It feels like a lifetime ago that I wrote the last article on the TNG Remastering project, but after a six month wait we are finally closing in on the release of the Season Six Blu-rays! Back in March we brought you the spectacular trailer teasing the set, so it's high time that we dug a little deeper. In this article we'll be comparing some of the newly remastered high definition scenes with their SD DVD counterparts with the aid of uncompressed 1080p screenshots from the trailer. Meanwhile, we have high quality download options for the trailer for those who want to avoid the compression inherent with YouTube's version.
CBS Digital signed up for the remastering of all three final seasons of TNG, no mean feat given the noticeable increase in complexity as the show matured. At this stage in the game, CBS-D have become such a well-oiled production machine for rebuilding Star Trek: TNG in high definition that their work looks almost effortless. See for yourself with the higher-quality trailer below, presented for download at 1080p, 720p and 480p resolution.
The trailer pulls together a delicious collection of clips from the action-packed season, including the long awaited debut of Deep Space Nine in high definition. From the work on display here and the other images I've seen so far, it's no exaggeration to say that CBS Digital have once again knocked the ball way out of the park this season. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite shots alongside their SD counterparts for comparison:
|Original SD (DVD)||Remastered HD (Blu-Ray)|
|Back in the early nineties, CGI was still in its infancy. The colliding planets from the Detrian system were an early example of computer-generated special effects being used on TNG, originally rendered by Digital Magic. The newly remastered gas-giant collision retains the original artistic intent while adding a whole new layer of realism. This shot is pure eye-candy (indeed, it's sat as my desktop wallpaper for the past 3 months!). CBS Digital lead VFX compositor Eric Bruno's trademark technique of bouncing a bit of local light off the Enterprise model is once again present, and succeeds in making the shot all the more substantive. (TNG 6x12: "Ship in a Bottle")|
|Deep. Space. Nine. Three words fans have been dying to hear in connection with this remastering project ever since it began. Fan demand for DS9 in high definition is huge, so we've all been eagerly awaiting the TNG/DS9 Season 6 crossover episode "Birthright" for the first glimpse at the station in hi-def. Lead CBS-D compositor Eric Bruno certainly doesn't disappoint - he's injected new life into the old Cardassian floating bicycle wheel!
The station is sparkling with never-before-seen detail and revitalized color, previously hidden in the murkiness of standard definition. The yellow structures ("EPS thermal control radiators" according to designer Rick Sternbach) around the central core just pop off the screen, while the Ops control tower can now be discerned to be an ever-so-slightly different shade to the rest of the station - taking on a brown tinge. The craftsmanship and design of the model comes oozing through in HD - I've fallen in love with the show all over again just by looking at this shot. Simply stunning. (TNG 6x16: "Birthright, Part I")
|Scotty's appearance in the 24th Century will always go down as one of TNG's greatest moments. In standard definition, "Relics" suffered from an overly soft and blurred appearance (moreso than many episodes that preceded it). Thankfully when CBS Digital re-scanned the original 35mm film from the episode and worked their magic with color correction, detail came pouring through. The haze has truly been lifted! This classic Trek moment looks superb in high definition, and the reconstructed sections of Kirk's Enterprise bridge look vivid and alive. (TNG 6x04: "Relics")|
|The birds-eye view of the Enterprise in Data's dream stands as one of the most unique and technically brilliant camera moves around the 4-foot Enterprise model. This shot really shines in high definition, and the CBS Digital team have once again done the 4-footer proud. The detailing on the panels, alongside improved contrast, black levels and color timing all guarantee that this is one shot you'll want to replay over and over again once you grab the Blu-rays! (TNG 6x16: "Birthright, Part I")|
|The alien vortex has been recreated in this shot from "Schisms". It retains the basic properties of the original vortex (coloration, brighter outer ring), but enjoys a more clearly defined structure in high definition. Notice the huge improvement in detail in the carpet in Riker's quarters and the grill paneling on the wall. It's still hard to believe that all this was lost in standard definition! Plus, there's the welcome presence of correct color timing which finally allows us to say goodbye to the pervasive purple hue which plagued this episode! (TNG 6x05: "Schisms")|
|There's barely an episode that goes by without at least one energy discharge in Star Trek! In terms of visual effects the energy patterns may appear random, however CBS Digital goes to great pains to ensure that the remastered version follows the outline of the original SD version as closely as possible, with artists such as Tony Graf going frame-by-frame to trace each energy tendril and reproduce it in high definition (TNG 6x16: "Birthright, Part I")|
|As much as the outside of the Dyson Sphere impresses in HD, the inside succeeds in causing my jaw to well and truly drop! All that beautiful detail and color were present in the original matte produced back in 1991. Freshly scanned from the original 35mm film print and color corrected, the artistic prowess of original matte painting creator Eric Chauvin shines in this remastered shot. The extra detail now visible in the matte really lends a sense of scale, leaving the viewer in no doubt that the Enterprise is dwarfed by the massive Dyson Sphere. (TNG 6x04: "Relics")|
|Another of the sixth season's most memorable visual effects shots: Amanda and Q take a stroll along the hull of the Enterprise. This shot was tricky to pull off back in 1991 and really suffered from the limitations of compositing techniques available to the original artistic team. Fast forward to 2014 and shots like this become child's play to a visual effects artist like CBS Digital's Eric Bruno. Eric has managed to integrate both of the characters into the scene flawlessly (notice the huge improvement in the blacks of Q's uniform). Meanwhile, the Enterprise model is given some "extra love" with realistic lighting and shadowing alongside some much needed color correction (goodbye purple!) (TNG 6x06: "True Q")|
|The two Rikers meet. Shots involving this particular type of editing trickery always fared worse for ware as the original visual effects team were confined to a standard definition workflow while working their editing magic. With the latest editing software and a high-definition workflow, CBS Digital are able to churn out scenes like this without any of the characteristic increase in softness that we're so used to seeing on DVD and SD broadcasts. CBS Digital colorist Marvin Hildebrandt once again offered his skills to ensure consistency in uniform colors and skin tones. The difference between SD and HD is simply night and day. (TNG 6x24: "Second Chances")|
|Riker's shattering realities were originally created in 1992 using CGI at effects house Digital Magic. Niel Wray's CG team at CBS Digital had to start from scratch with this unique effect with only the standard definition copy to work from. The shot is comprised of four different layers - Riker, the Tilosian Doctor, Riker's prison cell and Ten Forward. They are edited slightly differently in the remaster, however the resulting effect still manages to shock and wow, just as it did when I first saw it over 20 years ago! (TNG 6x21: "Frame of Mind")|
|This shot truly blows me away. The compositing on display here with the 4-foot Enterprise model is first class - the golden tones reflecting off the saucer's underside and the bussard collectors on the nacelles are PERFECT for this scene and lend a huge amount of realism to the Dyson Sphere star which the Enterprise is swiftly moving away from. Major kudos to CBS Digital compositor Janice Lee who worked on this shot - she's done a terrific job! (TNG 6x04: "Relics")|
What do you think of the remastering of Season Six from the HD screenshots and trailer? Let us know if you agree with our analysis!
The trailer also gives us a teasing glimpse of the next round of deleted scenes - two of more than two dozen coming with Season Six. Setting aside the Troi/Amanda scene from "True Q", all attention is undoubtedly on the big one: never-before-seen footage of Jimmy Doohan's appearance in "Relics" This meeting between Scotty and Troi has been discussed by fans for years, but this Blu-ray release is the first time it's ever been made available to the public. Scotty questioning Troi what she actually does on the ship is hilarious, and the punchline of "You're a psychiatrist" is pure gold. Having seen the full scene, it's not hard to advocate that Season Six is worth the price based solely on the inclusion of this gem from the Star Trek archives!
Finally, some pretty awesome news to further sweeten the pot. CBS Digital film hunters Sarah Paul, Kiki Morris and Sean Sweeney have managed to track down every piece of the original negative for Season Six meaning NO UPSCALED FOOTAGE on this set! Our huge thanks to Sarah, Kiki and Sean for their unrelenting quest to track down as much original film as they can. Great job guys!
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six will be released as a six-disc Blu-ray set this month (June 2014). As usual, the set will be loaded full of special bonus features including a three-part documentary, episode trailers, new audio commentaries, a gag reel and the aforementioned truckload of deleted scenes!
Fans in the US & Canada can expect a release date of June 24 for this set. Fans in the UK have to wait a bit longer this time, as Paramount Home Entertainment (UK) have nominated July 21 as their release date. Meanwhile fans in Germany can grab their copy on July 3.
Haven't already pre-ordered? Secure your copy today using the links below. Fans wanting the single disc "Chain of Command" Blu-ray will have to order from Amazon in the US as most European distributors have decided not to release it.