or want to burn audio CDs from the MP3s. Since each panel is about an hour, it will require one CD per panel.
RECAP OF WHAT YOU GET
✔ 22 Hours of Panel Discussion from Two Conventions
✔ 2 Softcover Books of Annotated Transcripts (700+ pages total)
✔ Seven MP4 Video Data Discs (22 Videos total)
✔ PDF & MP3 Bonus Disc with complete audio file
✔ Licensed & Authorized