Brian, Kayla, and Matt climb aboard the Shuttlepod to talk about the current state of Ultra HD Blu-ray, the basics of 35mm film restoration (i.e. why it’s fairly easy to release the Trek movies in 4K), and, of course, the issues around, and possibilities for, remastering the beloved ’90s Trek shows (DS9 and Voyager), and more.
Links to various resources
This Jaws special feature gives a good overview of how a film is restored and prepared for a new home video release:
Here’s a nice video from 2021 about remastering TNG, and the future of DS9 and Voyager:
Interviews/podcasts relating to remastering Trek
In 2017 TrekNews interviewed Robert Meyer Burnett, who had been involved in the TNG Blu-ray releases, about possible remasters for the other ’90s Trek shows.
Back in 2012, during the release of the TNG-R Blu-ray sets, TrekCore published an in-depth 5-part series of interviews on the remastering process. Click here to start with Part 1, the others are linked at the bottom of each article.
Mission Log podcast episode from 2018 with TOS-R producer Dave Rossi.
Inglorious Treksperts episode from 2020 with Dave Rossi discussing TOS-R.
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So much here I respectfully disagree with. I’m as old if not older than most of the podcasters. So no, I wasn’t raised in an all-digital era. But I’m not in the camp the irrationally celebrates “film grain” the same way there are those who want to insist on the superiority of vinyl LP.
There is also this perpetual myth of what “filmmakers intentions” were. This is simply *not* the case. DOPs on film crews weren’t an all-knowing infallible artistic Gods…nor did they necessarily WANT grain in their creations. That was simply a by-product of their filmstock, lens quality and overall production budgets.
Just because something looked era-specific-filmic it doesn’t mean it’s better than what can be achieved now. And it doesn’t always mean it was a desired look of the original content authors. It just *doesn’t*.
We can all agree that NONE of us are a fan of over-processing and watching re-releases that were color-timed at the whimsy of the carb-lover who was sitting at the DaVinci that weekend in Hollywood.
Much of the reason we are stuck purchasing re-releases are BECAUSE of odd transfer errors to disc media during prior studio releases.
So why would we not assume these 4k releases are not going to be subject to the same sorts of criticisms 10 years from now? Just because they look a bit better than a 2009 release mess?… a mess that is usually only detectable when you have to pause and do side-by-side screenshots?
HDR implementation can still a drab mess on so many people’s home systems… and in a decade we can only imagine what far superior AI-driven video scrubbing algorithms will exist to get that proper balance between acceptable inherent grain vs. blatant torturing of an image.
So no, I don’t always feel the end-consumer has to run out and make a purchase of the same product for the 5th time to pay for the alleged mistakes of the studio previously.
I SAY GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR. lol.
I really enjoyed the episode and I learned an awful lot! As a historic preservationist and millennial I can appreciate the reemergence of physical media – especially for the things we care about. For me that’s film photography and vinyl. Great episode, and I really hope they’ll remaster DS9 and VOY one day!
Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Despite the grim talk of all the business reasons why Paramount hasn’t done it yet, I think we all hope for a proper remaster of DS9 and VOY.
Sonos Arc is incredible for simulating surround sound. Supports Dolby Atmos. I added a Sonos Sub with it. I’m pretty much set for surround sound.
Yep, those are great, especially if you’ve already got Sonos or are looking to start a Sonos setup for other rooms.
I really enjoyed the discussion about portable media and history of remastering efforts, the TNG one being particularly incredible when you think about it. While the investment was likely enormous, I hope that paramount has considered the dividends such an investment would make, in terms of potential increased viewership, of Voyager and deep space 9 for years to come. That being said, theoretically, could AI upscaling eventually be used in the same way that facial swapping (a la Luke Skywalker in Mando series) is? In other words, if there is a 35mm hi rez sample of objects, such as the DS9 space station, a star field, the actors, the station interiors, could the AI swap, or create, a high-res depiction from recognizing a low-rez object? Not exactly upscaling, but more upswapping?
Also, one thing not mentioned during the podcast that I think is really important is the ‘ motion interpolation’, or smoothing effect, that many modern TVs have at baseline. This makes an original 24 frames per second movie play at 60 frames per second using synthesized frames. While it is good for sports, it makes epic movies look like a cheap soap opera. It is very jarring and I can’t watch them with these settings, but it can often be very difficult to disable them, and some people do not even notice, which is even more remarkable.
Oof, yes, we didn’t get into the awful motion smoothing. Maybe we should have said something as a PSA of sorts. Thanks for saying it. I don’t know how people don’t see it either. Those settings on high make me queasy.
As far as the AI stuff, you’re on the right track. That’s how AI upscaling works even now, the more high quality information you can feed the algorithm, the better it can do.
So I think in the near future Paramount might be able to give it high quality references of the characters, the station, etc. and it could do a pretty good job. But the issue is there’s always something that won’t be great. The ’90s computer generated visual effects have actual errors/issues in them that were tolerated then, but just aren’t okay, even on DVD you could see it. There’s a weird situation where some of the VFX were created at 30 fps, some 24 fps. It really mucks up algorithms that are trying to deinterlace and upscale the original 480i material, you end up with artifacts, many of which were in the original source too.
It makes sense the way you explain it. Thank you. What I’m basically hearing is, there’s no free lunch. Doing it the right way takes time, blood, sweat, tears, the whole bit.
That’s along the lines of what I heard from the VFX supe on DEAD RINGERS series. He was seeing what was achieved using ‘crappy youtube videos’ with deepfake, and decided to handle some face replacements using really high-end imagery of Rachel Weiss’ features, and apparently the results were utterly worth the effort for the few shots that had to be done that way (most of the rest were typical motion control splitscreen, but on really ambitious sustained and sweeping camera moves, that wasn’t an option.)