Extensive Interview w/CBS Digital on Star Trek TNG Blu-Ray

The Next Generation is currently being digitally remastered for release on Blu-Ray, and it’s a huge job to say the least. Our friends over at TrekCore recently sat down with the CBS Digital remastering team and talked with them about the process. The extensive 5-part interview is a very in-depth and technical look at the project, and it reveals some interesting tid bits like how the team is digging up 25-year old bloopers and outtakes thought to be lost. More after the jump.

The CBS Digital Team on TNG Remastered
Six of the team embarking on this massive project, Craig Weiss, Eric Bruno (lead compositor), Niel Wray (head of 3D), Max Gabl (matte painter), Wendy Ruiz (mastering), and Sarah Paul (Overseeing VFX Coordinator), sat down with TrekCore to hash out the details of what exactly goes into remastering something like Next Gen. The interview in its entirety spans 5 parts. You can read the full interview here. Below is a small excerpt from their conversation.

Reels and reels and reels of TNG film to go through

TrekCore: So I thought we could follow the [remastering] process through chronologically from start to finish. Let’s kick off straight away with talking about the film negatives. Is the film material you are scanning always in the same condition, or do you have to sometimes do more cleaning or baking of the film before it’s useable?
Sarah Paul: The film is not all in the same condition. There are a lot of times where it’s been damaged, and Eric [Bruno] – for instance – on episode 116 with the Starbase, he had to actually go in and fix it. So [the film] has been in all different kinds of stages. Some that looks really good, and some that has sort of been through the bad stages of life.

TrekCore: A question for Sarah. Could you tell us a little bit about the notes you have to interpret. We saw some of these on the bonus features from Season 1. They seem almost like a different language. [How difficult is it] to find the footage and which takes are filed where? Are bits of film strewn everywhere, or are they kept together in their respective episodes?
Sarah Paul: For the most part, they are kept in their respective episodes. But there’s an occasional shot here and there which maybe they shot when they were shooting the next episode, or the previous episode. And sometimes I have to go through the notes, and sometimes it’s just a little bit of a pencil note written in the corner which tells me it was from another episode. So then I’ll have to go through ALL the visual effects O-negs for that episode looking for one particular shot.

TrekCore: If we can move on to reassembling the footage. How long does it take to rescan the film from any given episode?
Sarah Paul: It usually takes a week to do all the production and all the visual effects. A week for each episode. And if you conform the episode, it will take another week.

TrekCore: And with regards to adding in new VFX. How long would it take to, for example, add in a phaser beam to a scene?
Eric Bruno: It really depends on the scene. If it’s a simple phaser that lasts for a second and is going straight, we could knock it out in an hour using Flame. If it’s multiple phasers, maybe an hour and a half. If the light is reflected it may take half a day. It really depends on the scene itself and the complexity of what’s happening.

TrekCore: So this really gives us a great idea of the amount of time it takes to remaster a given episode. Obviously it’s depending on the amount of visual effects, but half a day for a phaser beam is certainly a lot more than I was expecting. From some of the feedback we’ve had a lot of fans seem to think it’s a job that could be knocked out in half an hour.
Craig Weiss: No
Eric Bruno: Even the simplest phaser scene, by the time you’ve set it up and got all the elements in there… in any visual effects scene, even the easiest shot is an hour on your best day.

TrekCore: Sarah and Wendy, do you sometimes stumble across deleted scenes or bloopers or outtakes when you’re going through the boxes, or has that material all been destroyed?
Wendy Ruiz: It’s not been destroyed. It’s just hard to identify it. There’s nothing really labelling it as an outtake or blooper. We have some notes, but not many, and when we do find notes for what we can clearly figure out to be a blooper or an outtake, we set them aside for the blu-rays.

TrekCore: So there is a chance that those will be coming on future sets?
Wendy Ruiz: That’s our hope, yes!

TrekCore: Can you tell us any more?
Wendy Ruiz: We’re barely starting our search now for Season 3 bloopers and outtakes. If we find stuff, and if it’s interesting enough, then we’ll use if hopefully.

Be sure to read the full interview at TrekCore.


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