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Okudas: Star Trek: The Next Generation Remastering

Posted by T'Bonz - 12/07/12 at 01:07 pm


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Mike and Denise Okuda recently answered fan questions regarding the forthcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray release.

The couple covered a wide range of topics, including their Comic-Con panel this week (which took place earlier today), the cinematic screenings of The Next Generation (Where No One Has Gone Before and Datalore), commentaries, extended editions and lost footage, repairing errors, the possibility of Deep Space Nine in HD and the Okuda’s thoughts on just what Star Trek means to them.

Today’s Comic-Con panel including the Okudas featured the “principal people behind the restoration,” said Mike Okuda, “plus filmmakers Roger Lay and Robert Meyer Burnett. We’ll be talking about the restoration process, the visual effects, the bonus features, the documentaries and just the fact that this is such a huge project and it’s the largest – as far as we know – the largest project of its kind that has ever been attempted.”

Fans were excited when they heard that an extended version of The Measure of a Man might be included in the The Next Generation Blu-ray release, and it turns out that finding that extra footage was a lucky break for the Okudas. “That was kind of an unusual circumstance in that…first of all, we had a very, very early cut of the picture,” said Mike Okuda. “It happened to be Melinda Snodgrass‘ first professional tale. So when we found out there was an early version that was quite a bit longer than the final version, we were so excited about that! This was back in the day, I actually asked our friends in the editorial department for a copy of it and we gave that to her and she happened to hold onto it for all these years, because normally that sort of thing isn’t saved. When the Blu-Ray project started up, we emailed Melinda and said ‘Hey, is there any chance you still have that VHS tape?’ And she was so kind. She just mailed it back to us – that’s why we have it.”

“And everyone’s trying their darnedest to make it happen,” said Denise Okuda. “It’s kind of a crapshoot, but everybody is very enthusiastic that the process is going forward. Right now we can’t tell you if it’s going to be a happy ending, but everybody is very excited about the possibility and trying to make it happen.

According to Mike Okuda, in the extended version of the episode,”The plot itself does not change. What changes is more character development, more texture, there’s more emotion to it – you understand people’s motivations a little better.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans are hoping that after The Next Generation has all been released on Blu-ray, that their show gets the remastered treatment too. The Okudas would like to see that happen too. “God, would we love that,” said Denise Okuda. “Now that would be great!” added Mike Okuda.

But “It’s so far in the future,” said Mike Okuda.

“In the future,” said Denis Okuda. “But wouldn’t that be fun?”

The three-part interview can be found at the referring site.

Source: TrekCore

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  • Ireland

    Are they making changes to the CGI effects like they did with TOS? Redoing them or just touching them up?

  • Kang the Unbalanced

    Reportedly, very little. Less than TOS. The main reason is, they actually have most of the original film elements to recreate the original effects with; for TOS, they had film, but it was finished film, with the sometimes horrible effects already in place. (I’m looking at you, Gorgon.) This means they can recreate the original effects, but in HD it will be a lot cleaner, sharper, and with much better color fidelity. It’s surprisingly impressive, hit YouTube or TrekMovie for the trailer.
    The only CGI replacement I know of so far is to remove some annoying repetitions like the ever-present “green planet”, and to recreate effects that they don’t have all the elements for.

  • Ireland914

    Ohh ok. Thanks for the info. I wonder if they fixed things like when Geordi drops his phaser by Armus in the episode where Tasha dies. I always loved that part :D

  • Blueraspberry_icee

    The single effect I wish they would change is the WAAAAYYY overused rendevous of the Enterprise with the Excelsior ship. Even if the ship is of the same design, give us a different angle or something for pete’s sake!

  • http://twitter.com/robtclements Robert Clements

    Can i play advocate’s devil on this?

    This is one Niner who won’t be buying a tarted-up set up DS9 effects; & – going further – i find projects like these the problem with the current direction of Star Trek rather than its solution. No-one ever cared that the effects on TOS were lousy (many of us first saw the thing in grainy black & white smeg’s sake) & improving the effects on TNG won’t hide the fact that the first year’s scripts (the old Phase II revamps) were legendarily awful. We’re not getting new episodes out of these projects-we’re just repackaging the old stuff with crystal clear visuals. The accountants truly have taken over the asylum; & instead of hooting with derision, some fans are acting as though this is a major advance. It isn’t. It’s just a bookend

    Wake me when Star Trek starts putting this kind of money into new stories with new characters

  • Guest

    If you didn’t like the episodes, don’t watch them. Don’t pretend that Trek is somehow harmed (it will, obviously, profit financially) by fans with HDTVs being able to watch TNG in high definition. They deserve to be seen in the highest resolution possible for the home viewing audience.

  • http://twitter.com/robtclements Robert Clements

    That’s the problem in a nutshell. Not one comment about telling stories, just a blind celebration of exaggerated visual resolution. The audience – not just for science fiction & fantasy, though these genres are generally at the cutting edge – has been so dazzled by blank visuals that many fans have forgotten that they shouldn’t matter

    I couldn’t help noting that your apparent defense of these retreads was financial. What else could it ever have been? It’s the asset of Star Trek locked into a death spiral, coldly gorging on its own carrion

  • Hamster

    There’s no harm in enjoying both… I’m a bit baffled by this age-old argument. First of all, there’s no shortage of Star Trek available in a variety of media (TV, Film, Video Games, Novels, etc…), so it’s hard to argue that it’s a lack of financial commitment to the series that has kept some great stories from coming to fruition. It seems a bit asinine to to say that simply by virtue of wanting to give us the best A/V representation of beloved existing episodes somehow is a stain on the franchise. Good stories and high-quality presentation are, to a large degree, mutually exclusive. I suppose one could say better/more writers could be paid to write new stories, but even that’s a crapshoot anyway. You can hire the best writers/producers/etc… but in the end, even they can turn out a turd. At the end of the day, we’re blessed to have hundreds of outstanding episodes from 5 television series, 11 movies and hundreds of novels. your argument holds no merit. There is nothing wrong with restoring the A/V presentation on the series in-and-of-itself.

  • Mike Okuda

    I hope that if we are able to do DS9 in HD – and the studio is at least thinking about it – you’ll be pleased that CBS’s goal is to honor the original work and to present the original stories and the original characters and the original artistic decisions as you remember them, just sharper, clearer, with more accurate colors, yet true to the original artists’ visions.

    Yes, I do think that this is a major advance. In order to present Star Trek: TNG in true HD, CBS undertook a major project to re-scan all of the original film, reconstruct all of the original edits, and rebuild all of the visual effects.

    I think that if you’re a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation – as I am – you’ll see that this is a richer experience because HD restores much of the power of the imagery that was lost in the murkiness of standard definition television.

    And if we are so fortunate to be able to do DS9 at some point down the road, I hope you’ll see that your favorite show will be treated with exactly the same care and respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000330328502 Taylør Seidel

    Mike Okuda,

    I emailed you roughly ten years ago to ask whether you could help provide a tour of the Voyager set for my cousin Brianna, who is blind and hard of hearing. As I recall, you responded to say you were unable to. I was a bit surprised that you actually responded, and I very much appreciated the consideration you gave in responding. With that in mind, I’m not surprised you took the time to respond to Robert Clements. While I don’t share his sentiments, I am amazed that you care about the fans, to the point where you take the time to respond to individual inquires.

    With that said, I would like to add in my two cents regarding the remastering of TNG. I bought the Next Level sampler that came out in January, and was immensely impressed with the amount of work that went into rescanning the original raw materials to make the presentation suitable for a resolution of 1920×1080 in a 4:3 aspect ratio. I was also relieved that the 4:3 aspect ratio was retained, as cropping the picture to fit into a 16:9 aspect ratio would have betrayed the director’s vision of the episode, as well as the vision of all the talented people who worked on the show. Having family that works in the film business, I’m keenly aware of the amount of work that goes into a production, whether it be an episode of a TV show, movie, or a commercial. If the original vision can be retained, even honored, then it is a win-win situation for all involved, including the fans.

    As someone who is profoundly deaf, I have been fortunate that nearly all of Trek put onto physical media has descriptive audio captions, as well as captions/subtitles on the special features which is not commonplace on other productions. The fact that the special features found on the standard definition discs of the various Star Trek series have closed captioning and/or subtitles is a testament to the thoroughness of the staff who work on putting Trek on physical media. It is my hope that this continues with the Blu-Ray discs.

    However, if there was one thing I would like to see in the Blu-Ray set of TNG, it would be an option to add an opaque background to the SDH subtitles. (HD video does not have closed-captioning due to HDMI cords not carrying line 22 that carries captions, in addition to the digital nature of the signal, vs the analog signal found on SD video. This is why SDH subtitles are becoming more prevalent today, because regular subtitles do not have descriptive audio subtitles. example; [PHASERS FIRING] ) Sometimes, if there is a scene that involves snow or a very bright scene set in broad daylight, it can be difficult to read the white/yellow subtitles. Living in a hearing world, I understand that consideration is given to the majority, which means transparent subtitles so that they are less of an annoyance to hearing people, but, such is life for me. I’ve found ways to circumvent this annoyance, but, that’s due to my technical skill. It would be nice of other deaf people had the option to add in an opaque background to the subtitles if they so wished.

    Other than that minor issue, I commend the entire staff, including the Okudas, that are dedicated to bringing us an excellent Star Trek series in TNG to high-definition for us to enjoy. I only hope to see DS9 and all the other Star Trek series receive the remastered in HD treatment. I will be buying the TNG S1 Blu-Ray set, and the subsequent seasons released in Blu-Ray, because I admire and respect the work put into bringing this great show to HD.

  • http://twitter.com/robtclements Robert Clements

    So in ten years time, with no new stories emerging from the company, you’ll be happy to pay again for the digital 3D edition?

  • Ireland

    I don’t understand what the problem with improved visuals is. The storytelling that captured my interest is still there, this is just an improvement in visual quality. Nothing is lost, only gained. With HD we get to see details we never noticed before and have the chance appreciate the art of TNG with a clearer picture. There’s also the possibility that new fans will get into TNG because now that it’s being released in contemporary media. To those complaining about a lack if new stories, that depends on the success of the reboot films. Before Star Trek (2009) our beloved franchise was on a downward spiral and many people were losing interest. LOve it or hate it, the reboot has brought a lot of attention back to Star Trek. If we want to see anything NEW in the Star Trek universe, people have to support the reboots and remastered releases. The unfortunate reality is the studios need to foresee significant profit in pursuing a new television series.

  • Langster

    I totally agree with Hamster’s comment. For me personally, I can’t wait for the blu-ray release of TNG, so I can watch it on my 150 inch projector screen. It is my choice. If you don’t like the blu-ray release then don’t buy it. Simple as that!!!

  • Hamster

    You’re beating a dead horse buddy.

  • Hamster

    Well put. I think the overall point Mr. Clements continues to miss is that TV and Film are Aural and Visual media whereby the story along with the visual and audio effects contribute to the overall experience. When one facet is lacking, the overall piece suffers in terms of its impact on the audience.

    You guys are doing a wonderful service to us fans and I cannot wait to pick up the blu-ray on its release! I have the sampler disc and it was truly remarkable!

  • Kang the Unbalanced

    Mr. Okuda, while I honestly say I am waiting for the later seasons, I can also honestly say that I am very impressed with the restoration, and even more impressed with the amount of effort that CBS, and you, and all involved have put into it. My only mild disappointment is the removal of the in-jokes on screens and signage. I do sincerely hope that nice, gorgeous, color-corrected images of all the family trees, ship manifests, speed of light speed warnings, Banzai quotes, and other signs of intelligent life will be included in the extras.
    Thank you very much for caring.

  • Frank T.

    The Excelsior model in Season One was a stand-in for the Ambassador Class design by Andrew Probert (Enterprise-C displayed on the conference lounge wall display). Because of budget limitations they used the Excelsior model instead. A future “special edition” of TNG will hopefully revisit such scenes, provide us with a VFX option (just like TOS-R) and enable us to see Probert’s Ambassador Class ships as originally intended.
    But as Mr. Okuda said, the mission goal for the first Blu-ray release of TNG had been to keep it as close and familar to the original presentation as possible.