Producers Dave Rossi, Mike Okuda and Denise Okuda along with visual effects supervisor Niel Wray came to the Grand Slam SciFi Summit to talk Remastered Star Trek. Before taking questions they showed off a four minute reel of the new effects which seemed to wow the crowd. The video even showed some clips from upcoming shows as well. After the clip they opened it to questions and to prepare himself Dave pulled out a TOS era phaser to fend on any ‘you are ruining my childhood’ type purists. As it turns out there weren’t any purists to fend off. In fact some who came to the mic admitted that they were purists who had been ‘converted.’
On the subject of purists, Denise Okuda noted “you are looking at four purists right now.” She went on to say that they are guided by the notion of ‘what would Gene Roddenberry and Matt Jeffries do?’ They all noted how they were even skeptical of the project when they were first approached, but agreed that they would do it ‘as long as ‘Greedo didn’t shoot first.’ Even though they were happy that the quality of the work has quieted most of the skeptics, they knew some cannot be convinced that remastering the original series is a worthwhile endeavor. Dave joked that it was nice to see some of those people who were still raging against the show each week on the fansites saying “its nice to see that the people who are bagging on it are still watching…so thank you and keep watching!” Mike also noted that they did get some direct feedback from TOS producer Bob Justman who called to tell them he loved Trek Remastered and that it ‘captured the show the way they wanted it to be’
Explaining the process
Rossi described how on Tuesdays the team meets at the his house and then on Thursday they meet at the Okudas to go over each new episode. Over much pizza they identify the shots and talk about the composition. Apparently Mike is the one that is most likely to suggest the more radical changes and Denise is the one who is most conservative with regards to making changes. Although in the case of the R on Kirk’s tombstone in “Where No Man Has Gone Before” it was Mike who tried to stay neutral as Dave argued for the ‘T’ and Denise argued for the ‘R’. However in the end it was Niel who prevailed due to the time required for the ‘tracking nightmare’ and other resources dedicated to that show. Niel also noted that the complex ‘zoom into the bridge shot’ from "The Menagarie" was the most complex shot they have done, taking them 6 weeks to complete. With regards to the time and money constraints, Mike did say that “Niel does almost everything we ask, the problem is that they can’t do everything we ask.” They noted that these guys work into the wee hours almost every night and that Saturday was Niel’s first day off in a month. For “The Doomsday Machine” Dave joked that they had to “prop Niel up with intravenous coffee and toothpicks in his eyes, they were up until 6:30 in the morning on delivery day.”
Mike & Denise Okuda, Dave Rossi & Niel Wray
Is another TAS influence coming?
Denise talked about the matte painting for “Amok Time” which incorporated the circular city from the TAS’s “Yesteryear” She said that the team "are constantly trying to find things that we can integrate in that harken back to the original as an homage.” Rossi then announced that in a couple of future episodes they will be adding some ships with designs inspired from Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Getting into the picture
They also talked about how they have been incorporating real people into some of the matte painting shots. All four can be seen along with many others from CBS-D in the opening shot of “The Menagerie.” Dave was quite proud that for the Shuttle shots in that episode he got to be Captain Kirk’s shoulder. It turns out that Mike Okuda is the pilot for the shuttle in “Journey to Babel" and Denise is the control room technician. Denise thought it was “a lot of fun” to see the reactions of the studio audience The Price Is Right file by the stage they were filming, saying “they were staring at us in our original series uniforms like it was some kind of time warp.” Niel noted that there is even a tiny ‘couple pixel high’ Denise Okuda in the window of the Enterprise in one of the space flyby shots.
Touting HD and maybe Blu-ray
According to Mike, it is still the plan to have the 1st season of Star Trek Remastered available on HD-DVD by the end of the year. Regarding Blu-ray they he said that they expect it to eventually show up,but that those decisions were made ‘way above their heads.’ He also confirmed that the HD release will be in the original 4:3 aspect ratio. Regarding the look of the show in HD, Okuda stated:
As cool as they look in standard def, they are absolutely stunning in HD. The original series was shot in fine grain 35mm color film and there is a lot more information there than you have seen…it’s beautiful.
Working on Star Trek XI?
One question from the audience was about the team’s involvement in Star Trek XI. Mike Okuda answered for the group saying that they would obviously love to work on the project, but noted that they were all currently at work on their own projects (including Trek Remastered). He also gave the JJ Abrams team high marks saying:
Abrams has a fantastic team in place. If you have seen Lost or Alias or Mission: Impossible III, he has fantastic people. The great thing about Abrams and his team, if you look at his product, you know that they know the genre. They will do a wonderful job.
All in all the audience seemed to be very welcoming of the project, which is a bit of a contrast from some of the cons from before it aired last fall.
NOTE: After the event I asked Dave Rossi if they will be able to release the ‘demo reel’ and he said he would ask the powers that be.