Rebuilding TNG for the HD age

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    From’s reports at last week’s big Las Vegas Star Trek convention [LINK]:

    Next Gen on Blu-ray?

    All three seasons of the originalStar Trek are now available in HD, but what about TNG? In a response to a question about TNG on Blu-ray, CBS Consumer Products VP John Van Citters told the crowd in Las Vegas that releasing Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray was much more “problematic” than the original Star Trek, due to how the TNG original effects shots were composited, and how that makes the transfer to HD “incredibly difficult without making them look awful.” However, he also said that there is “a lot of conversations going on” within CBS on how to convert TNG to HD, and Van Citters expressed optimism noting “It is being worked on and I expect it will happen, it is just a technical challenge.”

    Following his talk, I confirmed with Van Citters that even though he is optimistic that the challenges will be met, as of now there is no specific plan or budget for the project within CBS. So this is still something that is a long-term project.

    Bill Hunt at the Digital Bits explains why it’s gonna be a hell of a lot of work:

    There are obviously major challenges as, while the show was shot on film, all the effects and post production was done on SD analog video. So (in our opinion) in order to convert the series to HD and really do it right, all the original camera negatives would have to be scanned in HD resolution, and then all of the special effects and post production would have to be completely redone in HD via a similar CG upgrade process as was done with the remastered Star Trek: The Original Series. You’d basically have to rebuild each episode for HD. At least we HOPE that’s what they’d do, because if they just simply digitally upconverted from 480i to 1080p, there’s NOBODY who would want to buy that on Blu-ray. But rebuilding the show in HD is obviously a time consuming and expensive process.

    This makes me wonder if there isn’t more to the sudden recent unearthing of the TNG music vaults than meets the eye.

    What do you think? Does TNG need to go CGI in HD? How bad-ass would Best Of Both Worlds be then? Are we as attached to TNG’s visuals as some fans were to the original TOS FX shots when that show was upgraded to HD?

    Steve W
    Steve W
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    I personally think the special effects from TNG will look terrible no matter if they’re in standard definition or hi-def. They looked like hand-drawn low-res phaser effects and some halfway decent model shots that only looked good on a few higher profile episodes and later season shows. The show was from the ’80s and early ’90s, after all. Sure, it was the most expensive show on at it’s time, it doesn’t make the effects any better. They’ve got 3D models of the Enterprise D and a bunch of studio special effects guys who don’t have a Star Trek show to work on, let them improve the visuals and slap ’em onto Blu-Ray. I really don’t care, since I’ll never buy them. I found the show dull as dishwater. There were only a handful of episodes that stand out in my mind as great, and the rest of them are of the “holodeck has broken down, wackiness ensues” or “Data gets possessed, wackiness ensues” varieties. Blah.


    Rather surprisingly, The Digital Bits is reporting that the recent acquisition of the Trek library by Netflix may actually give the HD makeover of all 170+ episodes some traction – the implication is that Netflix would (partially) bankroll the massive work that needs to be done, and get first crack at offering the episodes commercially. There’s also a hint to watch out for an announcement at this year’s San Diego Comic Con regarding this.

    Color me surprised. In high definition.


    Digital Bits is reporting that its sources at Comic Con confirmed that not only is TNG:HD happening, but there may be a “sampler disc” out by the end of this year, with four episodes being worked on.

    No word as yet what episodes they’ve chosen. Which ones would you start with?

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    “Tin Man” would be my first pick. Next I would pick the two-parter when Picard becomes a Borg. “Best of Both Worlds”? I’m not sure of the title.

    Oh! And the one where they meet the Enterprise-C and the ship and crew transform into an alternate universe – except Guinan – and we get to see Lt. Yar again. “Yesterday’s Enterprise”? I’m lousy with titles today.


    I think your response neatly sums up the real question: “What will the episode be that isn’t Best Of Both Worlds part 1 or 2, or Yesterday’s Enterprise?” Because you pretty much know those will be three out of the four.

    A few episodes that I think would make nifty special FX showcases:
    Where No One Has Gone Before – very early episode, the Traveler shows up and sends the ship in the realm of floaty Christmas lights
    Contagion – season 2: the Enterprise gets a computer virus. Apparently they don’t have AVG or HijackThis! in the future.
    Q Who? – season 2: Q introduces the Borg to the Alpha Quadrant a little bit ahead of schedule. Thanks, Q.
    Peak Performance – next to last episode of season 2: Starfleet war games, and the Ferengi aren’t invited.
    Booby Trap – season 3: Enterprise stuck in the asteroid belt. (The original FX on this episode weren’t anything to sneeze at.)
    The Wounded – season 4: meet the Cardassians.
    Cause And Effect – season 5: the Enterprise blows up, then the Enterprise blows up, then the Enterprise blows up, then the Enterprise blows up…
    The Pegasus – season 7: Riker’s former commanding officer wants to retrieve forbidden Federation cloaking device.

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