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RETROSPECTIVE: The Original Series Remastered Project

10 years ago, the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek was fast approaching. HDTV was the future. CBS knew they needed to do something to be sure the “one that started it all”, The Original Series, was ready for that future. Produced from 2006-2008, The Original Series – Remastered (TOS-R) was a huge undertaking that came with a variety of challenges and fan controversies. Keep reading for an in-depth look back at the project.

2006 in review

While we tend to quickly forget, the 40th anniversary year (2006) was actually a rather bleak time. Star Trek Enterprise had been canceled after only 4 seasons the year before. Many Trek products were put on semi-permanent hold or canceled outright. Organizationally Star Trek as a franchise was a mess because of the big Viacom split up that occurred in late-2005. The split resulted in all kinds of purging of Star Trek archives on the Paramount lot through auctions. Later on, while TOS-R was actively being produced, StarTrek.com was shut down for over 2-years (2007), and The Experience in Las Vegas was dismantled (2008).

Rumors of a rebooted movie franchise had only just started to circulate. It was of course those rumors that led to the founding of TrekMovie.com, known then as “The Trek Movie Report.” Any information about the new film was naturally sparse in the early days. However, the remastering of The Original Series was happening right then and needed to be covered. On a personal note, TOS-R is how I came to be involved with the site; I did the weekly coverage of the episodes as they aired.

Technological Challenges

While CBS knew the future was HD, the realities of the technology in 2006 was that HDTV sets weren’t nearly as ubiquitous as we might expect looking back on it from 2016. The adoption rate of HDTV sets was only ~15% of US households in 2006.  HD DVD and Blu-ray were just barely formats and would be fighting it out for who would win the HD disc wars until 2008.

The idea of a streaming movie/TV service was just being toyed with and not really viable in 2006. Most people still downloaded their content for offline viewing from the iTunes store or Amazon. Netflix introduced their streaming platform in 2007 as an add-on to their DVD rental program. Internet speeds weren’t there yet to support a streaming HD experience, the average US broadband connection was a paltry 2 Mbit/sec or less. Other technology to deliver the content, like commodity chips to decode the H.264 compression standard, also wasn’t quite there. It would take the proliferation of devices like Blu-ray players, the Sony PS3, and the Roku streaming players over the next few years to get the final pieces into place.

Given the state of technology in 2006, the method best suited for first-run distribution of TOS-R was still the tried-and-true weekly syndication model. It slotted into the place of the Star Trek Enterprise repeats being shown on the weekend by local CBS or CW affiliates. The satellite distribution system for syndicated content was still only standard definition (SD) capable, upgrades were coming, but it would be too late for TOS-R’s run. Even being delivered in SD, the significant work done to clean up the aging film, along with the much better contrast and color of the new film transfers was immediately obvious.

The Remastering Process

Rather than working on an entire season at a time, the remastering was approached like a TV series, where the CBS-D team delivered episodes on a weekly schedule. The schedule was not in season order, rather in a “fan favorite” order, with well-liked episodes such as “Balance of Terror” getting worked on first.

CBS assembled a team based inside their subsidiary company CBS Digital (CBS-D). CBS Digital was doing visual effects, titles, and similar work, for the TV industry. For example, one of their well-known title sequences (from a few years later) is the Modern Family opening credits.

Mike and Denise Okuda were a logical choice to help guide the project. They worked with the production team to go through all the reels of film, to make stylistic choices on the new visual effects, and more.

You can read more about CBS Digital’s workflow in our article from 2006.

CBS realized they were in a bit of a rock-and-a-hard place with TOS. Unlike the much newer productions (such as TNG, which would later get remastered from the raw elements), they only had the finished episodes. So they did not have the isolated original elements to work with.

The old visual effects were looking worse for wear, by modern standards they never looked spectacular because of all the layers of printing film-onto-film and splicing in the visual elements, and there was lots of generational loss on the frequently re-used stock Enterprise footage. CBS made the controversial decision to replace the VFX sequences entirely with a new CGI Enterprise, and new more realistic planets.

mantrap-HD-planet_old

1080p original VFX

mantrap-HD-planet_new

New VFX

The original 35mm film canisters of each episode were pulled from the archives and freshly scanned at 2K. The film was then digitally cleaned up by removing dirt and scratches and given a new color grading.

Since the entire finished episode was scanned, the later 2009 Blu-ray releases of TOS contain an option for either the original VFX or the CGI version. While the original VFX was available (mostly for purists who could get that on the Blu-ray season sets), the “default” version of TOS became the version with CGI.

To hedge their bets, a 16:9 widescreen version of the new VFX, along with the live action footage cropped to 16:9, was prepared, this hasn’t really been seen much, outside of a syndication run in Japan. The wider VFX can be seen in some episodes on Netflix and Amazon Instant, but the live action is the original 4:3 ratio.

The New Visual Effects

The new computer generated visual effects ended up being a bit of a mixed bag. There was excellent work on faithfully enhancing the matte paintings and creating new planets to give proper variety to the universe. These aspects were generally well liked.

new_enter_arena_2

Vulcan arena from Amok Time

The redone “Enterprise in orbit” shots allowed for a greater variety of angles.

orbit-comparison

Original and new CGI orbit shot from Court Martial

The big sticking point for many fans was the new CGI model of the Enterprise. The first wave of episodes featured a model that just seemed a bit off, with oddly colored nacelle caps. The feedback was not great, and the message was received at CBS Digital. Of course, they already had a number of episodes in the pipeline that couldn’t be stopped. The second Enterprise model was much improved. It debuted with the fan favorite episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

The nature of an ongoing project to crank out episodes week-after-week meant that the CBS-D team got better with each episode, the unfortunate reality of this is that episodes done later in the process often look better than earlier episodes. So while the episodes weren’t done in standard season order, it does mean that the first eight episodes prepared were stuck with the initial Enterprise model, and early versions of planetscapes, etc.

Perhaps the largest part of the controversy with the fans and the CGI model of the Enterprise was the color of the hull. The CGI Enterprise was much more of a battleship grey, lacking the blueish tint we had all known.  The blue tint, of course came from the bright lights and the blue screens behind the models needed to shoot the visual effects in the 1960’s.

The fan backlash was quite loud, the producers eventually made a statement that they had researched the paint of the physical model and their model was derived from how it looked in person. This started an interesting aesthetic debate, what was more appropriate: how it looked on the screen (with the blue spill), or the color of the model as it was in more normal lighting?

It’s interesting to see that the new 2016 Smithsonian restoration, which was painstakingly researched to be as accurate as possible, looks similar to the CGI model the TOS-R team used. The TOS-R version is still a bit darker than the model in the Smithsonian, this was a stylistic choice by the team, they purposefully lowered the level of light that hits the Enterprise as a nod to the fact the ship is in space.

Photo by Dane Penland/Smithsonian

TOS-R-ent-side-view

 

The New Audio Mix

While the visuals were what really needed the help, the audio had been remixed for 5.1 with the DVD releases, the team decided to make a new audio mix. They started with as high quality a source as they could find in the archives. With an eye toward the future, the end result was a high quality 7.1 mix suitable for future high definition disc releases.

Perhaps the biggest audio change for TOS-R was that they found a new soprano singer, Elin Carlson, to record the famous opening “ahhhh-ahhhhh” with modern audio capture techniques which allowed for a fuller representation of her voice, compared to the rather harsh recording of the original singer. It was then mixed in with a newly recorded arrangement of the theme song, and a cleaned up isolated track of William Shatner’s famous opening monologue.

“Risk is our business”

CBS took a big risk presenting new CGI for our beloved show, especially when you consider it was on a TV show budget in 2006. I think ultimately it was a good choice, it let the remastering team provide variety: they could stop reusing the same few ships/starbases, matte paintings, even camera angles of the Enterprise. The downside of course is that the CGI can vary widely, in some shots looking great, and others a bit cartoony. The “feel” of the Enterprise model also was tweaked a number of times, sometimes it moved like a gazelle, others it lumbered more like the original VFX. It was an evolving process, with judgement calls made by the team episode-by-episode.

When the TOS-R project wrapped up in mid-2008, the HD disc wars had just been won, Blu-ray emerged a victor. While TOS-R had been released on DVD, a good High Definition release hadn’t really been possible. There was a Season 1 HD DVD release, but it too only contained the new VFX versions. In 2009 to much rejoicing CBS announced the Blu-ray season sets, thanks to the capacity of Blu-ray these new sets would contain both the original VFX and the new CGI VFX, so this release could become the definitive way to enjoy the freshly cleaned up TOS.

STTOS_S1_BRD

In syndication, for retro TV networks like MeTV, CBS seems to still only be offering up the CGI version, I can only infer that this is what they consider to be The Original Series for the casual fan. The original VFX seems to be reserved for purists and collectors, available on the Blu-ray season sets and the upcoming Roddenberry Vault Blu-ray set.

There’s more information at our TOS-R landing page, it has links to all the articles we’ve written over the years, links to the DVD and Blu-ray reviews, a link to our sub-page with the list of the episodes as they aired in the remastered “seasons”, and an archived list of the stations that were part of that first syndication run.

 

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I still prefer the look of the original elements. The CGI elements don’t match the photography of the live action elements, and the Enterprise just doesn’t have the depth of the model. Bottom line, it just looks fake. Fortunately, Amazon Prime still has the original cut instead of the remastered.

We all have our preferences. I prefer the CG Enterprise and it totally feels like those were the shots they would have used back then if they had the budget and tech to do so. It’s the old model shots that look fake and worn.

I find the old shots are fine to watch in standard def, the picture standard for which they were intended, but they fail to hold up in HD. Like you, I’m TOS-R all the way for HD viewing.

Both versions are products of their time, but I find CGI in all its forms to look subpar compared to physical models. Even the reboot films, with all their hundreds of millions of dollars, can’t produce a starship that looks a tenth as real as the models from thirty years ago. When they debuted WOK in 4K this weekend, those ships looked real enough to touch — not like CGI toys on screen.

Don’t know how you can make such a claim, given the rich original cinematography and high contrast look, which is there on the CG planets but is completely ‘off’ on the ship shots, which look like a cartoon, seriously. Movement is off as well, but the ship cg look is just godawful bad, and wholly inappropriate to the TOS style.

For these last 10 years whenever I watched a TOS episode it was the remastered version. It’s only now this last year that I started watching the original elements version. And I have to say, I got the feeling this really is the only way to go, it really is part of the charm of the show and I have come to the conclusion that was being taken away with the remastered versions. Never going back to the butchered versions again :)

@ Mark L

I agree that the CGI doesn’t look like it even belongs in TOS. Personally, the ONLY copies of TOS that we have or watch are the original 2-episode-per-disc DVDs. Because they don’t have the damned fakey, video-gamey CGI FX.

The work of an entire crew assigned to shoot the models is lost with the CG version and that to me is a travesty. Those people worked hard to give us the best they had and with a very limited budget. The CG simply doesn’t match well with the original footage, it’s jarring and distracting.

I’m sure Jim Rugg and his crew would understand and NOT be offended.

You work in the business?

@Mick Davies

Exactly. A travesty indeed. The CGI doesn’t belong at all, whether simply an “option” or not. It’s spitting in the faces of the men who designed created the original models and opticals.

Yea but there are so many great angle and close up shots they did that could not be done back then. Like the new shuttle docking sequences are fantastic. In the episode Court Martial you have close ups of the Enterprise as well as other ships in orbit and shuttles flying around. Bottom line, the original just looks fake. On blu-ray, you can watch either which is awesome. Since 2006, I have not watched the original effects.

I enjoy the new CGI and its variety, and in some cases prefer it (such as new planetscapes, the addition of the Antares or the Medusan vessel)- while in others (particularly my favorite model of the series, the Doomsday Machine!) I prefer the models.

As a video editor, the thing that bugs me most is the way the fades to starship scenes had to be altered, extended to before and after the original fade had completed, and made much quicker to compensate- so they often come in a second too soon, preceding the music cue and throwing off the editing. It was the only thing they COULD do, without the original elements… but the editor in me cringes every time I see it.

On the other hand, the ultra-grain of the original shots can be very distracting in this format, so I do end up watching the CGI effects more often than the original. Still, I always keep a DVD of the original version Doomsday Machine handy, because nothing beats the surreal translucency of the original funnel when it turns.

Agreed Andrew (I’m a video editor too!) It’s a shame the negatives for the transition scenes couldn’t have been located and the transitions redone properly. As it stands, there’s a definite quality drop before breaks and around (now too quick) dissolves.

I don’t have a problem with the wonderful original model work. It’s the technical quality of the optical printing that inevitably looks really messy in 1080p. I wonder how fans might have felt if the Enterprise exteriors had been re-shot with the original model (something I was advocating years before TOS-R!) or if they’d been able to locate the original effects elements, rescan them and recomposite them.

Something missing from the article? It seems to end abruptly after the VFX section.
In any case–I have been rewatching a lot of episodes with my son on Netflix, and while he doesn’t see the difference (he’s 12 and watching these for the first time), I must say the jump between the live action and CGI is quite jarring. The CGI itself is generally fine for the age, but CBS made no real attempt to blend it in with the original footage. One should only look at a fan series like Star Trek Continues to see this done well. Color grading, film grain, a bit of blurr–things like that could have been done to blend the footage in better.

I was wondering this same thing about the article- there’s no conclusion or “to be continued”… it just sort of feels like it Sopranos itself.

There are certainly parts where the CGI looks fantastic, as it went on later and later it did. However, it looks like it is part of a show.

The original VFX, especially not so cleaned, actually looks like you are seeing a huge ship in space.

I have been hooked on the remastered versions since they arrived, re-purchased TOS when they became available, and will never look back. Having watched TOS in it’s original form since the 70’s, I think the upgrades are fantastic.

I remember picking up the old yellow plastic DVD set many years ago for £50, with its claim that the episodes had been ‘beautifully remastered’ when they clearly hadn’t been. The picture was filthy and scratched and sound was less than great. TOS -R, when it came along, was as different as night and day from that earlier release. I’ve liked having the option to watch the original effects on Blu-ray, but I’ve never bothered to do so.

I thought CBS did an actual 16:9 cut for the live action portion as well as the VFX for some territories where it was deemed that the 4:3 might not be accepted. Was this ONLY the VFX then? I have to say, I’ve been watching it in syndication with my TV cropping it to 16:9, and in almost all cases, it looks much better in wide screen — the framing keeps all the action in the area, and it makes the drama more intimate, immediate and focused; there’s a lot of unused space at the top and bottom of the 4:3 framing that makes a lot of it look like a stage play. There are of course exceptions where a director would stack visuals from top to bottom, all meant to be seen at once, but that’s actually quite rare that anyone got that inventive. While it wouldn’t appease the purists, a little pan and scan, or careful cropping would fix those few scenes, and again increase focus and intimacy. I have really enjoyed watching it this way, as it gives the same old shows a new fresh look. The great thing is that digital pretty much gives everyone the ability to watch the show however they want. But syndication is more for the average TV audience who don’t likely already own the show in some format. That’s the place where CBS ought to make sure their 50 year old TV show competes 1:1 with current TV shows. This black… Read more »

Curious Cadet must not care about all of the women’s beehives getting cropped.

That’s the best part to crop!

Seriously, the people who care about original aspect ratios intended by a TV director from the 60s are not the people being exposed to Trek in TV syndication, who don’t even know they have a zoom button or how to use it. There’s an argument to be made for artistic integrity, and there’s one to be made for marketing the brand.

Cropping and pan and scan is way too risky on a television series with as much camera movement and dollys as TOS. Best to leave it as the director framed it. Of course anyone, who has no problem with compromising the integrity of the original framed composition can always set their TV to “zoom” so those pesky black bars are gone. Either presentation can usually be enjoyed, just depends on how you wish to view it.

Star Trek TOS is just awesome; picked up the entire series (Remastered) and watching it slowly (one episode every two months is all the TV I get with kids). Watched Friday’s Child as could barely remember it (it was 25 years ago, I know because I saw it on a 25th anniversary run of TOS) and for an average episode, man was it great! The Enterprise must beat the Klingons to a MINING deal(!) by negotiating with a truly alien culture that put’s emphasis on strength over all else (the aliens were willing to sell mining rights for goods?!)! Kirk has to accept the loss of a red shirt within the first five minutes as just a cost of doing business in space. My wife who usually rolls her eyes at the site of anything Trek actually pauses to watch when she realizes they are trying to save a pregnant woman and likes McCoy (though the ethics on him slapping the pregnant woman while touching on equality of the sexes and the medical profession was highly questionable!!!). It had a whole cold war Federation vs Klingon conflict in the background. “I’m a doctor, not an escalator!” “I think you’re both gonna be insufferably pleased with yourselves for at least a month… sir. ” “There’s an old, old saying on earth, Mr. Sulu: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Chekov: I know this saying. It was invented in Russia.” The music is fantastic. Entertaining, thought… Read more »

I had heard that the new CG effects were done in 16:9 and the original show elements remained the standard 4X3. But I was really hoping the blu rays would include the full 16:9 shots and just go back and forth with the aspect ratio as needed. Very disappointing the discs maintained the 4X3 ratio for the CG effects shots.

Would be interested to know why this was…. What was the point of doing them in widescreen if they weren’t going to be seen in widescreen?

I agree. At a minimum, this should have been just as much a choice as was giving the original VFX option. I can only imagine that CBS hopes to hold these back and wait for another release to double-dip with a less-purist generation.

The widescreen version is shown regularly here in Canada in HD on the Space Channel. It looks fantastic. Whole different way of viewing the series. Purists won’t like the idea of missing a tiny bit of top and bottom from the original 4:3… but it’s still really cool. All that was missing in the TOS re-master was a warp effect. Boggles my mind not to have added that.

“tiny bit?” Man, do you cut off parts of paintings so they will fit in your existing glass frames? That is one of the most offensive posts I’ve seen here that didn’t get into politics or sexuality.

Yep, that’s about the kind of reply I expected to hear in this forum. Soup Nazi’s of Star Trek. “We don’t care if you like seeing things a different way. One way! One way only!”

Yes. I would crop a photo to fit a frame. I do crop photos to fit frames. Sometimes it looks better. And TOS-R in widescreen psychologically appeared way more modern when it was viewed in 16×9 formatted for a 16×9 screen.

If you can’t process or accept that, it’s ok. I won’t judge you for your preference the way old-school Trek people judge other people for liking variations on a theme.

I gingerly accept a fraction of a shirt or wall panel being cropped so that I don’t have black bars on the sides of every TV that I own.

You’re COMPLETELY missing the point; this isn’t a TREK thing at all, this is interfering with the art form, same as pan&scan. You oughta be ashamed.

I’m guessing you could never deal with black bars on the top & bottom of old 4:3 TVs, either, when seeing films in their original aspect ratio. Now THAT is an old person’s affliction, so old-school is in this case something you’re guilty of, not being able to see the work in the proper context.

For maybe only the fourth or fifth time ever here, I really wish trekmovie had an ‘ignore user’ function.

@kmart

—> “this is interfering with the art form” <—

Couldn't have said it better! My late friend (ACP) worked for Howard Anderson for several years, and while I don't know whether he had a hand in the TOS FX or not, he worked in opticals and miniatures for more than one effects house during the 50s and 60s, and I'd be livid if his work had been cut and replaced just for the sake of some "yay it looks kewl now!" fanboy's 60 inch 4K curved screen.

ST:EXP

Re:Soup Nazi’s of Star Trek

Aspect ratio changing IMAX transfers must drive you crazy.

It as nothing to do with aspect ratio Nazism. It has to do with how museums, both photo and painting, preserve and display original art.

If you’ve ever gone to a museum, you’d immediately realize there’s something up with proper bordering and framing of pictures. It’s not haphazard.

Personally, I think the problem stems from various aspect ratios being transferred to the 16:9 spec discs with no thought given as to how to properly border it with white or off-white as most museums do in photo exhibits. I feel there’s a reason black borders in museums are a minority, and this is why people intuit that something’s off when the disc manufacturers unartfully just allows the mastering to default to black.

Another example, when I attended the Trimble’s Equicon/Filmcon in the 70s the syndicated 16mm reels of the episodes were projected larger than life on the film screen and not a soul complained about the “white” borders on the projection screen. Likewise, I don’t recall in my entire life, anyone complaining about the top and bottom white borders of many of the Trek movies screened in the old movie houses that I’ve seen them screened.

“All that was missing in the TOS re-master was a warp effect. Boggles my mind not to have added that.”

I’m happy they didn’t. TOS didn’t have a warp effect.

Bah. It would’ve been a nice little touch. If they had the time and budget they would’ve done it. First thing they did in TMP was have the warp effect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQDS7ajcnZQ

Really!? How’s it look? DId they re-frame any of the shots? Or do you end up with some odd croppings?

It was very well done. Clearly re-framed shot-by-shot… and not just a wholesale crop.

It was written about a full decade ago here on TrekMovie…
https://trekmovie.com/2006/12/18/video-of-trek-remastered-in-widescreen/

https://trekmovie.com/2007/07/31/tos-r-goes-widescreen-in-japan/

But obviously not as cool as these stitched panoramas written about 2 years back…
https://trekmovie.com/2014/09/10/see-what-star-trek-tos-would-have-looked-like-in-widescreen-cinerama/

But they don’t NEED to crop the 4:3 images. Just go back and forth between the two. Similar to how “The Dark Knight” changed aspect ratios on the blu ray from 16:9 to 2.35:1. That is what the remastered versions on disc should have done. I have no idea why they don’t. Sort of why the famous Star Trek Blooper reel wasn’t an extra on any of the season discs.

Yes, I agree, I’d love to watch it this way. But I’d also love to see it the other way too. In watching TOS in zoom mode on my flatscreen, I’ve noticed the cropped picture works much better in the original framing. Could that be because those directors in the 60s all wanted to be film directors, and were working on their reels at their day jobs?

I always hoped that they would have invited the original directors to come back and reframe their shows. That would have been the height of artistic integrity. But I suspect many of them had passed by the time this project was going. But that would have been the way to do it.

Seriously though, there is so much wasted, empty space at the top and bottom of most shots in TOS since they were often framing a 7 member ensemble cast in landscapes and had no choice but to include a lot of pointless area. TNG was the worst about this, but made all the more difficult to crop, because those guys had some uncomfortably tight close ups that just can’t be cropped and look right.

Good article so far, Matt, but it just stops! Keep going! ;)

Ten years… blimey! I started writing in the comments section back when this site started. In that time, I left my home town for nine years and I’m just contemplating returning. A lotta life gone by! I love my TOS-R Blu-rays and love that I now have access to TOS-R on Netflix. The enhancements were mostly inspired. Barring a couple of misfires, I consider TOS-R to be the definitive version of the show.

My only big complaints were the Tholian ship design in the revamped The Tholian Web and missed opportunities to correct mistakes such as Balok’s missing line in the ultimatum countdown scene in The Corbomite Maneuver. Also, these days, one or two opportunities to sort out obvious stunt doubling such as in The Enemy Within might be possible.

I’m sad that the opportunity to create a CGI ‘Star Trek: Reanimated’ TV show, reworking the 1970s’ cartoon series, has never happened. There’s a great opportunity just screaming out to be taken, given all the imagery we have of the original cast in the TV show in order to enhance facial expressions and so on that is lost in Filmation’s relatively low budget animation.

More please, Matt; it’s a good read. :)

Regarding TAS getting Reanimated. I was very hopeful when TOS-R happened 10 years ago that we would also get TAS-R. I have been disappointed that it has not happened … yet. I think this is a golden opportunity to get an improved animation style put into that series. If and when they ever do it, please add the computer games episodes from the 1990s (25th anniversary edition, Judgment Rites and Secret of Vulcan Fury). I think of TAS and the games as the 4th and 5th year of the 5 year mission.

Nah, animation is expensive. It’s hard to imagine there’s a serious market for it outside of the core fans, and there’s not really enough of them to syndicate, and hard to package them with the live action series.

Ideally they save their money and give us a live-action CGI version when the technology gets there … then they could expand TOS in syndication and that would be worth something.

Yes live action versions of TAS and the Games would be the ultimate. Here is what we know they can do. Rebuild the interior set of the Enterprise, or just buy the existing sets from the fan films that already have been created.
Use the original series music and sound effects.
Have actors of today come in and play the guest starring roles. I imagine they could get some fairly big names to appear and promote the series.
The most difficult thing to do is to make the original cast look like they did in the 1960s. They are getting there, though. They have the voice work already. Bring Shatner, Koenig, Takei and Nichols back to add additional dialogue to expand the episodes to one hour.
This last point, to me, is the most urgent. Last year Leonard Nimoy passed away. So I would hope that CBS would have brought the cast together and record these episodes to fit the one hour time limit. By the time, the CGI is up to realistic standards, the original cast would be gone. Get that part done first and then work on the rest later.

I can’t agree at all with those saying that the new CGI effects are jarring and fake. Nothing is more jarring than seeing awful low budget 60’s special effects that take you right out of the story, and this is coming from someone who grew up on the series in the 70’s.

A classic example is the first season episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday”. In order for the crew to get back to the 23rd century the Enterprise needs to slingshot around the sun. Whenever I used to see that, I’d think to myself “where the heck is the sun?”, “what’s with the awful special effetcs of the Enterprise wobbling around in space?” How about watching the original version of that episode and then the remastered episode and see which one is more jarring? Friends used to come round and laugh at that episode. They don’t anymore with the new effects.

For the so-called “purists”, you can keep your original special effects, sheesh!

By that logic, the low budget sets and costumes should “take you right out of the story” too, no?

No they don’t actually. I think for the time and for the budget that they had to work with, I think they were well done. The exterior visual effects were more critical, especially with episodes like the one I mentioned because they needed to properly represent what was happening, such as the slingshot manuever. Not all episodes needed to rely on special effects but when they did, they were pretty poor.

The good news is the original versions are available for those who feel it is the best way to view it. I only look at it when I wish to compare old with new. And remind myself how much better the remastered shots are. Overall CBS-D did a bang up job. Especially in resisting the temptation to do too much with the effects shots. I think they overdid SOME just a little… Making the Amok Time site atop some 4,000 foot rock spire seemed a bit much to me but it did give a nice view of the Vulcan city in the background that was reminiscent of TAS episode Yesteryear. So there was good and bad there. Overall, no complaints at all.

I loved the slingshot effect, but couldn’t understand why they removed footage of an actual F-104 Starfighter and replaced it with the CGI recreation.

It was pretty poor stock footage at the time, likely several generations away from the original stock footage which likely wasn’t all that great.

Curious Cadet and Matt Wright,

Re:promotional military footage

Remember this was the Cold War 60s. Promotional military footage had to straddle the two worlds of looking cool enough to promote the military while being generationally downgraded so that the enemy couldn’t extract anything useful from the footage.

The sad thing is the original high grade military master footage used for the military’s own internal performance evaluations would be a vast improvement over anything done to date to improve the war aircraft images and is probably sitting on some shelf in a military surplus store for 75 cents.

Although they absolutely floored me with WORLD WAR II in Color which used formally classified color footage that had remained “classified” until around the turn of the millennium. Maybe a FOIA request might have turned something up for the restorers?

It’s the movement of the Enterprise that bothers me most in the remastered episodes. For me, the original series and movies, especially STTMP, got the movements of the Enterprise right: she’s a big ship and moves slowly, but with grace. The remastered episodes are not consistent about how she moves (a problem in its own right) but some of them have her buzzing her around more like a speedboat than a ship of the line, turning on a dime, in my opinion stripping her of mass and scale. Quickness obviously appeals to many folks these days — it rules the Abrams aesthetic — but it’s not always better.

Just watched Dagger of the Mind and was pleasantly surprised, again, by the ringed planet they are orbiting. The shading and lighting of the Enterprise itself comes off as a bit game-ish at times, in various episodes, but it’s not consistant and, for the most part, the ship looks great. Also, aside from the wonderful visuals, the carefully engineered sound-design and remixing of the elelments is top notch. From appropriately placed dialog or a door opening to the right, off screen, that we hear in the right speaker… to completely surrounding you, in reverb, when Kirk goes “shipwide”. The remastered blurays have been and are, still, a joy to behold.

I think they should re-remaster it… I also think an entirely CGI remake of the Animated series would be interesting, akin to Clone Wars/Rebels… They could take the original voice acting, and redo the visuals. It could be really cool. Some of those stories could really standout.

Instead of putting more money into redoing the animation, I’d rather wait until they can get the CGI up to a level of realism and create live action productions truly extending the original series.

In the meantime, I wouldn’t mind seeing James Cawley do a version where they replaced the visuals with live action and lip-synched the performances from the animation! That would be a true fan-film right there …

Curious Cadet,

Re:Cawley

I think that ship has sailed.

However, I could be possibly interesting if Barco Escape and Cawley’s orginal spec sets could use their technology to create “busy” “framing content” if Paramount is determined to go that route in eliminating the black.

It’s kind of funny that this story is here now. My family missed the airing of those episodes, and we just recently, I mean RECENT, like the last week recent, started watching them on Blue-ray. I’m glad the story’s here because we’re still on the first disk and we haven’t been terribly impressed so far and were doubting we’d continue with it, but “CBS-D team got better with each episode” gives us hope! I didn’t know that TNG was redone though!

So how do we talk someone into redoing Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

While I do agree that some of the new effects are cool and they’ve added some nice little touches (it’s a little thing, but I liked the working gears and other parts in the trap door in Norman’s stomach in “I Mudd”) but as a kid and even into my college years when we’d hit the 20th anniversary mark, I never thought of the effects as cheesy. They were what they were – – a product of their time,….and product of what the show was then. And that’s the show I grew up with and fell in love with. I don’t object to the new effects, or the effort that went in to it. But like I told Dave Rossi at the 40th convention in Chicago, and as Steve Austin said in the third pilot movie – – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I have to say I appreciate what they did but prefer the original elements. The model Enterprise had more convincing movement, less herky-jerky than the CGI version, especially the shuttlecraft. They did some effective stuff; the explosion in Pattern of Force’s intro; some of Immunity Syndrome; the phaser hits on Apollo’s temple. But there were editorial decisions made I couldn’t understand. For example; in Doomsday Machine (remastered) the berserker itself appears insanely huge very early in Decker’s first attack. In the original, the attack begins with large shots of Enterprise and the planet killer; they appear almost as equals, so the battle is very dramatic; this is Decker’s perspective. Not until the Enterprise is caught by the machine do we know Decker is insane to try this. In the CGI version, it’s obvious from go the Enterprise is a fly trying to swat an elephant — no drama. An the Enterprise itself appears puny, not powerful. Also thought the long shots of Romulans attacking in Deadly Years wasn’t as effective as the original closeups. Not on a small TV screen. Having said, that, CBS could have invested more money in higher quality CGI, so the team surely gave them good work for what they had to work with. But some decisions, like giving the planets different colors in the original TOS, added to the entertainment value.

Terrific article, Matt! Thank you! :)

I agree that some of the CGI effects do clash a bit and look a touch cartoon-ish. In an ideal world, had the Enterprise model been in the condition it is now, thanks to the Smithsonian, I’d have been all in favour of at least reshooting the Enterprise flybys with the physical model.

Of course, Doug Drexler and his team created the CGI FX for Battlestar Galactica at 720p and uprezzed the shots, rather than TOS-R’s 1080p, finding the shots blended better and sold themselves better when placed alongside the 1080p live action. But what the heck? It’s still a very solid job all round.

I grew up watching TOS on my mom’s Columbia House VHS tapes. They were a rip-off, but that was the only way we could watch them at the time. I was a surprised when I found out there was a tiny bit more footage on the disc releases. Example: A couple shots/scenes at the beginning of I, Mudd …

I only was able to catch a few episodes of TOS-R when they were on. My local station aired them at some weird, and infrequent times. NASCAR cut into the first ten minutes of the Doomsday Machine. BOO!

The CGI was definitely hit-and-miss, but i do agree with the ship’s color choices. I occasionally like to build models
and got the big 1/350 scale TOS Enterprise for Christmas. Turns out there are a lot of people out there,
beyond the Smithsonian, who have taken the effort to try and nail down the right color (Japanese Navy Grey is pretty close if I recall).

The Max Gabl digital mattes were sublime, and (with the exception of the re-recorded theme) the remastered sound was a delight.

The Enterprise was OK, and it got better as episodes progressed. The Klingon battlecruiser, sad to say, was a little below standard, in my opinion–very low poly and it showed.

on Netflix, season 2’s “Obsession” is presented in the original format

Just a quick question regarding the “edited-for-time (i.e. more ads)” restored versions that are currently running on ME-TV: were these rather awkward cuts made by the studio just for the versions available to the syndicated channels, or are these edited versions (with about 5 to 8 minutes missing) the only restored versions available?

Dwayne,

It is not cut up on HEROES & ICONS which airs an episode Su-Fri. But I’ve noticed some weird staccato movements of the reimagined ship fx which I attribute to time compression being employed.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Both versions are equally special and will likely endure another fifty years long after many of the spin offs, reboots and re images go the way of the dodo

The TOS Remastered BluRay set is one of my favorites. The original effects are there and I for one always liked the new CG effects as well. If anything, the new CG effects were at times too reverential to the original and I would not have minded if they had gotten a little bolder with the ship designs and even the Enterprise going into warp (again, the original effects are still there for the purists). But overall it’s pretty much the definitive set of TOS in my opinion.

Great job as usual Matt, congrats.

My biggest complaint is the “re-done” vocals on the classic “Star Trek” theme song. To me it is such a turn off.

The song as it is now just screams “Yes, this is a show for geeks and geeks alone”….I thought the original theme was cool and needed no augmentation. No offense to the geeks of the world, but I want my original “Star Trek” theme back….why mess with perfection !!!

That’s a good point. Is the original theme music also select-able along with the original VFX in BluRay?

I’m so happy they did this.

I’m looking for a final definitive answer to a yes or no question. Without exposition. Can the original TV series episodes in the 50th Aniversay Boxed Set be screened with the original effects?

Overall I think they did a good job. They were respectful of the source material and when in doubt they tried to emulate the original effects (i.e. the pulses for phasers in Balance of Terror instead of the more familiar phasers seen later). Sure, they’re not perfect as noted above, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Really don’t understand how there was fan controversy. If you’re a Star Wars fan and what they did to the original 3 movies, you have many legitimate reasons. Everything CBS did was tastefully done drawing on what was originally there, there were no major Lucas type changes and thats because everyone loved and respected the franchise and people like the Okuda’s keeping a eye on everything being done, bless those two.

Personally I would have made 2 more changes to TOS, again minor. First off why did the third season get blue coloured font for the title. IMO, the remastering (as they redid all the lettering) should have done yellow first season, blue second season, red third season, representing the three division colours for the three season. Would love to have seen the “Star Trek” text in red.

The second thing I would have like to have seen is a warp jump created for TOS, there are many times Kirk tells Sulu to go to warp and the Enterprise just slowly moves away from the planet. We never saw a warp jump until The Motion Picture. I would have designed a special warp jump for TOS. Nothing like the stretch effect of TNG more like a precursor to the TMP warp jump effect.

Those two things would have been the cherry on top.

People should understand that the CGI Enterprise and FX shots in TOS-R are specifically made to look 60’s-ish. That’s why it might look like sub-par CGI.

If you look at the connie Defiant in ENT A Mirror Darkly, that CGI connie looks so much better

They also had a much larger budget for that episode.

I really enjoy the fact that the episodes are available to be viewed either with the original effects or the CGI if you have the bluray set. I thought the new effects were mostly done well and in some cases really enhanced the episodes.
My biggest objection is the rerecording of the main title theme with the singer’s voice mixed way too heavily. The original had the voice more in the background where it blended in better.
I remember this site showing the clip comparisons between the old and new effects back then, which was fun. Also entertaining were the debates over the Doomsday Machine episode for which Mr. Dochterman also did enhanced effects in a different manner than CBS Digital…both great, by the way.
Good times back then.

Nice to see the subject of the TOS ‘remastering’ being revisited. I’d like to offer some of my current thoughts on that, and on the ‘widescreen’ issue too. Years ago, I avidly looked forward to each new episode article which previewed it’s new FX on this site. However, although certain new shots and tweaks were excellent at times, there were just too many shots that seemed rushed and quite poorly executed for my liking…and I was sorely disappointed with the missed opportunity to really do a first-rate job at times. And my view hasn’t changed about that. Despite this, I went through a phase of thinking that TOS:R would be the only way I would ever wish to re-watch the show again in the future, no matter what. But I was wrong as it turned out…as the inconsistent work done by the CBS Digital team ended up being just too frustrating for me, overall. Everything from the almost ‘pre-viz’, low-quality CGI in some shots…to the dubious motion of the Enterprise at times…to the numerous untouched hand-phaser FX…all helped to change my mind – and I have now reverted to preferring to re-watch the show in it’s original form in future. Sure, the original opticals look dated, and some of the Enterprise elements look shakey and badly matted in certain shots…but these days, the old FX just tie-in better overall for me in a ‘retro’, stylised way with the rest of the show’s general aesthetics, if you know what I mean.… Read more »

Sorry, the ‘widescreen’ stretch setting is an abomination to me. Far worse than cropping the top and bottom of the frame, where there is typically wasted, unartisticly framed, space, included in the composition only because of the 4:3 format. Shatner is fat enough in some episodes ;-)

@ CC – I’ve no doubt that the ‘psuedo’ kind of ‘widescreen’ I described above is not for everyone, and that many will prefer to keep the almost ‘square’ look which the existing 4;3 frame entails…even if it means seeing big black bars either side of the picture on their 16:9 widescreen tvs. And that’s fine, as I once felt that I only wanted to watch the original aspect ratio too. But once I got used to the likes of the slightly ‘stretched’ appearance (without losing any of the picture frame whatsoever), I found it didn’t bother me in the least after a short while…as the impact of seeing the show’s visuals filling the whole of my widescreen tv in a 16:9 aspect was a real treat for me. (and the Shat and everyone else still look plenty thin this way) Things only look slightly ‘squashed’ at the end of the day, but the overall effect is my preferred default way of re-watching the episodes now. When I tried checking how the 4:3 aspect looked again, I found that I couldn’t revert back to watching the smaller image with black bars in future. It might not be a ‘true’ widescreen picture, but I’m happy to stick with it…as I have a feeling it will be a long time before there is any kind of official ‘widescreen’ available to us all. And even then, there’s no guarantee that the image will be ‘cropped’ by someone with a very good eye for… Read more »

I love that this site now gives somewhat obscure but pertinent information on Trek. After many “dark” periods with no new postings for extended periods when Anthony seemed to have left the site, we now get a constant stream of new content thanks to Kayla, Matt, Brian, et al. Thanks to you all for reinvigorating the site over the last few years and making it the go to Trek site once again.

Who here prefers the TOS-R color-corrected picture that shows the true green color of the Command uniforms? Does that affect canon for anyone?

Curious Cadet,

Interesting, I was always aware of the apparent true darker green color of Kirk’s wrap-around-the-belly tunic so it doesn’t surprise or shock me that command gold seems a fiction.

The A/V geek in me wants the photo realism of what the film captured.

But I suppose it all boils down to what the production intended? Were they aware of the flaws of their film processing and did they seek to exploit it so as to use cheaper off-color material to create gold? Or was it always intended to exploit the three primary colors of Color TV, red, green and blue?

Memory Alpha says the command color was avocado green and that would seem to be that. But then canon or no, why did Roddenberry sign-off on this?

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/c/c9/McCoy_command_uniform.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/144?cb=20061209065327&path-prefix=en&trekmovie=.jpg

I have always wondered, and never gotten a straight answer about the animated series. Obviously there was an effort to emphasize the green in both Kirk’s wrap around tunic, as well as the command dress uniforms, which likewise Roddenberry signed off on. I had wondered with some of the animation errors, whether Roddenberry was even aware of the color discrepancy, which I like to think the animation was done by the off-shore animators watching the reruns, and the episodes were delivered fully colored after Roddenberry could do anything about it so he just had to go along with it.

Or maybe he just changed his mind, as there was no green in TMP nor TNG which was his direct involvement.

Curious Cadet,

According to Memory Alpha they caught an overseas coloring flub where Uhura was colored with Chapel’s skin tone and fixed it in time before airing.

Bag on the CG all you want, but my kids wouldn’t sniff TOS with the original FX elements. As a matter of fact they would laugh at being able to see through the Enterprise on some shots.
As far as I’m concerned the updated FX shots were the thing that kept TOS relevant to a new audience. Now I catch the kids with the DVD’s in their room.

They don’t have a problem with the ships looking like something out of Hanna-Barbera, but they got uptight over the mattework?

Don’t ever show them WORLD AT WAR, the film grain will probably incite them to madness.

Tos-R grew on me quite a bit in the last decade. I now own all three bluray sets. The article said it right, ” mixed bag” is a great way to describe this effort.

FYI – TOS-R is now airing on BBC America. Still looks pretty good.

A sad post-script; they also released 30-second, modern-styled trailers for each episode that were a great deal of fun- but apparently only about 2/3 (the first ‘two seasons’ worth) were ever completed due to StarTrek.com shutting down. For some of us, that was a GREAT disappointment. :-(

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