Some HD Remastered Trek Showing Up On XBox Live

We reported a few weeks ago that Microsoft was touting ‘remastered Star Trek episodes’ as part of the offering for their new TV download service with XBox Live. Now that the service has gone live we can report that there are a total of 2 HD versions of the remastered Original Series available: ‘Miri’ and ‘The Naked Time’. These two remastered HD episodes are mixed in with the 27 other non-remastered SD versions of the entire first season of the Original Series. All episodes are uncut and cost $2 with the HD versions taking up a signficant 2.5 gigabytes of the 20 GB hard drive (the SD versions take up half a gig).  To make things even stranger, the two HD TOSR episodes have the expected ‘pillar box’ for all live action shots, but all the new effects (including the opening credits) are presented in 16:9. This means that the black bars on the left and right appear and disappear as you watch.  Sources in CBS seem to be just as confused about all this as we are, and it is unclear if this is the way they want it to be shown and if more episodes will become available. So far only two Star Trek films are available (in SD): ‘The Wrath of Khan’ and ‘Generations.’ Regardless this still makes XBox Live the only way to get TOSR in HD for now, but due to the storage and availability limitations it is hard to recommend buying an XBox 360 just to watch Star Trek.
TrekMovie.com will continue to keep track of XBox Live and will report any changes.

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Mike

Are these the uncut versions or the edited down for syndication versions?

Jeff

Interesting. As I said before, it would be a lot of work but creatively not impossible to fill in the black pillar box bars without the need to crop footage to fit. I wonder if M$ would back them to give it a try on one episode, initially available only on XBOX?

Lti

If only Sony could instigate something like this with their PS3. They really are lagging behind Microsoft lately.

Anonymous

I know these episodes are from the ones that didn’t overly wow people, but can anyone report on how both the live action and the new effects looked in HD?

Adam Cohen

#4, if you own a PS3 at the present time, don’t complain about ANYTHING! You’re one of the lucky few.

Alex

I just viewed “Naked Time” and was thoroughly impressed by it. It almost looks as though the Enterprise was the newer model as well, Nacelles were toned down a bit. The 16:9 shots with the new effects(space scenes) didn’t distract from the episode for me, in fact you really get to see how beautiful the new digital scenes are. It might take away from the continuity for some but for me I enjoyed seeing the full work involved, even if it meant a switching back and fourth from 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratio. Of course I have never seen the live action look so good being in 720p now and I am sure no on else has either so you will look at these episodes almost as if they are brand new again.
Totally uncut too and that was the best part!
Being a fan for over 35 years I want to say Good work CBS and thank you!
Alex

TREK needs to get on the iTunes Store; that’s where the market (and the money) is…

Cervantes

I was just about to requesition my brat’s Xbox 360 when a previous poster to this site first flagged this up, but then read somewhere quite reliable that the European side of things Xbox Live would NOT be showing these yet…

We Brits are still kept waiting for goodies like this…BOOOO to Bill Gates and co.

Cervantes

Oh, and just a thought about this probable 4:3 live-action footage being cut down to look 16:9 aspect ratio business…this will surely give the appearance of the cast being given a more “close-up” look…which I for one will really like…akin to the Sergio Leone school of cinematography, with all it’s moody close-ups of Clint Eastwood etc.

Ralph the previews for the remasterd eps can already be downloaded from Itunes as Star trek podcasts

Adam Cohen

#10

Sergio Leone!!!! Kind of puts a new spin on “Space Seed” eh? I’m not thrilled with the idea of manipulating the frame to make the non FX shots fit into 16X9, but I am fully capable of taking a wait-and-see approach as CBS-D has wowed me thus far.

Daniel Shock

I’m gonna keep an open mind with the 16:9 thing until I actually get to see an episode. Some shots look impossible to successfully crop, but I’d still like to see it, even if I only end up bitching about it later

Scarpad

If they crop the live action or more accurate Zoom the Live Action to 16X9 Letterbox it it will definately chop off alot of the top of the frame

Lao3D

Just as a sidenote: the startrek.com site has posted its remastered stills in the 16:9 format as seen here:

http://www.startrek.com/custom/include/feature/bst/tos-enhanced/tos-016a/pop.html

Interesting to compare it to the shot as posted in the previous thread here on TMR. As a purist, I should object to any cropping of material. But as a film fan, it IS kind of cool to see TOS as widescreen “movie” format!

I certainly hope this 16:9 thing doesn’t snowball. I have absolutely no interest in TOS in 16:9, since that sacrifices so much of the images I’ve enjoyed for decades. And I think it would be immensely distracting for a show to keep popping back and forth between 4:3 and 16:9 – that would certainly thoroughly undermine the stated effort to create “seamless” alterations.

I pray that there is a DVD HD release in 4:3 – although it is fine by me for them to offer up a 16:9 option for those who simply must fill their widescreens and are willing miss out on much of the original shots. But for me, the sort of pan-and-scan butchery it would take to crop TOS to 16:9 makes past gripes about nacelle tips and turboshaft alignments pale in comparison.

Alex

I thought it would be distracting to when I first heard about it but after I saw Naked time it was actually quite cool for me.

jonboc

I think many people are so conditioned by watching HD on broadcast TV now , that popping back and forth from 4:3 to 16:9 isn’t a problem. On any given night, the HD program I’m watching cuts to a commercial break that isn’t 16:9, and then then expands again when it returns to HD programming. If they wanted to keep this strange hybrid, it wouldn’t bother me a bit, especially if it preserves the original compositions of the episodes.

Cervantes

#15 Lao3D

Thanks for flagging up that interesting live-action remastered still link.

If you notice, what looked like a newly added cloud in the TOP LEFT of the 4:3 comparison stills of the same scene, a couple of threads back on here, has now been cropped out! If this was a true finished 16:9 shot, then it seems strange that CBS Digital would not first check what actual portion of shots would ultimately be used in the future before they spent actual time and effort on details like that…unless that was NOT the exact finilised 16:9 crop, and merely a rough example ? Or is it ME wrong about that “added” cloud ?

Whatever, I agree that it would be great to get the choice of BOTH versions come High Definition time in future, and also agree that it will be kinda cool to see a “cinematic” looking version of Original Series Trek on a big widescreen TV. And I think that the widescreen version may become the de facto version in years to come, once I get used to it…but yes, I’ll miss certain details that become cropped…

I hadn’t really thought about a HYBRID version coming out ala the Xbox Live current previews, but personally wouldn’t care for that in future myself.

The most important thing to hope for I think, is that someone with a CAREFUL, PAINTERLY eye makes the cropping / zoomed in decisions, because as Daniel Shock points out, some filmed scenes look VERY difficult to frame nicely for 16:9…let’s hope we get talented people doing this extensive “pan and scan” type work…

John N

IF they go down the road of cropping for 16:9, then I agree with Cervantes… please get someone with an artistic eye for composition.

I have to say… I’m a little surprised at the support that I hear from cropping. My argument about insisting on widescreen editions for theatrical releases was always based on preserving the artistic endeavors of the film makers. I had assumed that this was the basis for most other people’s preference for widescreen.

But for those who want to crop TOS, that can’t be the case. As this was originally shot in 4:3, converting it to 16:9 would be artistically akin to cropping a film into 4:3. So for you guys, it must not be about artistic integrity… perhaps you find rectangles more visually pleasing than boxes? :)

I think that the shot discussed here (as posted on Trek.com) is unusually flattering for the cropping process given that it is a medium shot. Take a look back at any of the remastered screenshot articles on this site and scroll to the “Various New Shots” section. Here you will see shot compositions that use the 4:3 ratio more fully, which IMHO would not translate well.

If they could give the option of multple format, then so be it. If they have to choose one, then please, respect the cinematographers and don’t crop.

Lao3D

Cervantes is right about the missing cloud. I think that does indicate clearly they are remastering for both options, which is a very good thing. Another interesting thing, if you look at the Starbase 11 shot seen in the linked series above, there is more at the sides than was seen in the broadcast form, again indicating they are planning for the dual format options. It will then become the viewers choice: See the full frame original and lose a little remastered footage at the sides, or see the full widescreen remastering and lose a little off the top and bottom. Seems like a win-win situation — or a lose-lose if you’re a glass-half-empty sort!

And for those who can’t make up their minds, there’s the back and forth as described by the xBox folks. Seems to me like they have the situation well in hand…

Daniel Shock

John N – well, yeah – I find rectangles more pleasing to the eye. I also think that information on the left and right side of the frame is far more imporant than whats on the top and bottom.

That being said, some of the shots in the show are SO tight, that I have a hard time believing that it will not look like crap.

I would really like the chance to see a couple of episodes in 16:9 format to make that determination on my own.

Daniel Shock

and I’d also like to say that I’ve been impressed with 16:9 versions of Knight Rider and Hogan’s Heroes that have been on HDNet and Universal HD.

Beryl

If it ever comes out on HD discs, they should have two versions.

John N

#23 and 24 – Daniel

Well, I have an open mind, so I’d be more than happy to see a few examples of fully cropped epidoses before making judgement.

And I agree… information on the sides is generally more important, but since cropping from 4:3 to 16:9 doesn’t give you any additional “side information”, and instead just deprives you of “top and bottom” information, does that apply in this case?

Also… any idea where I can see the 16:9 versions of Knight Rider? I’m curious about possibilities… :)

Daniel Shock

Actually, with 35mm film, you do get more info on the sides as it is not in the 4:3 ratio – they do cut a bit off the sides. Look here:

http://www.reelclassics.com/Techtalk/aspectratio-graphics.htm

the second one down, I believe is close to the full 35mm film image.

When you look at Knight Rider in 16:9 – you can see quite a bit more on the sides. Some shots are a little odd because it looks like everyone decided to stand really close together in the center of the frame

I’m not sure if its still on, but Knight Rider was in 16:9 on Universal HD. Its one of the HD channels my cable company caries.

John N

#27 – Thanks for the info Daniel… I didn’t realize that 4:3 would be missing info. I’m certainly all for bring THAT information back… :)

#27 Wasn’t Knight Rider 1.66:1 like they did with Hogan’s Heros? That seems to be a nice compromise between 16:9 (1.77:1) and the original 35mm ratio of 1.37:1.

Daniel Shock

All I really know Matt – is that it filled my 16:9 screen…perhaps the overscan on my tv hid any black bars on the sides.

For more on how Knight Rider was reformated for HD see here:

http://archive2.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=625030