Monday, July 2, 2012

Okudas Talk TNG Season One Blu-Ray Extras

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One Blu-ray release is now less than a month away. As part of that, there will likely be more articles about the making of the series and the creation of the new re-mastered set. In this article, Star Trek experts (the things Trek they have done is long, varied, and would make you green with envy) Mike and Denise Okuda talk a little bit about how some of the effects were re-created for the Blu-ray edition. In specific they talk about the main-title sequence with the quick look at the Observation Lounge where can see "people" moving about. It turns that what seems like a piece of high tech CGI work is really as low tech as you can get with the use of simple pencil drawings. The tech comes in re-mastering the footage while retaining that original quality. The full discussion is at, a few snippets below.
The anecdote in the VAM [value added material, aka set extras] about the little animation sequence is one of our favorites on the entire six discs of the TNG season-one Blu-ray set. Take us through the story. This goes back to when the show originally aired, right?
Mike Okuda: Yes, the tiny people in the Observation Lounge window were there from the very first episode, back in 1987. The actual animation was done by Wes Takahashi at Industrial Light and Magic. John Knoll (also at ILM) did an amazing job of re-photographing the animation, shrinking it down to the proper size to fit in the windows, and programming the camera move to match the motion of the Enterprise. This was so the image would travel with the Enterprise so it could appear to be actually inside the ship. He used a gizmo called a pin-registered motion-control animation stand, which was quite a technical wonder at the time. Even so, it was not an easy shot to do.

Denise Okuda: The genius of these guys is that they have so much experience that they knew exactly how much detail is necessary in order to create a realistic image on film. That animation looks pretty crude when you just look at it by itself. But when it was composited into the windows, it looks absolutely realistic in the final shot. They knew exactly what the shot needed to fool the eye. Just brilliant.

How amazed were you that CBS folks found the actual footage, and how thrilled are you to let audiences see it so fully now?
Denise: We were sitting in a screening room with David Grant and Ryan Adams at CBS several months ago, reviewing all sorts of odd film bits. It was a lot of different early film tests and stuff that we were looking at for the documentaries and such. Lots of lighting tests, makeup tests, things like that.

Mike: Then, suddenly, the pencil animation came on screen. We all went, “Huh?” Then, a second later, we realized what they had found. We both got really excited and started talking very quickly. Obviously, the first thing that happened was that Craig Weiss and his team at CBS Digital were able to use it to rebuild that iconic shot at the end of the main title.

Denise: Once the Powers That Be at CBS found out about it, everyone got excited. This bit of film has never, never been seen, except by the visual effects team, back in 1987. Now, you’ll be able to see it in the rebuilt title, as well as in the behind-the-scenes documentary in the Blu-ray set.

Some footage from the Season Two Blu-ray set will be teased at the TNG movie event. How far along are you guys on seasons two and beyond?
Denise: Season Two is well underway, and several episodes are already in the can. But right now, we’re focused on the release of the season-one Blu-ray set. If you couldn’t tell, we’re really excited for the fans to finally see the result of everyone’s hard work. It’s been months and months of blood, sweat, and tears for everyone on the CBS Star Trek team.

Mike: Well, maybe not tears, but it’s amazing how many different people at different departments have a hand in this. CBS is literally rebuilding these episodes from scratch. Even though they’re doing it with painstaking respect for the originals, the finished product is like seeing these episodes for the very first time.

No comments:

Post a Comment