TrekCore’s Best of 2013: Creating Trek for TV

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Our look back at TrekCore's best stories of 2013 continues with a set of top-notch features focused on the production of The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and Voyager -- with exclusive documents, photographs, video presentations, and CG renders!

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As we approach the end of the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray releases, fan anticipation of seeing Deep Space Nine in high definition is growing by the day -- and the biggest Deep Space Nine news of the year came in the form of a huge TrekCore exclusive: the surprise that all of the computer-generated effects created for DS9 still exist! We were fortunate to speak with Rob Bonchune -- the CG supervisor who worked on who worked on three Trek series -- and he revealed that just about everything created for DS9 and Voyager lie in the hands of the digital artists who built the effects.

Rob Bonchune: If they ask one of us – and if they use a team that uses LightWave – it’ll be much easier for them to redo… because the guys who worked on it, like me, have the assets. We have the original ships; we have most of everything that was used [in the making of the series]. That would eliminate a ton of the cost of rebuilding.

Exclusive Report: Deep Space Nine in High Defintion: One Step Closer?

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We spent a lot of time digging into the making of The Next Generation this year, covering several angles not included in the new Blu-ray documentaries. In August, we managed to get our hands on a set of rare behind-the-scenes photographs taken during the production of Season Four's "Identity Crisis," showing LeVar Burton being transformed into a wild Tarchannen III alien.

Two veteran artists who worked on the prosthetics -- Gil Mosko and Jill Rockow -- spoke to us about the tricky, multi-hour makeup process needed to complete the job.

Interview: Inside the "Identity Crisis" Makeup Process

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We also took a look at the anamorphic widescreen photography used on TNGutilized when combining visual effects with moving live-action footage. Our reported featured not only time-consuming widescreen image reconstructions, but a before-and-after video comparison showing off some of the original footage taken from TNG production video.

Feature: TNG's Visual Effects: You Asked for Widescreen...

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One of our more challenging behind-the-scenes features this year came in the form of three in-depth examinations of TNG's visual effects, courtesy of rare production workprints made available exclusively to TrekCore. Using this previously-unreleased video, we were able to create direct transitions from the raw, bluescreen-laden footage to the completed, high-definition effects which made it to the final version of each episode.

VFX Features: "The Child" · "The Bonding" · "The Wounded"

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July's popular Voyager Week included several special reports, including a special editorial by Voyager CG Supervisor Rob Bonchune, where he told the story of how the first all-CG Voyager model was created. From the earliest beginnings involving scans of the studio model to the evolution of the CG model during the series run.

The biggest part of Rob's presentation, though, were a set of all-new Voyager renders created exclusively for TrekCore -- complete with a ton of fresh digital upgrades!

Feature: Creating a CG Voyager with Rob Bonchune

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We presented a look at the visual effects used in Season Four's "Scientific Method" thanks to an unfinished episode workprint provided by one of our readers. By comparing annotated and bluescreen-laden raw footage to the completed effects in the broadcast version of the episode, we were able to show off some of the hard work that went into making the episode great -- with special comments from Rob Bonchune!

Feature: Voyager's Visual Effects: Inside "Scientific Method"

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Voyager Week also included an inside look at the making of "False Profits" with episode writer George Brozak! Not only did George provide an enormous amount of insight into the story development process that went into the making of the Season Three episode, but he also supplied several rare production sketches, internal casting documentation, filming schedules, and set photographs.

The most special part of this material was video taken directly from the raw shooting footage -- never seen by fans before our article -- which included a look at some of the visual effects work as well as all new outtakes from the sets.

Feature: Writing for Voyager: Behind the Scenes of "False Profits"

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Come back tomorrow as we wrap our year in review, covering our biggest and most important stories of 2013!

  • Ben

    Hoping for news about a DS9 rebuild for blu-ray early in the new year. Keep us updated as soon as you hear anything. Thanks again for your good work. We really enjoy your reporting, reviews, and stories.

    • Data

      Yeah and bring TOS and TNG in ultra hd!! Better jump over DS9 in 1080p and do it in 4k (ultra hd) too. At some point all the shows will be released in ultra hd anyway because it’s the peak of the possible quality of all shows!!

    • trekcore

      Thanks Ben! Really appreciate the feedback and encouragement!

    • Kirksdeadjim

      DS9 doesnt deserve a blu ray rebuild.Its the worst Star Trek series ever.

      • pittrek

        You’re probably the only one who thinks that. Most people would rate as “the worst” either Voyager (I agree with them) or Enterprise. Anyway, EVERY Star Trek series deserves a HD release

        • Esmeralda

          Voyager is the best Star trek series. DS9 is the worst.

          • data

            Tng is the best FOR ME!!

  • Stu

    I’m sure I read somewhere on here that TNG was only scanned in 2K for the blu-rays, so it would all have to be rescanned and 4K and possible 8K

    • trekcore

      Correct, TNG was only scanned at 2K res.

      • pittrek

        2K? Wasn’t it scanned just in 1080p?

        • archer9234

          1080p is 2k. The with is 1920. Just under it. The 80-100 pixels don’t really matter.

        • Justin Olson

          The blooper reels seem to indicate a full aperture scan of 2048 x 1556.

  • Ben

    Imho 2k is all that’s needed for Trek.

    • data

      What do you mean it’s all that’s needed? The film material got much more than 1080p resolution. So why shouldn’t we get the highest quality possible? I want it and the show deserves it!!

      • Ben

        What I mean is that 2k is already beyond the resolution that those who made the show could have imagined. The talents involved in making the models, make-up, fx, etc., did such quality detailed work, and many of the actors did such a wonderful job, that we can now fully appreciate Star Trek almost like it’s for the first time when viewing it in 2k. The comparatively small improvements you might get from going to 4k wouldn’t be very easy to see, and yet would cost a lot. Back when we watched the show from videotape, we were seeing maybe around 50-60% of the show. At 2k we are already seeing, I think, something like 97% of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Trying to get to 100% of TNG by going to 4k would be not just very expensive, but the only people who could really see a difference would be those with 4k theater-quality projection systems who have their own movie theater, and then sit in close to the front row. Even in the future, I think that’s going to be a very small part of the population. In my opinion, it’s just not likely to ever be economically viable. It close to a miracle we’re getting Star Trek in 2k, and to me worrying about 4k is putting the cart before the horse. I think it’s more important to get DS9 and then Voyager rebuilt in 2k for blu-ray. But my guess is that we’ll just need to agree to disagree, which is fine. As the philosophy of Trek goes–Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Live and let live….++

        • data

          Good spoken I appreciate your words:) But the fact is that the basic of the entire tng show (and the other trek shows) IS 35mm film negativ WHICH contains a much higher resolution than 2k. 4k also offers a much higher color depth. So if I do math now I wouldn’t say we’re seeing 97% of tng!! I would say even on a 60 inch tv I would see a noticeable difference with a 4 times higher resolution than 2k.

          • archer9234

            I agree that all 35mm material should be released at max resolution. But it won’t be a mass consumer thing. We reached the point of reduced gains. People still don’t even care about HD in droves. It’s why DVD’s still sell as they do. I already decided I won’t repurchase TNG or any other ST show in 4k, if it’s done. I’m over the re-buying aspect. Release VGR, DS9, and TAS on BD, and i’ll die happy.

  • Ben

    “As we approach the end of the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray releases, fan anticipation of seeing Deep Space Nine in high definition is growing by the day — and the biggest Deep Space Nine news of the year came in the form of a huge TrekCore exclusive…..” Yes, this is so true. And this was a great story, and a great piece of investigative journalism. I love how the original cgi assets were “overbuilt.” They look great today.

    • hypnotoad72

      The people that did the work definitely knew better, or did a top-notch job for the sake of work ethic.

      It is never “over-anything” if re-used in the future, which is more often the case than not.

  • hypnotoad72

    Do the CGI elements from “Voyager” still exist? Especially as it’s a newer show; I’d buy both DS9 and VOY if both were given the green-light for Blu-Ray release. I prefer VOY but would help support DS9…

    • trekcore

      Yes, Voyager CG elements still exist too.

      • Ben

        As a fan of DS9 and Voyager, it’s very good news to hear that a lot of the cgi work survives for both shows. Do you have any rough guesses at this point as to how much of the cgi still exists? I’m not looking for any numbers or anything, but just a sense of whether “the glass seems to be more than half full” or not….

        • trekcore

          It depends on the show. Voyager is more intact than DS9 at this point

    • mjdavid

      VOY is only two years newer than DS9 in terms on when it aired. I would personally prefer DS9 as the next series to receive the Blu-Ray treatment, but I would be just as happy with VOY. I think DS9 has potential for a lot of VAM that the other series do not. Yes, I imagine WHEN DS9 is upgraded they will do a cast round-table (as they did with TNG and ENT). Because of the nature of the show, DS9 was able to incorporate a large number of secondary characters into recurring storylines. Some of my favorite DS9 episodes center on secondary characters. They could do a principle cast reunion and at least one (and maybe a second) recurring cast round-table with DS9.

      • Ben

        Agree. One of my favorites is Weyoun/Jeffrey Combs.

    • archer9234

      The voyager model still exists. Doug drexler re-rendered it on his blog before. He tested if it would hold up in HD. It does with some minor improvements.

  • Pat Suwalski

    Thanks, guys, for creating so much interesting reading. So much interesting content and frequent updates make this a site I check out daily.

    Also, kudos to the TNG remastering group. They’ve provided trekcore and its readership a lot to enjoy.

  • Mickey

    I would be happy to see even just a few episodes of DS9 and Voyager, before they green light remastering the whole series. I imagine they’d do a sampler, like they did with TNG?

    • mjdavid

      I’m betting there’s no need to do another sampler. I think they’re well aware the interest is there.

      • Mickey

        I’ve noticed the sales of the TNG blu-rays falling, though, at least according to the top 20 charts. Sales were utterly massive for the first season, though. Slightly less for the second, and so forth. I know that I did not purchase the last two sets (but I did buy Redemption). I am a bit cost-weary, so I am waiting for my favorite season — Season 6! Still no news on when that will be released, though? Makes me worry about the whole enterprise. :3

  • Stephan

    Wasn’t there a TNG Episode to feature the DS9 station in one of the last 2 Seasons? So we would get a glimps on how the station might look in HD.

    • mjdavid

      “Birthright,” which is a two-parter in Season Six. Perhaps this is why there will be such a large gap between the Season Five release and the Season Six release. TrekCore’s Facebook page noted Season Six should appear in mid-2014. Perhaps they’re really trying to make sure those shots look their best?

      • mjdavid

        Not only are there exterior shots of the Enterprise next to Deep Space Nine, but if I’m not mistaken there’s a scene with Picard and Crusher walking through the station’s promenade.

    • BrianRoskamp

      We also get a look at the runabout in “Timescape.” They use some of the stock flybys from DS9 and then the same interior sets.

  • spooky

    I want a DS9 Blu-ray set to happen, its a great series and it deserves the HD treatment as well. I can’t wait, so exciting. :D