Last month I looked forward to the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation in HD. Well, the waiting is over! Sort of. There’s a while to wait for full season box sets, but CBS have decided to whet the appetites (and wet the pants) of Trek fanboys such as myself, by releasing a “sampler” set of three remastered episodes.
I watched the HD version of Encounter at Farpoint, the show’s pilot episode, tonight, and was impressed – it genuinely does look lovely. TNG was shot on film but then transferred to videotape for editing, resulting in a slight but noticeable loss of picture quality. To get the best picture quality possible, CBS have gone back to the original film footage and painstakingly re-edited the episodes exactly as they were first time around, guided by long-serving Star Trek guru Michael Okuda. Pleasingly for TV purists, the episodes are still in 4:3 (the temptation to go widescreen must have been immense).
The YouTube clip below is a promotional clip from CBS, but I can say that it genuinely does look that good. It’s safe to say that TNG has never looked better.
The special effects have also been redone, but the producers, thankfully, have resisted the urge to do a complete CGI makeover or add in pointless extra guff for the sake of it (Star Wars and Red Dwarf, I’m looking at you). For the most part, they have stuck with the original model shots (space jellyfish and all), re-composited in HD. All in all, it’s a wonderful upgrade to a wonderful series, remaining utterly faithful to the original while taking advantage of today’s TV technology.
The consequences of this are that I will probably be parting with my hard-earned cash for TNG on Blu-ray, despite spending a considerable amount of money buying the DVD box sets a few years ago. Well played, CBS. Well played.