The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.
Her five-year mission:
To explore strange new worlds;
To seek out new life and new civilizations;
To boldly go where no man has gone before.
Keep that in mind, Mr. Bailey.
Respek! All Your Starbase Are Belong To Us!! I hope you will relish the Tranya as much as I!!
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!
Read now Paramount’s Sept. 6 Conference Call Regarding The Refurbished Episodes:
John Nogawski, Dave Rossi, and Michael Okuda discussed the reason why and exactly how STAR TREK is getting a 21st century makeover. CBS Paramount Domestic Television is digitally re-mastering episodes of the iconic 1960s sci-fi series for broadcast syndication, with all new special effects and music, to celebrate the groundbreaking series’ 40th anniversary on September 8.
September 6, 2006
1:00 PM ET
Operator: Our first question comes from Mr. Will Shilling of Wireless Network
Will Shilling: Hi. Thanks for talking to us today gentlemen. This first question is going to be a little offbeat considering how technical all your stuff is but we were wondering if you could guarantee that there’ll be no changing of the plot a la ET and taking guns out of people’s hands and stuff like that in the remastering in the effects.
David Rossi: I can tell you that the purpose of this is to completely not change the story and not change the plot because we are all so passionate about the way it exists. What we’re really trying to do here is just enhance the experience of watching Star Trek that people can have.
Will Shilling: Thank you, gentlemen.
Operator: Our next question comes from Mr. Bill Hunt of Digital Bits.
Bill Hunt: Yeah, thanks for taking—for doing this. My question is basically related to—are you doing all seventy-nine episodes plus the pilot? And are you doing the full-length episode or are you doing just the forty-three minute syndication length?
John Nogawski: Hi. This is John Nogawski. The entire episode is being edited, you know, as we [think it’s laid] out. The open is being done obviously on all of them and then the special effects that we are treating are throughout the entire show.
Bill Hunt: And so you’re doing actually the full-length episode rather than as opposed to just the forty-three minute [inaudible] the syndication length of these episodes?
John Nogawski: We’re doing both.
John Nogawski: Ultimately, when we deliver the television show to over the air stations, they take one version when we sometimes have requests from a cable network that they would like to have the entire episode because they format theirs differently than the over the air stations. So the entire—both will be done.
Bill Hunt: Just one quick follow-up on that, are you doing the work, particularly like the effects work, in the final master—is it going to be in four by three, the original four by three aspect ratio or are you doing this in the sixty-nine aspect ratio of HDTV?
John Nogawski: Again, both.
Bill Hunt: Oh, interesting!
Operator: Our next question comes from Mr. Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Gazette.
Rob Owen: I’m wondering why exactly you guys decided to go back and do this to the original Star Trek? When did you start working on it and did it have anything to do with Enterprise going out of production and not being able to syndicate that to stations?
John Nogawski: One decision with one versus the other had nothing to do with each other. We actually did syndicate Enterprise and it’s run for the last year in over the air syndication. It’s now also going to begin airing on the Sci-Fi Network as well as HD Net. So you’ll still be able to watch Enterprise. And as far as why we decided with the original or when, let me start with that, the timing was around January of this year. We finalized the decision that we were going to re-syndicate the original seventy-nine or eighty episodes. And at that time, as we started thinking about the launch plan of that is when we started making a decision, “Should we give the show a bit of a facelift,” and looked at the different options that we could do between re-scoring the open, what effects we may want to update. Do we go back to the original master and just really clean it up, color correct it? There were a lot of things that were discussed over say a month and a half of time. And then we made a final decision probably in March that we were going to start moving forward with the decisions that we had made as far as the things we were technically going to approach, started interviewing different people that we thought would be capable of taking on the project and then made our final decision of who we were going to use and then started the process.
Rob Owen: And how hard was it from an FX perspective to update special effects but not make it too jarring between the effects that were originally there and then the CGI updates that you’ve done?
John Nogawski: Well, I’m going to let David and Mike answer most of that but I will tell you it’s painstaking to do what they’re doing and I’ve witnessed it personally. And I don’t, you know, I wouldn’t characterize myself as a technical editor, although I’ve been around this business for twenty-three years. But I will tell you right down to placement of stars, it is being re-simulated to be exactly what was there in the first place. But I think Michael and David could probably address your question a little bit more specifically.
Michael Okuda: Thanks. This is Mike. Basically, the approach is that Star Trek is a period piece although albeit a period in the far future. So all the decisions are being made to honor the production style, the style of cinematography and the style of editing. And with that as our guidance, using the original decisions made by the directors and the editors, it follows very logically trying to recreate the look and feel of the original series.
Operator: Our next question comes from Matt Mitovich from TV Guide Dot Com.
Matt Mitovich: Hello, gentlemen. Thank you for your time today. I’m just wondering if any of you have—have any fans, and we know how fanatical they are, have any of the fans tried to get in touch with you to render their opinions on this upcoming makeover?
John Nogawski: Well, just from my own—this is John again, I have not had any direct contact with any fans contacting my office, no.
David Rossi: Certainly when the announcement came out, the Internet bulletin boards lit up like crazy with people very interested in wanting to see what we were doing. But, no, no one’s contacted me yet. Mike, how about you?
Michael Okuda: Not really. Certainly we got e-mails from friends and such. We did look at a couple of boards and we were pleased to note that initially there was—there was a sense of, “What are they going to do?” But once they realized that the intent is to honor the original, to not change the stories and not change the plots, not to make it jarring, I think the comfort level is considerably higher.
Matt Mitovich: No, I can totally understand being a fan myself of the series I had no resistance to the idea. I thought it was—I think it’s just a terrific thing to go forward with. For Mr. Okuda, I know that you’re a big fan of the show yourself, were you your—were you yourself reluctant at first by this idea? What was your initial take when you heard about this?
Michael Okuda: Well, when I was first approached, I was a little apprehensive because, again, like many fans, I would be concerned that the changes would be jarring. But then when I understood CBS Paramount’s intention was to honor the original, not to change it, simply to remove some of the technical limitations, simply to make the effects less jarring than they were, I became very enthusiastic about it.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Mr. Ed Gross from Movie Magic/SFX.
Ed Gross: All right, thanks a lot. I’m wondering how extensive will the effects be beyond the space effects being changed, you know, will it be on the ships, the planets? I mean will there be stuff interior the ship, you know, phaser flyer and that kind of thing?
David Rossi: There are certain occasions—well, that’s not really in the scope of work that we’re doing. There are occasions where we are going to do things, for instance, in an episode called The Naked Time, Scotty is trying to cut through the bulkhead outside of engineering with a phaser and while there are sparks on the wall, there’s no phaser beam. So in a case like that, we’re going to go in and add a phaser beam. But as far as just replacing the effects that are currently there just for the sake of replacing them, no, we’re not going to do that.
Ed Gross: Okay. I’m also curious is all of this an attempt—like my kids, for instance, won’t watch black and white movies. There’s something wrong with them. You know, they look at the original King Kong and they can’t believe the effects. It’s like, “We can’t watch this.” It blows my mind. What I wonder is is this also an attempt to sort of make the show relevant again for kids who may not watch it because of the way the effects looked originally?
John Nogawski: This is John again. I’ll give you our motivation because I think David and Michael have very eloquently explained that there’s nothing that is going to look different with the exception of quality. I mean right down like I said to the stars, to the placement of the ships, to the direction that they’re going all those things remain the same. The real reason just from a very technical standpoint to do this is as we move into eventually a much better television set than there was in the sixties, moving into more lines of resolution to all the way up to HD, this show would have not held up to that viewer. And that viewer, in many ways, is kind of who you’re addressing as the younger viewer who really was not alive when the show was originally produced and may never have watched it up to this date.
So it was really imperative to make this change in order to kind of get past—you know, it’s funny you say the black and white—black and white viewer, you’re going to get to the point where black and white is going to be a memory and it really will come down to what was shot over the last forty years is going to become a memory if you don’t have these things looking the way that the eye is used to looking at them going forward.
So I think what we’re doing is we’re refreshing the television show to not only be able to gather a new audience but to satisfy every audience that’s going to watch television going over the next forty years.
Operator: Our next question comes from Mr. Patrick Lee of Sci-Fi Dot Com.
Patrick Lee: Yes, hi, thank you for doing this. The question that comes to mind, of course, is the attempt to revise what was already done and witness the reaction to when George Lucas tried to update the special editions of Star Wars. The first question is are you going to--will the original episodes remain somewhere and be broadcast or available for broadcast or will these replace them? And the second question is are you worried about some kind of backlash against revising what was done before?
John Nogawski: Well, again this is John. I’m not concerned that we’re going to have a backlash because we are taking every precaution to do it appropriately. I think one of my favorite stories was one I got yesterday. There was actually a scene that was debated over four hours, should they keep it in as it is in the series or should they make the adjustment because there was obviously a mistake that was done when the show was shot. And it was just more of a jarring camera. All it was, was a little bump. And they decided to even keep the bump. So there isn’t going to be enough change with the exception of it just being more pleasing to the eye. I don’t think people are going to say, “Oh, my gosh, you’ve destroyed it,” or that, “You’ve changed it.” You haven’t changed no dialogue. You haven’t changed the scenes. You have not changed direction of things going. There isn’t more missile fire. Nothing really has changed except for the fact that it’s just prettier to look at. So I don’t think we’re going to get that kind of backlash. If anything, I think we’re going to get—I think we’re going to get applause.
Patrick Lee: To follow up, will the original versions of the shows be available to consumers if they choose to either buy those or view those?
John Nogawski: Well, the originals are all out there in DVD and they—I don’t think they are going—they are going to take them off the shelves of the stores. It will continue to air on TV Land and on G4 for at least the next year or two in its current form. Since they stripped the shows, we’re not going to release it into the cable networks until we have all of the episodes completed. So the only place you’ll actually be seeing the new version for the first couple of—probably at least the first year and a half is going to be on over the air syndication where we’ll air it once a week. So there’ll be kind of a transition period. And then the cable networks, I guess, if they decide to keep their original library, they could continue to run the older version but I think they’re going to be kind of chomping at the bit to want to start the newer version as well. And then eventually, there’ll be a re-release in DVD once all the episodes are completed. But, like I said, it’s going to take us over a year to get this done.
Operator: Our next question comes from Mr. Anthony Pascale from TrekMovie Dot Com. Go
Anthony Pascale: Hi, guys. First I think what you’re doing is great. The question is related to HDTV. We’ve been looking around trying to find the show and it doesn’t appear to be actually being broadcasted in HDTV anywhere. So the question is, is it actually being broadcasted anywhere in HDTV and is there a limitation with your Pathfire distribution system that’s causing the hiccup because many of your broadcasters are HD capable?
David Rossi: Well, they are being transferred in HD. The entirety of stations are not going to be—going to be transmitting in the HD because of a lot of limitations of a lot of the stations. So the choice was made, I believe, until that everybody’s onboard that we’re going to be airing them in the standard four by three aspect ratio retransferred which they still look unbelievably gorgeous after the transfer I have to say. But I think that’s pretty much where we stand. Mike, have you got anything to add to that?
Michael Okuda: There’s a couple of other issues. Even though stations are technically capable of broadcasting HD, they’re not often capable of switching their local commercials into it. So there are some technical issues still to be addressed.
Anthony Pascale: So can I ask a follow-up on that? So during its two-year run, do you expect any of the two hundred stations to ever show this in HDTV?
John Nogawski: We can offer them the opportunity to do it. Our understanding from the major affiliates who we have—we have now since contacted and said that we would be offering it is that they don’t have the storage capacity at their stations to be able to do anything but a live broadcast like sports, let’s say, or news or something directly from the network that airs live. They can’t take our show down. In syndication, it’s a little bit different. We deliver the show actually say three days before they would even air it. We deliver their promotion package along with it. And they don’t have the capacity at their stations to be able to take on the show.
If somebody said to us, you know, “Well, I am able to,” then we’re certainly willing to work something out with them. But at this point, the major groups that we’ve spoken to have told us they’re not going to be able to do it. I think that will change as time goes on here. You know, people are all going to be required to broadcasting in HD. They’re going to have to come up with a storage capacity. But right now, these guys are just rushing to even get the ability let alone the storage.
That’s as much as I know about it. I’m sorry, I just, you know—you could probably get a better answer if you contacted a local station in that—in that sense.
Anthony Pascale: I actually did contact a couple of affiliates and they said they wished they were getting it in HD and said that the problem was Pathfire.
John Nogawski: I’m not aware of that but anyway, we’ll certainly be—now that we are making this attempt, you know, we’re having it and reconverting it, I’m sure we’re going to be having a whole more of those conversations. Right now, the first attempt is to get them done, get them in the hands of people so they can start airing them. And as that technology moves forward, you know, we’re going to be ready to at least satisfy it. So if we have to work with Pathfire as well, then that’s going to be another part of that component.
Anthony Pascale: Okay. Can I just ask a follow-up on the question that was asked about Enterprise earlier? You said you made the decision in January and that this wasn’t related to Enterprise. But I understand that affiliates were not given a choice between Enterprise and the original series going forward and were told recently that Enterprise will no longer be sent to them and they will be receiving the original series for the remaining two years of the syndication contract.
John Nogawski: There was not a syndication contract. Enterprise was an annual deal. It was not a three-year deal. And we basically just provided the show on a fifty-two week basis. And we chose to just take Enterprise out of weekday or weekend syndication and concentrated on a strip basis in cable syndication. So we were able to, in our minds, make a better deal for ourselves as well as for the viewer by putting it on Sci-Fi Net and on HD. And it just ended up being a coincidence that the original track ends up at the same time when really the original track would have gone into syndication with or without Enterprise coming out of weekend syndication.
Anthony Pascale: Okay, thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from Abbie Bernstein from Dream Watch.
Abbie Bernstein: Hi, gentlemen, thanks for doing this. For David and Mike, can you in lay terms as best you can describe say what you did with the opening sequence as far as what the changes are and what process you used to make those changes, if you can describe it in words that people who aren’t in your line of work can understand?
David Rossi: I’ll start and then, Mike, you can—you can jump in anytime. What we did first of all is we needed to certainly remodel the Enterprise. And what we did for that is we took measurements from the model, the physical model of the Enterprise that hangs in the Smithsonian and had a digital model made off of those. As far as what we changed, we didn’t change any—change is a funny word. We didn’t change anything, although we did update everything. All the star patterns that were in the original opening are exactly duplicated in the new opening. We smoothed out the motion of the Enterprise. It flies more dynamically now. It occupies real space. It doesn’t look like a model anymore. So that’s kind of the angle we took on it. Mike, is there anything else you wanted to add to that?
Michael Okuda: The process that Dave just described is one particular shot where the Enterprise’s flight path takes a couple of strange bumps to the left and to the right. And there were artefacts of the visual effects processes back then. And now CBS Digital is able to go in and essentially have an infinitely long track so the perspective of the ship now is proper. It, as Dave says, occupies real space. It’s a subtle change but it just gives the ship more presence as it flies by you.
Abbie Bernstein: And this is achieved by removing or adding to the space around the ship or the ship—or the ship itself?
Michael Okuda: Back in sixty-four when they shot the original opening elements, sixty-six, there was a physical limit to how far—how far back you can get the camera. So the perspective changes were limited by the physical length of the dolly track in the studio. What CBS Digital can do is they can—with the digital rendering, you can have your virtual camera infinitely far away and have the ship travel to inches from your nose. And by doing that, the perspective is so proper. It’s just as if the ship is really flying by you.
Abbie Bernstein: And as a follow-up, as Star Trek fans and as CGI artists, did you guys think for a number of years, “Wow, if only I could go in there and,” or was this just something you never actually thought about until this project came up?
Michael Okuda: I think virtually every Star Trek fan who has any knowledge of visual effects has a wish list of things that he or she would like to see happen.
David Rossi: And the other thing is Mike and I both worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and there were a few episodes we did in those various series where we went back in time and the visual effects departments of the shows recreated aspects of the original Enterprise. And so once you see those, you realize, “Wow, this is what it can be,” and it can really immerse people in a way that they haven’t been before. So we were aware of what was possible years ago and, of course, with the upgrades in technology, what we can do today is even more stunning.
Abbie Bernstein: The very last shot of Enterprise actually is the original Star Trek Enterprise, isn’t it?
David Rossi: Part of it is, yes.
Abbie Bernstein: Well, thank you.
Operator: Our next question, just a second, our next question comes from Mr. Robert Sanchez from IESB Dot Net.
Robert Sanchez: A quick question regarding the way we’re going to be looking at that existing time period. Has CBS—has Paramount Theatrical now that Abrams is involved in doing a Star Trek movie that takes place around the same era—has Abrams and Company had any say regarding what the universe is going to look like or is this completely independent?
John Nogawski: It’s completely an independent decision. We are actually in some ways, we’re also two separate companies since the CBS and Viacom split even though we share this franchise ultimately from a revenue standpoint and we certainly did communicate with them that we were going to be doing this refreshment on the show. But there is not even a completed script as far as I know yet. I know they’ve certainly had the conversations with J.J. and that is moving forward. But this is really independent of the feature. But we do think it’s certainly going to regenerate interest in the franchise to have this out and getting the kind of attention from people like yourselves that is going to bring a whole new awareness to the series.
Robert Sanchez: Okay, so as a follow-up—the new—besides the space shots, you guys are also creating atmosphere shots with people walking around on space stations and stuff like that. So this will have—there’s not going to be any crossover at all between both of them, right?
John Nogawski: Crossover of the new feature is what you’re asking?
Robert Sanchez: I’m just saying the look, the specific look that this new--?
John Nogawski: Oh, I gotcha. Well, the look, you know, really we aren’t changing the look of the television show. There’s really, in the scheme of things, one episode in its maximum amount of edit has say seventy different experiences that are being enhanced. Some episodes are down to fifteen. So it’s not like the show, you know, and really amount of time of the episode, let’s say a forty-three and a half minute, forty-four minutes of viewing may be a total of, I don’t know, Mike, David, you could probably say but it could be a total of a minute and a half of enhancement. And it’s not like we’re talking about long, long scenes that are being changed. It’s essentially just the special effects portions. All the rest, the dialogue, the walking around the ship, the rest of the series itself is not being touched. It’s just being taken back to the original master and improved as far as the look of it.
David Rossi: Right. We’re not—we’re not again affecting the story in any way and we’re not going into live action to replace any of those elements really. But what we are doing is replacing again the exterior ship shots and we’re confined by the amount of time those edits take place in. So if there’s a two-second shot of the Enterprise firing its phasers what you’re going to get is a two-second shot of the Enterprise firing its phasers.
John Nogawski: Right. As far as the look transferring to the feature, the things that we’re updating are things that the feature area has been using ever since they started the, you know, having the new crew from Next Generation in the—in the features. It’s just basically using today’s technology. So the look that we’re putting in now is the same look that they’ve been doing for the last, since we launched Next Generation in what eighty-seven, eighty-eight. Anyhow, the only thing that has changed there is even—has been the improvement of technology over the last almost twenty years.
Operator: Our next question comes from Mr. Raoul Mowatt of MSN.
Raoul Mowatt: How can fans find out where the show will be on in [inaudible] in their market?
John Nogawski: Well, they could check their local listings would be one, you know, certainly through TV Guide and through their cable networks. If you go to Star Trek Dot Com, an entire listing of every market in the country will be there as well. And we’re going to be starting a whole slew of promotions starting up probably this week that will start letting people know that Star Trek’s coming back.
Raoul Mowatt: And I’m wondering if you can walk through one episode and talk about say in a given episode all of the—some of the specific changes or just give us more examples of what specifically was done [inaudible] the process so far.
David Rossi: That’s a very difficult question. I mean each, you know, a show like Balance of Terror, which has seventy plus optical effect shots in it, we’re going in and we’re working on those. A show like [Mary] has twelve or fifteen shots. So what specifically are we doing? It’s certainly dependent on what the shot is but our focus is on the exteriors and on the view screen shots and on the occasion that we see matte paintings, we’ll be going in and adding some atmosphere to them without changing them.
Raoul Mowatt: Okay, and then my last question is what are the chances that you’ll re-master the other Trek series like Next Generation ?
David Rossi: There’s no plan at this point to do anything with Next Generation or any of the other series right now. I mean those were shot with much more of today’s technology in mind. So, yeah, there’s just no plan right now.
Operator; Our next question comes from Mr. Vince Horiuchi from The Salt Lake Tribune. Go ahead, Sir, your line is open.
Vince Horiuchi: Hi, guys, thanks for doing this. I was wondering if you were able to say the list of the first, I don’t know, four or five episodes that’ll be airing. I know that Balance of Terror is going to be, I believe, the first on the 16th. I’m wondering if you can say the titles of the other episodes after that, some of them.
John Nogawski: Yeah, I can give you those. The first one, like you said, is Balance of Terror. The second will be Journey to Babel. The next will be Mirror, Mirror. And then after that, it’ll be One and Two of the Menagerie.
Vince Horiuchi: And what about Doomsday Machine? Do you know where that sort of falls in?
John Nogawski: Let me get that for you. It’s actually scheduled for the second season. And I don’t have an exact date for you but we’ll be doing thirty-five of them that will actually air this year and then another thirty-five or forty—and then we’ll have another thirty-five or forty that will air the second year in syndication.
Vince Horiuchi: You know Balance of Terror and Doomsday Machine are kind of two of the more effects-laden episodes, probably the heaviest that the show’s ever done. Is there a way you can sort of describe what the battle scenes are going to sort of look like in regards to how dynamically different they might be with these new effects?
Michael Okuda: In general, the dynamics of the battle scenes will be—will be respecting the original directorial and editorial choices. So all of the individual shots will all be enhanced. We’re certainly not going to have the Enterprise coming in and doing barrel rolls and that sort of thing.
David Rossi: I think though on the occasion where there is you know and this is Dave—you have to remember, we’re confined by the size of the edits. So, again, if there’s a two second shot of the Enterprise firing its phasers, we’re confined by that time. We can’t add or detract from the cuts. So to add other ships in there, it’s very problematic in a two-second shot. Now there may be cases where we can create a more dynamic shot but pretty much we’re locked by the time of the existing edits.
Operator: Our next question comes from Mr. Sean Elliott of IF Magazine.
Sean Elliott: Well, it’s nice to at least to be the last question on here, guys. Like, I’m a Trekker, I’ve been hanging on through the whole conversation. And you guys sort of addressed this to a certain extent but as a fan of the show and someone who watched it with his dad when he was a kid and what have you, are you guys going to be going back at all and touching up maybe some of the aliens just a little bit maybe if there’s a seam showing on the Gorn’s costume. If you can see where there’s a, you know, a zipper here or there catching the light, is there any way you guys are going to go back and touch things up like that?
Michael Okuda: This is like actually—generally not—again, we’re respecting the original decisions and, frankly, even though CBS Paramount is giving us considerable resources to do this, we’re looking at things that we think make the show look more interesting, not necessarily things that bother us for technical reasons.
Operator: Our next question comes from Mr. Robert Ivins from TV Guide.
Robert Ivins: Hi, guys. Thanks for doing this. This question is for Dave and Michael. Part of it was already asked but were there any talks or debates about maybe coming back and CGI and the Klingons maybe making them match the ones from the movies and the series?
David Rossi: This is Dave. Certainly that’s not part of the scope of work but aside from that, we wouldn’t, I don’t think, dream of doing that. The Klingons existed as the way they are in that series and there’s actually strangely enough an episode of Enterprise that explains why there’s a difference in the Klingons from the original series and the Klingons from future series. So there’s actually no reason for us to go back and do that. And the time it would take us to do that and the amount of resources would be crazy. So yeah we’re not going to do that.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today’s conference. This concludes the program.