Why Deep Space Nine and Voyager May Never Get the HD Remaster They Deserve

The Original Series, The Next Generation and Enterprise are all available in high-definition on Blu-ray and streaming services. So, when will Deep Space Nine and Voyager be available in superior quality?

That’s a question we receive here at TrekNews.net on a regular basis. I’m talking every… single… time… we post something about either of those two shows, we inevitably get inundated with questions about it or receive tweets from readers asking why CBS is re-releasing both series on DVD, as opposed to on Blu-ray.

I get it. Believe me, I do. I’d LOVE to see both of those shows in HD. Could you imagine how great “It’s Only a Paper Moon” or “Endgame” would look in crisp high-def? I get excited just thinking about it. And I know many of you do, as well.

So, why aren’t these incredible shows getting the same treatment as the others? I recently reached out to the writer, director, producer and editor of the incredible bonus features found on The Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray sets, Robert Meyer Burnett, to get some answers. Burnett was so heavily involved on the previous remastering projects, he seemed like the perfect source for answers to my burning questions.

If you’ve ever wondered about Deep Space Nine and Voyager on Blu-ray, sit back and relax as Burnett provides an enormous amount of detailed information that will most likely answer all of them.


TrekNews.Net: Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll see CBS release complete series sets of both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager on DVD. With the remastering of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: The Original Series now complete, why do you think CBS made the decision not to do the same with those shows at this time?

Robert Meyer Burnett: A complicated question with a simple answer; It takes way too much time and money to remaster DS9 and Voyager into HD.

But I have a longer and hopefully more comprehensive answer for you. Because even after eight years since The Original Series Blu-rays hit, there’s still a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the restoration of both TOS and TNG.

Until fairly recently, both motion pictures and TV were shot mostly on 35mm film — live television, news, talk shows, game shows, soap operas etc., were shot on various video formats, and the difference from film was readily apparent. Some television used 16mm while certain event films were shot on 65mm, but for the most part, 35mm film was the industry standard.

35mm film has resolution of about 20 megapixels or greater. Comparatively, NTSC video, used in North America and Asia, has basically 640 pixels by 480 scan lines of resolution… far, far, FAR less than the resolution of 35mm film.

Both motion pictures and TV used to be finished the same way. After being shot on film, that film was edited, the negative was cut and prints were struck from that cut negative. All visual effects, titling, etc., were also shot on film. Depending on the finishing process, the resolution of the 35mm film was retained in the cut negative. This cut negative, properly stored and cared for, was then put away until it was needed to either strike new prints, or be scanned for use on television and home video.

It was the dark times, before the rise of HD and now UHD images, ALL movies and television originating on film were scanned down to standard definition video resolution from their original negatives. NTSC resolution in North American and Asia. So a 20 megapixel original image was scanned down to 640 pixel x 480 line image, so we could all watch them on broadcast television, and later VHS and DVD. For over 50 years, the images we all saw on TV were really quite terrible, displaying a mere small fraction of the color and clarity contained in the original 35mm camera negatives.

Burnett holding the Enterprise
Burnett holding the Enterprise model constructed by Greg Jein for the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”

But most people didn’t know this. Or even care. Television was television, movies were movies and of course movies looked way better when you went to the theater.

“For over 50 years, the images we all saw on TV were really quite terrible”

Here’s where it gets both interesting and maddening. In the mid-1980s, the advent of cheaper and cheaper computing technology allowed video post-production to grow more and more sophisticated. Now, a new post-production methodology, once existing only for shows originating on videotape, like soap operas and talk shows, could now be applied to shows shot originally on film. A program could be shot on 35mm film, but instead of editing on film and then cutting negative, the original 35mm material footage would instead be scanned to videotape — at NTSC resolution, and the rest of the post-production process, editing, mixing, etc., would then be completed on tape, at a reduced cost. However, NO FILM NEGATIVE WAS CUT, so the final product would only exist on videotape, at NTSC’s greatly reduced video resolution and color. True blacks, stable reds and rich blues simply didn’t exist on videotape. Those shows originally shot on 35mm, with a 20 megapixel resolution, were never to be seen again if finished on tape.

Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 2, Episode 4 "Mirror, Mirror"
Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 2, Episode 4 “Mirror, Mirror”

For certain programing, such as science fiction television, the upside of this new post process allowed certain VFX elements to be produced far, far cheaper for television than ever before. For instance, a phaser blast or energy field, once hand-animated and shot on film, could now be generated and animated by some kind of video toaster technology at far less cost, in a much shorter time. Once, a producer might only be able to afford two phaser beams, but now they might now get themselves seven or eight blasts, allowing a much more exciting firefight. For the discerning viewer however, this combination of film and video imagery, especially in genre programming, didn’t look very convincing, barely a step up from Land of the Lost.

The mid-80s Twilight Zone revival, as much as I adore it, is a perfect example of the incongruity of 35mm live-action photography and NTSC video generated special FX. But again, most viewers couldn’t tell the difference.

In late 1986 and early 1987, during the development of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was decided early on the only way to produce the series on time and on budget, with all of the VFX demands Trek required, would be to shoot on 35mm film, then finish on videotape. Even the motion control model photography, with all of the individual passes required, would be shot on 35mm and then, in an unprecedented move, actually composited on videotape using multiple, daisy-chained VTRs to minimize the reduction of resolution even further.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4, Episode 26 "Redemption"
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4, Episode 26 “Redemption”

Unfortunately, this meant, unlike TOS and The Animated Series, there would be no 35mm finished negative of TNG… and the series would only ever exist on videotape at NTSC resolution. The same would hold true of DS9 and Voyager. Enterprise though, shot in 2001, would be future-proofed, shot on 35MM and finished in HD, with the VFX created in CG at 720p, until the fourth season, which abandoned film altogether.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 6, Episode 11 "Waltz"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 6, Episode 11 “Waltz”

Starting in 2004, after the beginning of regular HD broadcasts, it quickly became apparent to anyone paying attention, standard resolution, NTSC video would soon be rendered obsolete. After seeing an HD image, who would ever want to watch standard definition video again? Studios quickly began transferring their films and television to High Definition formats, settling, until very recently, on 1080p as the industry standard, bringing up pixel dimensions to 1920×1080, roughly five times the definition of standard definition video.

For TOS and The Animated Series, the transfer into High Definition was not problem. Each episode of TOS and The Animated Series already exists as a single cut negative, so he transfer process the same as any other film or television episode with cut negative.

Star Trek: Voyager, Season 4, Episode 1 "Scorpion, Part 2"
Star Trek: Voyager, Season 4, Episode 1 “Scorpion, Part 2”

Then why does the remaster of TOS have new VFX? A few reasons, actually. Originally, optical compositing was used to create spaceship shots, with many pieces of film combined and reshot on an optical printer. This process was used since the beginning of motion pictures, but each separate film element used multiple stocks and dirt tended to build up during the mechanical process of optical printing. Butted up next to the beautiful, live-action TOS footage, the original VFX, with its added dirt and diminished resolution, looked incongruous. So, CBS decided to create NEW visual effects which would smoothly transition with the stunningly colorful, live-action photography. The new VFX created a seamless experience and, as an added benefit, updated what some see as the most dated element of the original show. Thankfully, in a wise move, CBS included both versions on their blu release.

Star Trek: Enterprise, Season 4, Episode 1 "Storm Front"
Star Trek: Enterprise, Season 4, Episode 1 “Storm Front”

But TNG, DS9 and Voyager could not be rescanned and released in Full HD, as the original edited programs only existed on tape at NTSC resolution. With worldwide markets rapidly converting to HD, modern Trek, with the exception of Enterprise, would simply no longer be shown anywhere. With TNG still the most successful Trek series by a wide margin, Paramount and CBS desperately wanted to figure out a way to not let their crown jewel get thrown onto the scrapheap of history. Something had to be done.

So a radical notion was proposed…why not go back to the original negative and REBUILD the entire show, from from the ground up, in High Definition? In the history of television, this had never been done before. Essentially, all 178 episodes of TNG (176 if you’re watching the original versions of “Encounter at Farpoint” and “All Good Things”) would have to go through the entire post-production process AGAIN. The original edits would be adhered to exactly, but all the original negative would have to be rescanned, the VFX re-composed, the footage re-color-timed, certain VFX, such as phaser blasts and energy fields, recreated in CG, and the entire soundtrack, originally only finished in 2 channel stereo, would be remastered into thunderous, 7.1 DTS.

A Herculan task, to be sure, requiring many people working full time for years, to the tune of somewhere north of twelve million dollars. The enormous sweat-equity involved required the stamina of a long-distance runner. First, ALL the original negative would have to be tracked down, which was stored in thousands of boxes, then matched to every scene and take from the original finished episodes. Then, all of that negative needed to be scanned at 2K and color-timed from scratch, as the entire color palate of the series would change. For the first time, the REAL colors could be seen. For the model photography, also completed in 35mm, an added headache was discovered; celluloid sometimes shrinks over 25 years, so many VFX passes, requiring pin-registered accuracy with sometimes over ten elements to composite wouldn’t match up, so they had to be first scanned then recomposited in the computer. While that was the plan all along, sometimes certain elements were either lost, or just too damaged to use, so an entire shot would have to be recreated in CG. Then, any phasers or other effects created utilizing the orignal technology of the era would have to then be recreated using modern CG. This created an interesting artistic dilemma for the restoration team…re-design something to update the look, or, whenever possible, use CG to recreate something to appear as close to the original intent, by the original production team, as possible. They chose the latter (the Crystalline Entity from first season’s “Datalore” is a great example of this).

The Crystalline Entity from TNG-Remastered "Datalore"
The Crystalline Entity from TNG-Remastered “Datalore”

Long discussions were had about whether or not to finally go back and fix things, such as the scale issue of the various classes of Klingon Birds of Prey, but it was decided not to make such changes, and allow the show to exist as it always had. This was a philosophically different approach the TOS restoration, which did update and modernize certain elements, to clarify or expand the storytelling. So with TNG, the long debate about whether or not the Enterprise D could actually fit inside the space dock from “11001001” will continue to rage in backgrounder circles.

From 2012 through 2014, the seven seasons of TNG, along with 5 single discs (two-part episodes cut into feature presentations) were released on Blu-Ray, with over 50 hours of newly-produced special features. The restoration remains an absolutely astonishing achievement in the annals of television and anyone watching the new versions of the episodes, can only marvel at the vast difference from the originals. Everyone involved at CBS Digital and the various other Post Houses who participated in the project deserve a hearty round of applause from fans the world over. At least the fans who appreciate and understand just how much work was done.

Unfortunately, during this same time, the popularity of streaming services skyrocketed, and popularity of physical media began to diminish. Sales of physical discs dropped 10% a year across the board, the younger generation thought putting discs in machines was too 20th Century and even the loyal Trek fan base asked themselves, “why do I have to buy TNG YET AGAIN?” I bought the VHS tapes, the Laserdiscs and the DVDs, so do I really need the Blu-rays…? I don’t even have a Blu-ray player. Won’t it all be on Netflix anyway?” The absolutely justified high price-point of the initial Blu-ray seasons also didn’t help sales.

Ultimately, the final result of all the effort put into the restoration itself and the newly-created special features were ultimately disappointing. The disc sales didn’t match projections and continued to suffer as more and more people turned to streaming, where Star Trek was already widely available. Sure, the newly-remastered episodes of TNG have quietly replaced the original versions, but nowadays, very few people even notice, as they expect HD to look great.

Both Deep Space Nine and Voyager would require at least the same amount of time, manpower and money, but neither show was ever as popular as TNG or TOS. So, how can CBS be expected to shell out probably 20-million dollars per series to remaster them into HD?

TrekNews.net: Would remastering DS9 and Voyager be more difficult than the TOS and TNG projects were? If so, could you explain?

Robert Meyer Burnett: They absolutely would. Unlike TNG, which shot both all of their live-action and all of their model photography on 35mm film, which made scanning the original elements possible, both DS9 and Voyager made extensive use of CGI for their visual effects, especially in the later seasons. Those visual effects were rendered in standard NTSC resolution, with a maximum of 525 scan lines of resolution per second, split between two interlaced video fields of 262.5 scan lines running at 60 fields per second. So, the original resolution remains far, far below what audiences used to today’s HD, and now UHD resolutions, are accustomed to. These VFX could be upscaled 5x, but they’d have no detail. The Starship Defiant would look like a fuzzy, grey blob.

If the VFX assets originally created for the shows could be acquired, which is a HUGE if, they could be reworked and re-rerendered in 2K resolution for Blu-ray, but even then, VFX artists would have to go in and add all kinds of upgrades to the original shots to make the ships, planets, weapons fire and explosions. look like they fit in with the gorgeous live-action photography. This would entail a number of artists working many, many long hours at considerable expense.

During the latter seasons of the TNG restoration, Mojo, one of the original, Emmy-Winning VFX artists on Voyager, who, at the time, was still in possession of many of the original DS9 and Voyager VFX assets, did a re-rendering VFX test on footage from “The Sacrifice of Angels.” The test really looked spectacular, and proved it could be done. But again, it would still take very talented VFX artists working long hours to accomplish the number of shots required for the episodes at great cost.

However, since then, I’ve heard many of these assets have been lost, either through drive failure, or simply the dumping of all the original data.

The only alternative would be to re-create all of the CG VFX shots from scratch, much the same way CBS Digital re-created TOS’ visual effects. But with the number of elements needed during DS9’s Dominion War arc, with sometimes hundreds of starships in combat, this could cost in the millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, depending on who was doing the VFX.

TrekNews.net: Do you think CBS All Access could be the impetus for CBS to remaster those shows?

Robert Meyer Burnett: Hard to say, but probably no. Like Amazon and Netflix have already discovered, the success of All Access depends on whether or not there’s enough exclusive content to convince viewers to sign up. Star Trek: Discovery is a good start, but it remains to be seen if it can not only recapture the fanbase, but also be destination viewing for an entirely new audience. But until All Access has Netflix money to burn, there’s not going to be a DS9 or Voyager restoration anytime soon. Again, you’re looking at eight years and perhaps 40 million dollars of work.

TrekNews.net: Are you aware of any newly recorded bonus material that will appear on the new DS9 and Voyager DVD sets?

Robert Meyer Burnett: With the meteoric rise of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, and the inevitable steady decline of physical media, the studios are spending very little money on special features these days. Warner Home Video even returned to static disc menus, not seen since the early days of the DVD format, to keep budgets down. For a special features auteurist such as myself, it’s very disheartening. Fortunately, boutique companies like SHOUT Factory, Arrow and Criterion are keeping the art alive, but at substantially reduced budgets. Flying up to Calgary to do a live, multi-camera shoot with the entire cast of TNG, as we did, is certainly a thing of the past. Thankfully, you can see me host this amazing reunion on the TNG – Season Two Blu-ray set.

For the TNG Remastering project, both Roger Lay Jr. and I, and Star Trek fans everywhere, were extremely lucky to have Ken Ross, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Home Entertainment, overseeing the entire restoration, including all of our special features. A huge proponent of the TNG project from the very beginning, he not only convinced CBS such a restoration was possible, but essential. Ken shook loose the millions of dollars needed to restore all 178 episodes of TNG. He was also personally responsible for securing the involvement of all of the principal cast for our special features. Ken is a legend in the home video business, beginning his career just out of college in the early 80s, working for Andre Blay’s Magnetic Video, one of the very first home video companies ever, eventually acquired by 20th Century Fox and becoming CBS/FOX Home Entertainment.

Also, because Roger and I were such fanatical Trek fans, we delivered far, far more special features than we ever contracted to produce. We just thought up cool pieces and produced them, such as the writer’s roundtable on the TNG Season Three set. For instance, because we knew he was such a fanatical TNG fan, we thought Seth MacFarlane would be perfect to host the roundtable. We asked Brannon Braga, at the time working with Seth on Cosmos, if he might host and to put in a good word for us. Brannon said “sure,” so one day, Roger just called up Seth and asked him to host the roundtable, and he agreed. We certainly couldn’t pay him for his services, but because he loved Trek, not only showed up, but arrived with pages and pages of hand-written research notes and delivered a rollicking conversation with the TNG writing staff which has since been ripped off for other shows many times since. For our Enterprise cast reunion, we basically shot the entire 90 minute piece for free, the actors agreeing to participate simply because Brannon Braga was involved and they’d loved the show. As an aside, I think Bacula agreed because he wanted to give Brannon shit for the series finale of Enterprise.

Unfortunately, the TNG Blu-rays, after a promising start, simply didn’t sell as well as expected, and the expense of producing such an amazing restoration wasn’t as immediately profitable as first hoped. Neither the unprecedented restoration, or our extensive special features, enticed enough of the fanbase to double, or even, in some cases, triple-dip — which is a shame, because I can honestly say the TNG Blu-rays, along with The Twilight Zone Blu-rays, remain the two greatest television releases of the home video era.

After the wonderful recent Original Series feature releases and the Roddenberry Vault, with special features also produced by Roger Lay Jr. and the Okudas, I expect we won’t see such special features on future Trek releases, with perhaps Star Trek: Discovery being an exception. I know there was a short list of very capable special feature producers for the production, and any one of them could produce some amazing material.

However, Executive Producer Ira Steven-Behr is producing his own Deep Space Nine documentary with the same team who produced Adam Nimoy’s For the Love of Spock, which I’m very much looking forward to.

Finally, I’d like to encourage everyone who hasn’t already done so to pick up the TNG Complete Series Box set. Along with the series itself, there’s some amazing special features on the disc which will absolutely delight longtime fans. I spent three years of my life on the project and I’m just as proud of my work on the special features as anything else I’ve done in my career.

As always, Live Long and Prosper… or, Love Long and Party… whichever your prefer!


I’d like to thank Robert Meyer Burnett for the in-depth and thoughtful answers. I sincerely hope this information will help clear up any confusion surrounding the remastering projects.

You can follow Rob on Twitter @BurnettRM.

As always, stay tuned to TrekNews.net for the latest Star Trek news. Follow @TrekNewsnet on Twitter, TrekNews on Facebook, TrekNews on Instagram and TrekNewsnet on YouTube.

Brian is a Boston-based UX/Visual designer, photographer, Apple enthusiast, sci-fi, 80s action and horror movie fan and of course, a lover of all things Star Trek.

You can follow Brian on Twitter @brianwilkins.

187 Comments Join the Conversation →


  • JDWFilms

    This was very enlightening, and he did a great job explaining something that could have been very difficult to understand. Thank you!

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. It’s a lot of info but I think it’s important to get it out there.

  • NotBuyingIt

    Great article, but why not crowd fund a restoration and let the fans that want it support it? If cost is the factor, with crowd funding, if it makes enough to get done, it gets done, otherwise it doesn’t. It seems like a no brainer to me. They could have special box sets for backers, etc. Sell some film cells as part of a bundle, etc. I bet some super fans would really get behind this.

    • Credo

      I was thinking the same thing about crowd funding, but then you have a lot of CBS haters who don’t even want to pay a few dollars to watch Discovery unfortunately…

      • John Moore

        RMB knows a chap who has some experience with crowd funding.

        • Dusty Ayres

          Crowdfunding isn’t going to work for this; you all should have bought the Next Generation Blu-Ray’s, and that’s it. Money talks, and CBS/Paramount aren’t charities (especially not charities for fans.)

          • DirkBelig

            You seem unclear as to how crowdfunding works. If CBS set the mark for producing a series remaster at $20M and 200,000 fans ponied up $100 each with a disc set as their swag (think of it as a really early pre-order), then where’s the charity?

            If the fans don’t chip in, CBS is out nothing – they can say there’s not enough demand and wash their hands. If they get their costs covered, then they make the remasters, ship the donors their copies and have retail units to sell and they can syndicate the new shinies. Everyone wins.

      • Nytegaunt

        I think CBS started that hate. I don’t mind paying for something, it just insults me that the only reason I am having to pay for it is because I live in the U.S..

        • Dusty Ayres

          I’m sorry, but that’s bullcrap. Nobody’s ‘insulting’ you because now you might have to pay for a streaming service just to watch a new Star Trek show.

          • Nytegaunt

            I clearly stated that I don’t mind paying for it. Why not address what I actually said if you are going to respond?

        • Ghost Robot Venture

          Everyone outside the US and Canada is paying for it as well via Netflix.

          • Nytegaunt

            No, no they are not. Everywhere else gets it on regular CBS broadcast. It is available on Netflix as well, outside of the US, but it is still on broadcast television. In the US, it’s CBS All Access or nothing. Not even on Netflix, which I also already pay for. In short, I pay for CBS through my cable company as well as paying for Netflix. Either of those would get me the show were I in Europe, neither will get me the show because I am in the US.

          • Ghost Robot Venture

            Uh, it’s exclusive to Netflix in 188 territories outside the US and Canada. I don’t know where you’re getting “regular CBS broadcast” from. I pay for Netflix in Australia, so yeah, I’m paying for it too.

          • Nytegaunt

            That seems to have changed with the Netflix contract so I stand corrected. Doesn’t change how I feel however. How would you, as an Aussie Netflix user, feel if you had to sign up for yet another service to see it?

          • Ghost Robot Venture

            I’m also signed up to Stan (a local streaming service) and Amazon Prime (which only just launched here), so I’m honestly wouldn’t be that fussed. They have to make their investment back on it, or it gets cancelled. TNG, DS9 and VOY all debuted on VHS in Australia ahead of their late-night, often delayed TV airings, so it’s not like I’ve ever gotten Trek “for free.”

          • Adam Bentley

            You’re wrong. It’s not on regular broadcast at all. It’s only on Netflix outside of US/Canada. You’re part of the problem with false misleading info being spread.

          • Nytegaunt

            I stand corrected, it looks as if the broadcast in Europe went away with the Netflix deal. It really doesn’t change my opinion, however, as it doesn’t change the point. I will pay more because I am a US Netflix member. I guess you are a member of the “take advantage of who you can” club. A very Star Trek point of view (yes, that was sarcasm).

          • Connor Murray

            We don’t even get CBS in the UK so that’s not true.

      • kadajawi

        I probably won’t be paying CBS for Discovery, but I would sure as hell pay them for DS9.

    • Ben

      Yep I’d pay 90’s VHS prices for an Episode.

      • Dusty Ayres

        Except you’re NOT living in the ’90’s now, and you have to pay 2010’s prices for 2010’s media.

        • Ben

          Wow thanks for the reality check, I’d never herd of inflation till now. That doesn’t change my statement.

          • Nytegaunt

            I actually think VHS tapes in the 90’s were more expensive than a lot of DVD/BR stuff now. Particularly in the early 90’s.

          • Dusty Ayres

            Did you ever hear of ‘this is not possible’ as mentioned in the article? Or did that pass right above your head?

          • Ben

            Obviously you’ve forgotten Star Trek’s history. You can thank us unrealistic fans for everything beyond TOS season 2. YOUR WELCOME!!!

          • Dusty Ayres

            Said letter writing campaigns were organized by Gene Roddenberry and not (really) by the fans.

    • Ben Eklom

      I have never seen a crowdfunded product that made $20 million, it seems unlikely.

      • Jogi6

        Have you ever heard of “Star Citizen”, it’s a game and they rased $142,443,678
        https://robertsspaceindustries.com/funding-goals

        • Dusty Ayres

          Have you ever heard of ‘that’s not a realistic option?’

      • Dusty Ayres

        It’s also stupid, just as stupid as the fundraising for a fifth season of Enterprise.

    • While it’s a great idea, I honestly don’t see CBS going the crowdfunding route anytime soon.

      • Morgan Smith

        If not crownfunding, maybe crowdsourcing the edits? I have, and others have, recommended making the scanned footage available to fans/teams of fans (via some webportal) to allow the fans to edit (including adding new HD CGI) episodes/scenes for CBS. Yeah, there would be the issue of getting the contractual bits ironed out (access to footage, use, etc.), but this way there wouldn’t be an issue with money.

        Even if this was just restricted to having fans produce CGI sequences/elements, leaving the rest of the editing to CBS, that would take a lot of the costs off of CBS.

        Please float these ideas to Mr. Burnett or your other contacts and see if they can get any traction.

        And thanks for the great article!

        • AlanHK

          Crowdsourcing — who’s going to do QC? How do you tell some “superfan” that he’s incompetent and should just stay away? Then there’s the minefield of copyright. No matter what waivers people sign, some will be pissed off about some editorial choice and make a huge stink and threaten to sue and claim their work has been stolen/is libellous, etc, etc. Whatever the merits it will soak up legal fees. Managing and coordinating all these amateurs would cost more than just hiring pros who do what they’re told on time and don’t talk back.

          Anyway; I watched TV in the 60s on 20″ b/w screen. It was and always is the story and the actors that made it worth the time. More DPI doesn’t make a better show. It’s nice, and I like my 40″ HD screen, but if a show I’m interested in is only in a fuzzy 360p VHS rip, I’ll watch it rather than some modern idiocy in 1080p pure digital.

          • Dusty Ayres

            Pray tell, please expand further on what shows are a ‘modern idiocy in 1080p pure digital’ for me and others. I will agree with you on the first paragraph, though.

          • AlanHK

            Easily 95% of shows would fall into that category. Of course it’s entirely subjective, but for instance, I’d put all “reality TV” in that category for a start. YMMV.

          • Dusty Ayres

            Reality TV, yes, but only reality TV. There’s nothing really wrong with most of the sitcoms, drama shows or sci-fi/fantasy shows.

        • Dusty Ayres

          A bunch of fans doing this would just be seen as being amateurish, most likely. It’s a CBS property, and CBS is going to do it in-house, when the company feels like doing so and when there’s a profit in it. As I said above, this is a business, not a charity for sci-fi fans (especially fans that couldn’t be bothered to buy the previous older TV show remastered on Blu-Ray.) This is CAPITALISM in action, folks.

      • Dusty Ayres

        Me neither. The fans have to wake the frak up and accept reality about this matter.

    • It’s a good idea, and you could do it by season to break the cost down. Also, as video gamers and board gamers have found, a crowdfunding campaign itself can generate a lot of interest and excitement and raise the profile of the campaign.

      My main problem is that I can’t see “DS9 Season 1 HD Restoration” raising more than $3-4 million at a stretch, which is likely to be only a third of what they need. You’d also have the problem that DS9’s first season is not going to get a huge number of people excited (although it’s certainly far better than TNG’s first season, and has a few classics like “Duet”, but that’s not exactly an episode crying out for a HD remaster).

      You’ll also get a lot of blowback from people angrily saying that CBS should be paying for it itself. Massive, multi-million companies doing crowdfunding feels a bit insulting.

    • Very much agreed. The costs are legitimately daunting, but I know I would almost certainly spend more eagerly for a crowd-funded project than I would at retail. Its just a psychological difference. I look at something like the MST3K revival where I pledged at a significant premium even as I wait for price drops on retail releases. It’d be asking a lot of fans, but fairly, I think. They’ve always done a good job explaining why this is such a difficult project and the results with TNG speak for themselves.

      • kadajawi

        The costs are NOTHING. 20 million? Please. That’s like 112000 per episode. Not even enough to do an episode of reality TV, probably. The Grand Tour, a car show, has something like 7 million or so per episode? And is financially viable. Many shows cost several millions to make. The figures for DS9 only look so high because there are so many episodes. Break it down. Start with season 3 perhaps. I’d pay $100 for a complete box. I’d pay 200. All you need is 200000 fans to spend $100. I think that isn’t unrealistic. And you aren’t even taking into account the money they’d make from syndication rights, Netflix, CBS All Access subscriptions etc., and selling the box at retail and on iTunes etc.

  • Ben

    I have a stupid suggestion that might work, give access to the reels for scanning by Industry insider fans for free, who already have the qualifications to scan and preserve 35mm with care. And then let specially nominated fans donate time to edit and animate as needed. It might take years to get a season out but at least it would happen, have them sign NDA’s not to leak things online etc. Then get people like the Okuda’s to see if further fixes are needed. I know this would sound crazy to CBS execs but at least they get to sell something new to us eventually. Even start with some 2 part episodes and sell them as movies like with TNG blu’s. Anything would look better than the DVD’s. Think of it like a Kickstarter but for free professional labour. I’d donate a day a week to edit and do colour timing etc.

    • Jake Wolfe

      I had these same thoughts. I’d really like to hear a studio/producer response to these ideas. If nothing else, doing some two-parters would probably be worth it, if they don’t want to let us help them ourselves.

    • wallard

      Yeah that is stupid, because it takes a lot to deliver a complex project that can’t be done on a volunteer basis. How would people survive if they worked for free.

      This isn’t a fan movie that can be done on off hours. It needs people who can work 8-12 hour days, for a number of years. It requires asset management, project managers, dedicated hardware,etc

      Maybe you can wait 20 years to get restored versions using the volunteer method.

      Professionals don’t give out free labor for projects like this.

      • Ryan S.

        Maybe they would, if they were passionate enough about it, but even then it would take a very good while to get it finished, as you mentioned…

        • Ben

          I think they would do it and your right it may actually take 20 years, but that’s still more than a dozen episodes a year rather than never. The guys that made the De-specialised versions of Star Wars did it for free (they put in more work than you’d first think). I got my DVD copy of Star Trek – The Motion Picture Special Longer edition edited together from mixed sources thanks to fan work. There are guys like NeonVisual who recreate 4K FX scenes from Voyager on youtube just for fun, and IRML even put out a few test scenes using official DS9 assets. There are other community examples like Nintendo selling games that are from thousands of hours of ROM dumping from fans. 99% of professional fans wouldn’t do it but we only need a few dozen after accessing the 35mm. I’m probably too optimistic but I think it’s the only way we will get something.

          • Dusty Ayres

            Do you understand anything that’s been told to you previously about this? You sound like an Axanar fan trapped in a bubble believing that this franchise belongs to you and that you can do anything with it when in reality, it’s not yours and you can’t do anything with it except be a consumer of it like everybody else.

            If you all wanted to see Deep Space Nine on Blu-Ray (or any other older show), you all should have bought the Next Generation Blu-Ray sets at the original prices as much as possible, making it a big sales hit and showing CBS that there’s money to be made in remastering older shows and putting them on Blu-Ray/4K. But you all didn’t, and so, there’s this consequence that you all can’t live with. However, live with it, you must. And no amount of crowdfunding to get amateurs to do the remastering work is ever going to happen.

          • Ben

            I think your busting the wrong crowds balls here. I’d be willing to wager 9/10 people commenting here did buy the TNG blurays early. Go over to the pirate and netflix forums if you wanna aim your negativity more accurately. Your right it’s a business decision, a short term one. The show may not make the money back upon initial release but they will be selling it to audiences for generations yet. Unless it looks like ass because it’s DVD.

          • Dusty Ayres

            My so-called ‘negativity’ is reality delivered as a bucket of cold water; you people are just as deluded as the Axanar people are. None of you seem to get that you all don’t own this franchise, you’re all just consumers of it, like I am. If you want to see this happen, there has to be an interest shown, and it should have been at the cash register buying the TNG Blu-Ray sets. Money talks, and entitlement/(fan) bullshit walks.

          • kadajawi

            I would much rather buy a DS9 box than a TNG box. Heck, I’d pay right now for a product I’ll only get in a couple of years. I think TNG is good, but I love DS9. Why should I buy something at full price that I don’t want that much? In the end CBS would say… oh, not enough sales, we’re not going to do DS9.

            Crowdfunding would be the best option: a) They can estimate the interest. b) People would already give them the money to do it! Where is the risk?

          • Dusty Ayres

            You’re not going to succeed at getting crowd-funding for this show to be on DVD, ever; this isn’t Axanar. And as CBS owns this franchise, it’s theirs to do with as they want, which means that if and when they feel that there’s a profit in doing this, they’ll do it. As I said already, this is a business, not a charity, and you people need to be adult enough to learn and understand that.

          • kadajawi

            If they are not doing it, it’s because CBS wants to screw with fans or is terrible at doing business, or they are still trying to bully people into buying the TNG Blu Rays.

            They can, probably have already calculated how much DS9 would cost to transfer. They can also calculate, how much it costs to produce the boxes and ship them to funders. Say it costs 20 million to remaster, and another 20 dollar per box to produce and ship. Set the price at $120 for the entire season, and they’ll need 200000 people who are willing to get the box. CBS can launch the campaign. They don’t even have to do any ads, fan/news sites and social media will take care of that. If not enough people sign up, CBS can say: Told ya so, and that’s the end of it. No DS9 in HD. If however enough people fund the project, CBS gets the money and remasters the show. At least the cost of doing it is covered, and if more people fund it, they make a profit. And then they have a show that they can put on CBS All Access, drawing in subscriptions. They have boxes they can put into retail stores, perhaps at higher prices (that’s why you fund such a project in the first place). And they have a show that they can sell for syndication, or to Netflix or Amazon or whoever wants it. And if they put in some marketing effort, it’s a rather modern show that appeals more to current audiences than it did to audiences back in the 90s.

            Basically: Possible Ka-Ching without any risk! It makes business sense to do a Kickstarter campaign, it makes NO business sense not to do it. Maybe you haven’t understood crowdfunding…?

            If everyone had bought the TNG boxes, they still could have claimed not enough people bought it. And I suspect that’s what they would do, given how they resist doing DS9.

          • Dusty Ayres

            Please go and take business courses before you speak on this subject again. There is no market (in CBS’s eyes) to remaster Deep Space Nine for Blu-Ray or 4K. All of what you said is TL;DR and then some. As I said already, CBS Studios and Paramount Home Entertainment are businesses, not charities; how hard is it for you all to get that?

          • kadajawi

            It is not TL;DR, because clearly you must be brain dead. Read my post before you reply with your BS again. With crowdfunding, CBS is getting PAID FOR THE ENTIRE PROJECT BEFORE THEY SPEND A SINGLE CENT! There is no risk! If it costs them 20 million, they get paid 20 million, and then start. If it costs them 50 million, they get paid that much before they start work on it. NO RISK. Or they can set the price to be higher than what it costs to do. How the frack is that a charity? They don’t start work before they are fully paid to do it, and can be sure to make a profit. It is what enables tiny little companies to do bigger projects.

            How hard is it to for you to get that? Learn to read! Jesus.

          • Dusty Ayres

            CBS isn’t going to accept crowdfunding monies to remaster DS9, no matter how hard you and others blabber about it. And I’m not going to read your TL;DR post because it’s nonsense and wouldn’t be done by any corporate executive worth their salt.

            As I (and probably others) have said, <bCBS is not a charity. If you all wanted to see DS9 remastered and on Blu-Ray, you all should’ve bought the Blu-Ray TNG sets, <band at the original prices. But you all didn’t and so, CBS won’t be taking any risks or financial baths just so that a bunch of nerds can get their nostalgia freak on. That’s life, and that’s also capitalism.

          • kadajawi

            a) How can you know that what I wrote was nonsense if you haven’t read it?

            b) Ah, you mean like the execs at: Heineken, GE, Hasbro, Pfizer, Unilever and Whirlpool? Yeah they must be terrible and useless.

            c) If CBS doesn’t do it, it is not because of capitalism or because they are such great business men, but because of pride or stupidity. Crowdfunding is risk free, and if the execs are right, crowdfunding DS9 will fail and they have a way of shutting up fans. If not, they will earn money. Either way, win for them. Plus crowdfunding is also free advertising (guess why some companies that really don’t need it do it for a product they know will be successful anyway).

            d) Nostalgia freak? You can say that about TNG. That show is as dated as hell. DS9 however, structure and content wise, is as current as any show aired today. The only difference from modern shows is the longer than usual seasons and the aspect ratio. Otherwise it could be any recent Netflix or HBO show. Thus it can also appeal to newer viewers.

            But you haven’t reached this point I suppose, because you’re simply a mindless, stupid troll.

    • James Hall

      Even if they don’t composite and edit and do the visual effects work for each series… I kinda hope that they do scan in and preserve the original film so that they have the option to do an HD release one day. I was really saddened when the article mentioned someone had the original VFX models for DS9 and Voyager for long enough to do a rendering while the STNG remaster was going on… only to lose those assets by now in a hard drive crash. That just goes to show, you should always make backups. You might lose important parts of Star Trek history after holding on to them for nearly 20 years 🙁

  • Theo Bear

    If CBS don’t want to spend the money and time required to remaster DS9, it should just hand over all the material from the show to a third party effects house or to professionaly qualified fans who can do the job over whatever length of time it takes, and then keep the profit from sales. Typical corporate bean counter thinking that the show should be lost to time instead of doing what’s required to save it.

    • wallard

      You’d be dead before it would be done

      • kwijino

        Sides, I’m sure the agreements they have with the editor’s unions would prohibit this. The studios can’t just give out their product for people to work with.

        • Theo Bear

          That’s as maybe, but no changes are being made to the original work, at least not until all the visual effects became wholly CGI around season 4 onwards. Those visuals would have to be redone from scratch as most people seem to think the files have either been lost, of were only ever rendered in SD.

  • antiwesley

    Thanks for this very interesting article. It’s sad to see “The Roddenberry Vault” release as a ‘good’ example of a special extras. The Vault release was a poor joke played on fans. Very little in what was promised and another release of episodes we already had on various media. CBS/Paramount are milking their cash cow with new releases, offering nothing new and just giving us what we already have.

    • Dusty Ayres

      CBS is administering Star Trek like it should be expected to; no more, and no less.

  • Robert Simandl

    So… anyone know if the upcoming DS9 and Voyager DVD’s will look and sound significantly better than the existing versions? Obviously they won’t look as good as the TNG blu-rays, but will they be an improvement over what’s there now?

    • Matt

      No they are exactly the same, just a new set of box art

    • Nope. They can’t be, there isn’t anything they can do to make them look better.

      If you run them through a Blu-Ray player you’ll get the upscaling effect, which may make them look a *bit* better.

      • Dusty Ayres

        If you run them through a Blu-Ray player hooked up to a HDTV, you’ll probably get a great picture-you never know, especially if you don’t try.

        • The existing DVDs do look a bit better run through a BR player hooked up to my 40″ HDTV, certainly better than the Netflix streams. Also, the Netflix streams are automatically stretched to Widescreen so I have to manually adjust them, which I don’t with the DVDs.

    • David Alexander McDonald

      It’s essentially just the seven season boxes packaged together in a couple of giant clamshell cases — I have the UK versions of the Enterprise BR and Voyager boxes, and those are just the old discs repackaged. The Voyager box design is pretty crap; the Enterprise box is better than the US one, though.

  • Andy Miller

    Hmmm I wonder if anyone has considered a serious Kickstarter campaign for these? I would think DS9 may muster enough backers, certainly quite popular with the fans…

    • whowhatwhy

      My thoughts exactly! I may start one post Discovery launch, if there’s no one to step up the plate. The buzz of it all may just carry it to fruition. The price tag is steep though AND it takes years. My bet is we are not going to see it, unless there’s some billionaire trekkie outhere willing the foot up the bill. If I were that three-comma guy, I know I would. 🙂

      • You wouldn’t be able to do it without CBS’s permission, and you need the original film negative, which is stored in a joint Paramount-CBS storage facility under a salt mine in Pennsylvania (I’m not even joking on this). You can’t take the existing DVDs or streamed files and rework them, the resolution isn’t there.

        • whowhatwhy

          Yes, unfortunately. I meant it as, what Elon Musk would call, a “forcing function”. It would be sort of Kickstarter ad campaign, showing CBS the fanbase interest. A way of generating buzz and getting the conversation started. CBS would probably have to foot most of the bill in any case. It is not a sure thing by any stretch of imagination, but CBS left to its own devices will probably never feel the need to get the ball rolling. Forcing functions are a powerful tool.

      • Dusty Ayres

        Kickstarter campaigns won’t work for this-this show belongs to CBS, and they will do this in-house when they feel like doing so and when they can make a profit off of it-how hard is this to understand?

  • Alex Huffman

    Instead of a Kickstarter, why not have the fans actually do the work themselves? I bet there are plenty of VFX professionals who would take on this project out of love if they were given access to the raw materials.

    • Derrik Pates

      As if Paramount/CBS would ever consider providing all that material to anyone who wasn’t under a very expensive, airtight contract. Not a chance in hell.

      • Ryan S.

        Well, they obviously don’t care about said material anyway, since they don’t want to spend the $$$ to restore it. All of it’s going to rot in a vault anyway, so why not? Media and other corporations greedily hoarding their older property even though its not profitable for them anymore (or won’t have any chance of making them lose any money if they were to release it it to the public or subjects outside of a contract) has always annoyed me to no end. Pure capitalist greed IMO.

      • Alex Huffman

        Then why not have Netflix do it? We’ve heard that Star Trek gets a lot of stream time (myself included). I mean they spend $7M on EACH EPISODE of Star Trek Discovery. I bet the ST library streaming rights aren’t cheap either.

        • Dusty Ayres

          Netflix wasn’t called in to do a Star Trek show with CBS, and they don’t own Star Trek-plus, they’ve got other shows already.

    • They’d need to convince CBS and Paramount to give them the original film negatives from their high-maintenance storage facility. I do not consider this a very likely outcome.

      • Dusty Ayres

        adamwhitehead, you’re wasting time with these people; they don’t seem to understand reality at all.

    • Dusty Ayres

      Alex, do you understand any concepts of reality at all regarding this that have been explained to you and others here? This is not Star Trek: Axanar, and oh yeah, it isn’t your franchise.

      • Alex Huffman

        Wow. Can’t even enjoy a little hypothetical conversation anywhere without running into a sour grape. I bet your really fun at parties, Dusty.

        • Ace Stephens

          From the look of things here, he’s a total cynic who denies possibilities while clinging to probabilities as the only reality (and thinking he should “shout down” others as a result).

          For instance, acting like a Kickstarter permitted by CBS is absurd, as though no company with ownership of a property has ever run one. Acting like pitching such a thing is a “fan film” mentality or people are suggesting it should be done without CBS somehow when, in fact, that’s notably far from the case.

    • Ghost Robot Venture

      The film shots would still be upscaled standard definition, and the composite live-action/VFX shots would be a hideous mismatch of resolutions. You need the original film materials for this to work.

  • CANADAMETALFAN

    Great article. Explains things well.

    I bought the tng sets as they were coming out and enterprise as well, they are the best sets I have ever owned. The features make them extra special.

    Any difference between the individual season sets and the series box set?

    • Same content as the individual seasons. the only difference is the consolidated packaging.

  • Eric Cheung

    This didn’t have any information I didn’t know, but if you like this article, you’ll enjoy this documentary I saw on PBS a few years ago:

    http://nofilmschool.com/2013/02/side-by-side-film-digital-documentary-keanu-reeves-netflix

  • I’d happily settle for a more limited DS9 and Voy release. Just pick the standout 2-4 episodes from each season. I know that would be tricky with the more serialised DS9, but that show still had many classic stand-alone episodes that could be featured.

    • trparky

      “It’s Only a Paper Moon” would be one heck of an episode to have restored.

  • Vger64

    I have my DS9 & VOY DVD sets I have had for years. I’ll live.

  • DaMac

    It was endlessly frustrating for me to be on Trek forums and blu-ray forums and see people complain the remastered TNG sets were too expensive or not worth it. The difference was amazing and the project was super expensive. Also those blu-ray sets were cheaper than the DVD sets were 15 years of inflation before that!

    The sad fact is no one wants to pay for media in the 2010’s. It’s free if you have no morals, and cheap if you like streaming, and that is that. It makes me sad.

    • trparky

      Yes, they were expensive, I’ll agree with you on that but even though they were expensive they were still worth every penny. Even the intro with The Enterprise coming from the left and into the center of the frame at about 30 seconds into the intro was just jaw dropping. That scene alone was worth it all.

      • DaMac

        I wasn’t complaining they were expensive. Did you mean to reply to someone else?

        • trparky

          I was agreeing with the people who you said it was expensive. Expensive it may have been but it was still worth every penny.

    • Dusty Ayres

      Yet, they expect to get similar sets for Deep Space Nine just like that and ‘just because’. People are plain deluded these days.

      • DaMac

        No one wants to pay for media anymore. I have friends who torrent all their TV shows and then complain when one gets cancelled. There is zero logic or perspective.

        • Dominik Wagner

          I wonder if said friends also go to work each day without expecting a paycheck…sometimes I just don’t know that to say about the views of some people…

    • Dominik Wagner

      Absolutely, it’s just a though sell nowadays in the age of free music streaming and cheap media streaming by the likes of Netflix and Spotify, people are spoiled.
      But I was surprised that this project seems to have been such a flop, TNG was one of the best-rated shows worldwide during it’s run and is fondly remembered by many.

      If CBS couldn’t make their money back with TNG, they sure as hell won’t with Voyager and DS9…which is a shame.

  • trparky

    Personally, this is very disheartening since Deep Space Nine was and will always be my favorite among all of the Star Trek TV series. I don’t know why DS9 is, maybe it fits more into my cynical nature in the sense that it shows a more darker side of the Federation; that the Federation wasn’t all “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy”. That when pushed into the corner, regardless of the fact that the Federation was supposed to be peaceful, even they could choose to do the shall we say… “not so nice things” to get what needs to be done… done.

    • I think DS9 is a very underrated show, although it’s certainly improved with age and its critical cachet has risen a lot. It’s aged better than Babylon 5 and it had a much better ending than BSG (which had a lot of the same writers involved), and its character development and story arcs were far better than any of the Star Trek shows before or after (although, arguably, TOS and TNG just edge it for individual classic episodes)

      I put it down to the fact the DS9 had a regular cast of not just Federation personnel, but other people who were far more cynical about it (Quark and Garak’s legendary conversation in the S4 opening episode) and even villains, who turned out far more complex than they first appeared. I’m sorry they never got to make the “in the bunker” episode they were talking about, which would have just been 44 minutes of Damar, Weyoun and the Female Changeling sniping at one another.

      • Mark L

        I agree with everything you said except that it’s aged better than Babylon 5. We still pull that entire series out every couple of years. I think I’ve watched DS9 twice since it aired. I admit I like DS9 better now than when it aired, but Babylon 5 still holds up well (except for the FX, and WB has said similar things about remastering B5).

        • Yeah, I meant more in terms of production values: DS9 had three times the budget of B5 and it looks like it, the sets, makeup and effects absolutely put B5 to shame. B5 had a stronger, better-planned longterm story arc but it also took a while to get going. I find I can recommend people DS9 today and they’ll sit down and get into it, but they are mostly put off by the fact that B5 just looks a lot worse. Convincing them to stick with it, especially when it’s so talky, is a challenge.

          Oddly, I found it easier to get them into it if they like SENSE8, since the’re already used to Straczynski’s way of writing dialogue and character.

  • ScreamFace

    Why not get fans to do the VFX shots?
    Have a team working at CBS doing the scanning, the editing and supervising. Manage some of the VFX, but have an online community where fans do a lot of the work. Have strict guidelines for consistency. The same cgi models, the same settings in the same program.
    Individuals and groups of people can request certain shots. The community can review, vote offer suggestions under the supervision of a lead guy at CBS.
    Final is sent of to CBS for final rendering in their work flow.
    I reckon you’d find a fair few people open to partaking.
    Sure it’d take a lot longer, but it may be cheaper.
    I always thought something like this would have been a good way to redo the CGI for Babylon 5 so they could remaster that.

    • Dusty Ayres

      It’s been explained above by others why not already. Try and pay attention.

  • Great article and explanation. People don’t appreciate this level of work.

    • Thanks Jason. I appreciate the kind words.

      • Lathe of Heaven

        Hmmm, interesting that no one has mentioned the recent Blu-ray release of the X-Files… 🙂 Remember, that was SUPPOSED to be a lost cause AND, the first season of the X-Files was in 1993 🙂 [yes, that, I think DOES merit another smiley face]

        I THINK what I read about the X-Files was that this couple (husband and wife I think) came up with a new, proprietary way in upscaling footage that was kind of revolutionary. I have the X-Files Blu-ray set, and let me tell you, when I watched the very first episode, the picture literally blew frigg’n my PANTS off! (I’ve since put them back on, so don’t worry…) And, I consider myself a fairly avid Videophile, and WOW, I was indeed quite impressed.

        Sooooo… then…. let’s see now, what series was running at the exact same time…? Oh yes, I remember now…

        DEEP SPACE NICE

        (not to mention B-5)

        Cheers!

        • THE X-FILES looked like it wasn’t going to happen and then they did it. It’s probably because of the way TNG opened up the pipeline, with the added ease that the X-FILES very rarely had digital effects (the odd CG spaceship here and there, the odd monster morph elsewhere). It was a much simpler, and much cheaper, remastering job than TNG.

          Fox tried to apply the same methodology to remastering BUFFY and the project has completely fallen apart because BUFFY had a lot more effects work, lighting regrading and other things they didn’t taken into account.

          • Lathe of Heaven

            Yeah, figured as much… I was kind of HOPING that maybe their new ‘proprietary’ technology might of helped a little : ) Still looks frigg’n AMAZING!

          • Ghost Robot Venture

            The bits I’ve seen of the Buffy HD remaster are absolutely terrible. Colour timing is off, effects have been poorly recreated, and some scenes even use alternate takes to the original versions. I’ll stick with my DVD set, even though S1 and 2 (shot on 16mm) look grainy as hell.

          • Yup. That’s what’s annoying. A proper HD remaster would make Seasons 1 and 2 look so much better, and there’s a few scenes which are improved, but all of the mistakes they’ve made detract from the few bits they’ve done well. Deeply frustrating.

  • Dan

    Im sure if some started a go fund me page we could get the money.

  • Scott Brantley

    Damn the expense. CBS owes it to the fans to get this done for DS9 and VOY someday!

    • Dusty Ayres

      No, it doesn’t, at all. This is a business, not a charity for nerds.

  • Fascinating! Thank you for reaching out to clarify

  • Impecunious Joe

    Looking for a bone here…

    I know there are many fans who just couldn’t afford the TNG sets right off the bat, but still do want it all in high-def, and who are picking it up as they can (I’m one of them; I didn’t even have a Blu-ray player when most of the season sets first came out, but I recently kicked off my HD TV Trek library with the five “movie” discs of various TNG two-parters, and intend to get the full series as soon as circumstances permit). I know the initial sales weren’t what was hoped for, but is there any chance that if sales continue at a certain level, the project could eventually be seen a small sufficiently profitable to warrant revisiting the decision on the later shows?

    • The biggest mistake they made was waiting so long for the complete series box set. Everyone knew it was coming, so people held out for it. And it took the better part of two years after Season 7 was released for the complete set to come out in the US (in the UK the Season 7 set and the complete box set were released on the same day). Massive own goal and mistake.

      But yes, in another 4-5 years, especially if DISCOVERY breaks out massively, they may revisit the figures and decide it is worth it at that point to remaster at least DS9. In 2008 they would have certainly said that it would be impossible to save TNG, but then the circumstances changed and it became doable.

      • Ghost Robot Venture

        The best shot would come from huge fan support for Discovery, meaning, yes, subscribe to All Access if you’re in the States, and buy the show on DVD, Blu and/or digital when it becomes available.

      • Ace Stephens

        I imagine a notably more expensive complete series boxset ($250 or so, average price – probably more MSRP), if released right when season 7 came out, would have sold quite well and be seen as a very good deal. As it is, the “after-the-fact”-release with the low price just seems like something tossed out there, with lower demand (perhaps since some “gave up” for streaming in the meantime) and a general disinterest (from CBS and maybe some fans) about it.

        • Yup, and that’s crazy. They should have realised many fans would be holding out for the complete box set and factored that into their plans to make a profit or make back the investment they put in. And then they blew their own feet off by selling the HD versions to both streaming services and international broadcasters before the Blu-Rays had even all come out, further discouraging people from buying the box sets.

          Rather than blaming “lack of interest”, CBS should really have come up with a coherent and sensible release strategy.

  • Csere Mihaly

    Great article and also very depressing for me as a huge DS9 fan. But honestly, I would buy Voyager too and they should do Voyager first because it is easier I think. The over all low success of the first time TNG sales are easy to explain: 110 USD for a season was too much. I can understand that they wanted to get back their investment but this should have been calculated more with a lower price that would have resulted in more sales (50-60 USD / Season max as with any modern TV series) and the rest of the money should have been calculated from the re-sales of the TV rights . Too much of the invested money was expected from the fans in the first week. They should have thought more in the long term with a smaller price than what they have done. (I have payed for every single season at the full price on launch day). The current full series 100 USD price is much more user friendly.

    As for crowd funding: I have never in my life have payed in any crowd founding but I would pay for this on the first day, and not just 10 USD

    I would also pay for a best of re-mastered, like the best 10 or 20 episodes from the series.

    • Dusty Ayres

      @impecuniousjoe:disqus, @cseremihaly:disqus: do the two of you have reading comprehension problems? And where do you get the idea that ‘too much of the invested money was expected from the fans in the first week’, Csere?

      • Impecunious Joe

        I hope not, but I’d like to think that if I do have such comprehension problems, I at least compensate for them with something approaching good manners.

        All I did was ask a question about something not addressed in the article. I would agree it is abundantly clear from Burnett’s extensive discussion that the sales of the ST:TNG BDs have fallen well short of hopes and expectations, and that for that reason there is presently no business case for extending the same treatment to the two remaining Trek series presently stuck in standard-def. However comma there do remain some areas of uncertainty – possibly not uncertain to Burnett, CBS, and others directly involved with the release, but areas of uncertainty to us, the readers.

        Exactly how far short of hopes and/or expectations have sales been? What numbers, if attained, would suffice to justify comparable HD remasters of the other two shows? (Yes, I’m aware they almost certainly don’t wish to release specific sales data for business competitive and/or legal reasons, and don’t expect them to; I’m merely pointing out that it’s something most of us don’t know, and thus might reasonably wonder about).

        Perhaps I did indeed miss it in the piece, but I didn’t see it made clear even whether the ST:TNG BDs have actually lost money, just broken even, or made a minor profit – only that they haven’t been a huge, hoped-for success.

        It is also not clear to what extent ongoing, future sales of the ST:TNG BDs may affect things. Presumably they were expecting x sales by a point in time y, and fell well short of that, but aside from our not knowing just how short, we don’t know whether additional sales will have any effect, or just what sort of sales figures would be needed to make it happen if so. That’s all I’m asking about.

      • Csere Mihaly

        Dusty it is pretty easy to answer you: the blu-ray disks of TNG came at twice the price of any current TV show with 20 episode season. It was not justified. If they wanted high sales they wouldn’t have thrown those prices at fans. They thought they can go with the high price tag because the fans will pay for it so they have included in the sales plan the remastered work too … I based my conclusion on economics logic and how some investors are trying to get back the invested money in just a few months to a year (like any new tech and so on). So it isn’t based on some actual information, I just know a few people in tech development and this is how things work at that side: they want to get the investment ASAP and a product is not successful if this doesn’t happen in a few months. I just concluded this is how CBS has thought too.

    • Figures are hard to come by, but Burnett is being slightly disingenuous: sales of the Blu-Rays started off excellently, with Season 1 selling over 300,000 copies in the US (apparently they also did excellently in Germany, and decently in the UK). That’s huge for an expensive new edition of a 25-year-old TV show. Not too shabby at all. But by later on the sales dropped off a lot. That’s baffling as Seasons 1 and 2 are by far the weakest and Seasons 3-6 are generally held to be the best. More people wanted to see “Angel One” in HD than “The Best of Both Worlds” or “The Inner Light”? In what universe?

      What did happen is that the PR and marketing spend for each box set dropped, with corresponding loss of awareness and hence sales. They also ran into another problem. They were doing cinema screenings of certain episodes to show how awesome they were, but then the agents of the actors from those episodes got in touch to demand more money, because cinema screenings were not part of the original contracts. So I think CBS lost money on those screenings as a result and stopped them after Season 3. You also had the problem is that they started increasing the speed of releasing the seasons as the pipelines got better, so circa the release of Season 4 or 5 people started realising they could wait just 12-18 months and get the complete series for not much more than the price of the individual sets. CBS screwed that up by delaying the complete box set repeatedly and then releasing the show to streaming services before it came out, costing them a lot of revenue.

      The release methodology really was flawed. Fox and HBO learned from that and released both THE X-FILES, THE SOPRANOS and THE WIRE as complete HD box sets all in one go for a much more realistic price (still expensive, but not much more than the average), and did much better. But then none of those remasterings were as expensive and complex as TNG’s.

  • What’s annoying about this is that a lot of the cost could have been avoided if they’d rolled straight from TNG into DS9. A lot of the expense was down to startup costs: the cost of starting up the process, finding the right methodology and pipelines, developing the needed software, understanding the problems and resolving them etc, and then doing Season 1 alone came to $12 million. So if the total cost of the entire series was $20 million, that means the start-up costs were more than 50% of the entire cost of the project. All of the start-up costs could have been avoided by simply rolling straight into DS9 and they could have done most of the show for a lot cheaper.

    It’s also worth remembering that with, I believe, two exceptions (the Defiant in the new title sequence used from Season 4 onwards, and the solar ship in Season 3), DS9 did not use large numbers of CG ships and shots until the end of Season 5. Yes, some of those battles in Seasons 6 and 7 were huge and would be complex to render, but there’s also not a lot of them. Almost all of DS9’s effects for the first five seasons, and quite a lot in the latter two seasons, could be updated and remastered like TNG’s were. With Voyager it’s simply untenable: Voyager started routinely using CGI in the Season 3 finale but it had quite a few CG shots and scenes across the first three seasons and then completely in Seasons 4-7, which is a titanic amount of work.

    I honestly think they should roll out all the efforts for DS9: as a much more heavily serialised show, it fits the modern day Netflix binge-watching habits better, its critical reception and cachet has risen remarkably over the years and, although it didn’t do TNG numbers, its ratings were pretty damn high (and far above Voyager’s).

  • Jason

    I know it’s not the same thing as a true HD remaster, but why not upscale the NTSC tapes and apply a sharpness filter? Doctor Who and some other series did the same thing (Doctor Who’s first 4 seasons were only shot in SD) and while it’s not the same quality as a true HD remaster, it still looks WAY WAY better than the DVD versions because there’s no outdated DVD compression. Upscaling from a DVD will always lead to lots of macro-blocking, especially if you apply a sharpness filter AFTER the DVD compression, while upscaling from the original tape, applying a sharpness filter and THEN compressing with x264 at 1080p will lead to much better results. I have both the DVDs and the BluRays at home and the difference in picture quality is significant! With the BluRays I sometimes can’t even tell they are not really HD. Same with other series that were only released as SD-upscaled versions.

    You wouldn’t even need to sell them on BluRays, you could just sell them to streaming services like Netflix or air them on TV. The total cost would only be a tiny, tiny fraction of a true HD remaster and it’s still way better than nothing at all.

    • They tried this on TNG, it’s on the Season 1 documentary. For some scenes it worked fine, for others it actually emphasised problems with poor overlaying of effects or matte lines, and for anything with visual effects like phasers or transporter beams it really looked awful. They couldn’t get consistently good results.

      For more recent shows it works because they were filmed and edited with much better equipment, like DOCTOR WHO or the way they upscaled the CG and composite scenes for FIREFLY. For stuff filmed in the 1980s or earlier it doesn’t seem to work as effectively.

  • Zarm

    Very enlightening, and explains a lot. Extremely frustrating, too; the ‘physical media is dead’ movement has always driven me crazy, but to know that it’s killing the market for projects like this, and special features in general…

  • One way the fans could get this started is to build a massive library of CG assets based upon what is known and needed from the episodes. Ships, planets, phaser fire, EVERYTHING built into a huge online resource that is carefully curated, so there is only one accepted version of Ship A, one of planet B, etc. With that done, CBS would be more likely to take on the project because a HUGE portion of the work would be done ahead of time, and at no charge. Perhaps some of the big names like Okuda and Burnett could be enlisted to be the curators of the assets?

    • Dusty Ayres

      Nobody at CBS is interested in fans doing anything for the show restoration-wise, period.

  • Man this is so tragic. How about a Kickstarter for DS9 on blu?

  • Quack Fu

    Utterly fascinating process and quite the incredible achievement. Thanks for the great article!

  • hellion

    isn’t this the reason why none of the director’s and special editions of the movies were released in hd? i would love to see tmp’s director’s cut in hd.

    • The Motion Picture I think has its own problems, like the CG models were not designed to stand up to proper HD scrutiny so would need to be redone from scratch again.

      Star Trek II (The Wrath of Khan) was given a proper, remastered HD re-release a few months ago though, and it looks excellent.

  • SFSeries&Movies

    Great article, clarifies it a lot for me at least!

  • Hey CBS, if you’re too cheap to do a remaster of all of DS9 and Voyager how about a “best of” HD collection? Stuff like “Duet” and “In the Pale Moonlight” from Deep Space Nine and “Scorpion” from Voyager.

    • kwijino

      I would guess if they did that, the fanbase would think they were getting the whole series anyway, which like the article said, they can’t do the whole of each show.

  • Vermontist

    I’ve got think there’s some high net worth 9 figure Trek fan out there that would cut the check simply to go down in fandom as “the guy (or gal)” that supplied DS9 and Voyager in 2K for the masses

    • As someone pointed out, the King of Jordan is a massive TREK fan and even got a cameo on VOYAGER. He might have bigger fish to fry these days though.

  • Andrew Kasch

    CBS needs to crowdfund the first season restoration of Deep Space Nine as an experiment. If that’s successful, then they can do one a year for as long as they’re able to bankroll it. Everything they earn after would be profit and these shows finally get the preservation they deserve. Trek fans have shelled out over $1mil + for fan films… This one is a no brainer.

  • I find this quite odd. Here’s why.

    Many TV stations around the globe rely on the (multiple) Trek series to underpin their channels. You would think that licensing new Trek HD versions for HD channels would (part) pay for the remaining restorations as well as bring in some dosh from Blu Ray/UHD sales? TV is a long chain business. They can’t keep showing SD versions forever as those channels become defunct and move to HD only. That’d mean we’d never see DS9 or Voyager or have to put up with them being ‘upscaled’ from SD.

    Are CBS currently giving Trek away for peanuts to these channels? 40 Million is chump change for 14 series (DS9 & Voyager) when it costs 100 million for one series of Game Of Thrones.

    Most odd.

    • Ace Stephens

      Seriously, where is the licensing money from these things going? Sure, pay those involved in the show and they need a bit for investors…but what of the rest? Certainly, if nothing else, a few years’ worth of those fees could support the start of a remaster (one season with an eye toward a second) which could then fetch a mildly-increased price to be licensed – possibly tackling a couple seasons at a time might snowball into increased profits (from that licensing) within a couple years.

      I seriously don’t understand what’s going on. Sure, Paramount struggles except for Transformers and Mission: Impossible making tons of money but CBS basically makes money on these shows for free right now. Why not increase how much over the next decade with a reasonable investment back into the product?

      There has to be something we’re missing here if it’s not just (short-term) greed getting in the way of (long-term) profits, as is unfortunately and ironically the case in many corporate realms.

  • Rob Bob

    So that explains why, when I watch Voyager on channel BBC America, it doesn’t look sharp or crisp.

  • Robert Anthony

    This, while enlightening, made me very sad. To think of DS9 and Voyager just fading-off into the distance of forgotten television. : (

  • dave d

    There is a simple answer- CROWDSOURCE. CBS merely has to dump the available film negatives at a cheapo scanning facility in India, and then make the raw footage available online for reconstruction by fans working for free. The truth is that so-called ‘amateurs’ know how to use computer tools vastly better than 98% of the pros exployed at great expense by CBS. Editing footage is utterly trivial today. The VFX work is certainly not, but there are legions of fans who can knock out decent quality CGI quite quickly.

    Essentially as volunteers prove themselves with one episode, they would be given improved access to work on further episodes. All volunteers who contribute would be rewarded with free access to all the improved episodes. The new work would remain 100% the property of the original owners- and CBS would switch streaming services to the new versions.

  • bgoo2

    $40 million for 2 major groundbreaking fan TV series to be remastered from scratch with all new visual effects? Cumulatively 14 seasons and almost 400 episodes of television?

    How is that not a f*cking bargain?

    These two TV shows are still being licensed on networks and streaming services across the entire planet. Tens of thousands of people are dressing up around the planet going to conventions for the shows 20 years later. And this is not a good investment?

    And as a bunch of people have mentioned here over the past day, crowdfunding would be a no-brainer that would be achieved immediately to subsidize the effort.

    This would seem like an obvious lock for anyone paying attention. Just the fact that we are commenting on and reading an article about it should tell you something.

    Are any insiders in the industry reading these forms or not?

    Holy smokes.

    • WSSNW

      I was thinking the same thing. When I heard the amount, I said “and so what’s the problem”. CSB is still thinking well cant make that up in Bluray sales. As if they need to make it up on day one…sigh.

    • Dusty Ayres

      The insiders don’t give a shitt, thay have other things to do with their time, like you and others commenting should.

      • bgoo2

        Your profile has over ***8000*** comments posted. A quick look shows that literally all of them adversarial. So….about having “others things to do with their time”…. ummmm….

    • The problem is that they could spent that $40 million on two seasons of a new show instead and take more of a punt on it being a massive hit.

      That’s illogical to many people, and I think CBS are underestimating the value of having every single episode and movie of STAR TREK ever in HD, especially when they already have half of the franchise done. However, I can also see their point that whilst they would make the money back, it might take 10-20 years, which is not enough for executives who are usually in post only for five years or so.

  • Selek54

    While I think that Voyager stunk to high heaven (it was creatively bankrupt series that spent it’s run repeating stories that TNG and DS9 had already covered -but somehow doing them much worse) it still deserves a upgrade to HD. Yes, I understand it’s expensive and time consuming, but while TNG remains “popular”, it has aged horribly. I find the episode still good, but I’m okay with not watching them or owning the seasons on DVD. While there was some weakness with DS9 -especially in the first two seasons- a good 80% of episodes remain relevant today (the whole Dominion Arc is still significant and highly prescient as it was nearly 20 years ago). The fact that the show was so different from TNG and TOS, that it did take risks, that the writers and producers allowed Star Trek to have emotions; that it showed power corrupts not only the metaphor like aliens, but humans as well, is what makes it so much better than TNG. DS9 is the jewel in the crown of Star Trek, The fact that it remains the red-headed stepchild speaks volumes.

    • Dominik Wagner

      Couldn’t have said it better myself! TNG will always have a special place in my heart, quite simply because it was the Trek show I grew up watching.

      But DS9 was in a whole different ballpark..it’s a shame that cast never got their own feature film and the whole show is pretty much forgotten nowadays among non-trekkies.

  • BarryDennen12

    Can’t someone get into the ear of a famous nerd who can write a cheque and get this thing funded overnight? Surely Zuckerberg likes DS9 and Voyager – if not him, someone else

  • Rocky Robinson

    Boy would love to see both series treated to an HD mastering. I work as a video editor, and engineer (just a local cable tv studio) but I understand the costs and effort involved in just re-digitizing the source film, not to mention the insanity involved to rework the digital effects. But that said, would still love to see it done. Just going to take forever for the economics of it all to work. Maybe they can crowd source 3D animation schools to put them together? Just dreaming.

  • Lance L Landon

    Some improvement of the video only Star Trek episodes may have to wait a bit longer for more advanced computer technology to catch up with our desires. In the days of NTSC there were line doublers and triplers and such a computer technique might help to improve the NTSC video quality. Further, Enlarging the image to a much larger one than actually required with the application of an image focusing program might help; only later to be reduced to the pixel requirement for the number of pixels required for TV at that time. Later on, computers may be able to imagine with the aid of still shots just what an improved image should look like in a one frame at a time improvement. The application of genetic algorithms to improve those computer program applications should improve the image quality considerably. Finally as quantum computers will become available that we can really enhance a low resolution blurry image. Also some pan and scan will be necessary to fit the action in with the wider screen format.

  • WSSNW

    The choose the perfect photo for his article. Sisko looks like “are you f****** kiddin me?

  • John Harrison

    This explains why the interlacing artifacts on the special effects shots are so noticeable on the digital versions of DS9.

  • bgoo2

    So…. CBS, like all studios, will literally burn through millions of dollars every year during pilot season…. green-lighting garbage TV shows that are cancelled half a season in.

    Meanwhile, you have actual perpetual market demand for an existing series in their catalogue… that there is endless conversation on a desire to see brought up to modern television standards… which would *completely* re-invigorate that asset…. but there is no move to have it done?

    They have a guaranteed built-in paying audience for this product.

    All these “technical challenges” mentioned in the article…. doesn’t sound like roadblocks… sounds like an exciting project for their team to document on in the future thru social media that generates excitement and dialogue and criticism.

    And frankly, with DS9 specifically, it was a bit ahead of its time in storytelling and casting.

    The sad truth is, I’ve had the absolute misfortune of meeting multiple ignorant people over the decades who were self-proclaimed Star Trek fans, but didn’t want to watch DS9 because of their choice of “demographic” for the series lead.

    Now in 2017 and beyond, that casting is actually welcomed and encouraged; yet another reason to re-introduce the series.

    DS9 was a show so popular, they broadcast the series finale on the gigantic Toronto Skydome arena screen. I don’t recall them doing that on the last episode of “Two and a Half Men”.

    • Ghost Robot Venture

      That’s the CBS TV production arm. This would be CBS Home Entertainment. Different business orgs, different business concerns, different budget parameters. Not a huge expense for the TV production arm, but likely insanely beyond the financial means of the home entertainment side.

      • bgoo2

        Time for some corporate synergy…

  • Surely there’s PAL version prints from the UK, Australia etc, which would at least give a little better resolution than NTSC?

    • No. The PAL prints were taken from the NTSC master tapes, so they actually look worse than watching the original shows on an NTSC TV. The image looks a lot “fuzzier” and softer than it does in the US, as it’s 525 lines stretched over 625.

      Watching the HD remaster of the TNG was a massive revelation for UK audiences, even more than US ones. We were kind of used to watching the original show (and most American shows from the 1960s through the early 2000s) through a vague haze and suddenly seeing everything ultra-sharp was amazing.

      • Ghost Robot Venture

        True. S1 and 2 particularly looked dark and soft in PAL, while there’s little difference between them and the rest of the series in remastered HD.

  • Pedro Ferreira

    Yeah, nothing new here. The only glimmer of hope is the fact that CBS will one day have to upgrade all their shows to HD to make them attractive to digital streamers. I don’t think it’s a question of if but more of when.

  • ZOD

    Physical media sales of TV series aren’t really enough to justify the the work needed to prepare even the simplest shows For HD distribution. SD shows have less and less syndication value. Content owners who want to monetize their SD programs will eventually produce HD versions. HD channels have time to fill & want to fill it with HD content. Another new pressure is iTunes — They are VERY strict about the quality of the videos they will accept. This drives the market in a new way. Previously it was up to the producers to decide when home video was good enough. Physical media, digital distribution & syndication are linked.

    And then there is 4k… 16 & 35 mm film both contain enough information for 4k, but it’s expensive. Color grading for HDR, All FX & titles need to be recreated & Etc. On top of all that, the digital file needs to be prepared for dozens of digital formats.

    So, do studios create HD versions that are already losing some value or 4k versions that most people can’t fully appreciate yet?

    • Ace Stephens

      Since a lot of 4k material is merely upscaled and adjusted…while some fans would throw a fit, 2k scans seem just fine.

      If people want it in 4k later, just upscale and “pop” the colors/”crispness” into HDR artificially like many 4k Blu-rays do.

      • ZOD

        That’s exactly what people said about HD. Anything you do to the source material to upscale it or add color information distorts it. Think of each movie frame as a grid of dots with a range of information encoded in each dot. To make the image larger, you have to spread those dots apart and then fill in the gaps with new estimated dots. The guesses are pretty fancy, but in the end it comes down to balancing blurriness against blockiness. (see: nearest neighbor, bicubic interpolation & etc.) To improve the colors/contrast of each dot you have to map the old ranges to the new ones — more guessing.

        Without many exceptions, UHD material is derived from UHD, 4k or film that was mastered at UHD or 4k. It has to be, there really isn’t a way to make 2(ish) megapixels look like 8(ish).

        That said, most of the content I watch on my UHD, HDR TV is only HD or even SD. My PS4, AppleTV and Cable box all get upscaled by my TV. It doesn’t look like UHD, but it’s not bad. I’ve pretty much stopped buying movies/TV that aren’t UHD. For new shows, I always opt for the UHD version if it’s available.

        In the end, that’s what kills off a format, people drift away as something better comes along.

        • Ace Stephens

          Without many exceptions? I find that claim to be curious given that numerous films finished in 2k have been released in 4k HDR last I heard. In my experience, home media enthusiasts keep complaining about it. So I’m uncertain what’s going on here as I have little experience of the format and can only listen to what the (often self-proclaimed, so who knows…) “experts” tell me is going on with it.

          But they keep going on about how many films are just 2k manipulated.

          • ZOD

            It’s true that many films are edited or even shot 2k. Two of the Star Wars prequels were shot/edited at only 1080p. There is some benefit to remastering 2k/HD digital cinema in UHD. 1) there is usually a tiny bit of resolution that’s is lost when going from 2k to HD 2) The colorspace of digital cinema is easier to represent in UHD. 3)Some compression artifacts in the HD files aren’t in the UHD files. But I agree, selling those programs as true 4K is dishonest. In those cases the best possible picture would result from a close to 1:1 transfer. However, your TV would still upscale, so maybe not. My experience isn’t with every production company — and mostly for new content. What I can say is that UHD/4K is taken very seriously. Some films will never be sold as UHD because the source material is 2K and the companies involved are honest.

            FWIW, Digital Cinema was originally a bit of a con. “Digital” often means slightly worse-ish. They way it was explained to me is: 2K files have roughly the detail as the dupes that were shown at second run theaters. If you sit too close to the screen you can see the pixels — the way you could see the grain of the old dupes. 2K digital cinema does have excellent color, sound and an overall consistent quality. So the experience is better than a second run theater used to be — but not as good as a 35mm print CAN be. To be fair, 2K digital cinema was originally developed during a period where single large movie screens were being replaced by several smaller ones in many theaters. 2K digital cinema also allowed movies to be shown in emerging markets.

            4K or greater digital cinema, which is becoming more common, is pretty close to the best first run movie experience you can have. Excellent color, resolution and sound. Most seats are far enough away that you can’t see the pixels and the compression is extremely light. Still, with all the new technology available, it’s kind of cool that film still records more visual information than just about any other format. It’s also MUCH more forgiving when you push the resolution.

          • Ace Stephens

            Okay. Thank you for the clarification. So there is some truth to all of it but I misconstrued it a bit by applying it so broadly? So, moving forward, most (modern) films without major budget concerns that are released on the format (from “honest” companies) will likely have true 4k Blu-ray releases? If so, that’s good to hear.

            Otherwise, I can see the concern regarding upscaling…although I hear that 4k scans are becoming more affordable (and 2k scans have become reasonable in terms of price). Is that about right? At that rate, maybe this is all doable regardless.

            I would just prefer 2k over nothing (obviously).

          • ZOD

            That’s probably about right. Although I’ll bet 4k streaming (with all its compression & bandwidth issues) will be the primary distribution method.

            You brought up a good point though. The term “remastered for 4k” is pretty vague & can hide some important details. If a company sells a movie shot in 2k as 4K/UHD, they aren’t being completely honest. A quick check of IMDB revealed 5 or 6 movies that are probably doing this. There are certainly more — which is disappointing. That said, many companies really are trying to produce high quality 4k/UHD.

          • ZOD

            FWIW, I doubt that we’ll see UHD versions of these shows soon. As I wrote earlier, home media demand isn’t enough to cover that cost — it already doesn’t really cover the cost of HD. It will only happen if syndication outlets & streaming services start paying much less for HD & much more for UHD. That isn’t happening any time soon.

  • Serkan

    Please correct me If I am wrong as far as I know most tv series shot in 90’s have this very problem that they don’t have master negatives. The X-Files was one of them too but hd version was released.
    Thanks

    • ZOD

      I’m pretty sure that the X-files was shot on film. It was probably edited SD, but the negatives provide way more than enough detail for HD. X-files also had relatively few SFX shots that needed reworking for HD. I’m sure that all of the titles had to be reworked.

      There are definitely some shows that were shot on tape. Those cannot be “remastered” for true HD or 4k. They can only be upscaled. The picture improves a bit. Here’s the boring reason…

      Production formats like Bets-SP & later digi-beta had up to 360 lines of resolution (think of a 640x480i digital video). Compared to VHS with 250(ish) lines of resolution (think of a file thats somewhere between 320x240i and 640x480i). In both cases the 640 number is “stretched from around 500 and the 480i (i means interlaced) number is made from alternating between “half images”. It’s a mess. Anyway, DVD can hold more “spatial” information than was present on the original tape. Up to 720x576i for widescreen. The format has a lot of compression that can change colors and introduce artifacts that aren’t on the analog tape. So… a less compressed HD or UHD file (downloaded, streamed or on a disc) with less compression (an maybe a better colorspace) will reveal details that DVDs cannot. Not many details… but some.

      As with anything digital/analog there is plenty of room to argue over specific numbers (540, 720…) and “perception”, but that chunk of text above gives a pretty good overview of what’s going on.

  • Serkan

    My comment was deleted. Why?

  • rosie1843

    Wait a minute. “ENTERPRISE” got re-mastered and not “DEEP SPACE NINE” and “VOYAGER”? Something is rotten in Denmark . . . like the stench of bigotry.

    • Stubris

      Enterprise was shot and broadcast in HD. Thus making it a very simple process. DS9 & Voyager would take years to upgrade. Sad but true.

  • Brandon Coppin

    Having to recomposite and rescan the entire series is daunting. However, CGI is not nearly as expensive and difficult as it used to be. I worked in CGI at microsoft and a lot has changed. recreating the cgi in DS9 and Voyager would not be as time-consuming and difficult as we are being led to believe. If these shows don’t get the HD treatment they will fade away completely as they are already almost unwatchable on a 4K screen. Pixel density will only increase in the future and these older shows will be lost. I’m surprised that CBS does not want to protect their investment – especially considering the staying power of Star Trek.

  • Doug Kinzinger

    Nice article. If only we could get VFX assets all lined up in advance…

  • GS

    OK, so as everyone begins to appreciate the importance of actually putting your money where your mouth is to support the content you love, here’s a DS9-related effort you all should support with your actual money:

    “What We Left Behind” DS9 Documentary by Ira Stephen Behr Indiegogo Campaign:
    https://igg.me/at/DS9Doc/x/16052523

  • Darren Kent

    There is no doubt that what described above is a major accomplishment, and kudos to all those involved in this amazing effort – but I would draw the line at the describing TNG and The Twilight Zone as the “two greatest television releases of the home video era”.

    The greatest television release of the home video era is classic era Doctor Who. Not only were 36 years of television released – as single stories – they were all restored, many from 16mm film telesync copies, the soundtracks restored, to a digital quality that belies the slap-dash archiving of the show – with a budget that was minute compared to that described above.

    EVERY released story has original cast and crew commentary. 99% of the stories have a brand new “making of” documentary to accompany the story. Every story has an information track describing production of the story presented. Where stories had missing episodes, the episodes were either replaced with specially commissioned animation matched to the original soundtracks, or at their very least, recreated using available tele snaps taken at the time, combined with publicity photos and the original soundtracks.

    Not only was the above maintained across every release, but the “Restoration Team” responsible created bleeding edge restoration techniques – such as Reverse Standards Conversion, recreating PAL video from NTSC videotape, and Chroma Dot Recovery, recovering colour information from black and white filmed copies – to recreate the episodes to as close to their original broadcast quality.

    The TNG blurays are an accomplishment – but they pale in comparison to the Doctor Who DVD range.

  • pazithi

    Thanks for this article – very interesting on several fronts. As a trek fan, and as a fan of television shows of this era in general. I remember a few of the responses that JMS gave when fans pestered him about doing a Babylon 5 remaster and his answers were basically the cliff-notes version of this – that the technology and methods used at the time limited what could be done with it, that all the exterior CGI shots would have to be completely re-done, too expensive etc etc, but it’s a fascinating read to get more details about precisely what such a project entails.

    I’ve had the TNG dvd sets for ages, but I might have to think about picking up those blu-ray sets and re-homing the dvds to a friend….

  • kadajawi

    There’s a saying in VFX: You can have quality, price and speed. Pick two. Basically if you’re in a rush, you’re either getting poor quality (Avengers 2, car chase sequence with Black Widow on a bike), or you’ll spend a lot. But we’re not in a rush for DS9. Serenity was done on a budget, and has terrific special effects. So what if it takes a year longer to do a season? That makes it more interesting for CBS All Access, if they can release episodes on a weekly basis.

  • ccccc

    I absolutely LOVED DS9. It was by far my favorite out of the others… sad, but I doubt I’ll ever see Terok Nor in 2k-4K glory. I mean the article mentioned 2K scans, and 4k-5K is already here…

  • Douglas Hamner

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zzbocEbtEE However this proves otherwise