Most “Star Trek” fans know the story of “The Motion Picture.” That is, they know how the special effects on the film had to be redone at the last minute and barely made into theaters on time. Director Robert Wise worked with visual effects wizards Douglas Trumbull and John Dykstra to make everything work. Due to time constraints, the version of “The Motion Picture,” released on December 7, 1979, was essentially a “rough cut.”
It was not until 2001 when Wise worked with a team to revamp the film into what it should have been. “Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition” was released on DVD, and fans finally saw what Wise had always intended. At that time, the team included David C. Fein, Mike Matessino, and Daren Dochterman.
‘The Motion Picture’ in 4K
Heavy was able to speak with Dochterman, a Hollywood veteran who has served on dozens of projects as a producer, director, illustrator, visual effects supervisor, and more. Dochterman and the team were brought back by Paramount to restore “The Director’s Edition” for HD, 4K, and a limited theatrical release from Fathom Events.
In addition to his years of studio jobs, Dochterman has created designs and illustrations for the “Star Trek Universe,” including “Star Trek Beyond,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” and “Star Trek: Picard.” He’s also part of the popular “Inglorious Treksperts” podcast, which also stars producers, Mark A. Altman and Ashley Edward Miller.
Dochterman served as Associate Producer / Visual Effects Supervisor for the new version of “The Director’s Edition” and said that this new version of the movie is unlike anything fans have seen before.
“Even those who have seen ‘The Director’s Edition’ on DVD will be experiencing what looks and sounds like an entirely new movie,” said Dochterman. “The movie has never looked this good, even when it was in theaters.”
“We’ve gone in and every frame of the movie [and was] made to look as best that it can,” said Dochterman. “Of course, without losing the filmic quality that the original has. We’ve rejuvenated it and restored it to an amazing state — I have to say.”
Dochterman said that he and the team were able to make this new version of “The Motion Picture” look better than the original projected image back in 1979. In the 2001 restoration, Dochterman said that they had around 90 visual effects shots. For this new 4K version, the film has 160 visual effects shots. These updates only add to Wise’s vision for the movie.
Daren Dochterman: Illustration and Concept Design in Film
“The edit that Mr. Wise supervised back in 2001 is the true final cut of the movie,” said Dochterman. “As you probably know, the original theatrical edition came out as basically a rough cut. A version of ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ would come out on December 7, 1979, whether it was ready or not. And it wasn’t ready.”
“It was hurriedly put together, and a lot of the sequences were not fine cut,” said Dochterman. “There never any screenings or previews for Mr. Wise or the filmmakers to adjust the cut and to see what worked and what didn’t. So basically, the theatrical edition, for lack of a better term, is a rough cut.”
Dochterman said that Wise oversaw everything that he and the team worked on in 2001, which included trimming, adding, and extending scenes throughout. They also used some of the footage from various other versions of the film. Dochterman said Wise fine-tuned everything, especially where the live-action met the visual effects.
“A lot of those shots were just basically dropped in with no fine cut,” said Dochterman. “So there are some [scenes] that have one or two frames at the beginning where things are not moving in the shot, and there was no time to adjust anything.”
‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ – Re directing The Future
“It was something that Mr. Wise was not happy about,” said Dochterman. “For nearly 18 years after the original release, he was not pleased at being forced to release that cut.”
StarTrek.com reports that the audio is greatly improved on this new version as well. The team found audio from the ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) which gave them access to clearer speech and words from the actors. ADR is when actors rerecord the lines from a scene, in order for the audience to hear the dialog more clearly.
And, Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic soundtrack will be presented in state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos audio.
Fans can watch this new version of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition” on Paramount+ on April 5, 2022 — which is “First Contact Day.” The Blu-ray and 4K Ultra Blu Ray will be available for purchase in September.