Exclusive – Mike & Denise Okuda: TNG Remastered Interview, Part 2

With just under two weeks left before the eagerly anticipated release of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 on Blu-Ray, I spoke with Star Trek legends and Consultants on the TNG: Remastered Project, Mike & Denise Okuda. Mike and Denise have always been wonderful in helping out TrekCore with information on the remastering project, so it was a pleasure to finally talk to them both and ask them some of the hotly contested questions which fans have been eagerly awaiting answers for.

Mike & Denise Okuda

Mike & Denise Okuda: TNG Remastered Interview, Part 2

Interviewed by Adam Walker for TrekCore.com

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TrekCore: There’s been a lot of talk about the presentation of an extended version of the Season 2 episode 'The Measure of a Man' which is a popular fan favourite…

Denise: And ours too!

TrekCore: … Are you able to tell us anything about this? And could we maybe look forward to seeing future extended episodes?

Mike: With regard to ‘Measure of a Man’. That was kind of an unusual circumstance in that… first of all, we had a very, very early cut of the picture. It happened to be Melinda Snodgrass’ first professional tale. So when we found out there was an early version that was quite a bit longer than the final version, we were so excited about that! This was back in the day, I actually asked our friends in the editorial department for a copy of it and we gave that to her and she happened to hold onto it for all these years, because normally that sort of thing isn’t saved. When the Blu-Ray project started up, we emailed Melinda and said ‘Hey, is there any chance you still have that VHS tape?’ And she was so kind. She just mailed it back to us – that’s why we have it.

Denise: And everyone’s trying their darndest to make it happen. It’s kind of a crapshoot, but everybody is very enthusiastic that the process is going forward. Right now we can’t tell you if it’s going to be a happy ending, but everybody is very excited about the possibility and trying to make it happen.

TrekCore: Have you seen the extended edition yet?

Denise & Mike: Oh yes!

TrekCore: Could you tell me if it changes the episode significantly for you?

Mike: The plot itself does not change. What changes is more character development, more texture, there’s more emotion to it – you understand people’s motivations a little better.

Denise: The cutting is a little bit different. There [are] more wide shots than the final finish – the courtroom has more shots and closeups. So there is additional footage, it doesn’t change the story though.

Okona's ship, the Erstwhile - Lost or Found?

TrekCore: About the project itself – I understand that some elements such as the original film of the ship Erstwhile in 'The Outrageous Okona' were sadly lost. What happens in situations like this? Are you able to reconstruct these in CGI and I wonder if you could tell me a bit about the processes involved and the timescales and work involved in reconstructing little bits like this?

Mike: Each episode takes many months to reconstruct. As a result, the only way you can do that is – if you always have many episodes being worked on in parallel at different stages in the game. Wherever possible, the visual effects are being reconstructed from the original film and as far as the ship’s go – again, the vast majority of the ship shots do exist. When a piece of film is missing – on a case by case basis – you either reconstruct if from CG or do something else. I believe that initially there were some pieces of film of Okona’s ship that were not found…

Denise: I thought they were found? I don’t remember…

Mike: Yeah. Can we get back to you on that? I actually believe that the footage was found but I wouldn’t swear to it.

TrekCore: That would be great. I understand Doug Drexler was working on building a new model, but if it’s found obviously that’s better.

Mike: Well, initially there was concern and Doug started doing some work on it. But, I’m pretty sure that they did ultimately find it…

[Update: Mike has since been back in touch and confirmed that the Okona ship film was found. He states: "We checked with Doug and with others. They confirm that while there was concern over film for Okona's ship, the film was eventually found, and Doug's (excellent) CG model did not need to be used. Of course, Doug's diligence in planning ahead was typical of the extraordinary dedication of everyone working on this project."]

Denise: Yeah, I’m pretty sure too. I don’t remember… That happens though. I mean, you start finding the film and getting the correct case and so forth, and something may be missing. There’s a woman by the name of Sarah Paul... and Kiki Morris. It’s their job to go hunting and find the footage. Sometimes it’s in the box that’s marked, and sometimes it’s not and so – they have to go through… I mean, you can imagine the massive job. So initially sometimes, we’re missing something – but then, they find it. We’ve been just amazed and pleasantly surprised that most of the footage is eventually found.

TrekCore: We know from the sampler – ‘The Next Level’ – where there were a few seconds missing from ‘The Sins of the Father’ and I think you covered in the [Season 1] Bonus Features that you did find that film

Denise: Sarah found it!

TrekCore: I can imagine you must be holding your heart in your mouth when you realise this film has been misplaced, so it must be a relief when you find it…

Mike: Actually, given the thousands and thousands and thousands of individual pieces of film, we’re continually amazed that so little is missing! The folks at Paramount did a fantastic job of archiving the stuff. Kiki and Sarah are doing an amazing job of finding everything that’s needed.

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