Remastered Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray A Huge Leap Forward

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News Posted: Tue, Feb 28 2012 3:09 PM
There's been no new Star Trek TV series since Enterprise limped off screens in 2005, but the huge success of the 2009 Star Trek movie and the gradual growth of Blu-ray has caught CBS' attention (CBS acquired ownership of the Star Trek franchise in 2006). The broadcast company is preparing to release Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray -- with substantial improvements.

The DVD boxed sets that exist today were created from the taped broadcasts that were shown in the early 90s. Rather than repackaging that material, CBS has gone back to the original film stock and started from scratch. "They're taking the original film elements and recompositing them," says Michael Okuda, the graphics designer who created the look/feel of Star Trek computer graphics and the LCARS operating system. "The actual film -- that detail is beautiful, and these  new visual effects are really the old visual effects more beautiful than you've ever seen them."

The difference is enormous. CBS has released a preview Blu-ray titled Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Next Level with three updated episodes. The pilot (Encounter at Farpoint), Sins of the Father, and one of the best episodes of the series' entire run, The Inner Light ; we've put together a series of comparison shots between the DVD and Blu-ray version of Encounter at Farpoint; DVD screenshots are on the left, Blu-ray on the right.


DVD Left - Blu-ray Right - Click to enlarge

This is the Enterprise-D's first establishing beauty shot. In the DVDs, the colors are muted; the lines of the deflector dish are blurred. The Enterprise-D in the Blu-ray version looks like a ship that's fresh out of spacedock. There are also portholes and windows lit in the new versions that were dark in the old; calling out detail areas that were invisible in the original broadcasts.


DVD Left - Blu-ray Right - Click to enlarge

This shot captures three different uniform colors against a red and black background. The DVD image quality has never been particularly good here; early episodes were often red-shifted. In the DVD, Picard's tunic is nearly the same hue as the background behind him; the Blu-ray makes it obvious that these were two distinctly different colors. Data's skin is now a distinctly different shade than that of Troi, Picard, or Yar; highlighting his android status. This sort of subtle color variation, which was all but lost in the original broadcasts, stands out in the higher detail Blu-ray version.



DVD Left - Blu-ray Right - Click to enlarge

This shot, from near the end of the episode, highlights some of the new special effects. The energy transfer beam has moved from the Captain's Yacht (a location that never made much sense) to the ventral phaser array. The energy beam is much improved, but the Enterprise itself looks odd. This shot stands out not because it's CGI, but because it's a CGI model that's distinctly different from how the ship appears in the rest of the episode. None of the episodes CBS included on the preview disc include much in the way of special effects, so it's impossible to say if this is a one-off issue or a persistent problem.


DVD Left - Blu-ray Right - Click to enlarge

The matte painting of the energy beam striking Farpoint is again much sharper. CBS clearly kept the original image but rebalanced the color and preserved significantly more detail.

We're a bit dubious of the CGI Enterprise, but after the fabulous job CBS did on the original Star Trek, we want to see more of what's in store for TNG. There are some episodes where CGI could make a huge positive difference; the early Borg episodes and the Battle of Wolf 359 were clearly limited by the technology and budget of the day. CBS' current plan is to release two seasons a year, beginning in 2012, with new extras and interviews accompanying the episodes. Sadly, Paramount hasn't re-scored the pieces the remove some of the incredibly cheesy audio or asked Marina Sirtis to re-dub a few of her lines to sound  a bit less like an overwrought heroine from Victorian erotica, but these issues eventually resolve themselves as the show evolves.
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lipe123 replied on Tue, Feb 28 2012 6:51 PM

Just what the world needs, more copies of old things rehashed and sold for a premium to milk a dead cow some more. *sigh*

Why don't they make a new series, or movie instead!?

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we know blu ray has a good quality but its expensive. If i just want to see the movie i will go with dvd less money and less quality :-p

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TSpear replied on Tue, Feb 28 2012 7:10 PM

I'm fortunate to have only recently gotten into Star Trek (any of them) -- So I'll spring for the Blu-Ray version.

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Benminnn replied on Tue, Feb 28 2012 7:22 PM

Yeah, it's a good thing that huge media conglomerates like CBS can only work on one project at a time, otherwise you might look foolish.

Having grown up on TNG I am extremely pleased by this news. The whole series is on Netflix, but in truth it's starting to look a bit dated. This is a wonderful update.

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karanm replied on Tue, Feb 28 2012 8:45 PM

The original series with Captain Kirk was good but TNG is definitely my favorite series, some great episodes but I wonder when the movies will come out on blu ray?

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BMcBeen replied on Tue, Feb 28 2012 8:53 PM

@cowboyspace: Thats the great thing about this. You have a choice! It's important to note though, this is not about the movies. These are TNG tv episodes that were never released in HD. I personally am very excited to see these coming!

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JDiaz replied on Tue, Feb 28 2012 11:08 PM

Actually, the next movie is in the works but it's going to take awhile... Release date is expected to be May 17, 2013.

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JRhoten replied on Tue, Feb 28 2012 11:30 PM

I was very happy with the TOS ones, looking forward to this.

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eunoia replied on Wed, Feb 29 2012 12:30 AM

.

 

...pending.

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OSunday replied on Wed, Feb 29 2012 12:38 AM

I personally appreciate the way that special effects looked when TNG was made, it gives me a nostalgic feel even though it was made before I was born, the effect style reminds me of growing up.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to the special effects, the revamped quality in general will be nice and the fact it'll be better formatted and more enjoyable to view on HD TV's and screens but I'm worried the redone special effects are going to look overly cheesy, like the way they're done on the cheap movies/shows that come out on the SyFy (sci-fi) channel every now and then

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Love the update but at the same time I am not sure how I feel about them adding CGI into the episodes. This is sort of like when they first released Star Wars on DVD there were places in the movies where CGI was obviously added in and it looked very out of place with the rest of the movies.

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Nope, I actually disagree with all the posters about this. If they truly went back to the orginal material then Star Trek TNG has finally gotten the treatment it deserves. All of the DVD's from the TNG have all be crappy, 4:3 renditions. In some cases the broadcast version was clearer than the version I watch on my DVDs. This means that the originals will be preserved, we'll likely get 16:9 viewing, and realitive HD viewing. I am all for it except....

My only hope is that they don't go overboard with effects changes and instead of phasers everybody has walkie talkies and nobody wants to see the Furangi shoot first. Preserve the orginal format with the original special effects (you can George Lucas the hell out of it all you want, just make sure you don't tell us we can never watch the orginal ever again), don't change the characters or story by modding the effects in intrusive ways (again, unless we have access to the oringals), make things clean and clear and big and broad and awesome to watch on my 50" plasma with updated dynamic sound in 16:9 and I'm on board all the way.

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Cutop replied on Wed, Feb 29 2012 9:41 AM

When I saw TNG for the first time I was watching on a 15 year old 19" CRT. Now I am trying to watch on 42" Plasma. It is almost painful to watch the DVDs at time. As for special effects changes, the CGI is cleaning up the original Special effects, as opposed to changing the look and feel. The noticeable change was pointed out by the author

"The energy transfer beam has moved from the Captain's Yacht (a location that never made much sense) to the ventral phaser array."

This simply makes the special effects more consistent with the rest of the series.

All in all I will be getting the series on blu-ray, if I want that nostalgic feeling I will pop in one of the original DVDs. And remind myself why I bought the blu-ray edition.

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realneil replied on Wed, Feb 29 2012 10:07 AM

The original material is the important thing. They can add whatever they want to it, just leave us access to the original versions too.

I'll watch both.

Who knows, in 20 years they may be adding to and cleaning up these new modified versions,..........Smile

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AKwyn replied on Wed, Feb 29 2012 4:19 PM

There was discussion about this in two of the forums I board on and it seems to be mostly the opposite here, they love to see TNG enhanced mainly because they did such a good job with Star Trek: TOS, and they had doubts about that one beforehand. I'm in the ones who'd love to see it enhance and it's clear that the remastering of it makes it better, there may be some things I don't like but overall it's for the better. That doesn't mean the originals are bad, it's just I'm excited to see TNG remastered, though the people here are right when they want access to the originals; myself included.

Still... can't wait!

 

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Manduh replied on Sun, Mar 4 2012 9:47 PM

As much as I dislike remakes and 'remasters' I'm looking forward to this. The Star Trek series are our go to shows for when we eat dinner and seeing them in a more vibrant way on our 56" HD tv will be wayyy better. :) With TV's getting more advanced it's nice to see old shows being re-released to match the standards of today.

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AMcGaughey replied on Wed, Mar 21 2012 12:08 AM

This will not be 16:9. It will be 4:3.

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I like the way People refer to Blu ray as (It offers Grate Quality), Or (Wow look at that picture). Please remember that Blu ray is just DVD technology but larger. 1080p Video needs more room. You can download Full HD content from the internet, And play it back using usb hdd, Flash storage or other such devices. No blu ray in sight.

When blu ray dies the next thing comes alone and I will enjoy reading more stories when people refer to that format and slag off the one before it. Grate now soon to be grate crap. Does sony send you a thank you Email when you go out and buy an Over priced 50GB disc, that uses a Blue laser. No they don't care, And neither do I.

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menes777 replied on Fri, Apr 27 2012 5:02 PM

I like the way people talk about technology and have no idea what they are talking about.  I guess you must not have a BluRay player or else you would know that there is a big difference between DVD movies and BluRay movies.  BR uses an entirely different file structure and compression type for its data.  DVD uses MPEG2, BR uses VC-1 and AVC (ok early BR used MPEG2 but only a few titles used that).  Your other statement is utter non-sense.  You can copy DVD content (after it's ripped of course) as well to a HDD, flash drive or any other storage medium and play it back as well.   It means nothing.  All DVD and Blu-Ray are is storage mediums.  They hold X amount of data and can be filled with anything that will fit.  Actually you can put full length HD sources on a DVD disc (such as an MKV file).  Really you should learn about technology before making comments that make you look stupid. 

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this is a Grate response

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