Today I ask the question, “Is remastering in HD worth the trouble?” As many a Trekkie knows, season 1 of Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) is coming out on HD-DVD Nov. 20th. This dual format release is pretty groundbreaking. Over the summer, Paramount has been syndicating these remastered Star Trek episodes. Each one meticulously color-corrected, rescanned for 1080P and edited with newly created CG models. There are obviously some skeptics out there but the truth is the episodes do look better, and the new CG and score are still cheesy enough for the 70’s, but now have enough detail and depth so you don’t get taken out of the plot. Each episode has supposedly had a million-dollar budget for these remasters. Now, with the HD-DVD release coming, paramount is looking to cash in on the new HD standard. The set is retailing for $194.99(129.99 via amazon), that’s about $4.50- 6.70 per episode. Keep in mind, you also get a SD version of each episode on the opposite side of the disc(whether you wanted one or not).
This is all well and good for TOS, which is only 3 seasons long. But what about the gargantuan TNG (The Next Generation), which clocks in at 7 seasons? Well, read on and I’ll discuss it…
TNG, while not the crown jewel of the Star Trek franchise, is arguably better than TOS and features what has to be the most potential for a proper HD release. Only so much could be done for that old way of TV production and in most regards Paramount did a terrific job. These new versions of the TOS episodes are crisp and clean. They offer a very nice 5.1 audio experience and the new CG models and effects fit amazingly well with the old show.
TNG was made a bit differently. TNG had about 5x the budget as TOS per episode (still very small for what they were trying to do). TNG was shot on film, transferred to video and then edited with CG via ILM. What that means is TNG was shot with movie cameras on full 35mm film. Meaning all the original live action material is already of HD quality. The problem is that aside from the live action stuff, everything was done on video equipment, which offers a lot less quality. This all means that an HD remastering of TNG would require rescanning all of the old footage for digital editing and literally redoing every effects shot in HD. That is not much less work than redoing the entire series again. And that’s if all of the original material is still available.
So, where does the middle ground come? If Paramount decided to go ahead with it and remaster TNG, would the Trekkies pay what could be double the cost of TOS? Would it actually be a better experience? If it were done, would it make remastering other series like Babylon 5 fathomable? Obviously, Paramount has been pondering these questions. My idea is that it’s usually been the Star Trek fans who decide what works. Let’s see if we’re ready to give some life to our favorite old episodes.
CORRECTION: I had stated that TOS was filmed on TV cameras. As POINTLESS pointed out. I was incorrect.