This morning CBS Paramount held a telephone press conference with Star Trek Remastered producers David Rossi, Mike Okuda and CBS Paramount Domestic Television President John Nogawski. Although the call covered a number of issues, the CBS team wanted it to be clear that Star Trek Remastered was about improving quality and not about changes to the narrative of Star Trek. “We are not changing the story,” said Okuda “We are passionate about Star Trek and are just enhancing the experience”. Nogawksi discussed their reasoning behind the project saying that with a new generation being brought up with HDTV it was ‘imperative’ that they update the classic series. Mike Okuda said that like Rossi he was initially reluctant, but after he was assured that CBS wanted to preserve the shows original intent he became very enthusiastic. Okuda and Rossi went into detail on how every new CGI shot will mimic the original choices made the original editors and director, right down to the placement of stars. “We think of the original show like a period piece,” said Okuda. The producers said that they have been checking out fan response on various Trek boards and felt that their respectful approach has gone over well.
Focus on space and exterior shots, rarely effect live action
Going into more detail, the producers said their focus for new CGI shots is on 3 areas: spaceship exteriors, shots of the iconic viewscreen, and matte paintings. Regarding live action shots they did say that on rare occasions they may fix a ‘goof’, using the example of a missing phaser beam in "The Naked Time", but were clear there would be no changes that ever effected the plot. Nogawski emphasised that CBS took ‘painstaking’ efforts to match the original show shot for shot, edit for edit. When asked specifically about ‘costume goofs’ such as visible zippers, the team said those would not be fixed with CGI. So those rubber suits will look just as good as they did in 1966, including any ‘wardrobe malfunctions’. Okuda scoffed at a question regarding adding ridges to the old style Klingons, making it clear that even if they had the time and resources to devote to such a huge undertaking they would never want to. He also pointed out how an episode of Star Trek Enterprise explained why the Klingons of the Original Series look different than those in the films and later series.
Remastered in HD, but not available in HD?
One of the areas of confusion lately is regarding the availability to see the show in HDTV. TrekMovie.com was told that some stations would be carrying the show in HD, but since that time no listings (including on digital HD stations) seem to be in HD. When asked about this Nogawksi said that all the remastered episodes are ‘available’ in HD format, however there are issues regarding affiliates abilities to store the show in HD so for now it is being distributed in SD. He went on to say that as time went on they would try and work with affiliates who wanted to show Star Trek Remastered in HD. So it appears for the time being that the only place to see Star Trek Remastered in HD is at CBS Paramount headquarters. Another lingering question that is also vexing our friend Bill Hunt at Digital Bits, revolves around the format for the HD versions of the show. CBS said that the show in syndication was in standard 4:3 ratio, but the new HD master was in 16:9 widescreen. What is unclear is if this widescreen version crops the original show, or if it has left and right black bars ‘
letterboxing ‘ [Matt of httpcnews.com lets me know that the correct term for vertical bars is ‘pillarboxing’]. Expect updates as more info comes out about HD, ratios, etc.
Remastered to the Future: All versions will be available, including DVDs
One of the big topics revolved around what happens next with Star Trek and Star Trek Remastered. Nogaski pointed out that G4TV and TV-Land will continue to show the classic series for at least a couple of years. In the future they and others would have a choice as to which show they wanted and speculated that some would prefer the Remastered version. He also said that when they got around to re-issuing DVDs they would make the remastered version available, but that wouldn’t be until after the syndication run. Even though the runtime for the syndicated shows is roughly 8 minutes shorter than the original episodes, the full versions are being remastered and will be available in both edited and ‘uncut’ versions for the future. It also appears that at this time there are no plans to give the same treatment to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or Star Trek: Voyager.
No link to Star Trek XI
One sneaky reporter asked if CBS Paramount were working with JJ Abrams and the Star Trek XI team. The sneaky part was how he asked if there was talk about ‘matching the look’ for the new movie, said to be set in the Original Series time period. Unfortunately CBS did not take the bait and confirm that Star Trek XI was indeed set in the TOS era and went on to say that their project was fully independent of work being done at Paramount Pictures. "As far as we know there is no script, but we did let them know what we were doing," said Nogawski. He did point out that the work should bring the show up to date with the quality of CGI work done on some of the latest Star Trek features and that Star Trek Remastered should ‘raise the profile of the show’, which can only help the upcoming film.
Episode List Confusion
Last week TrekMovie.com was told that the first four episodes would be ‘Balance of Terror’, ‘Miri’, ‘Devil in the Dark’ and ‘The Naked Time’. In the call we were told the first five would be ‘Balance of Terror’, ‘Journey to Babel’, ‘Mirror/Mirror’ and ‘The Managerie’ (parts I & II). One would assume this second list to be more accurate, but Miri has already started showing up on TV listings, so maybe the first list is more accurate. Or maybe they are both accurate. TrekMovie will try and clear all this up.
As reported here yesterday, Star Trek Enterprise is ending it’s run in broadcast syndication after only one year. Stations that were signed up for Enterprise will now be sent Star Trek Remastered. Nogawski stated that the final decision to remaster TOS came down in March after the idea came up in January of this year. He denied the decision had anything to do with the performance of Enterprise, going on to say "Enterprise is better off in strip syndication on the SciFi Channel and HD-net".
NEW SUBSITE: Check out the new ‘Star Trek Remastered’ Section
…and check out our friend Bill Hunt’s summary of the call at DigitalBits
UPDATE: Here are the two images courtesy of CBS Paramount Television
(click images to get hi res version)