Fan-edit of "Three-Body" created to help viewers avoid 22-hour commitment needed to watch the show.
What is Three-Body?
A Chinese television show based on a Chinese book.
Liu Cixin's "The Three Body Problem" Novel
"Three-Body" is an adaptation of Liu Cixin's novel "The Three-Body Problem". The book was released in China in 2008 and translated into English in 2014. It won the Hugo Award for best novel in 2015.
In China, Liu Cixin's book has been a massive hit, still reaching the top ranks of Chinese bestseller lists more than a decade after publication. It’s being referenced all the time in daily conversation, to the point where some of the phrases invented in the book have become universal.
Three Body Problem is science fiction. It is philosiphical. It is among my top-5 all-time favorite books.
Tencent's Video Production
"Three-Body" premiered on 2023-01-15, broadcasting in China and viewable on YouTube. It consists of 30 episodes each being about 45 minutes in length. Total runtime is over 22 hours.
The 30 episode show expands on the novel, introducing additional characters and adding references to other works by Liu Cixin. It is extremely faithful to what is in the book, although two scenes involving torture are removed.
Director Yang Lei and visual effects supervisor Lu Beike were both already fans of the book before given an opportunity to direct it.
Cixin Liu on the subject of THREE-BODY adaptation:
The Three Body Problem has been adapted to a TV drama in China which has recently been shown on TV. It is a drama with high budgets, and very loyal to the original book. It has been very well received by the market. I am happy with the Chinese TV series adaptation. The TV series adaptation was extremely unique compared to other counterparts in a sense that it was very faithful to the original book. The talks in the TV series between the characters were almost copied and pasted from my orignal book. I think that degree of faithfulness is not very common in adaptations. When I watched the TV series of The Three Body Problem, I felt that all images and characters became alive and vivid from my book. So I am content with the adaptation.
Beyond being a faithful adaptation of The Three Body Problem, Tencent's Three-Body vastly expands on the core narrative: The unabridged audiobook is 14 hours. Tencent's Three-Body is 22 hours.
Of those 22 hours, some moments work better than others. What if only the best scenes and narratively essential scenes were retained?
My primary goal in creating Disembiggened, is to expand the audience of Three Body Problem outside of China.
Tencent's Three-Body does capture the magic of Liu Cixin's novel. However the challenge to a North American audience in watching 22 hours of captioned Chinese television is about as steep as consuming the novel itself... not unreasonable, but also simply not going to happen for many people I'd like to share Three Body Problem with.
Some of my friends have read the book... basically anyone I could convince to read the book has done so. Suggesting a 22-hour English-captioned video adaptation is not going to help.
Tencent's Three-Body is not intended to be a tight edit, and could possibly be reduced from 22 to 18 hours without altering the existing narrative at all. There are musical montages. Scenes are repeated. Shots are held. For someone wanting to enjoy 22 hours of television, I can recommend Tencent's original adaptation.
Tencent's Three-Body adds complexity to an already complex novel: new characters and subplots. Those scenes don't make for bad television, but they do make for more television.
The original THREE-BODY is over 22 hours long.
THREE-BODY: DISEMBIGGENED is about 6 hours long.
I didn't just remove material added by Tencent, I also removed scenes written by Liu Cixin himself. No 100% faithful adapatation exists, as Tencent didn't include some scenes either. But I think 6 hours is an optimal balance for the most engrossing video adaptation possible.
If you are up for reading some excelent sci-fi, simply read or listen to the book.
If you want to watch a 22-hour adaptation, Tencent's produciton is available in some markets on Amazon Prime Video, and in some markets on YouTube. I certainly think the Tencent show is fantastic, and worth watching. I would not have created my own fan-edit, if Yang Lei's creation wasn't already excellent to begin with!
But for my friends, I'm recommending my 6-hour fan-edit. In my opinion this is a better viewing experience.
Before watching my fan-edit, you should first consider how you can reimburse Tencent for enjoying an altered version of their original content.
The most direct mechanism would be to become a member of Tencent's YouTube channel. Subscribing for 2 months would cost you less than $10, and give you enough time to have watched Three-Body on their channel.
Or, you could stream some original Tencent Three-Body episodes, either on YouTube or on Amazon Prime. Start it playing and mute the audio... Tencent will get revenue from that.
Support Tencent. Stream this.
I hope Tencent will release an official 6-hour edit one day. Music/dialog editing challenges were (mostly) addressed using iZotope. Certainly director Yang Lei could oversee a superior version, which would reach a much greater audience on proper streaming platforms. I'd be happy to direct people to a shorter Tencent official release instead.
Three Body Problem
Three-Body Disembiggened can be downloaded in 3 parts, each about 2 hours in length. The 3-part approach is required by this narrative, and this should not be presented as a single 6-hour piece. I recommend downloading and playing off your device, not streaming in a web browser.
Three-Body Disembiggened Part 1 @ 3840x1634 (2GB)
Three-Body Disembiggened Part 2 @ 3840x1634 (2GB)
Three-Body Disembiggened Part 3 @ 3840x1634 (2GB)
Previous Version: (2023-04-14)
It is only with the latest release (above) I've been able to provide proper caption data in the MP4 stream. This previous release (below) had burned-in captions. Because I worry some people might only be able to watch burned-in captions I'll keep this burned-in caption version available.
Going forward, I will only be uploading Three-Body Disembiggened with proper captioning data in a single resolution, 3840x1634. Previous version (3840x2160) had black bars on top and bottom. (To host the captions.) Now, without those black bars, I'm happy to focus on a single resolution which is the original, hightest quality resolution.
(Deprecated) Three-Body Disembiggened Part One in 4K (7GB) in 720p (1GB)
(Deprecated) Three-Body Disembiggened Part Two in 4K (7GB) in 720p (1GB)
(Deprecated) Three-Body Disembiggened Part Three in 4K (7GB) in 720p (1GB)
While editing is complete and Three Body Disembiggened is complete, I expect I'll continue to spot small opportunities for improvement. The MP4 filenames include version numbers for each render. The 3 parts are iterated independenly, your version numbers do not need to match. What you see here is always the latest version of each.
English is my only language. If you see errors I miss because of this, please let me know. In fact, any feedback is welcome.
Tencent's YouTube release has jarring music at some moments, seemingly due to a music copyright issue where the music needed to be replaced after the video had already been posted to YouTube? No such moments are used in this edit.
If Yang Lei, Vincent Yang or Tian Liangliang see commercial promise in a 6 hour edit, it should be possible to turn my Premiere Pro fan-edit project (which they are welcome to) into a broadcast quality render by swapping in production assets, such as isolated dialog tracks, music tracks, and non-ripped video. I would love to own a 6-hour Three-Body on iTunes.
Usually creators are silent or negative on fan-edits. Not always... and it is because of Brian De Palma's appreciation (and commercial release) of Peet Gelderblom's fan-edit of Raising Cain that I have proceeded with this project. One can always hope.
Caption SRT Data
Three Body Problem Disembiggened - Captions for Part 1
Three Body Problem Disembiggened - Captions for Part 2
Three Body Problem Disembiggened - Captions for Part 3