Today TrekMovie presents the second part of our interview with Mike and Denise Okuda, discussing the upcoming "Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level" Blu-ray coming out next week. This time we get more detail on how the approach to bringing the Next Generation to HD differs from the remastering of the original Star Trek, and how the focus this time is to make the process even more seamless. Details below, plus more images.
INTERVIEW: Mike & Denise Okuda talk Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level Blu-ray [Part 2]
TrekMovie: One of things that was within the scope of the project for the remastering of the original Star Trek was to periodically fix something that was deemed a mistake. Will you be doing that for The Next Generation?
Mike Okuda: There will be far far fewer of those kinds of things. For the most part, we find that people – for whatever reason – that is part of the viewing experience. So to smooth over things they expect to see we find will disappoint some people. That being said, very occasionally there will be some minor tweaks. An example of that is in The Next Level, there is a shot where Picard orders the phasers to be fired at a low level to bathe the wounded space creature to bring it back to life. In the original version the phasers incorrectly came from the Captain’s Yacht. Having worked at Paramount at the time, the original ship’s designer Andrew Probert was very disappointed because that wasn’t where the phasers were supposed to come from. So we thought "let’s make Andy happy."
TrekMovie: Another thing you did last time was to replace over-used repeated establishing shots with something new, like a new angle. Is that something you will be doing or less of an issue with TNG?
Mike Okuda: If that happens, it will be on a much smaller scale. One thing we are trying to be cognizant of is that people who buy the show, know the show really well. We want them to get the show that they fell in love with and not say "wow, these guys were really clever." We want them to say "the original designers were clever." We want to highlight their work.
TrekMovie: That brings up an issue that has been brought up by some fans who are wondering why this set is not being done in widescreen. Some believe the original film elements have more information on them and it could be done in widescreen without cropping. Is that possible?
Mike Okuda: First of all, it is our very strong desire is to respect the original work by the original directors and cinematographers. By cropping and letterboxing, we change the composition. You make things appear bigger and more crowded. It is true that in some shots – not all – but in some shots there is additional information on the film. But then again you are changing the original intention.
Denise Okuda: And in a lot of cases there are things that aren’t intended to be seen – sandbags, light stands, whatever – on the sides. The major thing is that we want to preserve the composition and the look of what the original filmmakers wanted to offer.
TrekMovie: There is another side to that. As I was watching The Next Level I was impressed with the amazing amount of detail you could see. But you also notice things that were never meant to be seen, such as a scuff on a set element or a seem in make-up – that kind of thing. Is that something you are concerned about? The original intent was never for this to be seen in 1080p.
Mike Okuda: That is a very good point. Our attitude is that it is part of the original show. It is not something we think is that distracting. It is certainly visible if you look for it. For the most part, it is what was shot.
TrekMovie: Well I know you used to drop things into your famed "Okudagrams," like people’s names.
Mike Okuda: For the most part we are going to leave those as they are, as they are not particularly noticeable if you don’t go looking for them. There will be a few places where if we think they are going to be distracting, that is if you watch the show and go "oh, there is Gene’ Roddenberry’s name!" Those kind of things we will look more closely at them and undoubtedly change some of them.
TrekMovie: So how far into it are you now, still on the first season?
Mike Okuda: Pretty much.
TrekMovie: Well good luck and thanks. We are all very excited about the project.
Mike Okuda: Thank you Anthony and we appreciate everything you do to promote Star Trek.
Denise Okuda: And we are very excited too. We are excited that people are going to finally get to see what we have been seeing.
"Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level" featuring HD versions of the two-part pilot “Encounter at Farpoint," along with "Sins of the Father," and "The Inner Light" will be released next Tuesday, January 31st. You can pre-order from Amazon for $14.99.
POLL: Picking up TNG Blu-ray sampler?