Ryan Adams and David S. Grant from Multimedia at CBS Television Distribution are two of the key figures who have been working for years behind the scenes to get Star Trek: The Next Generation’s HD remastering project off the ground. I was fortunate to catch up with David and Ryan who both took time out of their busy schedule to answer questions on TNG Remastered and the future of Star Trek in high definition.
Ryan Adams & David S. Grant:
TNG Remastered Interview, Part 2
Interviewed by Adam Walker for TrekCore.com
TrekCore: We’ve become a lot more familiar recently with Craig Weiss’s wonderful team at CBS Digital thanks to the bonus features on Season 1. Could you tell us a little bit more about the second team? I understand that there have been some famous faces popping up in that team.
David Grant: Well yeah, we had Dan Curry, who was heavily involved in Season 2 with us. That really helped us. With Mike and Denise Okuda and Dan Curry, it was – you know – it was like having part of the original team back together.
TrekCore: So is the second house [Illuminate Hollywood] a separate corporation?
David Grant: Yes, we’re calling them HTV – but HTV Illuminate is the name of the company.
TrekCore: With Season 2 just a couple of months away now, I’d like to touch on one of the huge selling points from the set, the extended edition of ‘Measure of a Man’. Just how much of a challenge was it to cut together an extended HD version?
Ryan Adams: It was quite a challenge! You know, we had the VHS… you know, it’s interesting. I mean, thank god we have the technology that we have now, because we were able to ingest that VHS that Mike and Denise found from the writer [Melinda Snodgrass] and basically input it into a software system, and it would go through and tell us, OK – these are all the pieces that we have already from the HD mastering of the episode, but here are all the pieces you’ve got to find that don’t exist on that HD remastered episode. And we would go back to the film and have to search through. I mean, not us personally, but we had a wonderful team that would search through and find and eyeball every single shot until we were able to literally piece it back together like the VHS.
TrekCore: So that almost sounds like 24th century technology!
Ryan Adams: Yeah, absolutely! We were able to get all the shots, and Mike and Denise came with us, and it’s phenomenal – it’s just amazing. It’s a great episode to begin with, but not to give anything away from it, but you have some more character driven points and it’s really a huge selling point and a great episode, the extended version.
The extended edition of ‘The Measure of a Man’ is one of the major features in the Season 2
blu-ray set. Ryan Adams describes the process as “quite a challenge” and calls the result “phenomenal… just amazing”
TrekCore: Do you know what the potential is for future extended editions of fan-favorite episodes?
David Grant: Erm, future – do we have any other extended versions?
Ryan Adams: Not that we know of.
David Grant: Yeah, not yet that we know of.
TrekCore: How was the musical score dealt with for the extended episode? Was other music reused, or did you score brand new music?
Ryan Adams: Luckily, so – the scenes that created the extended version primarily were extensions of scenes that were pre-existing. So we were able to go back and use, by going back to the original audio tracks, and able to use that audio that was originally scored for those pieces. So we didn’t have to, you know, take it upon ourselves to create new music or anything like that.
TrekCore: So, when you say extensions of original scenes… was the music originally in a longer form and cut for the network version?
Ryan Adams: Right
TrekCore: So we’re going to be hearing some new music, it’s just that it was recorded before but never made it [out] in it’s full version?
Ryan Adams: It will just be a fuller version of a cue that was already used.
TrekCore: After the critical success of Season 1, CBS have really pushed the boat out for the Value Added Material [VAM] on Season 2. I know fans have long since lobbied for new audio commentaries on episodes, and we’re really excited to hear that we’ll get those for ‘Measure of a Man’ and ‘Q Who’. How much does fan feedback influence the decisions you make on the project?
Ryan Adams: Actually, fan feedback has a lot to do with what we do. In my opinion, they help drive us in the direction that we’re going. Like David said earlier, it really was the fans who were saying to us “When are we going to get TNG?” Dave and I were like “Hey, if that’s what you want, let us go and see what we can do.” So I know myself, David, Ken Ross [Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Home Entertainment], Phil Bishop [Production executive at CBS HE overseeing the blu-ray production] and all the people who are involved in this – we all keep an eye on those boards, and we listen to the fans’ feedback. We get emails, we get hit on facebook and we take all that stuff and we bring it to the table.
Robert Meyer Burnett & Roger Lay Jr. (pictured at San Diego Comic Con this year) have left no stone unturned for TNG’s second season and have produced some of the most groundbreaking special features ever seen on a Star Trek home video release.
TrekCore: What can you tell us about the other bonus features that will be included in the second season? Robert Meyer Burnett and Roger Lay have been working tirelessly to make the features even better than the first season. Robert has hinted to us that you guys have found some very special material for him – he wouldn’t say exactly what was on the reels, but he did say he thinks there may be outtakes or bloopers that no one has ever seen before!
Ryan Adams: I’m going to take the same high-road that he took and just say – not going to say any more than that – but there are some definite gems that we unearthed from the film that was in the vaults all these years.
David Grant: For us, the great thing about going back to the negative on this project which has never been done, is – we are now finding – since we have to scan all the negatives for the whole season – we are finding stuff like never-before-seen takes and all of that stuff that could be… and bloops, and all the kind of stuff, which has never been seen in 25 years. So, there’s been so many extra special features that have come out over the years that had to be created, but no-one has done this – so as we have to go back to the negative, we’ve told the houses “Look for any kind of interesting stuff, and put it aside.” And we give it to Roger [Lay], and it’s brand new never-before-seen material.
TrekCore: So that’s interesting – because when I spoke to Craig Weiss he mentioned that they are just scanning in the material required to make the dailies to build the episodes…
David Grant: Yes, they do that to build the episodes, but we also have them go and do a pass of the rest of it too to get any extra special features.
Ryan Adams: So this is kind of a second-tier that is happening.
TrekCore: So how does Season 2 stand so far? A lot of fans have been asking if there was any film footage lost requiring an SD up-conversion?
David Grant: I don’t think so…
Ryan Adams: I don’t know…
David Grant: I don’t think there is.
TrekCore: That’s great news. I wanted to talk a little bit about Mike and Denise Okuda, as they’ve both been really instrumental in helping you with the project. What led you to bring them on board, and what is their role?
Ryan Adams: What led us to bring them on board was really the fans. One – they come from the franchise. Two – we know how much the fans respect them, and Three – I just can’t think of anyone else out there who has the knowledge of Star Trek, whether it be the Original Series, Next Gen or DS9 or what it may be – the Okudas have their fingers on the pulse of Star Trek and the fan community. So, when this project came up, it was pretty much a no-brainer for all of us. Me and David, you know, our bosses, everyone – we got together and said “To do this right, we need to have Mike and Denise involved.” So we reached out to Mike and Denise and said “Hey, we need you.”
As Ryan Adams explains, Mike and Denise Okuda were brought on board the TNG Remastering project for their huge wealth of Star Trek knowledge as well as the enormous respect they receive from Star Trek fans around the world.
TrekCore: What are the weekly reviewing sessions like with the Okudas? Who takes part and do you focus on a different episode each week?
Ryan Adams: It’s kind of a combination. There are so many moving parts that, how it kind of breaks down is – today is Tuesday, so today we are going to go and look at color correction. We’re going to make sure that – you know, we already have the established look of the bridge and on the ship, and if we go to other worlds and other planets, we want to make sure that – Mike and Denise help us, and say “This planet has this kind of atmosphere, and it’s this and it’s that…” – so we’re able to really capture the original intent of the look when you’re on that planet and things like that. And then on the Wednesday morning we get together with Mike and Denise and we can go through whatever visual effects CBS-D has ready. It could be three episodes-worth, or a little bit here and there, as they have multiple artists working. And we do, we just go through – we compare the SD versions to the HD version, and we make sure “Look, does it match? Does this fire at the same time? Does it do this?” They help guide us in the direction of making sure that we’re doing everything correctly to just honor the original intent.
David Grant: And what we do in those weekly sessions is, CBS-Digital, whatever shop, since they’re working on the whole season and they have different people working on different episodes, they ship us whatever is ready each week. So, we don’t go episode-by-episode from the first to the last, we’re seeing shots from the whole season each week. And they have an emphasis, because we have a certain disk we have to complete first, so they try to work in that order also.
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