One area that hs been the source of much discussion regarding Star Trek Remastered has been the issue of it’s availability in true HD. The original press releases was not entirely clear and at one point CBS did claim that ‘only a handful’ of stations would be getting Trek in HD. However, when pressed on the issue during last week’s conference call, CBS downgraded ‘handful’ to ‘none’. Trek Remastered producer Dave Rossi stated “Our understanding is the major affiliates don’t have the storage capacity to do anything but live broadcast, so the choice has been made that we’re going to air them in their standard definition" TrekMovie.com has spoken to some Trek Remastered affiliates who say they are fully capable and want the show in HD. CBS acknowledged this in an email to TrekMovie.com, but claimed that these affiliates are only a small minority. CBS did tell us that they would start sending out the HD version ‘once enough stations have upgraded,’ but weren’t specific on what constitutes ‘enough stations’.
Now TVWeek have picked up on this issue:
But some station owners, who have spent millions to upgrade to high definition, said the "Trek" team’s argument is not, as a certain Vulcan officer would say, logical. "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" are going to be syndicated (by CBS) in HD starting next week, with about 50 upgraded stations on board. And Bill Carroll, VP director of programming at Katz Television Group, said stations want "Star Trek" in an HD format." Stations are looking for as many HD opportunities as they can, "Mr.Carroll said. "You don’t make these kind of investments if you don’t believe there’s an emerging audience."
Is it the middleman?
One reason for HD not getting to the HD affiliates may have something to do with CBS Paramount using a system called ‘Pathfire’ to distribute Trek Remastered, whereas "Wheel" and "Jeopardy" will be distributed the old fashioned way—a satellite feed. When called by TelevisionWeek, the Pathfire team said they can, in fact, distribute "Trek" in HD—very soon. "If stations and studios say to us, `We want to do this,’ trust me, we’ll do it," said Joe Fabiano, chief technology officer for Pathfire. Currently, Pathfire is conducting HD tests by distributing "Wheel"and "Jeopardy" to a few stations. What is interesting is that when users of various A/V oriented forums contact local affiliates they are told that the Pathfire satellite system isn’t ready for HD, even when the station itself is ready and willing.
4:3 and 16:9?
Until the HD issue is sorted out, the CBS Paramount team will make 4:3 and 16:9 versions of each episode. The team will also make available full-length and shorter syndication-length cuts of the series. An eventual DVD release is also planned. What has many worried is the ambiguous statement about both 16:9 and 4:3 versions. It is unclear what this actually means. Are there cropped in “Pan and Tilt” versions to make people with widescreen TVs feel special? If so that ruins the original aspect ratio. Are the proper aspect 4:3 versions available in HD as well as SD? This is an issue that both TrekMovie and our friends at Digital Bits will be looking into.
CBS: New SD is still better
So the only thing that is clear for now is that no one will actually see Star Trek Remastered in HD, even if they are watching it on a station capable of broadcasting in HD. Even when viewing Trek Remastered on a digital simulcast channel you will be seeing it in Standard Definition. CBS are quick to point out that this is still a big improvement, telling TrekMovie.com
Remember though, even a standard definition feed of Star Trek in an HD format will look a million times better than the old version because the film has been cleaned up and transferred to a higher quality digital standard. Plus, viewers will be able to enjoy the new special effects and music.
EDITOR’S NOTE: TrekMovie.com would like to welcome Matt Wright to the the family. In addition to being an avid Trekkie, Matt is a staff member at HTPCnews.com a premiere site for all things pertaining to media center PCs