Trouble with Quibbles
Working under a ludicrous schedule and forced to deliver unfinished work is no doubt a sore spot for the folks at CBS Digital. The first episodes of Star Trek: Remastered were uneven at best. Quality matte and live action replacement details were accompanied by poorly lit space shots, and a decidedly plastic looking Starship Enterprise. Such quality is usually only seen in test shots never meant to be seen outside the studio screening rooms. Years ago I had gone through the process of trying to find a style and look that was reminiscent of the original and yet still updated for the modern day. CBS Digital has been going through this same process as well, but with an audience watching their progression each week. We lived through the good, the bad and the mediocre. Now, at last, there is a lot more of the good in Star Trek Remastered.
A new day and a new model
With the creation of a new Enterprise model, the FX team now have the ability to finesse lighting and textures to more closely resemble the original 11 foot studio model. Are they successful? Yes…mostly. The textures are nicely varied now with more subtle paneling and variance (or at least these textures now have a chance to be seen, I have a feeling they were always on there). What seems to be lacking is a little more of the specularity that existed on the original, along with some of the more visible weathering (especially on the secondary engineering hull). The lighting too is improved with less fear of shadow areas and giving the ship contrast. The style however seems more in keeping with later shows with no attempt at colored fill. This leads to a more monochromatic look which is exacerbated by a virtually colorless Enterprise paint scheme. For all the people who have said that the blue tinge on the original shots are because of the spill from the bluescreen shots I say ‘Yes, I agree’. However, that look should be at least hinted at in the FX shots, because I think it makes them cut more smoothly with the high chroma look of the live action. The nacelle caps are much improved but my personal preference goes to a less contrasty propeller look than they are utilizing. I’m sure we will see many versions in the future much like the variances on the original show itself.
This is more like it
In general, I really like the direction things are going its really beginning to look like the original, which I’m sure is the overall plan. The guys at CBS Digital have done a great job against some horrible deadlines and they are finding their space-legs. It’s just a shame that the first episodes were sacrificed to the necessities of experimentation and research. I Hope that they’ll get the chance to revisit the earlier episodes and upgrade the upgrades.
Shot By Shot Notes
I took notes as I was watching and here they are unedited and unrefined. This stream of conciousness will let you know my mindset and what gets a reaction from me and what doesn’t.
The first shot pretty good the stars look right. Ship a good color nacelle spokes are still a bit too prominent but good. The scale of the ship is ruined a bit for me when it banks all the time. Why are the zooms out of sync in the opening of the show? The ship flies past, and the whoosh comes with the zoom of the title. Too much movement in the shots, camera drift is very prominent and there doesn’t seem to be direction in the shots. Camera placement is not conducive to showing scale or composition.
Act 1 Establishing Shot:
Opening shot after first break the stars look odd and sped up with no motion blur look pixilated in their motion. K7 looks good but scaling of the paneling is suffering from the same problem as the paneling on the Romulan ship in Balance of Terror; good coloring though. The dissolves are distracting and make the show seem rushed. Nice close-up shot of Ent flying past between camera and K7. They’ve done some good work fixing the model and texturing just wish the surface was a bit more weathered.
Act 2 Establishing Shot:
At beginning of second act, the K7 shot is quite nice. Paneling still wanky but the shot was nicely restrained. Kind of a shame that we see the Klingon ship just as Kirk says they’re 100 km away. Would have been understandable if we first saw the Klingons in the next shot after kirk agreed to the klingons shore leave. Would have been nice to see the klingon ship out the window a couple times and not just the enterprise.
Everything seems so fast I know this episode backward and forward Maybe its just my mind playing tricks on me but the whole episode seems sped or time compressed perhaps its just my brain slowing down
It is good to see that none of the shots from DS9 were in there besides the fact that it would lessen the importance of this original episode the composites from that episode really don’t hold up on second viewing (the shot of O’ Brien with the shadow over his face in the lineup is especially cringe-worthy) but that’s neither here nor there glad to see this original unscathed in that sense. The bar fight also works so much better here with the original music perhaps when they re-release the DS9 episode THAT could be added to their show.
Different than orig. Syndication
This isn’t the same cut as the original syndication cut the syndication cut, as I remember from the 70s had a shorter version of the lineup scene (some showings even cut the whole scene out I think I only knew about it from the fotonovel for a while)
At the next shot of k7 were ALREADY having stock shots used again? A shame. Another repeated shot or if it isn’t, its very very close to the other one. Would have been nice to see an overhead shot of the station with perhaps the Enterprise top moving in foreground. Nice balance of the lighting but I still think they’re being stingy with the coloring of the space shots. Looking at the shots in the original, there are subtle pastel colors in the lights and the new shots look overall grey drab not matching the colorful interior shots. Were there only 3 shots of the exterior done? They all look the same…would have also been nice to see a closer view of the windows of the station maybe showing Lurry’s office. Became kinda silly that every time we cut to the view of Lurry’s window the Enterprise is just seen coming into view never in the middle or leaving to the left. But I suppose its to make the most of the other shots in the scene and still have the ship in there through the whole scene. But again, no sign of the Klingon ship in the window. More repeated shots of K7.
Banking of the Enterprise too much reduces its scale would have liked to see a more dynamic angle of the exit from k7. Glad to see the impulse engines lit up but again, maybe too evenly lit? They don’t look like they’re lit by bulbs.
Daren R. Dochterman was the Visual Effects Supervisor on “Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition” and is the Creator of “Star Trek Enhanced”. Read the TrekMovie.com interview with Daren Dochterman to learn more about Daren, ST:TMP:DE and ST:E.