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The STAR TREK Remastered Team Talks About Klingons (Then And Now), Gimpy Spy Antennas, And The Coolness That Awaits Us!!

Merrick here...

-from "Tomorrow is Yesterday", airing this weekend on STAR TREK Remastered. [CLICK TO EMBIGGEN]

We've been bringing you quite a bit of coverage from STAR TREK Remastered, so I thought you might enjoy this discussion with Remastered producers Dave Rossi, Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda. It's an interesting insight into how the Remastered episodes are approached, and a fun look forward at what lies ahead in the upcoming weeks. AICN would like to warmly thank the trio for sharing their precious time and intriguing insight. Without further delay...

MERRICK: What’s ahead on the remastered STAR TREK? DAVE ROSSI: Lots of cool stuff. In the next few weeks we go to war with the Klingons, take on the Nazis, and run into a guy named Finnegan! But our first stop is 1960s Omaha in “Tomorrow is Yesterday.” In fact people may not realize how heavy that episode is from a visual-effects standpoint.
MERRICK: There are many effects in that. How did you approach the episode? DENISE OKUDA: We’re really excited about that one. It was STAR TREK’s first real time-travel story. I love the opening scene at the Air Force base. There’s absolutely nothing to indicate that it’s a STAR TREK episode, until suddenly we see the Enterprise floating in the clouds! MIKE OKUDA: Most of the shots of the Earth as seen from space were done with real NASA images. Niel Wray, our visual effects supervisor, was able to use some high-definition video of Earth orbit taken by a space shuttle crew. He even added the Moon into a couple of shots. Also, when the Enterprise is struggling to climb back into space, some of the scenes of the ground below use images of the American Midwest, taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. DAVE ROSSI: We were also able to show more of the slingshot effect around the sun as well. In the original, all they could do was to show the ship shaking violently. In the remastered version, we actually see the Enterprise skimming the surface of the Sun at high speed. You really get a sense of the danger involved in the maneuver. And, you get a sense of the immensity and power of the Sun. MIKE OKUDA: Actually, the surface of the Sun, believe it or not, started out as one version of the “hammered titanium” texture that we developed for the skin of the Doomsday Machine . CBS Digital ended up taking a slightly different approach for the planet killer, but we realized that this art bore a striking resemblance to the “convection cell” pattern in real photos of the Sun. So we just saved it for this episode.
MERRICK: “Tomorrow is Yesterday” made an amazing prediction about the future…a prediction that has already come true… DAVE ROSSI: (laughs) You mean predicting the day on which Apollo 11 was launched? DENISE OKUDA: Yes, there’s a line in the script where a newscaster says something like “the first Moon-landing mission will be launched next Wednesday.” This, of course, was filmed in 1966, before astronauts walked on the Moon. By amazing coincidence, Apollo 11 actually was launched on a Wednesday. July 16, 1969 to be exact. Ironically, it was just a few weeks after STAR TREK ended its original network run. MIKE OKUDA: At least, we think it’s a coincidence. Maybe someone at NASA was a STAR TREK fan. Neve underestimate the power of STAR TREK’s fans!
MERRICK: In “Errand of Mercy” (airing May 12), the Enterprise stands down a Klingon fleet – this wasn’t really realized for the original iteration of the episode. How is it being handled for the Remastering? DAVE ROSSI: We see a little. We got to show the attacking Klingon battle cruiser in the opening scenes, then there’s a quick glimpse of the fleet later on. DENISE OKUDA: Actually, it’s pretty cool. Sulu reports that the Klingon fleet has just appeared, and we cut to the Enterprise facing off with the Klingon ships. It’s a short shot, but it really shows the Enterprise outnumbered and out-gunned. MIKE OKUDA: We thought it was really important to do this because “Errand of Mercy” is such a pivotal episode for the series. It’s Gene L. Coon’s script that first introduces Klingons to the STAR TREK universe. DAVE ROSSI: John Colicos plays the first Klingon, the wonderfully sinister Kor, the guy you love to hate. It’s no wonder that the Klingons became recurring adversaries. Of course, Colicos is also known to genre fans for playing Lord Baltar in the original 1970s version of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA…
MERRICK: Yeah, about those Klingons…In many of the Original Series “Klingon” episodes, we never saw their ships. What was that about? DAVE ROSSI: That’s because they didn’t HAVE a Klingon ship during the first two seasons. Matt Jefferies couldn’t afford them until the third season. For the first two years, they could only afford to talk about Klingon ships, and maybe show them as an occasional blob of light. DENISE OKUDA: But now, thanks to digital technology, we can show Klingon ships in the very first Klingon episode!
MERRICK: That’s cool - but are you gonna give those Klingons bumpy foreheads? DENISE OKUDA: No!
MERRICK: Why not? It’s this whopping continuity gaff that still sticks out like a sore thumb, despite numerous efforts to explain it away. Do you feel fans want to have those kind of mistakes fixed? DAVE ROSSI: Well, first of all, we don’t regard the smooth-headed Klingons to be a “mistake.” It’s just part of the look-and-feel of the original series. Remember, part of our mission is to respect the style of the original art direction as much as possible. MIKE OKUDA: Also, there was an episode of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – two episodes, actually – that explained all of that. Something about a secret genetics experiment gone awry. DENISE OKUDA: Yeah. Weren’t you paying attention?
MERRICK: I was. I sense conspiracy, though. MIKE OKUDA: Actually, we did talk briefly about adding wrinkles to the foreheads. Not seriously, but we thought about sneaking it onto one of our shot lists, just to see Niel Wray’s head explode when he realized how much work it would be! DENISE OKUDA: Unfortunately, we took pity on him at the last moment. DAVE ROSSI: Too bad. We need to plan something equally sinister for Niel. After the amazing effort he and his crew are putting forward, something like that’ll keep them grounded…yeah that sounds good.
MERRICK: “Shore Leave” is coming up…the one with Finnegan, the bane of Kirk’s Academy existence. What kind of enhancement did you bring to that episode? DAVE ROSSI: That was a pretty light episode for visual effects. The main difference is that the amusement park planet, when you see it from orbit, now looks beautiful, and you can see why Kirk and crew wanted to go there for R&R. DENISE OKUDA: Not too much work for us in that episode, unless you want to create a CG animated white rabbit!
MERRICK: The thought had crossed my mind. What about the weird antenna on the planet – the one that was spying on the people? I mean… MIKE OKUDA: Yeah, that was another one of those things that we thought about. A lot. DAVE ROSSI: Don’t get Mike started on that one! DENISE OKUDA: (laughs) Yes, please don’t!
MERRICK: So, about that antenna… MIKE OKUDA: The antenna in the original episode looked like something you put on your roof in the 1960s to watch STAR TREK in black and white! I thought it would be fairly easy to paint out the antenna and substitute something more interesting. Unfortunately, when we studied the shots more carefully, we realized it would have been fairly time consuming. Certainly it was something that CBS Digital could have done, but we ultimately decided that it would have not been all that much of an improvement to the episode, and that it would be better to put those resources elsewhere. DAVE ROSSI: But first you made us sit through those shots over and over for almost an hour! DENISE OKUDA: The funny thing was that…later on…we found out that this was one of Neil’s favorite episodes, and he was disappointed that we didn’t ask him to redo the antenna! DAVE ROSSI: “Shore Leave” has always been a real fan favorite. Another delightful romp. As the Caretaker says, “the more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”
MERRICK: You work on “Patterns of Force” would’ve been pretty light, no? Unless you can re-master Nazis, of course… DAVE ROSSI: Yes, not too much in that one, either. We did show the missile that was launched from Ekos to try to blow up the Enterprise. MIKE OKUDA: We had them make a digital replica of the old German V2 rocket. I’m interested in space history, so it was cool to be able to use that historic design.
MERRICK: That’s awesome. DENISE OKUDA: That episode was filmed on the Paramount lot. The exterior of “Nazi headquarters” was one of the studio office buildings. We used to walk past that building twice a week on our way to production meetings!
MERRICK: Will we see any cool new spaceships or redesigns coming up? DAVE ROSSI: Well, Captain Christopher’s F-104 in “Tomorrow is Yesterday” counts, doesn’t it? DENISE OKUDA: Even though the aircraft doesn’t actually go into space, the pilot does!
MERRICK: OK, so, what about that fighter? Are you going to replace all the stock footage (used in the original episode) with CGI? DAVE ROSSI: Partly. We’re keeping the stock shots of the plane on the ground and taking off. After that, CBS-Digital has come up with all new digital renderings of the fighter in flight. The best part is that we could do a couple of scenes with both the fighter and the Enterprise in the same shot. That was something that the original couldn’t do.
MERRICK: I have my theories, but why do you think “Tomorrow is Yesterday” such a popular episode? MIKE OKUDA: It’s a great “fish out of water” story. First, we see a 20th-century man in the world of STAR TREK’s future, then we watch Kirk way out of his depth in the 1960s. DAVE ROSSI: D.C. Fontana’s script gives us some great comedic moments. No matter what Kirk does in this episode, he gets deeper and deeper into trouble. Until the end, of course. DENISE OKUDA: My favorite line is when the Air Force colonel tells Kirk, “I’m going to lock you up for two hundred years.” Kirk rolls his eyes and says, “That ought to be just about right.” Priceless! DAVE ROSSI: You bet. Captain Kirk is the MAN!

HERE's a list of airdates and stations showing the Remastered TREK. If you can't find a station near you, they can be downloaded via iTunes, and XBOX Live (where an increasing number of episodes are available in High Definition - the series is not shown in HD by many broadcasters).
[[[e-mail Merrick]]]

Readers Talkback
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  • May 4, 2007, 10:49 a.m. CST

    You know for wanting to maintain the look of the series

    by geekzapoppin

    Most of the new effects shots pull me right out of the story and remind me that they're fan wank. The shots where they replace backgrounds and monitor screens work best.

  • May 4, 2007, 11:06 a.m. CST

    So, like, when are they going to...

    by G'Kar

    ...go back and insert the new CG Enterprise model into the earlier remastered episodes. Hopefully before the thing hits DVD? Or is that no longer on their agenda anymore?

  • May 4, 2007, 11:17 a.m. CST

    I disagree, geekzapoppin

    by I Dunno

    If anything, they've been too conservative. I think they've done a great job in improving the effects that sucked without going all Lucas with it.

  • May 4, 2007, 11:24 a.m. CST

    Cant wait for the HD-DVDs

    by Baron Karza

    I applaud this movement. Please do it for Greatest American Hero and 6 Million Dollar Man.

  • May 4, 2007, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Should do it for the first season of Next Generation

    by I Dunno

    The effects in the first season were shockingly bad, even for the time.

  • May 4, 2007, 11:36 a.m. CST

    The sun is big...

    by Kid Z

    ... the sun is hot... the hotest thing we knowww... I learns all me science, from They Might Be Giants!

  • May 4, 2007, 12:05 p.m. CST

    Ok, this is some really gay nitpicking

    by I Dunno

    But it is the sun right? Given the gravity force on it, would the Enterprise be orbiting it at that tilted angle instead of flat up against it? Just saying. But good FX.

  • May 4, 2007, 12:33 p.m. CST

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas...

    by ROBRAM89

    ...a giant nuclear furnace! Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees!

  • May 4, 2007, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Non-Bumpy Klingons

    by God of Gamblers

    Trying to "explain" the non-bumpy Klingons has to be the ultimate example of the American geek's love affair with a whore named "Continuity." Love it!

  • May 4, 2007, 12:55 p.m. CST

    What a stupid fucking question to ask

    by I Dunno

    About the Klingons. They're digitally enhancing the exteriors, not the make-up dept.

  • May 4, 2007, 1:03 p.m. CST

    Bumpy-Headed Hoes...

    by Kid Z

    ... Guess we all have to live with the lame-ass explanation of differing Klingons from Star Trek:Enterprise. Hell, all they had to do was say the Klingon race went through a temporary fad for cosmetic surgery and had their forheads smoothed and hairplugs put in. Warf coulda just said "It was just a thing to do back then... it was the fashion, it was stupid and we don't like to talk about it." Same for the funky 60's uniforms that Starfleet wore: "Geez those 23rd century fashions looked goddawful... high-water bell-bottoms and mini-skirts...what were they thinking?" Really, no other explanations were necessary.

  • May 4, 2007, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Merrick, you idiot!

    by chrth

    If they redid the Klingons, they'd have to redo the fantastic DS9 episode<p> "It's something we don't talk about"

  • May 4, 2007, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Yo Ho It's Hot

    by dandosama

    The sun is not, a place where we could live.

  • May 4, 2007, 1:57 p.m. CST

    No one says anything about the Romulans

    by I Dunno

    They have those fucked up vampire foreheads now and they didn't in the original series. The Borg looks different too. you could argue that the Enterprise itself looks completely different in the movies than it did in the original series. Sure they said they "refit" it but that's horseshit. You don't change every single aspect of the thing instead of just scrapping it and building a new one. So lighten up on the Klingons already.

  • May 4, 2007, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Sorry for the OT, but breaking news on Lost...

    by Pennsy

    ABC is about to issue a statement saying that the show will go on for just 2 more seasons; the fourth season in September, and then conclude in 2008-09. <p> Hat tip; E! Online:

  • May 4, 2007, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Bashir+OBrian should be put into the Trouble w Tribbles

    by yodas_dad Odo, Dax, Sisko and the others.

  • May 4, 2007, 5:20 p.m. CST

    The bumpy Klingons were the mistake

    by Rupee88

    They should have just made some new villians if they wanted some bumpy headed enemies.

  • May 4, 2007, 7:37 p.m. CST

    I liked the time travel aspect of the episode....

    by Bill Clay was before Star Trek started using time travel as a deus ex machina crutch. Believe it or not, it was novel at the time!

  • May 4, 2007, 9:22 p.m. CST

    I wish the Okudas and Rossi were doing the new movie.

    by kabong

    They show interest in and respect for TOS.

  • May 4, 2007, 10:14 p.m. CST

    But here on Earth

    by Capt Proton

    there'd be no life, without the light it gives! The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen is built into helium at temperatures of millions of degrees!

  • May 4, 2007, 10:42 p.m. CST

    1st Season of TNG

    by Gorrister

    Yeah, CGI would help the effects, but it wouldn't do anything for the horrific acting by the cast. It would be like giving a CGI facelife to Land of the Lost (not to slam it, I love the original Land of the Lost....but I'd hate to see it go CGI)

  • May 5, 2007, 2 a.m. CST

    Is "TOS Remastered" on in Ontario, Canada?

    by TallBoy66

    Seriously, I think I caught one episode late at, like, 5 AM in London, ONT, but I can't find it in the Toronto area. You'd think SPACE would show the fucking thing, considering how they show all of the TV series on a daily basis.

  • May 5, 2007, 7:57 a.m. CST

    So for the younger Kirk I was thinking

    by RokurGepta

    James Franco.... What do you guys think?

  • May 5, 2007, 8:59 a.m. CST

    They will have to redo the TNG FX

    by brattain

    if they want to release the series on HD-DVD (or Blu Ray). Actually, they'll have to redo the FX of DS9 for the same reason. The non-FX shots were still done on film, so they can be upgraded, but there is almost no film stock FX available. The FX as done for TNG and DS9 would not stand up to HD. With all the super cool armada battles DS9 had, I wonder if they'll ever put it on HD.

  • May 5, 2007, 10:41 a.m. CST

    OG Star Trek writers interviewed on...

    by Peter Hyoguchi (hours of video interviews!)

  • May 5, 2007, 12:30 p.m. CST

    TNG needs to redo more than the FX

    by Gorrister

    TNG suffered from writers who didn't coordinate storylines/characters and not knowing where the series was going. The pilot episode stands as the perfect example of where the show would go for the next 2.5 seasons. For example, there is a scene near the end when the entire story is coming to a head and Picard takes time away from the crisis to have a pleasant little chat with Beverly in sickbay that has NOTHING to do with the life or death situation going on around them. Then there is also the comment Picard makes about the Ferengi "eating" their associates. Doesn't seem like there is much profit in that. And I doubt Quark would have gotten a lot of business if his customers thought they'd end up on the menu someday.

  • May 5, 2007, 12:42 p.m. CST

    Bumpy headed Klingons suck.

    by superninja

    The OS Klingons were way cooler than anything that came after TNG.

  • May 5, 2007, 12:46 p.m. CST

    TNG is a stupid soap opera, that's its problem.

    by superninja

    The OS was about philosophical ideas, not wishy washy PC crap like TNG. <p> I mean, "Does humanity deserve to exist?" Yeah, because the rest of the universe is filled with such greatness, Q.

  • May 5, 2007, 6:04 p.m. CST

    While most pics of these remasterings have been great..

    by raw_bean

    ...having seen Sunshine recently that shot of the sun at the top of the page is just dog-ugly in comparison. Cool interview though.

  • May 5, 2007, 6:11 p.m. CST

    You're wrong, superninja...

    by raw_bean

    ...if TNG had been a soap opera, there would have been occasional dramatic conflict between the characters, and it would have been better.

  • May 5, 2007, 6:16 p.m. CST


    by raw_bean

    "Then there is also the comment Picard makes about the Ferengi "eating" their associates. Doesn't seem like there is much profit in that."<p>Yes indeed, how wrong is it to have a single thing the Ferengi do not be based on profitability? Surely we all realise that patterning an entire race of beings on a single basic trait was one of the *best* things Star Trek did for SF now don't we.<p>Yeah.

  • May 5, 2007, 8:53 p.m. CST

    RE: Van Buren

    by Real Deal

    That one's been tried before. Wasn't true then isn't true now. Trek has a way of being timeless and now that RB is gone it'll reinvent itself again. It was gone for 10 years last time and it still came back. It'll do it again. Get over it. By the way much as I like the new BSG it has only about one more season to go. However because of it's nature Trek will be back again and again.

  • May 6, 2007, 7:13 a.m. CST

    I'd love to see a Gorn redux in a 2.0 "Arena" remaster

    by Monkey_King

    That would be cool. Animating the Gorn's lips for speech or growls.

  • May 6, 2007, 12:18 p.m. CST


    by wanna_bannana

    oh....this isn't the mork and mindy TB.

  • May 6, 2007, 3:06 p.m. CST

    When are they going to finally remake the awful

    by TimBenzedrine

    Filmation cartoon series with CG graphics? Some of the actual scripts weren't bad, they were just done in that horrible limited animation style. They had a great time travel episode were Spock goes back to Vulcan and saves his younger self. They also did a sequel to Shore Leave and Tribbles,again, good scripts, lousy animation. Think of the spruce up job they could do on those episodes- moving camera angles, Characters could actually walk down the halls, and they could substitute some of the stranger alien crewmembers with people from the original cast. As for this new Star Fleet film, if if ever happens, I like to see Leo DiCaprio as Kirk with Ray Liota as Pike.