TrekMovie got some time with Trek Remastered Producer David Rossi to talk about how the project is going and where they are going next.
Like any Trek endeavor, the CGI-enhanced Trek Remastered project has spawned much discussion. In general the show has been well received. The re-recorded theme and the digital transfers get a lot of praise. Much of the CGI work like the new matte paintings and planets have gone over quite well, and some of the live action touches have been pleasant surprises. However, much discussion has focused on how CBS have been digitally recreating Kirk’s classic Enterprise. Many seem to feel that the team have not got it quite right yet, but what may surprise the critics is that the producers at CBS agree. "It is not that we are unhappy with the work, but it is not yet the Enterprise as we want to see it" says Dave Rossi, going on "we want it to be there as much as everybody else does." And this is not just talk; the team has a plan…and a new model.
Not enough time and too much detail
The reasons for the Enterprise not meeting the most exacting standards are twofold. Firstly there is the matter of time. The CBS team only had one month to deliver the first 2 episodes with over 120 new effects shots. "People need to understand the amazing amount of work these guys had to do from a dead stop," says Rossi. Secondly the team started with a model of the Enterprise that was in essence ‘too good’. It had detail all the way down to the nuts and bolts which you would never see, and the problem is that it takes forever for their computers to render the shots. Rossi explains, "It was taking time from us to do the lighting and the things that make the Enterprise shine." Together these things gave the team little to no time to make the changes they felt were necessary.
A ‘new’ Enterprise for Trek Remastered
Things have settled down a bit for the team now that they have done a few episodes, but the biggest change is that they have a brand new digital model of the Enterprise. This week a new model with less of the render hungry (but invisible) detail is being delivered to the Trek Remastered team. Rossi says the new ship will cut down the render time dramatically and free up time to ‘do some of those cool things’ that they have wanted to do. "We will have time time to test lighting, coloring, and yes…those nacelle caps," says Rossi, "it is going to totally change the process, we are very excited about it." The team is so up on their new model that they hope to go back to some previously done shots and redo them. It is a welcome sign that the team is willing to make these improvements going forward (and backward). Many of those early shots get re-used throughout the series (an example would be the plastic-looking ‘left turn shot‘ seen last week in ‘I,Mudd’, which is a reuse of one of the first shots the team made for ‘Miri’). Due to the lead time in putting together an episode, the ‘new’ Enterprise won’t be making its debut until November.
More shots and more ships
Not only is the Enterprise getting a new look, it is also going to continue to show off new moves that were impossible to do with a physical model. "In the original series you only see it in 17 poses, we are going to give you 50 or 60," says Rossi. In addition to the Enterprise the team is also working on a number of new ships. Just last week they started working on the Khan’s Botany Bay for ‘Space Seed’ and according to Rossi it is going to get spruced up, or more accurately spruced down.” It is going to look like it has been in space all those years, it is going to be pitted and have scarring on it," says Rossi. Beyond that the team are also going to start creating some ship models for brand new ships, for example a new Gorn ship for ‘Arena’, an Orion ship for ‘Journey to Babel’ and a new freighter for ‘the Ultimate Computer’. The team feels that they should not be constrained to the same limits as the original effects team that often ran out of time and money. "Our job is to do ships, so why not give people ships," says Rossi enthusiastically.
And more ‘little surprises’
One thing that has been a pleasant surprise is the little changes in some of the shows, such as the android’s new innards in ‘I’Mudd’ or Sulu’s new chronometer in ‘The Naked Time’. These live action touches were not part of the original mandate for the show which was supposed to focus solely on replacing space shots and matte paintings. According to Rossi, when he and fellow producers Mike and Denise Okuda first look at the show they start thinking about what to fix and what they can convince the CBS Digital effects team to do in the time they have: "there are always things in each episode where you go ‘oh that looks bad I wish we could do something.’" Their priority will always be the space and matte shots, but when there is time they will always strive for more. "We are all very passionate about it and want to do everything we can, it is just a matter of having the time to do it," explains Rossi. This weekend keep your eyes on the Gorn in ‘Arena’ for another one of these touches.
Getting their space legs
The Trek Remastered team has been up and running for almost 3 months and has gone through some growing pains. The producers admit that with more time and money things would have gone smoother, but as Rossi points out "anyone who’s ever worked in series television will tell you that there’s never enough time. That’s the nature of the beast. We always complain about inadequate time, but CBS Digital is stepping up to the plate like the professionals that they are." One thing is for sure, Rossi and the Okudas have the respect, dedication and eye for detail that Trek deserves. The rest of the CBS Digital team has been on a learning curve, but it appears that they are getting the hang of it and the new model should be a big help. There are dozens more episodes to go, with a projected completion of all 79 in early 2008. TrekMovie wishes the team good luck and, of course, we will be there every step of the way to keep track of their progress.
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it sounds like they’ve gone and effed with the Gorn’s eyes.
Well this is good news to hear all around. Thanks for awsome scoop Tony!
It’s encouraging to hear that the work on the episodes we’ve seen so far aren’t etched in stone and can be gone back to and improved upon still. This makes the whole deal far more intereresting to me. :)
GREAT!! AWESOME NEWS!!!
i’m really psyched about the new new enterprise
Now, looking ahead, I really hope they do something about Sylvia and Korob’s true alien appearances at the end of “Catspaw.” I mean, wow. I hope they take the initiative and create something brand new there.
“The CBS team only had one month to deliver the first 2 episodes with over 120 new effects shots.” …
Holy great bird of the galaxy! That’s a LOT of work in very little time.
i just hope they make live action phasers updated along with all the other “little surprises”
Forgive my negative post (#1) – despite the possible CGI Gorn creature, I am pleased the Powers That Be are remastering the Remastered Enterprise, addressing our issues (nacelles, etc.)
It sounds like they are listening to us and hearing what we have to say.
So…………….. Here’s my wishlist (in airdate/Remastered Production order):
Arena: a Gorn starship, but no effing with the Gorn himself !
Catspaw: the puppets of Sylvia and Koreb replaced with CGI creatures (we are all but guaranteed this) but with the original sound effects
The Trouble with Tribbles: A Klingon Battlecruiser, but not with that God-Aweful “Asteking” done in Trials and Tribble-ations Or that silly plating done in Balance of Terror Remastered: Just a smooth hulled, TOS-era Klingon Battlecruiser ! ! ! And no CGI tribbles !! ! !
And for my favourite episode of all time, Mirror, Mirror:
The ISS Enterprise must must MUST be way overdone with Mirror Universe insignia and colors (red NOT yellow) – it is the Mirror Universe for God’s sake !!!! – look at how the uniforms and the interior were redesigned for that episode – certainly the ship’s exterior would be equally garishly over-decorated! !!
Sounds like there is much to look forward to. I’m really glad to hear that the Enterprise is going to be tweaked more, I mean after going through the trouble to get all those measurements from the Smithsonian to build an accurate model, it’s ashame to not light it properly and correctly capture the multicolored magic of those nacelle caps. These guys are clearly in a time crunch and to take this extra step, that is above and beyond the call of duty, is a good sign indeed.
With Okuda in charge I never doubted they were in hands, I was just puzzled by some of the changes and why they weren’t better. Now I know. You can do anything with enough time and money…when you don’t have either, it makes it a little rough.
Also, I think the eyes of the gorn is the one place where they can really make the reptile come alive wihtout jacking around too much with Wah Chang’s brilliant suit. And with all due respect to Wah Chang…his suit is wonderful, the muscle structure is great…but the silver styofoam balls need to go as far as I’m concerned. I mean, the eyes can give so much emotion…it’s the perfect place to breath more life into that suit. Can’t wait to see it. And a Gorn ship too? I’m jazzed, bring it on!
I look forward to what they have to offer.
Hmm… I guess they have been reading these boards like the rest of us.
So, does this mean they’ll go back and re-remaster the eps they’ve already done with a better ENTERPRISE?
good news, but sounds like they won’t be preserving the colored starfields
So does this explain the real reason the show isn’t yet available in HD? The rendering was taking too long even at 720×480.
I can’t wait for The Cloudminers. There could be some breathtaking new footage to give you the sense of height. Plus that Trogladyte falling to his death was one of the worst effects in our beloved TOS, IMO.
I’ll believe the re-remastering of the ship when I see it.
If they get a detail like the reddish ring around the primary hull behind the deflector dish right, I’ll know they’ve done their homework.
(YOU know what I’m talking about, Daren!)
I’m very encouraged by all of this — particularly the sense that they’re (a) listening to fan opinion, and (b) deciding that they won’t have to be quite so slavishly constrained to the look of the original effects. I, for one, have been very happy with the little “surprises” like the Horta burn-through effect and Norman’s upgraded innards. I’m really looking forward to what they’ve got in store for some of the more effects-heavy episodes, particularly the ones where important parts of the story are told with FX (I’m thinking Doomsday Machine here, but also The Menagerie).
I think we all have specific “little surprises” we hope to see. For me, I’ll be happy with the entire Remastered effort if I get to see real, honest-to-god birds of prey painted on the bellies of those Klingon-designed cruisers in “The Enterprise Incident.” Make them the kind of vessels any self-respecting Romulan would be proud of.
Terrific, Terrific News. When I saw the Dave Rossi Interview on G4 weeks ago I believed what he said. I feel he has the passion. With this additional report all things are certainly looking up!
Mr. Pascale — Great Work.
It’s nice to see positive comments on this topic. I agree with nearly all the “wish list” above me… except the Gorn. I disliked that suit from the start.. No offense to Mr. Chang.. he was working in a different era and a different budget. I’d like to see a CGI Gorn.. similar to ENT’s version. We have the technology.. let’s rebuild him. I don’t agree with this replacement in every case, but Mr. Gorn needs a more realistic look… and just as dusty and dirty as Kirk got battling him.
oooh right on! and i TRULY cant WAIT till The Enterprose Incident”, and Elayn of Troyus, redone!!!!!!
Yes, Donn… I know what you’re talking about. lol
But it’s on the Secondary hull. :)
Yeah, like I said ages and ages ago… Dave Rossi and the Okudas hearts are in the right place… and it’s due to the insane schedule they had to face with CBS Digital that the problems occurred.
I can’t wait to see what they do for the Fesarius.
But please, let’s not see a CGI Gorn similar to ENT’s version. I’d be open to a head replacement though… (for the gorn I mean, no snide comments there) As long as when it’s still it looks exactly the same.
Hi, all, my first post. Daren, if you’re out there, since you do know the Okudas, I am rather sorry that they didn’t purchase your model or work with you. I didn’t know you had created a concept “Star Trek Enhanced” until I stumbled on Trekmovie.com, and looked at the news for “Remastered” and saw EdenFX’s work. At any rate, I think it’s obvious that your work, to use a TNG title, was “The Best of Both Worlds”, your Enterprise having the lighting and some of the aspects of self-illumination that Trumbull employed in Star Trek – The Motion Picture.
So, I wonder indeed if there was an issue of “too much detail”; but, since Roddenberry himself was pleased to have state of the art motion control employed in TMP (e.g., John Dykstra’s shot of the Klingon ships in the opening sequence and the entire dry dock sequence of Enterprise), I have no idea why CBS/Paramount is slavishing imitating the work of men pushing a heavy camera on wheels because that was the technology available in the 1960s!
The one word “plastic” in the review of “I, Mudd” here says it all. Too bad Foundation Imaging is gone; your team’s work was terrific on TMP Director’s Edition and Voyager. Too bad you didn’t get a crack at a Director’s Edition of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Yes, I know it was a sow’s ear of a film, in some respects, but those visuals effects were awful.
In any event, I hope the Enterprise shots do improve, and I do regret Daren R. is not involved. We can only hope — even if I don’t care for the “windsock” Doomsday Machine
CGI Gorn – well, I thought the one in Enterprise was not nearly as good a CGI character as Species 8472; it looked less convincing than a man in a suit, but must have been cheaper.
And what about the hairy, gas mask faced salt sucking monster from THE MAN TRAP? Of course, realistic character CGI, the gold standard for me is Gollum by Weta Digital, must take major computer power and time. And again, the mandate was only for miniature shots.
The opening sequence in POSEIDON by ILM perhaps uses Daren’s Lightwave model, but I suppose they added much more detail? Interesting that minatures are a dying art, perhaps.
My point – I suspect Macs could do the work well on this show, but perhaps it takes time that the show doesn’t have. I didn’t see detail on the Enterprise model used on Remastered so far.
We’ll have to see. My final thoughts — I wish the team was a little more bold in the shots of the ships. The *camera* doing a barrel roll over Enterprise wouldn’t bother me in the least! :)
It’s terrific that they’re going to take the time to go back and do the Enterprise correctly. I give them a lot of credit for going back to episodes they’ve already touched up and applying the new model there as well.
It’s the look of the Enterprise that’s made me not really accept this variation of TOS so far. Hopefully, this will resume my one-time excitement for the remastered versions.
One of the episodes I’m most looking forward to is “The Ultimate Computer.” If they don’t constrain themselves too much by trying to duplicate the existing material, there should be plenty of opportunity there for incredible starship sequences.
Just in case any viewer’s haven’t seen Daren Doc’s work, the url is below, or search for “trek enhanced” on Yahoo or Google or whatever.
I hope the new model is as good as his!
So far, these new effects add little to nothing to TOS. It was a great program because of the Actors,writers and great characters. Not the fx.
Come on, the Gorn’s eyes were “effed” to begin with. Any improvement would be a welcomed one.
I’m just glad they’re finally fixing those hard candy “peppermint” nacelle caps.
I’m a wintergreen man myself. ; )
“This weekend keep your *eyes* on the Gorn in ‘Arena’ for another one of these touches.”
Surely *that’s* a big enough clue for us, right? For goodness sake . . .
This is GREAT NEWS! Let’s just hope they spend as much time as is needed to do it right.
If the effects people have too much work to do to deliver quality effects under the current timeline, they should revise the release schedule. We don’t need a newly remastered episode every week, we need quality special effects–regardless of how long it takes to get them done properly.
While I agree it’s all about the Actors, Writers and Story… I think the effect tweaking of Remasterd has added a new interest, even if it’s a debate over the merits of it or it’s execution. So far, I’ve agreed with a lot of the suggestions… 1) Yes, tweak the heck out of the I.S.S. Enterprise 2)Yes, replace the aliens from Cat’sPaw 3) Yes, make the Romulan D-7’s look Romulan instead of Klingon Army Surplus …. eh, well, about the Gorn, yes the old one’s kinda like a Land of the Lost Sleestak, but I didn’t care too much for Enterprise’s Hyper Spaz Gorn either. Tweaking the eyes, putting a little life in his skin tone, and keeping the jist of what he was then… maybe, but if that can’t be done sanely… just leave him alone.
Anyway, I would encourage the Remaster Team to push even more…
I’m looking forward to the ‘de-contamination’ of the planet in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” will they fit the cg model with tanks??
I am super excited about this but will it still look like our Enterprise?
Happy happy joy joy…this is most encouraging news. And I am SO grateful they are taking the time and money to fix some of the most egregious booboos and budget constraints in the old series. Almost every episode so far has had a little tweak that fixed a long-standing technological/effects blooper or snafu. I haven’t had this much fun watching Trek in years – makes me salivate for a future uncut high-def version.
I wonder if the sales of Star Trek memorabilia had anything to do with the upgrade-upgrade. Kinda puts Star Trek in the “spends lots of money” genera. Television shows like the Discovery Channel has proved over and over again that the fan base are kids to fanatic adults and Professionals including NASA engineers. :)
I have to say I am VERY impressed with what the Okudas, Rossi and CBS Digital are doing. I knew they would improve things. I would bet that these will look excellent by the time these remastered episodes make it to DVD.
Good to hear they have upgraded the NCC-1701 and fixed the nacelles…now maybe Daren will be happy (crosses fingers)…;-)
As for the Gorn’s eyes…DEFINITELY needed work!!!! Definitely needed work and I am glad CBS Digital is doing something with that. The gold unblinking beaded eyes from the 60’s just don’t do it anymore folks.
It is going to be so cool to FINALLY, finally see the Gorn ship, the Orion ship and the other revised ships!
Excellent stuff, CBS!!!
This is good news but not all of the problems have been confined to the Enterprise itself but with it’s movement. In the remastered theme for season 2, the animation of the Enterprise is too slow! It’s supposed to be moving at warp speed, so fast that it’s a blurry streek accross the screen! Now it looks like a little kid is playing with his toy starship.
I’m also afraid another problem will be ignored since many disagree with my views on the new music. I’m posting some of the same comments here that I posted at Daren’s blog because I’m really upset about this and I’ve just got to get it off my chest to all my fellow Trek fans!
I’m going to be just as picky with the new music as we’ve all been with the Enterprise exterior. They have arranged the volume levels of the orchestra in this new opening theme to compliment and accompany the vocalist as if she were singing a solo. But in the original version, the vocal and the instrumentation blended into each other. In this new version, the brass and other instruments are too soft and too weak. The passion of the original music has been lost. After listening to the original season 2 theme and comparing it with the new version, I couldn’t help but notice that even some of the most powerful chords bolted out by the original brass were painfully lacking. I know I sound like I’m being picky about this but they are the ones who told me they were straining to be faithful to the original score. The opening theme to the original Star Trek television series is a part of television history and I got so excisted when I heard they were re-performing it to new recording technology. But the vocal should have been part of the orchestra, not standing out in front of it. In my opinion, they’ve gutted the very essence of the opening theme.
Will they fix this before releasing it on DVD in 2008?
“I’m looking forward to the ‘de-contamination’ of the planet in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” will they fit the cg model with tanks??”
Personally, I always imagined the Enterprise should fire some kind of small probes or satellites down to the planet — and the probes do the decontaminating. I don’t know…something techy.
What they had in the episode originally was cheesey…just multiple orbit shots and the planet changing color or something like that.
Anyway, lots of things they can do to enhance the episodes…and I really look forward to seeing what they do.
One thing I really wish they would do (time permitting of course) is put in some kind of digital landscape where those cheesy cycloramas are on the planet sets. When they go to a frozen planet, let’s see some ice-covered mountains or glaciers…and they could add digital foreground elements to add scope to the planet sets. This would help get rid of the styrofoam rocks look a great deal.
“The opening theme to the original Star Trek television series is a part of television history and I got so excisted when I heard they were re-performing it to new recording technology. But the vocal should have been part of the orchestra, not standing out in front of it. In my opinion, they’ve gutted the very essence of the opening theme.”
I have pretty much every recording of the theme song that there is and I have yet to hear one that duplicates what was used during the three seasons of the show perfectly. Maybe part of that is actually some kind of flaw in modern recording techniques?
I think this is bull**** and a prime example of why the internet should play no part in creative decisions for any artistic endeavor.
There wasn’t a damn thing wrong with the CGI Enterprise they have been using and only anal retentive, obsessive compulsive , perpetual whiners that enjoy reading themselves type complained.
So now they are replacing a MORE detailed CGI model with a less detailed CGI model simply to appease the handful of crybabies on various websites and entertain their notions on what constitutes art,creativity, and visual dynamics.
I guess it just goes to show you if you cry loud enough you will be heard.
Bad move Okuda.
Stick to your guns, don’t permit fanboy wankery to interfere with your vision, or more importantly, SHAPE your vision.
I don’t think this is bull s*** at all Josh. They are experimenting with what they think looks best. We are still in the infant stages of this project. I’m not surprised that they are making changes to the Enterprise model. The show will only look better for it. Kudos to Okuda and his team!
I’m not ridiculing experimentation of the computer model, that was probably already discussed and planned for during the several weeks of repeats,
what I am vehemently opposed to is the surreptitous, audacious presumption of certain segments of fandom to hypocritically assume they speak for the rest of fandom in regards to taste, and the subsequent lobbying mentality to enact some sort of change.
Fandom should NEVER influence, alter, direct, or interfere with an artistic endeavor because the result will ALWAYS be a compromise, a sacrifice of the artists vision in favor of appeasement, and THAT is unmitigated bull****.
Lucas did it, and the Prequel Trilogy suffered for it.
Now Okuda and team are doing it, and we are going to end up with some hybrid low resolution yet attractively illuminated “Enterprise” inspired U.S.S. Defiant carbon copy, which was quite unappealing and entirely reflective of the mediocrity that was Enterprise.
Congratulate yourselves and give your collective pats on the back, you have gotten what you wished for, but as so often occurs in life you are going to find having, is not so good a thing as wanting.
I still maintain there wasn’t a damn thing wrong with the CGI model they were using, it was gorgeous. But just because it was DIFFERENT than what again a certain segment of fandom was accustomed to seeing, they had to cry foul.
Well now I cry foul for artistic and creative compromise.
Just a note on computer models:
they are not doing a “low rez” rendering … they are using a less super-detailed model for their HD quality rendering.
consider those “bolts” on the Enterprise model — the Enterprise is 3 football fields long, so back away from your computer screen to see 3 football fields worth of a starship from end to end without turning your head; think you can still see the bolts? not unless you are Superman … and that’s another franchise.
Ooh, here’s the BIG starship-sized bolt:
Rather than bowing to fan opinions, it sounds like they are simply replacing a CGI model that has been frustratingly difficult to work with and replacing it with something sleeker that will allow them to do a better job.
Rossi’s quote was, “It is not that we are unhappy with the work, but it is not yet the Enterprise as we want to see it.” He speaks on behalf of the production team, the artsits.
As artists, they are experimenting to find what will work best to suit their needs; not yours, mine, or anyone else’s. Their goal is a quality product, and they appear to be believe that improving the Enterprise will help them in that goal.
Besides, I think the whole artist/creative control argument is out the window in this case. They are, after all, already tampering with someone else’s art.
In post #41, it sounds like you are trying to influence the creative team’s decision and direction YOURSELF! Hmmm…the BS word suddenly comes to mind! I wonder why that word was in my head.
Frankly, I am thrilled they are making these minor changes. It shows that they really are working hard on this to make it right. They say that they were not satisfied, and they are doing something about it! They are doing a great job, it can only now improve to a fantastic job, IMO!!!!
No BS about it, they knew the ship doesn’t look right and they are simply trying to take steps to correct it. It doesn’t take a trained eye to look at the colored spinning nacelle caps from an original episode and the new orange caps of the remastered episodes and see that the effect is quite different. It’s not about “giving in” to the fans, it’s about matching the original engine effect and making it look like it is supposed to look. I applaud OKuda and the CBS team for going the extra mile.
“There wasn’t a damn thing wrong with the CGI Enterprise they have been using and only anal retentive, obsessive compulsive , perpetual whiners that enjoy reading themselves type complained.”
You’re wrong. The producers knew they had a problem; they’re addressing it. That’s a good thing. The only problem *you* have here is that your repeated insistence that what most other people see and think is not important has been shown up by the people actually responsible for doing this project and who did the work you were satisfied with earlier.
There are no “guns” for anyone at CBS Digital to stick to — they weren’t doing it the way they did before because they thought it was *perfect*, so they’re improving it now that they can. They don’t *want* to go back to the old way. End of story.
As for the “less detailed” model — if you understand how CG models are built and used it won’t be less detailed in any way that will be detectable onscreen.
It’s called Continuous Quality Improvement. It’s the process used on all quality production systems by folks who want to continue to deliver an ever increasingly improved product while reducing the time and cost to delivery. This is exactly what I read out of the OP. I did not get the impression that they were toning down the quality but in fact trying to deliver the same quality on a more reasonable time schedule given the amount of time they have per episode – which sounds like a very tight schedule indeed. The hope is to free up time to put more of those little surprise extras in place which everyone is so hip to see – myself included. What makes this so unusual is the promise to go back and replace the older shots with the new CGI model – something that would have been very cost prohibitive using the VFX processes of the 60’s. No doubt they would have like to clean those opticals up a bit more each time or work harder to remove matte lines but had no time of budget to do so.
To the Okuda’s – that you very much for your great work. I look forward to the next installments and very much to the eventual HD DVD releases! If I haven’t done so by then it will prompt me to pick up a HD player. It was Star Trek releases after all that convinced me that the current SD DVS format was here to stay back when it was new.