Star Trek: The Next Generation in HD

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by DeeThomaz, Sep 21, 2011.

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  1. DeeThomaz

    DeeThomaz Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In The Felony Room
    I surprised there hasn't been a thread devoted to this yet. Trekcore has a good rundown on most of the info currently known about this project, and I've copied it below, along with a few tantalizing tweets from Robert Meyer Burnett:

    Rumours of a possible high-definition transfer for Star Trek: The Next Generation have been rife on the internet ever since the Original Series was remastered in 2006. That project saw all 80 classic episodes brought firmly into the 21st century with all new special effects and a stunning remastering of the original film.

    Star Trek fans have been asking if the same treatment will be given to The Next Generation, and recent rumblings from CBS Paramount confirm that Captain Picard and crew are about to join the original crew in glorious high-definition.

    The Digital Bits site reported back in July that sources at Comic Con had confirmed CBS were working on a high-definition transfer for The Next Generation and that 4 'test episodes' were being worked on with the aim of releasing a 'sampler blu ray' sometime in 2011.

    On September 2, LeVar Burton, TNG's Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge, tweeted that he had stopped by CBS Paramount Television City to 'see how the TNG conversion to HD for Blue Ray was coming along...' and followed up his tweet with the hashtag #mindblown.

    Now, the Digital Bits has confirmed through sources at CBS Paramount which episodes will be featured on the blu-ray sampler disc:
    'The disc will include FOUR episodes, two of which will include Encounter at Farpoint, Parts 1 and 2. We're told that the other two should be The Inner Light and Sins of the Father...'

    These episodes would certainly provide a diverse cross-section from the show. Unlike the Original Series, episodes of TNG were all edited on video making a high-definition transfer impossible without going back to the original film and creating new special effects.

    The four sample episodes are all quite different in terms of their special-effects content and presentation style. The pilot, 'Encounter at Farpoint' would seem to present the biggest challenge for the remastering team. The episode is special-effects heavy, featuring such memorable scenes as the first saucer-separation, Q's energy 'net' and the spaceborne lifeforms at the end of the pilot. Watching this episode on DVD, I have always been struck by the poor quality of the transfer. The picture is incredibly soft, colours are poorly displayed and washed out and there is very little detail visible in the presentation. The transfer to HD for the pilot should represent a huge jump in terms of quality and perhaps be the most noticeable out of the four chosen episodes.

    'Sins of the Father' is, from a cinematography standpoint, very murky and dark in it's presentation - a key hallmark for most Klingon episodes. Hopefully a high-definition transfer will bring out much of the detail which is lost in the standard definition release. Whilst not special-effects heavy, 'Sins of the Father' does feature some iconic matte paintings of Qo'noS. It will be interesting to see how this 'regular' episode is remastered and whether or not similar techniques are used that were employed in the remastering of some of classic Star Trek's famous matte paintings.

    The final episode, 'The Inner Light' is arguably the most popular of the four. A long-term fan favourite, this episode is constantly seen in top-10 polls for the show. Again, this fifth-season episode isn't especially special-effects heavy, however it does feature a few notable shots involving the Kataan-probe. The cinematography in this episode is also quite unique. Much of the episode's plot takes part on the planet surface and is filmed in a 'washed out' style to depict the growing presence of the supernova. The difference between standard and high definition will probably be far less notable with this episode than the previous three.

    Update: The Digital Bits reports in its September 12 bulletin that the sampler blu ray is set to be officially announced on September 28, TNG's 24th anniversary. The anticipated U.S. release date will apparently be around December 6.

    Robert Meyer Burnett (director of "Free Enterprise") has tweeted a few intriguing nuggets as well:

    [sep 18] I cannot believe how good TNG looks in HD. Hoping they go with 16:9. This is one time the purist in me whole-heartedly supports the change.

    [sep 19] CBS should put their excellent TNG 1:33 vs 16:9 demo online and let the fanbase vote. (16:9 would win by a landslide...).

    [sep 19] TNG was photographed in such a boring fashion 16:9 can only help. But I can see both sides of the argument.
  2. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    No to 16X9. No to altered aspect ratios...
  3. I wonder how many years the whole project will take to release all 7 seasons? I'm looking forward to seeing the results. A good investment I think for the show's future.
  4. aarsonbet

    aarsonbet Active Member

    This is very tantalizing. As someone who has resisted making the jump into HD and Blu-Ray (mostly for financial reasons), this may be one of the things that gives me the final push to invest in the required hardware!

    If this project gets the green light, I'd imagine that it'll take several years before we see a finished product!

    Regarding the aspect ratio, I'm with Oatsdad on this one. If it was shot in 4:3, then do the release in the same aspect ratio. Don't chop of parts of the frame, just to make it fit in 16:9.
  5. I agree, stay with 1:33.
  6. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Audiophile Music Mastering Your Host

    That will NOT happen. Face the facts.
  7. I hear you. Very sad that these facts are taking over what "should" be done. I guess they are going to look at this as a new product being made for the 21st century. Maybe we can be lucky and they will make two versions.

    I'm glad that they gave us many choices with the (original) Star Trek TV show Blu-rays. I think they were well done.
  8. DeeThomaz

    DeeThomaz Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In The Felony Room
    My heart might be with you here, but I'm going to play devil's advocate a bit because I'm not ready to be absolutist about this quite yet. I'd like to see that demo that RBM tweeted about and see if 16x9 benefits the material or not. I don't want 16x9 if the only reason for it is to avoid annoying fans who don't want black wars, but I could support the change if the results suggest it was done for reasons beyond simple pandering.

    For one thing, visual information won't necessary have to be "chopped" off to accommodate this change. I'm sure Vidiot could discuss this with authority that I can't, but my understanding is that they filmed more picture than needed for the television framing as a safety precaution ("overscan"). As a result, using the 16x9 aspect might give us more visual information that the original broadcast, not less.

    The fact is, this is already not a "purist" release. The SFX are already being redone from scratch(by necessity), and I doubt they'll attempt to be 100% faithful to the original SFX work in those instances that they can improve upon them without substantially increasing the budget. Maybe there is an argument to be made for giving the audience a new way of viewing the show, particularly if it lends it a more cinematic appearance.

    It would certainly be sacrilege to modify the aspect ratio of many current shows like "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Man" that take their cinematography as seriously as any movie director. But I'm not convinced that TNG (or many other shows of it's era, with rare exceptions) really strove to make an artist statement that would be compromised by reframing it.

    All that said, in my heart of hearts, my opinion in these matters tends to default to the side of not changing something if you don't have to. But I'm going to try to keep an open mind in this until I see the results for myself.
  9. Pibroch

    Pibroch Active Member

    Dayton, OH
    I'd really like to see the demos as well. It's really a shame that the original series looks so wonderful on Netflix, and then TNG looks like a VHS tape, it looks awful.
  10. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I am. No to non-OAR...
  11. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    West Hollywood, CA
    I think some of the re-created effects look amateurish in the original Star Trek, specifically any shots with the shuttle - it looks like it's a cartoon IMO. If they do something similar for Next Generation, I hope the quality is better.
  12. :righton:
  13. jriems

    jriems Forum Resident

    Indeed. :thumbsup:
  14. DragonQ

    DragonQ Well-Known Member

    The Moon
    I'd gladly welcome 16:9 if they've been able to expand the frame enough in most scenes that the cropping is minimal and equivalent to overscan. If they've just got the original 4:3 frame, hopefully they'll stick to it and not crop it to oblivion.

    They did release TOS on BD in 4:3 so there is precedent for not going crazy with the cropping knife.

    EDIT: Looking at the AVS thread about this, it looks like it's possible to uncrop the original 4:3 frame to ~15:9. They could leave it there and add thin black bars, or go for further cropping to 16:9 wouldn't even touch the TV safe area - in that case, you'd probably still get more vertical height than you saw back in the 80s. This may not be possible for all scenes due to equipment/crew etc. but for most it should be possible.
  15. Why not 4:3 for the live action shots, and 16:9 for the effects shots? I know I had heard that the TOS team did render all the effects in widescreen; perhaps the TNG team will do the same, but this time they'll use em.
  16. DragonQ

    DragonQ Well-Known Member

    The Moon
    The effects were done in 16:9 presumably for forward-compatibility. It was a wise choice as TOS remastered episodes were shown in 16:9 in Japan.
  17. aarsonbet

    aarsonbet Active Member

    In my mind, the end result would be a bit jarring, and would certainly draw attention to the fact that certain things were done in post-production twenty-odd-years later. As others have mentioned, if you can do it all in one aspect ratio that doesn't compromise the overall image whilst simultaneously maximizing the compatibility with modern HDTV, the I guess I'd be okay with that.

    However, I'm still a proponent of seeing this done in 4:3!
  18. everybody else says that too, but I just can't see it!

    This does make sense, though. Oh, pipe dreams. :laugh:
  19. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    Leave it as is. Seeing it in HD is only going to make the dated effects look even worse.
  20. They'll be re-rendering and/or re-compositing the special effects in HD, and real model shots are NEVER dated. :D
  21. Spirit Crusher

    Spirit Crusher Well-Known Member


    There seems to be collective, societal amnesia about why the 16:9 aspect ratio ("16x9" is a measurement) was chosen for modern televisions.
  22. aarsonbet

    aarsonbet Active Member

    Quick question: Is there any chance that they'd be using some of the original effects shots from 1987-1994? Those shots would have been originally shot on 35mm prior to compositing in the video domain, correct? If so, wouldn't some/most/all of the original effects elements exist somewhere?
  23. That's the thought; if they do exist, my guess would be most of that would include the ship models and such.
  24. :wave:IF it's a case of opening the sides of the frame by using the original camera negatives' safety area, I have no objection at all to 16:9 aspect ratio conversion...I'll probably get these episodes just to see how good they look and sound in 1080p with lossless surround audio, though!!!
  25. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

    Folks you don't want to change the frame lines. Unless you want to see a lot of boom microphones and other things we thought were safely out of frame.
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