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VFX, Amiga and Babylon 5 [video] (youtube.com)
142 points by doener 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 104 comments



Wow, I'll have to add this to my set of "how can I show people, especially my Apple zealot friends who obsess about the original Mac 128k, just how advanced the Amiga was" videos. This video, is one of my favorites (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7rKj0DU8Xs), it shows just how advanced the Amiga was in 1985, let alone after 1987 when the 2000 was introduced.

I learned to code on a Vic-20 and C64 (basic and assembly), but the Amiga was my first exposure to C, and LaTeX, and 3D modeling / video editing. I grew up relatively poor in Baltimore City, and this was an astonishing amount of capability for something so affordable. (I also learned soldering because I only had 512k of chip ram on my A500, and Commodore's official RAM upgrade was too expensive, so I bought my own RAM chips and soldered them directly to the mainboard)

I have an unlimited amount of nostalgia for this machine (and Babylon-5!)


This is another one of my favorites, the JobsNote-like launch of the Amiga https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3x00Pbs2K8

Compare this to the 1984 launch of the Mac which cost $2485 MSRP, all of these capabilities came for only $1285 ($1595 with monitor), or the A500 ($699 MSRP)

As you can tell, I'm still bitter and annoyed at how Commodore mismanaged and squandered the marketing and sales of this machine. The Amiga was so advanced, it wasn't until PCs arrived with SuperVGA cards and SoundBlaster audio that I was enticed to leave the Amiga platform. The Mac128k at school seemed like a toy in comparison to my Amiga and what it could do, but somehow all of the media attention was on it. It's as if someone launched an iPhone in 1985, and no one cared.


> It's as if someone launched an iPhone in 1985, and no one cared

Commodore had no clue what to do with it. It's like Apple launched iPhone, then Jobs spent the rest of the marketing budget on a yacht then told engineering to make everything cheaper. Eventually Gould and Ali were on 3x what the CEO of IBM got in the same years.

Tucked away somewhere, I still have the 1985 issue of UK's PCW (the serious magazine, comparable to Byte) when the A1000 was first reviewed. Something like 15 pages of glowing praise and how nothing else is in the same universe, it'll change the world, etc. They barely touched an Amiga ever again.


I remember an interview with Jean-Louis Gassée that mentioned after he'd been fired from Apple but before he'd gone on to start Be Inc., Gould actually approached him to lead Commodore before he hired Ali. Gassée said he'd only do it if he got a guarantee of non-interference for a specific amount of time (three years, maybe), and Gould wouldn't go for it.

I don't know how that would have changed things -- Be came to a sad end itself, after all. But it's hard not to wonder.


I used AMAX II with my Amiga 500 to run Mac programs while at College. That was an example of how brilliant it was given the native speed of the Mac under emulation.

The Amiga platform is an era which I wouldn't trade for anything. I feel sad for people who didn't have the opportunity to experience and live it first hand.


I used Shapeshifter to bring my Amiga up as a Mac but way faster, if I recall the author (a German?) included a special thanks to Apple for making their firmware so trivially reversable


I was obsessed with the Amiga, and also a huge fan of the Mac. Couldn’t afford either. But I think the reason the Mac resonated in such an enormous way was a) because Steve Jobs was a master of media manipulation, but also b) because the Mac turned the computer into an appliance. It showed that computers weren’t these difficult scary things, and that they were approachable to everyone.


The Amiga was years ahead. When I saw the Debbie Harry portrait by Andy Warhol I was mesmerized.

But the thing about the original Mac, to me at least, was the finesse, good taste, personality and coherence of the whole thing.

I didn’t have that feeling again until I saw BeOS and later the original iPhone.


True to some extent, but it also was crippled by low RAM, a tiny screen, bad performance. The Amiga lacked coherence, but Amiga applications and games could do so much more with the exception of perhaps DTP (but a LaserWriter was out of the price range of most people)

Far more people learned to hack and code and be creative on platforms like the Apple 2 or C64 and Amiga (or Atari ST) than they did on the 1984 Mac, it was way too limited and on-rails (and expensive!)

I did DTP on the Amiga, for example, by using LaTeX to do all of my work in college, produce postscript files with dvi2ps and then taking the files to my college lab and printing them on expensive printers. A $500 Amiga was producing reports with AMSTeX or LaTeX that looked like they were professionally typeset by a $5000 Mac setup (in 2018 dollars)


>Far more people learned to hack and code and be creative on platforms like the Apple 2 or C64 and Amiga (or Atari ST) than they did on the 1984 Mac, it was way too limited and on-rails (and expensive!)

Sure they did. The Mac was “the computer for the rest of us”. It wasn’t supposed to be hackable, like the Apple II, which was a hackers dream machine.

I only take issue with the “creative” part of your comment.


The Mac was too expensive for "the rest of us". In terms of 2018 dollars, it cost about $6000 without a LaserWriter. Very few people could afford one, no matter how easy it was to use, which is why the Commodore 64 and Apple 2 far outsold it. 17 million Commodore 64's were sold. About 5 million Amigas. These were mostly sold to consumers, not schools. Sales for the original Mac128/Plus/SE/512 are hard to come buy, but looking at yearly estimates (about 70k Mac128k sold in 1984, and about 3x that every year after), the Mac never had any significant installed base of ordinary home users compared to the 8-bit or 16-bit competitors.


>The Mac was too expensive for "the rest of us".

That it was.


>The Mac was “the computer for the rest of us”.

Worse in every way, several times more expensive, and yet stupidly successful.

I curse the retarded suits at commodore main offices at the US.

It did better in Europe, because UK commodore had some decent marketing.


It wasn't "the suits" in general like that. Pretty much all the blame for Commodore's failure post-Tramiel can be laid at the feet of two people: Irving Gould and Mehdi Ali.


FLATLINE by Ahoy is a must-watch about the Amiga's start and how it languished due to poor business decisions and bad luck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB_UZsJUbwQ


Nice nostalgia trip you linked, only missing Super Hang On really - so close to the arcade, awful on every other platform.

XCopy. whistles innocently


I was addicted to Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe for awhile.

But truly, one of the greatest early games was Fairy Tale Adventure which came out in 1987.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5_4DhXWdwo


Ice cream! Ice cream!


I love your handle, I immediately recognized it, 30 years later, C64 kernel and i/o addresses still burnt into my memory.


Don't forget to talk about preemptive multitasking.


Literally the same progression as me.


If you're interested in C64 stuff, here's a video I made of some old C64 intros I wrote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aViXXbUg_yU


You are my soulmate.


JMS, the creator of this show, was way ahead of his time, and did some amazing tricks to get this show produced.

He drew heavily from technology culture, and found innovative ways to save money on production.

He was able to get consultation from the NASA JPL (and credited them), and he pioneered early CGI; season 1 supposedly built a rendering cluster out of 486 computers.

Another way this show was trailblazing was that it was the first network television show shot in 16:9.

You can read more about it on the Lurker's Guide[1] (That is a usenet reference), which contains excerpts from the newsgroups where he gave feedback to fans after each episode.

[1]: http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/


The original Babylon 5 script books are amazing as well.

https://b5books.com/babylon-5-scripts-overview/

They contain all of the original scripts for every episode (in some cases multiple versions) as well as commentary written by JMS about both what is going on on-screen and off-screen. They have some really detailed information on the challenges he faced running this show in an exceedingly raw and real fashion. Sadly, they are only available in print and are very expensive.

http://jmsnews.com has complete archives of all of JMS's usenet postings, which span the entire period the show was on the air (as well as many years before/after). Again, some of this is very raw, like where he discusses the feature film due to be announced "in a few days" about the telepath war (which we never got :().

Anyway, revealed myself to be a huge B5 nerd here, but, I do believe it was in a number of ways one of the most visionary TV shows on air at the time, highly serialized plots 5 years before the sopranos and computer VFX that movies couldn't touch at the time.


I've recently been re-watching the show, and it stands up pretty well, especially the VFX. The two weaknesses I've noticed are the look (which is often dated to the '90s) and (ahem) JMS' writing. The plots are good, and stand against ST-TOS as actual science fiction, unlike many other SF shows, but the actual writing...well, yeah.

Speaking of ST-TOS, B5 doesn't look too bad compared to the remastered (!) ST on Netflix.


The first season's acting was also very daytime soap opera... don't get me wrong, I loved the show as a whole, I just found the first season in particular sometimes hard to watch.

Would LOVE to see a well crafted remaster, with some of the techniques that can improve images based on neighboring frames, and maybe a rework of all the CGI for higher detail. I'm have surprised there hasn't been a fan effort considering how far even desktop gaming tech has come since the series.


Warner wouldn't do. Search @straczynski pesting about Warner and B5.


I know... partly why I said I was surprised there wasn't a fan driven effort that just did it.


The dialogue in B5 seems like a dated screenwriting style because it is. Most of what's dated is the humor--the gags and character wisecracks fall into a set of 90's humorous screenwriting formulas, just as the wisecracks and gags in say, "Star Trek: Discovery" fall within today's set of humorous screenwriting formulas. (There are some humorous bits in B5 that are still funny, like the line where Londo calls Vir a "moon-faced assassin of joy", but most of these work because they sound like something the character would actually say and not just a cheap screenwriter joke formula.)

But some of the writing still holds up.


I rewatch it every few years (except the last season).

Most of the humor that still hits for me is because of the incredible comedic pairings.

Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik

(I started listing the others, then realized there's a huge number of notable pairings, so instead: https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0105946/fullcredits/cast?ref_=m_t... )


>The plots are good, and stand against ST-TOS as actual science fiction, unlike many other SF shows, but the actual writing...well, yeah.

It seems like JMS never met a genre cliche or trope that he didn't like. Crusade, what there was of it, was even worse.

The worldbuilding was much better than anything in Trek until (ironically) DS9 came along.


Crusade, to be fair, was destroyed by Executive Meddling.


To the point that some episodes ended up being filled with Take Thats at the execs, thrown in by JMS and the scriptwriters.


I actually generally enjoyed the writing. As stated elsewhere, most of the episodes in season 1 were weak. A minority of the episodes in season 2 were weak, and it just got better from there.

If I may ask: what specifically didn't you like about the writing?

Thanks for your reply.


Huge B5 fan here as well, watched them all (multiple times) as they came out.

Honest question: does anyone know of any TV series that had a firm, 5 (or multi-year) arc planned out in detail years before any filming began?

Babylon 5 got funded when JMS described, in detail, the last scene of the last episode in the last season.

There were flash forward scenes in season 2 that took place in season 4. Two years later, they meshed together perfectly.

Has any other show been like that? I'd love to know. (:


> firm, 5 (or multi-year) arc planned out in detail years

If you read the books, you'll learn the truth is much more interesting than that. While JMS absolutely had a large number of ideas, and an overall arc, it was far from firm. Every character had trapdoors built in in the event that the actor left the show (e.g. Andrea Thompson/Michael O'Hare).


I have the, perhaps somewhat unpopular, opinion that this the concept has ruined most TV.

It wasn't Babylon 5 that sparked the trend, but in 2004 Lost, Battlestar Galactica and then later on a few following shows like Prison Break came along and were very successful with the long story arc.

The concept of the seasons-long story arc is now basically endemic in modern TV. I think it's a situation where the highs are higher, but the average is much worse across all TV.

The issue I think is that the writers can't experiment like they could in the past with the more monster-of-the-week type formula.

A bad idea in a modern show is baggage you have to deal with for the rest of the show. In old school TV, the end of the episode came around and erased all sins. It also forces the writers tell a complete story each episode.

Consider Star Trek: TNG. There are a whole pile of really terrible episodes of that show, but there are also amazing ones. I don't think it's possible for a show like Star Trek: Discovery to ever reach the heights of TNG given the baggage it has signed itself up to deal with.


Lost and the new BSG are the two prime examples of How Not To Do a long story arc. Both started with the promise of a coherent overarching story, but in reality the writers only had the vaguest idea of where they were going beyond the basic premise. They are the exact opposite of B5. Frak, the very Arc Words of BSG were "…and [the Cylons] have a plan". Well, turns out the writers didn't! They totally made it up as they went along. So perhaps bad execution of long story arcs has ruined TV. But the concept itself certainly hasn't.

Anyway, even B5 had a plenty of "monster of the week" filler episodes as well. They were generally of much lower quality than the plot episodes.


Talking about filler episodes, that’s what ruins DS9 for me. I love the story arc in that (albeit I hate the final episode) but the filler episodes are just too painful to watch. Generally speaking at least, there are some really notable exceptions.

I’d be really interested if they did an abridged version of DS9 in HD. Sadly it’s the fillers that are putting me off from rewatching it.


I hated Lost because they kept alluding to some epic story arc when it was painfully obvious the punchline was just “everyone is dead” and the rest of the show was mearly filler that they were making up as they want along.

Battlestar Galactica was a great show but Unfortunately I ruined it a little for myself when I watched a “how it’s made” style show midway though the second to last series and they commented about some of the writing decisions they made. That’s when I realised they were just making it up as they went along as well (previously I thought the same as you in that they had a pre-defined arc). Battlestar Galactica did still have some amazing writing though, even if I was a little saddened by my realisation.


Maybe an obvious answer, but Game of Thrones and The Expanse are both adaptations of an existing novel series and hence implicitly had multi-year arcs set out for them. I'm told GoT has outrun the novels by now so they're in the same mess as everyone else, but at least in part, they had pre-planned arcs.


> I'm told GoT has outrun the novels by now so they're in the same mess as everyone else

Not exactly, I don't think; from what I understand GRRM has provided outlines that go beyond where the novels, so while there is more to flesh out (even before changes made for the TV medium), they aren't flying as blind as a show that's working completely season to season.


The “they” I’m mostly referring to is GRRM himself, but I suppose they have as much headroom via the outlines as any other show would.


Didn't Firefly have story arcs planned out, I don't know if there were five years worth.

Ouch, Joss Whedon tried to cram it into the film Serenity when Firefly got cancelled, I daresay there's far more detail I am not versed in.


Meh. Firefly was a decent show, but I didn't feel much arc going on, although it's possible that it would have been amazing with 5 seasons. I felt it was more cowboys in dystopian outer space than B5 which was about politics, military strategy, philosophy, love, hatred, revenge, technology, society, war, and thus grand space opera.


Firefly had some good ideas, but its whole "space western" (or more accurately, "space American Civil War") motif was in my (admittedly unpopular) opinion slapdash and awkwardly executed. I cannot take a show seriously that expects us to believe, in the far flung future, in an entirely different solar system, anyone will actually utter the phrase "twixt my nethers" in common parlance.

I mean... that's just stupid.

Compare it to the anime Cowboy Bebop, which in my opinion did it correctly, blending the themes of the Western genre without forcing in the tropes and idioms in ways that threaten to break immersion.


> Firefly had some good ideas, but its whole "space western" (or more accurately, "space American Civil War")

“Space Western” is more accurate; except for a couple of flashbacks, the Civil War analog was past-and-background, just as is the case with the Civil War itself traditionally in the Western genre.

> Compare it to the anime Cowboy Bebop,

I'd rather not, since (despite the Western genre being an influence on both), they are so radically thematically different that there is really no point in comparison.


You’re also forgetting that it was supposed to all take place in one solar system, was it something like 80 planets?

I liked the idea of a Chinese culture, was this in parallel?

The western idea was a bit too TV friendly.

True the arcs weren’t that perceptible I realised them as Serenity rushed through them all; I did like the Han Solo angle of not independent of a huge state enterprise. Although a bit about what a “confederate” vibe implies


If Firefly counts, Babylon 5's attempted successor Crusade counts more so. It supposedly had 5 years planned, and was also cruelly cancelled after a lot of network notes and drama including airing some episodes out-of-order/at weird times.

JMS at least didn't try to cram the remaining plot into a single film. Some of the plot is out there as unfilmed scripts and some made its way into book series, and most of it we may just never know at this point because WB doesn't care about Babylon 5.


As far as the planning goes: The treatment that he gave an actor (Michael O'Hare I think?) was leaked at one point and IIRC it diverged in many ways from the direction the show took, particularly from season 3.


Partly because Michael O'Hare needed to be swapped out at the end of season 1, but also partly because what ended up being the story of seasons 1-4 was supposed to be spread out over an entire franchise of series with two 5-year arcs each.

JMS supposedly had contingency plans for losing any of the actors, but O'Hare in particular was difficult because his character was supposed to be the central mythic figure. (This is why he shows up again later on as a guest star; one specific aspect of the character was already set up to the point that they couldn't work their way out of it easily.) Unfortunately, O'Hare had to leave the show for health reasons after the first season.


He mentioned that somewhere. It might have been in the script books, and possibly the usenet archives.

You can see that in similarities with various characters -- Lyta Alexander/Talia Winters, Jeffrey Sinclair/John Sheridan, Catherine Sakai/Anna Sheridan. (Note that the former encountered First Ones in a season 1 episode, setting up the possibility of her encountering the Shadows between season 1 and 2.)


Compare it with Lost.... :-)


I just did some very fast research about that, and apparently both Lost and Battlestar Galactica attributed their coherent story arcs to Babylon 5.

I never watched Lost though.

If I may ask, assuming you watched the show: did they ever film scenes from years in the future, seamlessly connecting them in the present and then later on?

Thanks for your reference.


> Lost [...] coherent story arcs

No. Those things cannot be used together that way.

And I'm pretty sure that's the comparison the grandparent was suggesting.


BSG borrowed the idea of having a coherent story arc, but they didn't plan it out ahead of time. Ronald D. Moore had a podcast of commentary tracks for each episode and openly admitted they were winging it the whole time. What BSG did right was to get all the small things right--get a bunch of really, really good actors, make everything look as naturalistic as possible, and let characterization rather than plotting or abstract concepts drive most of the storytelling.


I didn't watch it, but I had many friends who did and were very upset about the ending and lack of closure on story lines.


Seconded! Those episodes totally floored me when I first saw them, made me fall in love with the series.

In fact at the time they made me think if I ever wrote a Sci Fi arc that I’d plan the whole thing out like that in painstaking detail.

Turns out the YA Sci Fi novel draft I’m working on now (my first novel) was primarily pantsed and not plotted. Go figure :-)


> does anyone know of any TV series that had a firm, 5 (or multi-year) arc planned out in detail years before any filming began?

Game of Thrones, though adaptations where the source material is spread out over multiple seasons are probably cheating a bit.


It is more common now. The parent post is probably referring to the 90's where this was ground breaking. I was in kindergarten while this was on the air and a friend of my parents would tape it for us. My parents would allow me to stay up to watch these episodes. My first true science fiction love along with Star trek TNG. Babylon 5 has a lot of concepts that have stuck with me over the years.

Season 1 is slow and terrible in some places. Particularly the CRT monitors look very dated along with the clothing which is supposed to be futuristic but screams 80's. The rest is good from the plot to many of the actors (Garabaldi, G'kar, Londo, and Delenn) come to mind, but many others were also great.

I think Delenn sells a female powerhouse role so much better than any other actress I've seen in science fiction. She is intelligent, thoughtful, funny, a master politician, and even a little scary at times even though on the whole the character reflects serenity. Her arc is great too. There are so many good Delenn scenes that depict her character's wit and badassery that it is hard to choose a favorite (dealing with G'kar early in season 1, defending the station on a Minbari battle cruiser, challenging a military dictator on her homeworld).

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UYloWBP79ro

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qC1nW9D1_OM


"Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari Fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else!"


It's the "Why not?" that precedes that that makes that particular line.


Yes! The delivery of that line is just too good.


And the Earth ships then turn around and flee lol


More than just being the first shot in 16:9, it was the first network show shot targeting HD television, before the networks fully agreed on what HD would be. It just never got the final HD treatment that it should have.

It's still a huge shame that Warner Brothers supposedly lost all the digital originals for the special effects shots, because they should have easily had a chance to recompose the show for true DVD quality and then again for a decent Blu-Ray rerelease. Some alternate universe has amazing Babylon 5 remasters today on Blu-Ray versus the letterboxed no-worse-than-SD DVD copies ours is left with.

(Another weird twist to the story here is that one tale has it that Warner Brothers blames French company Vivendi for losing the digital SFX archives, which WB loaned to Vivendi for a B5 game under development under the old Sierra games brand that was eventually cancelled. Which also isn't the only property that WB seems to have "lost" to Vivendi, as WB should probably be the owner of the No One Lives Forever videogame IP, by way of buying developer Monolith into WB Games, but Vivendi lost the publishing contract somewhere and no one seems to know in this timeline if WB actually does own it or not.)


>It's still a huge shame that Warner Brothers supposedly lost all the digital originals for the special effects shots

There are a bunch floating around: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHAuK_lDkk0

>You’ve possibly read or been told all the original CGI files were lost . . . . Well, no, they haven’t – though some may be lost by this point while others are buried pretty deep - plenty do still exist. For the best part of 10 years I’ve been sitting on a whole pile of Lightwave 3D models and scene files which someone who will remain nameless arranged for me to receive. Those are frame for frame renders of the original shots - using the original models and textures which haven't been updated in any way other than rendered out at 1920x1080.


Wait, you said "digital". That means super easy to copy. The only way Vivendi could have "lost all the digital originals" is if only one physical copy existed (no backups??) and Warner simply handed that over to them instead of making them a copy. There is absolutely no way Vivendi can be blamed for that level of WTF negligence from Warner. It would be completely reasonable for anyone at Vivendi to simply assume that any media they got from Warner was just one copy of many, and had no intrinsic value.


Yup, all part of the fascinating mystique of the story. At the end of the day any stupidity is 100% WB's fault, but how many mistakes they made in the process seems to be a fascinating tale.


Ehh... this was back in the 90s. It was different. Even now it's hard. Besides, even if they DID have the files, it's not always easy to upscale old content. Look up what Pixar had to with Toy Story to get it to HD.


> because they should have easily had a chance to recompose the show for true DVD quality and then again for a decent Blu-Ray rerelease.

IIRC, that was the actual plan from the beginning: render for SD TV in the 90s, then re-render when HD TV became common and computer power increased enough for it to be practical to render at those definitions.


Indeed. Which is a shame. Contrast it on the one side to DS9/Voyager as well which weren't even filmed on film and intentionally had no plans to preserve SFX work and will likely never see Blu-Ray releases. Contrast it on the other side to Star Trek TOS and TNG which were shot on film, and had a big enough audience to warrant rebuilding SFX almost from scratch to get a Blu-Ray release. B5 was primed to be right in the middle there and if not for the unfortunate losses of data, could have had a strong Blu-Ray release at a huge fraction of the cost CBS put into TOS and TNG remasters.


I thought they didn't go with 16:9 for the remaster because all the shots had to be framed for 4:3 for TV, and it was awkward having a bunch of "empty space" around the wider frame. But hey if 4:3 is good enough for The Maltese Falcon, it's good enough for me.


Even airing on television it was always "cinematic" 16:9 letterboxed to a 4:3 frame. (It really was interestingly ahead of its time on that.) Almost all of the shots were framed for 16:9. The DVDs that we did get releases of are proper 16:9, but because of the compositing for the 4:3 letterbox on TV the final resolution quality (which I call "no-worse-than-SD") on DVD is lower than the "low HD" potential of DVD in 480p/720p (as you might see in a film DVD). If they had the original SFX data they should have been able to simply recomposite at true 720p (or 1080p+ for Blu-Ray), and it is a shame that never happened per the original plan for the show.


Is 486 the quantity or the type of CPU used?


I've posted this before, but this is my go-to Amiga story to demonstrate how amazing this was at the time where PC was the inferior alpha computer: My dad was a graphic designer/print shop and he was building the panels for an F-16 fighter jet simulator, built by a private company for the Israeli Air Force in the 90s. One saturday he took 14 year old Amiga fanatic me to the company HQ and I had a go flying an F-16 inside a real cockpit, 180 deg. screen, amazing out of this world 3D graphics. The whole shebang. That part was amazing as it is. However, what really blew me away was first getting a demo of the $250K SGI they had to run the whole thing, and then the real nuclear was the next room filled with tens of Amiga workstations they used to actually generate all the visuals and graphic models. Considering just around that time I tried those 90s first attempt virtual reality arcades, which were powered by Amigas but were quite shit because it was the 90s and not some oculus magic, seeing and flying that simulator was an out of body experience for 14 year old me. I can't express what the Amiga gave me in words. It showed me the future before i had to go back into the past and wait until it caught up.


I feel like we're still in the uncanny valley for voice synthesis for this type of narration. It's good but just bad enough for people to be unforgiving and have it feel creepy.


It took me perhaps an entire minute before I realized something was strange about the voiceover and that it was synthesized, which, in my view, is quite impressive. Once I realized it was generated, though, I became much more attuned to the pitch-shifting artifacts, slight cadence irregularities, and cultural misses (like emphasizing the second syllable of "recall" in the title of the movie Total Recall).

Still, a few more years of progress on neural nets (can GANs be applied to vocal cadence and intonation?) and I won't envy the position of mid-tier voiceover artists.


I couldn't watch the whole video because the audio was so bad. Of course I already knew most of what it was talking about so I don't think that helped.


My church bought a Amiga 2000 and a Video Toaster because as a teenager they trusted me to get what they needed. It was there till 2004. :) I loved that machine.


Did the church actually have a use for that system?


Well, he was apparently a member of the church - so, yes! And it was probably bordered on lust in the classical sense (and, more accurately, in the modern one).


Yes they had a tv show on the local channel and we use it for adding to the video and credits.

We then were one of the first video projectors and we used that for the projector.


It sounds like you're saying their trust was misplaced?


We actually got a ton of use from it. We use to broadcast the Sunday morning service and it did all the graphics. Anything else would have cost $10,000 more.


Fun Video Toaster fact: The founder of the company Tim Jenison[1] is the same guy that made the documentary 'Tims Vermeer' which if you haven't seen, is absolutely awesome.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NewTek#Tim_Jenison


True. Another one: The engineer who built the first Toaster for NewTek was Brad Carvey, Dana Carvey's brother. The "Garth" character Dana plays on Wayne's World is Dana's impression of Brad.


And I think Garth wears a video toaster t shirt in Wayne’s World 2.



No way!


My first exposure to computers was an A1200 — which my father bought in 1994. Now that I have a son, I’m desperately in search for something that could influence him as much as that Amiga did to me.

Seriously, what is the Amiga of the current market? What is that product that fosters creativity and is so futurist?


There isn't one. What made the Amiga great was that it was a technically amazing machine that hobbyists could actually use and do great things with. The equivalent today would be Sony allowing completely open use of the PS4 and letting anyone make anything for it that they wished. It wouldn't happen: companies today like their walled gardens. The Amiga flourished by being open.


Babylon 5 really opened the door to using this much CGI on a weekly show. Star Trek TNG and DS9 really didn't embrace it for a long time, even after B5 came out. It wasn't until the sixth season of DS9 that a major CGI effects sequence was used in Star Trek (though individual CGI assets were used prior to this): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoIFUJxJwcQ


The narrator voice is synthetic?


It's a complete mystery to me why certain YouTubers do this. I'll take the worst human voice (even Fran Drescher or Rich Evans) over a synthesized one, particularly for expository narration. It reminds me of phishing phone calls, and instantly draws me away from the actual content.


A guess would be quicker production process. If you adjust the script, just rerender it and done. Actually speaking and recording takes tons of time.


I guess. But if a human can't be bothered to record it, why should I be bothered to read it?


You take back your disparaging comments against the sweet wonderful voice of Rich Evans. His angelic laugh is soothing enough to stop babies from crying.


I would guess that a lot of them are not native speakers of english?


There is nothing wrong with Rich Evans voice.


My theory is that this video was put together from footage found in another documentary (it's cropped funny like they are cropping out the original footage watermark). My next guess is the author doesn't speak English as a first language so they use a voice synth?


Sounds like he added some sort of filter on top of regular voice to sound like synthetic. It seems better than any synth I've heard. It's definitely not Amiga's translator library. :)

Kinda weird and annoying.


It's definitely synthetic. There are a few phrases which are clearly spoken other than how a human would. But yes, one of the best synths I've heard. And also very annoying.


I do believe you're right. Some weird inflections in there.




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