Over the past 20 years we’ve seen digitally remastered versions of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation released, but common thought was that we would likely never see the same treatment for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Star Trek: Voyager.
For much of its history Television shows were filmed on 35mm film, a format which was far too high-resolution for our old CRT TV sets, they were then edited and compressed to an NTSC format for viewing, which meant with the advent of high-definition TV’s and media a simple rescan of the footage would produce a fantastic high-definition version of the show.
Sure there could be issues with older film, most notably that it tends to shift to blue as it ages, but that hasn’t proven to be much of an issue for an industry which has long mastered colour correction.
Unfortunately advanced technology can be unkind
By the 1980’s our technology had advanced to the point that we no longer needed to deal exclusively with film and film editing, for shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and it’s contemporaries studios were able to film in 35mm, then scan the footage directly into a computer system with NTSC size where they would add digital effects, edit, score and finish for broadcast.
Sounds like a great system right? But here’s the rub, because all the effects were done at this lower quality setting there isn’t enough resolution to pull a HD version.
What about the original film?
Well they did save the film, fortunately studios are, thankfully, hoarders and they archive every frame they shoot, there’s just one problem, what they archived is the unedited raw footage.
Basically that means each episode needs effects, editing, colour correcting, and scoring, it’s like starting from scratch when the shoot wraps all over again.
But they already did Star Trek: The Next Generation like that didn’t they?
Yes, amazingly they did, a team watched the taped versions of the show and painstakingly re-edited and added effects to each episode, and the results were spectacular.
Unfortunately the studio didn’t feel that the sales results were as spectacular as the product, we’ve reached a point in the age of streaming where not as many people are willing to shell out $120 for a single season of a seven season series. So for this reason the common thinking has been that we’ll never see an HD version of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Star Trek: Voyager.
As has happened so many times in Star Trek history, fans to the rescue…
Fortunately we may be on the cusp of another pivotal fan movement, the crowdfunded documentary has What We Left Behind: Looking back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine received access to the original film for several episodes due to an outpouring of fan support.
The films producers, a group which includes Deep Space Nine showrunner Ira Steven Behr and Adam Nimoy, have released a preview of the High Definition footage and the folks over at TrekCore were kind enough to put out a comparison video showing the stunning transformation.
The time for renewed fan support is now!
Now that we the fans have seen what’s possible we can expect to see and take part in a renewed call to free those high-definition versions we’ve been missing!
So join us on all social media in calling for #DS9HD and remember, fortune favours the bold.
What we left behind: A look back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available for pre-order now and is expected to see a wide release in 2019. You can help support their efforts to transfer the clips they need to HD through their High Def Hero campaign on DS9Documentary.com