One possible reason Star Trek The Motion Picture Directors Cut is not on blu ray?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by XIDOR, May 21, 2016.

  1. XIDOR

    XIDOR New Member Thread Starter

    Hi guys,

    I wanted to pose a question to those who might be knowledgable on the subject of Star Trek The Motion Picture. I'm not a regular contributor here. I mostly hang out at the Home Theater Forum. There's a healthy group of Star Trek fans there as I see there are here. :)

    One thing came up recently at the HTF where there is one reason why Star Trek The Motion Picture Directors Cut has not been remastered for blu ray. One member at the Home Theater Forum claims to have checked with a Paramount person and said that the individual film elements that were used for all the effects shots are missing. Either producers David Fein or Michael Matessino at the time of the 1999 Remastering project also said that they were given full access at Paramount and they searched for all the film elements. Nothing but a few short pieces of film were found. The theory is that at the time, in order to meet the December 7, 1979 release date, everyone was scrambling to get the film made on time and so it was such a hectic time, nothing was properly saved. Another comment was that the guys at the effects house, Trumbull, Abel or someone else had the film, but tossed it because Paramount didn't want it.

    I find this really hard to believe. If its true, then that's that. If not, I'm just wondering if those film elements are really necessary. According to Matessino, a high definition transfer is possible, they just need to re-render all the new effects done in 1999 at a higher definition to be composited with the film. Daren Dochterman is ready to get that going. I would think the existing film negative of the completed theatrical cut is available for a high definition scan and the unused scenes are as well that were inserted into the Directors cut.

    CBS did a great job on Star Trek The Original Series to incorporate the new effects shots. Its doable. I know it wasn't perfect because some dissolves required eating into live action shots to make the CGI effect work, but they did it. I'm sure many here are as passionate about getting the TMP Directors cut made into a high definition transfer. I've been hoping that Paramount would finally do it for the 50th Anniversary. Unfortunately it doesn't look like it will happen.

    I know it's a costly project and as a business, the numbers probably don't look good given the reputation the first film has as opposed to Star Trek 2 where they are doing the remaster for release very soon and likely the 4K transfer.

    The one dream release is a Blade Runner type of release with the theatrical cut, the Special Longer TV cut and the Directors Cut. Thanks for any insights. Nelson
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  2. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    Don't know, but it's my favorite.
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  3. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I've held the original negative of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in my hands, and it was in fine shape in the 1980s. Just scan the original camera negative in 4K and put it out -- no re-rendering is needed. It won't look any worse than it has for 35 years.

    I mastered the "director's cut" for Paramount in 1980, and it was never commercially released. Wise cut the film down to 110 minutes, and the assistant editor on the picture told me he was livid when the studio overruled him and cut 12 minutes of the V'Ger VFX sequence back into the film. Wise was smart enough to know it dragged the film down, and he was right. But because the film had gone so grossly overbudget, the studio was determined to see "all their money up on the screen," so it went out at 132 minutes.

    It's possible that Wise later had a chance at a new version, and that's what was re-released in 1999. It's not necessarily a better movie; a lot of the time, what you wind up getting is merely a different movie. If it were up to me, I'd say hell with it and just release the 1979 original. Anything else is just historical revisionism. I don't have a problem with including extra scenes or outtakes or any of that stuff as extra features. In truth, though, it's just not a very good movie.

    BTW, note that CBS/Paramount/Viacom is under intense turmoil right now with the board of directors and many executives getting fired or otherwise under stress. I think worrying about a 37-year-old feature that isn't making them any money is at or near the bottom of their list of things to get worried about. Once Redstone is out, maybe the people left will want to take their shambles of a home video department and straighten it out.
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  4. Most of the issues revolve around redoing the new visual effects for the director's cut--they were rendered in SD not HD and it would be fairly expensive to do from scratch. They could upscale them but they wouldn't look great at 4K much less 2K. It's certainly possible that the film elements for the DC were mislabeled.

    Wise hated the TV version because it used unfinished footage.
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  5. Khaki F

    Khaki F Forum Resident

    Kenosha, WI. USA
    I love that movie. And I'm impressed as hell that you had a part in its production. Thank you. You have more grateful ST fans than you'll ever know.
    john morris, 4_everyman and Manimal like this.
  6. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Only a tiny bit. 95% of the work was done by my old pal Pat Kennedy (who did the lion's share of that transfer), though I did correct quite a few of the additional bits for the expanded version shown on NBC. At the time (around 1982), I asked the Paramount exec why they wouldn't finish the obviously-incomplete VFX, but he kind of shrugged and said nobody wanted to spend the money. Eventually, they did fix them.
  7. XIDOR

    XIDOR New Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for the replies. I'm glad to see others here love the film too. I know it's not perfect. What I like best about it is it tried to tell a serious sci-fi story, felt epic compared to those that follow, has the best Jerry Goldsmith score, and a beautifully built refit Enterprise. Plus no villain to blow up.

    Pretty cool you worked on the video transfer during the 1980's Vidiot. I have that laserdisc of the longer cut with unfinished effects. The 2009 transfer of the theatrical cut on blu ray is very watchable and sharp and clean compared to the 2001 transfer to DVD of the Directors Cut with the added CGI work. You are right the 2001 DVD of the Directors Cut is a different film. ( I was in error above, it was 2001, not 1999) I think, and others do as well, that the 2001 cut flows better. There's some minor trims where possible by Wise. And scenes added to help character moments. The best thing they were able to do was replace the matte painting of Vulcan with the moons (Vulcan has no Moon Miss Uhura.) with the CGI matte painting based on storyboards from 1978 and fix some unfinished effects scenes, like the V'Ger bridge outside the Enterprise. Whether the added effect of the full shot of V'Ger was necessary, some think not so. But it's the preferred way I like to watch the film. I just really lament that Paramount does not do anything with that version and release it in high definition. I look at it this way, everyone hates what Lucas did to the Star Wars original trilogy with the CGI and revisionist Han shots Greedo after Greedo shoots. But a lot of people want and prefer the revisionist Star Trek The Motion Picture.

    I was fortunate to be able to get my 2001 DVD copy signed by Wise himself when he was doing a signing to promote the disc.
    Simon A likes this.
  8. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    You can see that it's just a matter of opinion. I'm sure you could line up 10 different fans and get 10 different opinions on which version of the film is best.
    Simon A likes this.
  9. jtiner

    jtiner Forum Resident

    I never cared too much about revising the effects; the original effects were fine. I was just glad to have the new edits, and felt the film moved along in a better way. I also liked the fact that some of the sound effects weren't as overpowering. The director's cut is my go-to version of this movie, and to me, this is definitely the most "Star Trek" like of all the original cast films. If it wouldn't have been so dark for the CRT's on the bridge, and if the uniforms would have been red, blue, and gold, it would have been that much better (IMHO, of course).
  10. XIDOR

    XIDOR New Member Thread Starter

    That reminds me, regarding the limited color palate of the uniforms and grayness of the Enterprise and darkness of the bridge, it made me think of The Cage. The original pilot of Star Trek was pretty gray. The bridge and corridors and Pike's cabin were pretty gray. The uniforms were pale blue and gold. The Motion Picture is kind of like the Cage in that regard.

    It's interesting the bridge is pretty brightly lit while in space dock and the lighting gets darker while enroute to V'Ger.
    john morris likes this.
  11. jtiner

    jtiner Forum Resident

    Yeah, I guess I can see the similarities to The Cage; I hadn't really thought of that. Regarding TMP bridge lighting, I forget the details but I'm pretty sure it was to accommodate all of the CRT's built into the consoles. I think a wholes series of video effects were created just for playback on the bridge.
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  12. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Surround sound lunatic

    Bayside, NY
    The TV version (which I still have on laserdisc), is the only version where the plot (and Decker's motivation) makes any sense. The scene where Spock cries "for V'ger" is one of the best scenes in Trek history, and it's totally gone.
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  13. XIDOR

    XIDOR New Member Thread Starter

    You are very much correct about the low lighting on the bridge set to accommodate the CRT displays used on the bridge. That's what I understand to be the case as well. I saw one shot at Uhura's station where the hood around two of the round displays blocked the overhead lighting. You can see the areas not covered by the hood is washed out on the displays. It sounded like a nightmare for the lighting and sound crew to work on that set. Today's technologies have eliminated all those issues of course.

    Another interesting fact is that the Enterprise model was very intricately painted with the Aztec pattern all over the saucer and secondary hull and engines. It's very subtle. But what I recently learned is the airbrush artist who spent 6 months painting that used pearlescent paints that are translucent so at certain angles you see gold, red, blue and green tints. By the accounts of the artist and others, it was a real beauty. But because of that paint job, the model had to be lit very dimly or else flecks of light would bounce off the edges and ruin the ability to matte out the ship. When ILM took the model for the next film, they sprayed the model down with a dull coat and ruined the paint job. There are photos of the model at the Christies auction, some shots still reveal the original paint. The first movie still has the best effects shot of the ship. The darker lighting used on the ship made sense when it was out in space. In space dock, they managed to light it well too. The ship looks very brightly lit in ILM shots.
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  14. XIDOR

    XIDOR New Member Thread Starter

    Agreed! A shame it was cut out.

    On the Directors Cut, for me the scene that was a real surprise and showed clarity for Decker is when they are at the Voyager 6 area and are figuring out that V'ger needs a human quality to evolve. The shots of the Illia probe looking at Decker showed a strong link between them. He figures out he has to be the one to join with V'Ger. I doubt that scene was re-edited, it just worked there better in the Directors Cut for me.
  15. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery picture member

    Minor quibble: STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE premiered on ABC-TV:

  16. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    You are absolutely right -- ABC it was.
  17. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery picture member

    I was happy with the extended version of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE that showed up on VHS back in the '80s. The additions were welcome and explained a few things that were ambiguous before. And then I got the LaserDisc set of the first five movies, all in widescreen and all in their theatrical versions. And I began to appreciate those theatrical versions.

    When the Directors Cut came out on DVD, I was happy with that for the most part, though I didn't like the change in the bridge's "Alert" robot voice. So I was happy that the Blu-ray restored the theatrical version. Still, I'd like to have a better iteration of that Directors Cut.
    Simon A likes this.
  18. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    San Antonio, TX
    TMP: The Motion Picture is my favorite of the series, and I prefer the longer "directors cut". I hope we get it on blu-ray sometime.
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  19. Rocker

    Rocker Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada
    They need to just release a box set containing all the different versions (a la Blade Runner or Close Encounters) and be done with it.
  20. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    I'll buy it...dream on.
    MickAvory likes this.
  21. Can you remind me what Decker's motivation was?
  22. XIDOR

    XIDOR New Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for all the input so far guys. So a summing up of what I'm learning here about why the Robert Wise Directors Cut of Star Trek The Motion Picture made in 2001 is not coming to high def.

    Vidiot's thinking that Sumner Redstone is part of the issue is new to me and I had to read up on him to understand what the issue is. The Viacom CEO is trying to sell a minority stake of Paramount Studios and Sumner Redstone is blocking that. Sounds like lots of lawyers now are fighting it out with the Redstone family. This must be part of the turmoil. Though I can only guess why executives at Paramount are under pressure or getting fired. So the whole video department at Paramount is likely only concentrating on new releases and not worrying about the legacy films they have in their library. Shame given it's the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek and you'd think they'd treasure one of their golden gooses. And years earlier they were investing in the legacy films such as the Godfather and The 10 Commandments and so forth to give them proper restorations and preserving them.

    A good number here would like to see the Directors Cut released too as well as on many other forums. And many have expressed the same idea of a box set that includes the Theatrical Cut, 1980's Special Longer Version and the 2001 Wise Directors Cut.

    Some here say they don't care if the 2001 cut had new effects added, but the new Wise cut is great. What we have to remember is that there is only one new CGI shot of the Enterprise to help clarify one plot point and the rest of the CGI includes a matte painting that replaced the rushed painting of Vulcan, and the beauty is that it's based entirely on a 1978 rough of it. Plus they added the warp drive seen out of the officers lounge window and the space bridge effect when Kirk and crew make their walk to V'Ger. Plus a several other sundries. The warp engine out of the officers lounge is nice eye candy, but wasn't necessary I thought. It's not a lot of radical changes but makes a huge difference.

    Perhaps after the dust settles over at Viacom, we will see a Star Trek The Motion Picture special edition set.
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  23. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    Sex and a cool new ship rolled into one.
  24. progrocker71

    progrocker71 Forum Resident

    Los Angeles
    The scene with Spock weeping for V'ger is in the directors cut.
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  25. Clipper Sylvania

    Clipper Sylvania L'├ęcharpe d'abricot

    I think this is right; apparently the lighting requirements didn't change until somewhere around TFF or TUC; I'm not sure if anything actually moved on-screen for the last shot in TVH. As I understand it, the TMP bridge console displays at one point were animations displayed by rear projection via 16mm projectors. One article I read several years ago regarding TMP's production seemed to suggest that the ambient noise on the bridge set from the 16mm projectors was so loud as a result that recording the crew lines on the bridge set ranged from difficult to impossible. has a discussion of these sorts of things, but a fair amount of it is highly technical.
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