Fans of “Star Trek” have enjoyed their favorite shows in high definition for some time. Thanks to the upgrades in technology over the past few decades, what used to look dated, now looks more like it should have. And, in some cases, that means these older shows might even look better.
It began in earnest in 2006 when CBS released “Star Trek: The Original Series” with new, updated effects. According to Wired Magazine, these updates meant that “digitally created images will replace the miniature-scale models used for exterior shots of the various spacecraft on the show, including Kirk’s starship Enterprise and the enemy war vessels of the alien Klingons and Romulans.”
These remastered shows were broadcast first on television, and later they were made available on DVD. Den of Geek said these sets were “fairly thin on bonus material, providing the odd short featurette, but nothing overly substantial.”
Not so long after, Blu-ray versions of TOS were released in 2009, making the original Trek more crisp and beautiful than it had ever been seen before. This was because the old NTSC broadcast quality was comparatively poor (at just 640×480 pixels) compared to the newer HD standard (1920×1080 pixels).
Because TOS was filmed… with film, upgrading scenes with the actors, sets, and other scenes not created using a “blue screen” was relatively straightforward. TOS was “filmed” with 35mm film, scanned at a high resolution, and converted to HD size. Those 35mm cameras, used in Trek and other big-name titles, were auctioned off in 2014.
Some of those old 35mm clips were chopped up and sold at conventions by Gene Roddenberry himself, which made including out-takes and other extras extremely difficult.
In 2011, CBS released HD versions of “The Next Generation.” CBS Digital film transfer technician Wade Felker said they had to be “very meticulous” when rescanning the old footage for the HD restoration.
“Star Trek: Enterprise,” because much of it was filmed in HD, was made available for Blu-ray in March 2013. The next to be upgraded was “The Animated Series,” released on Blu-ray in 2016. And all Paramount+ Trek shows are filmed in HD, so they are first streamed on the network and released later on Blu-ray.
But this leaves a big hole in the “Star Trek” catalog, namely, “Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” both of which do not have HD versions available. This is a problem for some fans, who have taken it upon themselves to upgrade the shows independently.
In 2020, Nerdist took a look at many of the different upgrading projects going on within the fan community. This is being done with a variety of tools, including some off-the-shelf AI products. Nerdist noted that if CBS upgraded “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager,” they could “future-proof these two series for streaming.” Meaning that in the future, new fans are likely to skip shows which are not available in the standard HD format.
This past July, Paramount announced that they’d be releasing most of the “Star Trek” films in 4K. The Kelvin films — “Star Trek (2009)‚” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and “Star Trek Beyond” — were already available in 4K.
There is hope for DS9, Voyager in HD
Thanks to reporting from Trek Central, fans now might have a little more hope. Presumably, at the “Destination Star Trek” event, which took place in London on November 14, John Van Citters said something which caused a minor stir.
Citters, the VP of Franchise Planning and Star Trek Brand Development at ViacomCBS, commented on the HD situation for DS9 and “Voyager,” saying: “I believe it will happen at some point.”
Citters added on Twitter that “no one wants it more than I do!” If a Vice President at ViacomCBS wants this to happen, perhaps it shall. This could be the one ray of hope that fans have been waiting to hear for years.
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