Jump to content





Recommended Posts

Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season was released on Blu-Ray last week, the culmination of more than a year's work in digitally restoring and remastering the first season for high-definition.


I go into this in more detail in the linked post, but briefly ST:TNG was originally shot on high-quality 35mm film but was mastered and compiled on standard-definition video for NTSC transmission in the United States. Whilst it looked good in 1987, this was not acceptable for high-definition viewing (and was starting to push it on the DVD releases, to be honest). After various upscaling experiments failed, CBS went back to the original 35mm film elements and re-scanned them. This required the entire series to be re-edited and re-composited from scratch, with every optical effect (phaser blasts, transporter beams etc) redone as well. They also had to replace every background planet shot in the series (the originals surviving only as low-res bitmaps) with animated 3D spheres, and the few instances of CGI-only shots had to be remade from scratch.


The results, costing tens of millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours, are well worth it. The series looks jaw-dropping in HD, like it was filmed yesterday. Re-compositing effects sequences from scratch with 2012 equipment has had the unintended (but very welcome) side-effect of eliminating matte lines and obvious uses of greenscreen. Overall, the series looks fantastic.


The only flies in the ointment are that, since the show was not originally shot in widescreen, it cannot be shown in widescreen. Watching the HD image in a square picture can be a bit disconcerting, it has to be said, although you soon adjust to it. The other problem is that, well, it's the first season. The Battle, The Arsenal of Freedom, Conspiracy and a few other episodes are decent-to-good, but there are no all-time classic episodes here and quite a few howlers: Justice is still one of the worst 45 minutes of TV you will ever watch in your entire life, though even with this episode it's still possible to appreciate the impressive planet rendering effects and the alien space probe god thing, which looks a bit weirder and creepier in HD.


Nevertheless, a brilliant technical achievement and a potentially vital precedent in how other older shows can be 'saved' for future HD reproductions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...