Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Star Trek: TNG HD Remastering Process Interviews

If you have been following the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray then the links below are worth reading. TrekCore was able to speak with the CBS Digital team that worked on the Season 1 set and currently working on Season 3. They also spoke with two CBS executives over seeing the project and making sure there is consistently between the two teams (other being HTV Illuminate working on season 2 set). Below are the highlights but those just scratch the surface of the details provided in the interviews.

CBS Digital - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
CBS Execs - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

CBS Digital Highlights:
- Film negatives condition range from poor to very good especially those stored in a salt mine storage space
- After completing restoration, hoping to store the elements in better condition then found them
- When used scenes re-purposed from the movies, the original camera negatives (provided by Paramount) where also scanned. An example is the Star Trek III Starbase in episode "11001001"
- Only two seconds were lost from all of Season One (a shot of Riker) when sent to Technicolor during production at the time.
- Mastering the film in HD (1020p), not in 4K resolution (potential next gen resolution for TVs) Since each episodes time code has been recreated, can remaster for that format much more efficiently if it ever becomes common.
- After scanning in footage digitally, goes into Dust Removal System (DRS) to remove dust and dirt that was on negative when scanned and also removes any set pieces and boom mikes unintentionally captured on film.
- Takes about a week (sometimes two) for production and re-doing the visual effects for each episode
- Can take up to half a day to re-create a phaser beam depending on scene, light reflection and other details. Part of that is due to R&D to try to stay faithful to the often hand-drawn element that was used when it originally aired.
- Season 3 archived elements in better condition then season 1, in part to better film stock used that season. Assumption is original visual quality will increase from season to season as a result.
- Color correction takes 2 to 3 days as they have to consider multiple factors (story, the scene, tone, static sets like the Bridge, and more)
- Planets were re-created in CG using widescreen aspect ratio and then cropped for the episodes 4:3 ratio
- Matte painting used in backgrounds for many planet scenes (as opposed to green screen with CGI backgrounds used now) mostly held up but has to be enhanced with additional CG elements
- Re-creating many of the visual effects in the computer was a challenge due to the use of a lot of optical camera tricks, practical effects, hand drawn animation and other techniques used at the time that no longer are in use.
- Example is took weeks to re-create the transporter effect and to do the replicator visual effect they simply re-created the way it was done 25 years ago with a tube of water with sparkles in it.
- Season 3 has a smaller number of visual effects but those effects have greater complexity causing it to take even longer to re-create the effects then did with season 1.
- With CGI created objects, grain was added back to match the grain of the production footage to remain faithful to how it was shot.

CBS Execs Highlights:
- Took years for approval of the project due scope and complexity since required a huge investment in money and manpower
- Season 1 sales were good with what they thought would take months to sell only took a week
- Release schedule is Season 2 on December 4th, three seasons in 2013 and last two seasons in 2014
- Season 2 episode "Measure of a Man" will have an extended edition thanks to VHS tape from writer Melinda Snodgrass of that edit. With that as guide, able to find the cut scenes and rebuild the episode including using original music since full pieces were recorded but edited down when the episode was cut down for length
- "Measure of a Man" and "Q Who" will have audio commentary (no mention of who)
- Audio tracks are restored and remixed in Dolby 7.1 with 5.1 then derived from that using the original network stems. No audio from the episodes have been lost.
- There are discussions of releasing Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise on Blu-ray but no greenlight. Likely no decision will be made until the TNG project is completed and sales make it worthwhile

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