TrekCore talks to Robert Meyer Burnett, one-half of the talented duo responsible for the creation of the new bonus features on Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s remastered Blu-Ray releases. Normally to be found beavering away in his edit bay, Rob generously took several hours out of his busy schedule to talk to me about all things Star Trek, answering questions about his work and dropping several juicy hints about the exciting things he and Roger Lay Jr. have planned for future Star Trek Blu-Ray releases.

Robert Meyer Burnett

Robert Meyer Burnett: Who Interviews the Interviewer? Part 7

Interviewed by Adam Walker for


TrekCore: When you say [that JJ Abrams’ “Star Trek”] brought the franchise back, there’s been this term bandied about now for many years: “franchise fatigue”. A lot of people, probably correctly, say that Voyager and Enterprise did real harm to the franchise by taking that trip to the well one too many times. Do you think that in the Rick Berman incarnation of Star Trek, it’s possible to get another show on the air, or does it need a complete retooling?

Robert Meyer Burnett: Here’s what I think happened with the Rick Berman era of Star Trek. Rick Berman knew what worked, and he was a devotee of Roddenberry’s original vision, but the Star Trek universe… they did not evolve with the time, with serialized, television storytelling. Deep Space Nine did get into serialized storytelling, but if you look at those episodes, it still had an “A” story and a “B” story for the most part; they still adhered to the formula of the act structure of Star Trek which began in the Sixties. As other shows were becoming more and more serialized, more and more modern, Star Trek was very mired in what had come before.

Enterprise could have been a complete departure, but it still was still telling a story with a five-act structure dealing with “A” and “B” stories; it was still stuck in the same Star Trek storytelling that they had even back in the Eighties. People thought, “Well, Star Trek has to have a spaceship, we have to have to call it Enterprise…” You needed to completely break from that mode of storytelling. Look, I would like to see the Mad Men version of Star Trek. Why not do that? If you could combine, say, The West Wing… to me, the first season of Enterprise should have been The West Wing in heading into Space. You had guys dealing with the Vulcans, dealing with world-building, and we had yet to have… how frustrating would it have been to watch Earth not be a spacefaring power, and all these aliens are coming to us telling us how to live our lives; we desperately needed warp technology to get there, to join this galactic community that we knew was out there, but no one was going to give it to us – we had to earn it, and that in itself… the whole show would have been a metaphor for emergent technologies, how we’re going to manage them… it would have been a great thing to do.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Having worked with the original cast – if I was given $30 million right now – I would go make a kick-ass Next Generation movie that is set on one planet, we never go into space, and we deal with some kind of a really interesting, philosophical, ideological problem. You know, you have Captain Picard who’s retired, or maybe a governor somewhere – you could make a kick-ass Star Trek movie now, with the original Next Generation cast, that doesn’t have to be some kind of a space adventure on the Enterprise. As a matter of fact, Gabriel Koener, who people know from Trekkies, and he became a special effects artist in his own right – he told me the greatest idea ever for how you bring back Data, who’s dead. His idea was that Data’s positronic system – they were able to somehow salvage that, and Data becomes the new central computer on ALL starships. Instead of Majel Barrett’s voice, the new voice of Starfleet computers and the Enterprise is Brent Spiner, who would appear as a CG, animated Hologram, so he’d still look like Data. Brent Spiner, using motion capture technology, becomes an artificial intelligence with Data’s personality, who happens to now be the main computer on every starship. You bring him back, and Data is there, but he’s the ship’s computer instead of being Data himself. I was like, “That’s a genius idea!” You incorporate Data, still alive; the computer is now called Data – you refer to him as Data, and he becomes the ghost in the machine – he exists as his character, he just runs the ship now.

Robert Meyer Burnett in his CBS Director’s Chair in front of the bluescreen stage used for interviews in the bonus features.

TrekCore: Rob, you still speak with such unbridled passion about Star Trek, and it’s been part of your career now in one form or another for almost twenty years. Do you ever get to the point of reaching burnout? Does having it as your day job ever intrude on your hobby, your fandom? Do you get to a point where you say, “I’ve got to call it quits and just enjoy it as a fan again”?

Robert Meyer Burnett: No, because I am, for whatever reason – maybe it’s because it’s so ingrained in my brain – to me, in my imagination at least, the Star Trek universe is real. Probably silly for me to admit this, but I still read most of the Star Trek novels that come out, especially all of the ones set in the post-Dominion War continuity, like the David Mack Destiny novels; his new Data trilogy [Cold Equations] and just in the last month, the Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 book came out. Also, you have Round Two releasing a life-long dream of mine… a large, very accurate model kit, 1:350-scale, of the original Enterprise!  You can also buy additional decal sets with all of the additional Franz Joseph N.C.C designation numbers. You can build any of the original 12 Constitution-Class ships or the I.S.S. Enterprise!  There’s also an additional lighting kit so you can light the shuttlebay and it even has a bridge interior! And if that wasn’t enough, LaLa Land Records released the Holy Grail of Star Trek music, which is, of course, ALL of The Original Series music ever recorded, including tracks recorded but never used before, never heard before – which, to me, I hear that music, there are all these sense memories conjured up all the way back to my earliest childhood. And we’re getting it all now!

So, on December 4th, you have TNG Season Two on Blu-Ray dropping, David Goodman’s coffee table book Federation: The First 150 Years, AND the boxed set of fifteen CDs of all the music from The Original Series! It’s Trek-pocalypse! How can I, as a fan… every dream I ever had, everything that I ever wanted is there! I can now build a three-foot model of the I.S.S. Enterprise that has working warp nacelle lights, a shuttlebay, and a bridge; I can build it in my man-cave while listening to every single piece of music ever recorded for The Original Series. (Laughs) These are heady days indeed, my friend.

I have grown up, Star Trek has never let me down. It’s always been there. Started watching TOS, then the Animated Series came out. The Motion Pictures. Next Gen and the rest…as I’ve grown up and moved through my life…there has always been new Trek. Sure, I’ve liked some a great deal more than others; I can rip on J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie all I want – and I will never stop ripping on it, because it’s almost become part of my personality to do so – but who am I kidding? Do you know how many times I have watched JJ’s movie on Blu-ray? Way, WAY too many times…which is why I know I hate it so much.

TrekCore: Go on…!

Robert Meyer Burnett: A lot. I mean, I watch it a lot! I hate the production design; I hate the fact that San Francisco looks like a polluted mess… but it still has the biggest budget, by far, of any Star Trek movie and it does have a lot of cool, interesting stuff to see in it. I think Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike is one of the most bad-ass motherfuckers ever, in terms of how they can get him so right… I love Chris Pine as Kirk, even though the Kobayashi Maru scene in that movie is an embarrassment; it’s ridiculous – he did not deserve a commendation for original thinking, he just broke the simulator and acted like an asshole. Had I written that scene, I’d have Kirk reprogram the simulator himself, not letting the Orion he was banging do it for him, and he would have reprogrammed it using, say, tactics he learned studying Garth of Izar; some amazing and obscure tactic that he would have figured out how to employ, and his professors at Starfleet Academy would have believed, if only for a moment, he actually did beat the simulator – because he was clearly a brilliant tactician, and they would have been like, “Wait a minute, no one’s ever done this before.” But, in the movie, you know from the beginning that he broke the simulator! He smugly eats his apple. He didn’t do anything clever and was immediately caught. What a douche bag that Kirk is. That Kirk…not the most finely crafted hunk of dilithium in the intermix chamber. But, whatever – I still watch it, fine. It’s okay. And after those nine minutes, I already hate INTO DARKNESS too…I mean…running from the spear-chucking Hovitos? Really? Did the writers adapt an old Gold Key comic for that scene? And, oh wait, Spock’s quoting the Prime Directive as he repels down from a Shuttlecraft which must be in full view of anyone looking up at the erupting Volcano from at least ten miles away. And don’t get me started on the Red October Enterprise…

Robert Meyer Burnett hanging out in “Music of Star Trek” author Jeff Bond’s garage… a treasure trove of Star Trek and sci-fi memorabilia.

But yeah…I’ll be first in line on opening day. Because it’s STAR TREK! As overblown and intellectually challenged and wildly over budget as it is…it’s still the most expensive STAR TREK movie we’ll probably ever get. Besides…I want to see The ‘Batch’s big reveal and I’m really hoping to see the Botany Bay in a flashback on the big screen at some point…if Peter Weller’s character did, indeed, happen to stumble across it a few decades early. Or maybe…John Harrison is simply John Harrison…uh huh.

TrekCore: To what extent does fan feedback influence your work on the TNG Blu-rays? Do you read feedback actively on the message boards, and does it influence the way you produce these things?

RMB: Fan feedback is absolutely one of the most important things for us. I lurk on the comments sections of TrekCore, and TrekWeb, and TrekMovie, just like everybody else. I’ll tell you something – in the “Energized!” documentary on Season One, we did not originally address the 16:9 [aspect ratio] controversy. There were people […] writing, “Why isn’t this done in 16:9? They could go back and do it in 16:9!” I was so annoyed at reading that – and CBS was afraid of fan backlash; I was like, “These idiots! You can’t make this show in 16:9! It can’t be done!” So I was like, “No, no, no – we have to do a bit about 16:9.” So I went at got that footage, I asked CBS Digital to pull the shot from “11001001” where the Enterprise is entering Spacedock and going right off the frame, at the edge of the 1.33:1 frame. Wendy and Sarah at CBS Digital make sure we get all the elements we ask for, because obviously the Spacedock interior was done by ILM for 2.35:1 presentation, so I wanted to put that in to graphically illustrate why the VFX of the show simply can’t be done in 16:9 without recomposing almost every shot and thus diminishing the resolution. That was a direct result of what we’d read in terms of feedback on the web.

TrekCore: Season Two has got a backlash, and I think in many ways, it’s unfair. The vast majority of the product… it’s still a miracle in itself that we’ve got it. How do you feel reading the comments people have posted about the second season set, before they even had it in their Blu-ray players?

Robert Meyer Burnett: Well, obviously, Roger and I are VAM producers. We have nothing at all to do with the remastering of the show itself. But it’s frustrating in the sense that, look – when I read those comments, it’s like, “Oh, okay, are you saying that you’d rather watch the show in standard definition?” The fact we have the show in HD – period – ends the discussion for me. Every time CBS sends over a new group of remastered episodes to use in the VAM, I watch them and marvel…thinking to myself, “I can’t BELIEVE I’m seeing this! In the history of television, NO ONE has ever gone back in and rebuilt a show from scratch. When I watch episodes like “Elementary, Dear Data” – and you made the point in your review – that episode looks so good, and the detail looks so amazing…when originally, at 480i, the blacks used to look like grey sludge. You should see the blacks in Season Three’s “The Enemy!”  Now, CBS’s mandate for the show was to rebuild it in HD. That was it. I would argue that what CBS Digital did in Season One was way above and beyond the original mandate. They went all out, and because they’re an effects house – if you want to look at it a certain way, they went way above and beyond their mandate. They didn’t just preserve the effects that were there; it’s not like somebody failed to do something. Both companies [CBS Digital and HTV Illuminate] took the 35mm negatives and recomposited them, just like they were supposed to. That was their job, and they did it. Period.

They did it to the best of their ability. Now, when you have effects companies that are going above and beyond – doing things like putting reflections on the hull from the glow from planets, they didn’t have that before; that wasn’t part of the original show, but now, with computer technology, all of those things can be done. I think the very idea that we have Star Trek at all in HD is amazing. Well, now that we’re spoiled… it’s like the old Louis C.K. routine – somebody finds out for the first time that they can get wireless internet on a transcontinental fight. They’re like, “Oh my god!”, and ten minutes into their flight, the internet fails. And that person’s like, “Can you fuckin’ believe this shit? The internet failed!” You’re on a plane, flying across the ocean, with satellite internet FROM SPACE! The fact that internet exists at all is amazing! You’ve had it for ten minutes and take it for granted, forgetting it’s amazing! It is astonishing that the Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-rays exist. I think everyone as CBS, starting with Ken Ross, Dave and Ryan and everyone in Home Entertainment, deserves fine bottles of wine from every fan. This is a pioneering effort never before attempted in the history of television. It’s a first…and let me tell you…for this old school Trekker…I’m stoked.

Now, you can say, “Well, if they can do it with this certain amount of quality…” Everybody wants it to be the best it can be; nobody sets out to do work that isn’t great. There are economic and time constraints on these projects. That’s the reality of what we have. In a perfect world, yes, I wish the matte paintings in Star Trek IV were better than they are, but there’s never enough time and money! The visual effects in Star Trek IV are not nearly as good as the effects in Star Trek III, but I’m not going sit there and go, “Fuck that, man! I’m not going to buy Star Trek IV!” No, you buy Star Trek IV, even though the matte paintings waiver and the Cetacean Institute looks phony and I can’t stand the way the matte painting of the H.M.S. Bounty looks when they’re on the surface of Vulcan – but you still get cool shots when the Bounty takes off in the Vulcan sun; you still watch the movie. It does not hamper my enjoyment of the humor and story in Star Trek IV because the effects are not as good as the work ILM did on Star Trek III. I’m not going to go, “Fuck that, I’m not buyin’ it.”

Robert Meyer Burnett with his good friend and VAM producing partner Roger Lay Jr. on the blue screen stage checking out some footage on the monitor.

That’s sort of my feeling; I just love having Star Trek: The Next Generation in HD. Season 2 has some great episodes – I love seeing “Q Who” in HD, I love that new matte painting where there’s Borg walking around, and they added the green sparks to every Borg alcove, and running water or oil or whatever the hell it is running down the middle of that ship. They didn’t have to do that. It certainly wasn’t part of what CBS Home Entertainment expected during the remastering process. But we got it anyway. I also love the new matte painting in “Loud as a Whisper”; even all the ship shots in “Peak Performance”, I love seeing that stuff in HD. I love seeing the paint job on the Ferengi Marauder and all of that. It looks a hell of a lot better than it ever did before.

TrekCore: Absolutely.

Robert Meyer Burnett: And, let’s not forget – the extended “Measure of a Man” got done! I mean…I STILL can’t believe that one. Astonishing. I love those composites outside the Starbase, a la Star Trek: The Motion Picture – I love the way that stuff looks. So, I mean, I think that when people sit there and say, “Oh, I’m not gonna buy it” – that’s your loss. The way we scrutinize things now, it’s insane. God, it’s crazy – I want things to be perfect, too! It’s not like we’re not trying to make things perfect!

I got taken to task about the [starfield] compositing that was done in the “Energized!” documentary. Well, yes, we didn’t get to do the composites like we did for “Stardate Revisited”. We didn’t have a compositor working on it at the time; it is what it is, I would have liked it to have been better – but that doesn’t mean that the “Energized!” documentary doesn’t celebrate the work of CBS Digital, and isn’t worth watching, because it most definitely is. Season Two still has all the great stories, and the great acting, the great production design work of Herman Zimmerman and Richard James, and the music, and all that. We’re so entitled now – “Oh my god, we’re getting high definition Star Trek, but now we’re going to nitpick it to death.” If you had the opportunity of getting Season Two or not getting Season Two [in HD], I would always take the opportunity to get Season Two. It’s still great. And people should know, everyone at CBS is doing everything they can to make the TNG remastering project the very best in can be.

TrekCore: Robert Meyer Burnett, it has been an absolute pleasure to talk to you about Star Trek for three hours! I really appreciate your time.

Robert Meyer Burnett: Thanks, Adam. That was awesome.

Go to Part: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7


ROBERT MEYER BURNETT wrote and directed FREE ENTERPRISE and produced Warner Premiere and Dark Castle’s THE HILLS RUN RED.


My huge thanks to Robert Meyer Burnett for such a wonderful, in-depth interview. We’ll be bringing you more from Rob at a future date with a whole raft of talk and exclusive features on his production “Free Enterprise”. Be sure to stay tuned to TrekCore!

Order Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 Blu-Ray today!

Order Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Blu-Ray today!

  • SypherHawq

    Season 2, over all, looks amazing. I’m not going to deny that. And when he says that we’re spoiled, I totally see it. Either way, I’m okay with that, because it’s so much better than it was before. On the other hand, complaining is one way I show my affection. So, thank you very much for everything.

  • archer923

    I was one of the people who bashed HTV. And I agree with RMB about; it was a god send we even have TNG in HD. I always thought TNG and most other shows would be in SD forever. And I don’t blame HTV for most of the issues I had with S2. But things I will NOT forgive is the misaligned layers. Bad planets, And the recompositing of shots that where DONE in S1. Those are pure **** up’s on their case. Everything else. So be it. They did straight transfers of the film material to HD. Matching the original raw colors and layer mixes of the ship shots. And the poor 2 foot ENT D model (which I still don’t want replaced by **** CGI). We have become spoiled with digital work. We expect things perfect. Which has caused people to become George Lucas fixing crazy.

    • DangerousDac

      There are multiple instances of a CG/Digital Enterprise-D on the The Next Level promo disc, and those are so close to the original you can only tell from counting windows side by side.

      CG is not the enemy. Bad CG is.

      • MalcolmTucker

        Indeed, for example the shot of the Enterprise launching the probe in ‘Where Silence has Lease’ was rightly pointed out as a poor CGI replacement, whilst no one has said a bad word against the Hathaway CGI shot from Peak Performance from what I’ve read as it looks very close the original model shot.

        • archer923

          That shot was a good shot. No complaints. I did have some complaints on the BOP CGI from matter of honor. It was made worse because they used the shots from STIII. That stuff was too good.

      • archer923

        The next level had 4 instances. Warp drop out from inner light. side warp angle, Underside saucer separation, and the energy beam. And I didn’t mean bad cgi. I meant if it exists, don’t use CGI. CGI will always look worse than the model. Even though the 2 foot model is bad to begin with.

        • DangerousDac

          That’s my point though, the only jarring instance you listed was the Inner Light opening, and that was only because the camera was a little too far to the left. I’d rather a shot like the Inner Light opener though than the 2 footer shots we see in the season 2 release. It just looks wrong. The main reason why I think season 1 worked well was because the effects looked like how you remembered them, not how they actually were. I don’t remember the two footer looking THAT bad.

          • archer923

            You could always see it was bad during Time’s squared rotation shot. The Nav lights being huge. And the windows on the neck being a mirror image. Those where the dead giveaway even in SD. But that what was done. The show shouldn’t be changed just because they can. You might as well remaster every movie/TV show every 20 years. ‘Cause CGI today will look bad decades from now…

          • kadajawi

            When they are doing such a big project, and they can do it, and the result will look better without altering anything (unlike Lucas who actually changes story etc.!), then go, do it. With shots that would otherwise be jarring.

        • kadajawi

          Do you think this one looks worse than if they had done it with a model?

          Granted this was done by the very best studios in the world. But well done CGI can look extremely good.

          Or look at the work of Bertrand Benoit:

          Like this one:
          It is nearly impossible to tell it is not a photo. Now computers aren’t fast enough to do this sort of quality for animated scenes, but they will be. Don’t count out CGI just because it hasn’t been perfected yet. It took a while to get decent model work too.

          • archer923

            You’re comparing shots that take months and months of extensive work to CBS-D who has a few weeks to do one episode. And my point was about not to change anything, unless the footage is lost. Regardless of issues. They can do this if they want a CGI only version of TNG-R.

  • Daniel Shock

    I could have sworn it was RMB that started the whole 16:9 debate with this tweet: CBS should put their excellent TNG 1:33 vs 16:9 demo online and let the fanbase vote. (16:9 would win by a landslide…).

    • archer923

      Of course it would win. The majority doesn’t care about original framing. They don’t want to see black bars. But they would lose sales either way. (Me) People who want the intended framing, regardless of bars, won’t buy it. People who hate black bars won’t buy it. Even though your TV can cut off the image for you. While my TV can’t give the image back…

      • Ashley Williams

        They wouldn’t have to lose sales. Just sell it in both widescreen and fullscreen. For the widescreen version I realize they would have to crop some of the shots, but not all of them. Some of them just expanding the matte on the left and right sides of the film would permit widescreen. I know of at least one shot right now. Pikard and Riker talking alone in the conference room would be perfectly fine as there is no equipment in the cropped area. Back when I thought that all the scenes had this ability, I thought they could let you pick both widescreen and standard by superimposing black bars on the sides of the widescreen version. That way they wouldn’t need two sets. I know now that’s not the case. Its too bad they didn’t try harder to keep the equipment off the camera.

        • archer923

          That is a option, yes. But that doubles the cost of the company to produce discs. If the sets fail to gain back the money of the costs. They stop making them. BR is having a hard time selling as it is, half the time.

          Also S2’s blooper showed more of the show has less extra information than S1 did. Every shot in the blooper would loss the top and bottom.

        • algarciashead

          They have to pay somebody to reframe every shot, it’s completely too expensive and impractical even if you don’t care about the original directors framing.

          • hypnotoad72

            Awesome summary, thanks!

            (I too prefer lengthy passages, but some prefer the summaries over the detail…)

        • Matt_Cardiff_UK

          It’s too bad that the show wasn’t shot in 16:9 in the first place like Babylon 5 – that would have been real forward thinking. It’s frustrating that DS9 and VOY weren’t in 16:9 either.

          • kadajawi

            I agree, not sure what they were thinking. SG1 was 4:3 in the beginning, but they switched to 16:9 at some point. TNG could have done the same… let alone DS9 and VOY.

        • kadajawi

          It wasn’t meant for widescreen. It wasn’t framed for widescreen. It would look ridiculous and odd if shown that way. There are shots where Data is sitting in front, behind him Riker, and behind Riker there could be Picard. They all interact with each other, without a cut. They are standing close to each other, though at different distances to the camera, obviously to fit them all into the small frame without making the characters too small. It is all very carefully shot. If you crop it, Picard would lose his head. If you open up, and that is possible, you’d have 3 characters standing ridiculously close to each other in the center while the rest of the frame has no one. It would simply look completely wrong, it would pull you out of the scene. Even if you don’t conciously notice it.
          You simply can’t recompose it, it would look awful, like the work of some chimps that were given a camera. It’s like when people take photos of others and the heads are in the center. You see lots of sky, then the head in the center and the legs are chopped off.
          Making it 16:9 would ruin the look of the show (not every shot, but that makes those where they tried to work around the limits of 4:3 even more jaring).
          Btw. I do love widescreen. I love the look of Ben Hur, which was shot in 2.7:1 rather than 1.78:1. The wider the better. But it was composed that way, TNG wasn’t.

      • Daniel Shock

        I wasn’t really trying to re-open the debate…although that was probably naive… I was just pointing out that HE said it would win in a landslide, and now he’s being critical of any of us who wanted 16:9.

        • archer923

          I have no problem with people wanting 16:9. That’s cool. The issue is: I can’t get my 4:3 from 16:9. But you guys can get 16:9 from my 4:3. Options is always better. I guess when space issues stop coming up. Both will be available easier. It be nice for Networks to use those “extra” sub channels to allow people to watch it whatever way they want.

          • hypnotoad72

            Televisions have zoom-in and other functions.

            Some who use PCs to play video on their TV sets have software that manipulate the screen in real time to stretch some areas, but leaving areas with people look normal. It’s clever, and often successful, but the original media should be remastered and in the original framing. People who want the extra customization should pay the difference. Everyone shouldn’t be dragged down to a lesser standard, in this case brought about due to chopped detail and/or softer imagery involved in the faux reframing process.

          • archer923

            You’d get a softer image from the source either way. The moment you crop. The image is blown up. Either from your TV. Or from CBS-D. It just be a bit less since 3 inches of extra frame area could be used. I never liked smart zoom. It just stretches the sides. People unfortunately will complain forever. I hope some day someone can invent a morph-able screen. That can physically change aspect ratios.

            The majority does vote with their wallets. I got the sets ’cause they where left as is. If TNG pulled a Seinfeld, I wouldn’t be on this site and ignore the project.

        • Justin Olson

          True. But I think Burnett added the 16:9 examples to the “Energized!” doc at the eleventh hour partly to atone for that tweet (even if he doesn’t acknowledge it in the interview) and to visually explain to the fans once and for all why it couldn’t be done. For most fans I think it’s worked… but there will always be a few who protest to the bitter end.

          Would there have been as big of an uproar if he had not initially tweeted his opinion that he liked the 16:9 test better? Who knows. At least he set the record straight — and it’s there for all posterity on the S1 set.

          Also it’s important to remember that the 16:9 test only used the offset Academy area to create the wider image and not any of the full aperture area beyond it where production equipment could be seen.

          • Daniel Shock

            Sure – and I was one who argued for 16:9 and I have changed my mind based on their explanations. I just take issue with the “these idiots” comment in the interview. I wouldn’t have argued so strongly for it if he hadn’t stoked it.

          • RMBurnett


            Actually, when I initially made that tweet, I was ignorant to the facts. After I saw the 1:33 VFX shots, it quickly became apparent to me you simply couldn’t make the show 16:9 without a significant reframing of almost every shot. More importanly however…the actors movements through the sets…where they’re actually standing in relation to one another…was blocked to appear in the 4:3 frame. It would simply look odd in 16:9

          • Roelof Jan

            Oke i think most of us understand that but bi have a question regarding DS9 and VOY, I have read somewhere that the last season of DS9 and the last 3 seasons of Voyager were shot with 16:9 format in mind! They were still released in 1:33 format, but the original shots were shot with 16:9 in mind. Is that true? And if that is the case, will it be considered to release those seasons (lseason 7 of DS9, and Voyager season 5,6 and 7) in 16:9 format? That would be amazing!

      • hypnotoad72

        I want the original framing.

        And not because of the amount of money required to do the editing that the same pro-widescreen people will still not pay for because they still want everything for free and then whine about their wages elsewhere but I digress…

        A director will either choose a frame and crop down, or stick to a chosen frame. Change the framing and the layout looks wrong. In terms of softness or detail loss, in terms of positioning being off…

        I’m sorry if people are so shallow they won’t buy. It’s their loss, why should everyone else suffer because of some ignorant shallow lamers that want everything their way? This isn’t Burger Slop…

        Let the majority vote on American Idol or let Snooki become president of the US (heaven help us all, if that happened…)

  • Dave R

    Rob Burnett is a CLASS ACT, honest, intelligent, exceptional taste and the nicest Star Trek fan ever! STNG has only been improved with his Blu Ray documentaries, way to honor the legend Man!

  • I’d just like to say that I’ve been watching Season 2 HD on the UK Syfy channel and have been blown-away by how awesome the new effects are in episodes like “Contagion” and “Q Who.” There are loads of little touches like the Yamato Stardrive section blowing apart, sparks flying out of the Enterprise saucer as the Borg pull a chunk out, the ruined Iconian outpost etc. If anything, I’d say the effects in Season 2 are better than Season 1! I can’t wait to see the last few episodes of the season!
    Also, I absolutely love the proposed idea of having Data come back as the new Starfleet computer and a hologram. That is pure genius! I just wish someone would be able to develop that somehow, maybe in a CGI animated TV series or web series like “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome”?

  • Xavier_Storma

    So what… HTV is out, for the better. Season 1 was completely outstanding. The model effects look better than ANYTHING CGI can deliver on the small screen today (look at StarGate, BSG, Fringe)… TNG beats them all in HD.
    I bought Season 2 because it is HD, but… as an effect junkie and semi professional… sorry, the SFX shots sucked (with a few exception). The most obvious was the 2 foot model, which could have easily been replaced by their CGI model (and to make it look less fake… overlaying the new rendered scene with good old 35 mm grain filters, works marvelously)…
    To be fair: Life action looked great. Less saturated and darker but that’s in tone with the season’s stories (Q Who, Time Squared).
    Nevertheless I am glad HTV is out. Season 3 will kick some serious butt, and I hope whatever company gets season 4, they will stick to the quality CBS Digital presented us with.

    • Ashley Williams

      I don’t agree. If done right CGI can blow models away. One of the signature shots of the enterprise D is flawed. It has waveyness in the area just under the rim of the saucer. If that ship was real, that would be a massive construction mistake to build it to look like that. Not to mention, you can see the paint in many shots where its sticking out of the crevices. There are times they used CGI in season one and I didn’t even know about it until later on. The CGI model they’ve been using is top notch. Unless you zoom in on it and scrutinize it massively, you really can’t tell the difference and you don’t end up with the flaws. I also think a lot of the problems with season 2 wasn’t HTV, but the 2 foot model. In order to save money they filmed it more than it should have been filmed. In betamax, you can’t really tell, but even downsampling the blu-ray masters to DVD, you can tell. I think they should have CGI’ed all the 2′ closeups.

      • kadajawi

        IMHO most of the problems with CGI comes with the materials somehow just not looking right. Getting those right is very difficult.
        I’ll take the models from SW Ep 4-6 over the CGI from 1-3 any day.

      • hypnotoad72

        The CGI stuck out right away in season 1 (esp. in “Hide and Q”)…

        For the record, the CGI used in “Where Silence Has Lease” has some of the most convincing CGI work to date – it’s the close-up of the hull, when a probe is launched. The new probe is just as cheesy, but the Enterprise is CGI and it virtually looks fully photogenic. It’s a pity, for the same story, a lot of film elements were unevenly handled; Nagillum’s blue realm would be dark blue in one scene, light blue in another… never mind all of the bluescreen bleed in live action shots that don’t exist on the SD release…

        Ultimately, I think HTV-I ran into more problems with time and having to do a rush job, than being decidedly sloppy for the sake of being cheap. That’s what my gut tells me.

        But, warts and all, the 2′ model does not bother me in of itself. The inaccurate color timing (teal instead of blue, etc) does.

  • Ashley Williams

    I don’t believe that star trek needs to “keep up” with other television shows nor should it. The last thing I want is jersey shore or honey boo boo in space. I LOVED both voyager and enterprise. I thought the biggest problem with enterprise is that we were transitioning from people watching live TV to timeshifted (DVR) based TV. I remember seeing something that said that on TIVO, enterprise was the highest rated show on UPN, a network which a lot of people don’t have access to in the first place. I think that’s what killed it. If the DVR ratings were taken into account, I think enterprise would have had at least 5 seasons if not 7.

    • archer923

      You can’t take DVR ratings into account. The ads pay for the show you watch. If you don’t watch the ads. They don’t count. Which is why DVR’s are mainly ignored. There is some percent of DVR viewing that’s counted. More so if you do watch the ads. But it’s far less than a live viewing. The only real way to get around this is to have people directly pay for the funding of the show (which is why PBS has no CM’s). Or DVR costs go up to augment the viewership from DVR’s. Effectively paying, to a degree, for the show.

      • kadajawi

        DVR ratings do indicate the popularity of the show. If a show is popular, it will probably sell many DVDs. The way ST DVDs are priced they’ll probably make a ton of money on them.

        • archer923

          You get the popularity of the show from live viewings. Money still is the main reason a show is made. If majority of ads are skip-able. That hinders the shows continuation.

    • RMBurnett

      Please don’t misunderstand. When I talk about “keeping up” with modern television shows, I’m speaking of the nature of serialized storytelling. Losing the five act, A/B storyline which has remained with modern Trek since at least the third season of TNG. I’d take a cue from MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, WALKING DEAD, etc…in terms of story structure and advancing the plot…

      • kadajawi

        I’d love to see a Breaking Bad version of Star Trek. Gene would be furious.

        But seriously, wasn’t that already more or less done by B5? Which wasn’t nearly as good as DS9 (mostly from budget and time constraints, plus the fact that JMS was an absolute control freak, that really hurt the show. It was too planned, the dialogues and their delivery were more like drafts and rehersals).
        I don’t really see how TNG could have been anything but what it was, DS9 had an overarching plot that was awesome. VOY could have had too, and from what I heard in the end ENT had too (will have to watch it soon… after finishing Mad Men and Breaking Bad… and Lexx).

  • Rob

    I respect RMB but the criticism levelled at Season 2 are fair. Unfortunately the job was bonged. If that seems Snarky, then I suggest people read RMB’s critiques on Sci Fi Universe magazine.

  • AMD

    I don’t think anyone can deny that season 2 looks AMAZING but what has annoyed some fans (including myself) is the fact that a lot of the work on the visuals that HTV did for season 2 is inconsistent and of inferior quality compared to the work CBS did on season 1. CBS set a certain tone and standard with their work on season 1 and we want that consistency and quality to be maintained throughout all seven seasons. Personally I would be happy to be patient and wait a couple more years if it meant that the CBS team could do all of the seasons.

  • Matthias Currat

    “Burny” has a point. Data as ship computer, that’s an awesum idea. Staff meeting, everyone voices one’s opinion and then it’s like: “Data, what do you think?” – Beebeep – “I think …” etc. Instead of the computer being mostly there only for giving standard voice-overs.

    • kadajawi

      On one ship, yeah. But how to replicate Data’s positronic brain? I’d also miss seeing him.

      While we’re at it: I would have solved ST XI by having XII start with the crew walking out of a holodeck. Turns out XI was a holonovel/training mission. Some sort of final test before releasing cadetts to space or something like that. As for the odd looks, Kirk has redesigned the simulation to look cooler, and gets some heat from his superiors. Characters will get new names and start their proper missions. Or even do something at the academy.

      • Matthias Currat

        It would have been a good story to “save” Star Trek and make it look like XI never happened. It would have been a chance for the DS9 or VOY crew to return in XII, or even the 2151 Enterprise crew (ETP).

  • Gabe Koener’s idea … interesting, as it is … seems to fly in the face of what was said in “A Measure of a Man.” “Datas on every starship,” and all that.

    • Justin Olson

      Good point. It would be a betrayal of that episode and everything it stands for… unless Data could somehow give his consent to Starfleet to do it. But you’d think as a sentient being he’d be more likely to ask for a new body.

  • DangerousDac

    Season 1:×25/conspiracy_hd_386.jpg

    Season 2:

    Something went wrong there. Don’t call me spoilt for calling into question the lack of oversight that went into this season release. I can’t go a day without a client hounding my ass to see the work I’m doing for them, and if they don’t like it I’ve got to change it yesterday. If this kind of scrutiny is levelled on my glorified corporate power point presentations, how the hell can CBS let the season 2 work on one of their most risky and costly projects look like this and not call into question the quality of the work being done vs what was being done by other people at the same time?

    By the very fact that there are more pixels which contain previously unseen detail, the HD release is of course better. It just doesn’t compare to the HD release we got 5 months earlier made by people with access to the same tools and knowledge.

    • MalcolmTucker

      Agreed, if it was just exterior visuals maybe I could live with it, but every single live action shot with FX elements in looses all definition and the colour timing goes haywire. It happens every episode. I hope we’re not viewed as being ungrateful, there are serious overlooked issues and I don’t think expecting the same standards from season to season is an unrealistic thing to ask.

      • DangerousDac

        I’m not ungrateful, but at the same time I’m not going to be spoon fed spam and be told its a fine steak when I only just had the fine steak a few weeks previously. Hell, someone posted a picture on reddit and they had TNG on in the background, out of focus. I could tell it was the season 2 bd release just by the colours they used. The deflector/nacelle glows border on garish in comparison to the season 1 colours.

        • Mike C.

          I still have not bought it yet. Waiting for it to hit somewhere in the $50 dollar range like S1 currently sits. I have a BIG issue with the grain in the bridge and darker shots of S1, so if S2 has the same or worse issues I’m not going to rush.

          • hypnotoad72

            The film stock used in the show was always grainy…

            Whether enough DNR is being applied, or if they should be scanning at 4k and then resizing down to 1080p, or if it’s really cheap film stock (TOS looks far less grainy, which I never thought would be the case…)

            $50 for season 2 is a fairer price; the color timing and other issues with f/x (external models or interior shots with bluescreen) are often amateurish at best. The Borg interior matte recreation was fantastic, but there are so many more problem areas that few casual fans wouldn’t notice… 🙁

          • Mike C.

            Its just so bad on the bridge, the main set for Pete’s sake. Very disappointing. Trust it gets better with each progressive season.

          • DangerousDac

            Im kind of in the same boat, but from a point that it’s finished airing already in the UK, In High Definition. The Episodes look OK, but I can certainly spot bad looking shots in every other ep. The thing is though I really only want Season 2 for the special features, and while I’m sure they’re worth it, I can’t bring myself to spend full retail price on a box set only to ignore 95% of the content which i’ll never watch because i’ve already seen it.

          • Mike C.

            Yep, the VAM is the carrot. We’ll get there. The set will drop more when S3 arrives. Now Enterprise? Full price! I just lost your respect, didn’t I? 🙂

  • GH

    Great interview! Thank you RMB, and keep up the good work!

  • Kail Tescar

    How would someone go about contacting Mr. Burnett?

    • trekcore

      He’ll be reading the comments for sure, or you can tweet him @BurnettRM

  • New Horizon

    RMB. If you’re lurking…a few honest words.

    I am completely thankful for the opportunity to see TNG in HD, however that does not come with a blind eye toward consistency of the final product. HTV and CBS are supposed to be professionals…they should have worked together to make sure the work was consistent.

    It’s easy to say the fans should shut up and buy it and that we’re lucky to get it in the first place, you’re actually working for the project…and though I’m not one to assume, I would guess you make a better wage than I do.

    I have to count every penny to make sure I have money to pay for my house, my car, food for my child, etc. I make $10 an hour and work a 36 hour week before taxes….do the math. I do freelance graphic design on the side when I can, to supplement my income, but that’s rare.

    These sets are a luxury for many, including myself. They’re not a necessity. If CBS intends to complete the project, they need to make sure it is done right from here on out. None of this, “their mandate is only to put TNG in HD” nonsense. If that’s the case, then give me the tools and I’ll slap it together worse than HTV…but hey, it will be in HD…which is all that matters, right?

    Sorry, but the attitude really puts me off as a lifelong fan. I’m not ungrateful, but I do feel we should be able to call out a poor job without being told to shut up.

    • James

      Honestly, the attitude ‘you should be grateful for what you’ve get, no matter how slapdash it’s been done’ sticks in my craw to. We are being asked to part with serious cash for these box-sets, and we should expect a decent product. That said, I am enjoying Season 2 and conceed that it’s a vast improvement over what we had before.

      To promote the season 2 blu-ray, CBS have released a sample of the out takes onto YouTube.

      But let’s be clear, CBS aren’t releasing this stuff out of the goodness of their hearts! It’s a business decision that will allow TNG to be shown on TV. Standard Def channels will die out, and CBS had to update their product to continue to profit from it. Blu-Ray sales are an added bonus.

      As ‘Rob’ wrote earlier, Mr Burnett’s Sci-Fi Universe magazine used to write the ‘snarkiest’ and harshest critiques of Voyager and DS9.

      I am most definetly not interested in a low budget, retirement home TNG movie. It wouldn’t make money and would cheapen the franchise. I think Star Trek should come back to TV, not as a series, but as 2 or 3 standalone TV movies to be released each year.

      As for the ‘stupid and dumb’ scenes in the 2009 reboot, I’d just point out that nothing in that movie was as intellectually wrong as driving around in a dune buggy instead of using a shuttle craft or knocking ones self out on a bulkhead in a starship that one ‘knows like the back of my hand’.

      • kadajawi

        CBS could also just upscale. That’d do for a few TV reruns. Redoing the show probably won’t be cheap. Of course they’ll make money off it.
        Those were few scenes though. ST XI was one big mess, made out of scenes that made little sense other than looking cool.

        Also if the low budget TNG movie is well written, I’m all in for it. As I see it, XI is a big budget Sci-Fi action movie that was given the name Star Trek. It is not, however, Star Trek. I hope XII will be better, but with Orci and Kurtzman writing… all they can do (and they do that really well) is write action scenes. They absolutely rock at that. Everything else they are pretty awful at.

        • hypnotoad72

          Do you know the difference between upscaling and remastering?!!

          I wouldn’t spend a dime for anything upscaled to be pawned off as so-called “high definition”, because it isn’t definition – high or otherwise. Period.

          • kadajawi

            Yes. I do. I also wouldn’t spend anything on it, it’s crap. (Though standard definition it would still be 😉 ). However to air it a couple of times on TV it might be enough. That’s all..

        • Low budget is the wrong word, they could make an excellent TNG film for $40 million or so. That’s a smaller budget compared to the big films these days but you can still turn out an amazing movie with the right people behind it. I’ve always thought a miniseries set in the TNG era might be a good way to continue in the “real” Trek universe. (Maybe one miniseries showing stories told but not show during TNG — think Wolf 359, maybe an academy miniseries, Titan miniseries, a younger Picard on the Stargazer miniseries, the possibilities are endless.)

          JJ’s movies are a decent diversion, they have their good bits, but honestly the first film was pretty moronic. I haven’t seen the preview of #2 but it looks pretty depressing in the trailers. So much for a utopian future for Earth.

          • kadajawi

            JJs first one is not bad, for a mindless sci-fi action flick. Had they released it under any other name, that would have lowered the expectations and I’d be fine with it. But if you name it Star Trek, it better adhere to certain standards.

            40 million is already a quite big budget. How much did Serenity cost? Iron Sky cost 7.5 million Euro. For extended space battles that are simply stunning (I would have loved to see more of the Götterdämmerung though).

            Miniseries would be fine too. Heck, get JMS to do a Star Trek show 😉

          • Yeah, JJ’s film isn’t awful, but compared to the best of Trek it’s really a dumb film.

      • hypnotoad72


        But in a supply-side economy, which is at odds with the concept of democracy if you think about it all to a certain point and then some, we are the ones supposed to feel grateful, complete with that “You should be grateful for every drop of gruel”. Because that’s what the line amounts to.

    • hypnotoad72

      CBS is professional – season 1 is a perfect example of professionalism – even when a problem was at fault, CBS took the high route and came across even more professional in return.

      HTV is another story… Remember, HTV also bungled up “Patton”… (contains the reference and link)

      And with some HTV scenes looking more low-def than the original DVD release… but we’ve all seen the screengrabs before…

      And I agree; in a real democracy there is no substitute for fair criticism.

  • KyleH

    This was an extraordinary interview. Been visiting these sorts of sites since the late 1990s. Thanks so much for this and kudos for being able to land something like this!

  • GarySeven

    “spear-chucking Hovitos? Really? Did the writers adapt an old Gold Key comic”. Funny. And,…..”I already HATE INTO DARKNESS too!

    Some of my favorite lines of the day.

  • billiam

    The new content is wonderful, but i would love to see some of the great docs from the 90’s as well. Such as the 25th anniversary special and the A journey’s end retrospective, and maybe even the one hour Entertainment Tonight special.

    • Mike C.

      If you have Netflix they have the journeys end doc on the season 7 page for streaming.

  • Mike D

    Thank you for the amazing interview. While I do not agree with everything RMB said in this seven-part conversation, he made some good points. People need to accept that TNG, DS9 and VOY will not be in wide-screen format. No matter how much upgrading to High Def can be done, the scenes simply weren’t shot that way. I also wholeheartedly agree with his comments about the Abrams reboot and subsequent film(s). What I cannot agree with is his attitude about the lack of consistency in the HD transfers of season two compared to season one. Is it a deal breaker for me? No, it’s still a hundred times better than the DVDs which are now at least a decade old. And the hours of VAM are a gold mine. However, to simply say we should shut up and be happy with what we’re given is unfair. Are these sets worth the price? Absolutely. The amount of work that has gone into this project is beyond substantial and it’s not cheap. Also, these sets are often available at around 50% off the retail price, and for the amount of extras, VAM, and High-Def transformation of TNG, no one should complain about popping $50-$70 for these sets. Remember when the original DVDs first hit the market they too cost around $100, in some cases more. I do suggest that CBS take this into consideration when they farm out seasons four and six.

    • hypnotoad72

      Despite any number of flaws, the sharpness of the HD releases are superior.

      Does that mean the overall quality is as superior as you suggest?

      Not necessarily.

      The argument between “complain vs criticism” aside, I don’t entirely disagree with your post.

      But CBS isn’t doing this out of altruism, which means we have some right to be able to criticize with the same level of sincerity. Otherwise we may as well live in a fascist state, or anything that only Mussolini would approve.

    • archer923

      Yeah. They cost $140 where I lived, when new. The BR releases are a god send in the price area.

  • Sky

    TNG Season 2 Remastered would be ok for me without the scratched picture sometimes and the obvious mistakes that had been done.

  • I, Me

    Would be nice of this guy could string a sentence together without dropping F-bombs left right and centre. Not classy…

    • Mike C.

      I know! Am I supposed to be impressed and think ‘wow, he’s an edgy filmmaker and so cool’? True, his work is AWESOME on the discs. But also true, potty mouth not necessary.

      • archer923

        People talk like that naturally. I sure do. I just don’t show it in text form.

  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    Rob Burnett has turned in some of the greatest, most superlative special-features work ever done for a television Blu-Ray release with these TNG discs.

    I think I’ll allow him the occasional “F-bomb” in a multi-hours-long interview.