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ST:DS9 was originally shot on film like ST:TNG, but the market performance of the TNG remaster makes it very unlikely that DS9 will receive the same treatment.

"Essentially, for the HD release of Star Trek, all people had to do was scan each episode. For The Next Generation, they would have to scan all those original pieces of film and then edit together each episode again, themselves. It’s more difficult, more expensive, and much more time-consuming.

"Unfortunately, it wasn’t actually worth it. Sales of the extravagant TNG remaster—original retail price $118 for just season one—failed to reach CBS and Paramount’s expectations. A similar process would have to be done for both DS9 and Voyager—and would actually be even harder."


> original retail price $118 for just season one

Well, there's your problem right there. Expecting three figures for a single season of anything is just pure madness.

I think my shock price is roughly in the ballpark of 15 to 20 USD per season, and a maximum of roughly 100 USD total for an entire show.

Yes, this means if a show lasted more than 5 to 7 seasons I expect a discount on the remastered version!

I want an online version that will exist for at least 10 more years preferably 20 for $100 with the DVD copy, sold by one of the giants with the budget to sustain that.

Back in the 90s, Trek episodes were released in the UK months before they were on TV. The price was typically £12-14 per video, which had 2 episodes on. That puts a season at £170. Inflation wise that's about £320 now, or $422 a season.

How many people bought an entire season for that price is another matter, but that was the asking price.

I did :) all of TNG Season 3-7 .. all of Voyager until DVDs came about

Voyager season 1

  US release: Jan 95
  UK VHS release: Jun 95
  UK TV release: Sep 96
I find it so amusing that Americans complain about having to pay $10 a month for Discovery

This. I bought the first trial disk for Star Trek TNG, which had a couple of episodes that had been redone in HD. They looked great, but when I saw the price for each season, I ended up not purchasing them.

That and remastered(or so I thought... I think they're in 4:3 aspect) episodes being available on Netflix makes it really hard to justify paying at all for discs.

The show was originally shot for 4:3, that didn't change when it was remastered. Thank goodness. It was very impressive remaster, as shown in various comparisons:


The film that was shot couldn't simply be overscanned to 14:9 or 16:9. It would work in some scenes, but in others there were bits of the set/booms/etc visible almost upto the actual frame that was cut out. The only way to convert is therefore

1) Throw the top/bottom parts of the frame away

2) Stretch the frame

Neither is acceptable.

Agreed. Of course, there have been more than a few remasters that didn't bother to concern themselves with such trivialities. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer remaster is an example of how you can thoroughly botch framing[0] when converting between aspect ratios. At that point, you might as well see what else you can screw up as well. At the opposite end of the spectrum, David Simon wrote a really interesting--and even-handed--blog post[1] about HBO's remaster of The Wire that converted to 16:9. He points out examples of scenes that work out better in 16:9 and those that...don't. Even when the conversion is made in conjunction with the original filmmakers, it's still a different version of what was originally intended and necessarily involves compromises.

0. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F28XcxHxH6k

1. http://davidsimon.com/the-wire-hd-with-videos/

An update to [0] was posted in the last day or so. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZWNGq70Oyo

Showing vampires in broad daylight without catching fire, for one thing. (Not applying blue filter to simulate moonlight, for shots taken in daylight but which were supposed to be at night.)

Wasn't that the HD terrible remaster, rather than the 16:9 SD terrible remaster?


Depends on the market.

Japanese DVDs/Blu Rays for Anime sell for upwards of $40 and usually only include around 4 episodes.

Worth every penny I paid for them.

If it's an issue of fixed upfront costs, they can literally do a kickstarter and it will get funded.

Not a bad idea for a franchise like Star Trek. Basically judge whether market demand is high enough by asking for the whole production price upfront. Wouldn’t work for most media, but would for a known product.

It'd probably get thrown out by the lawyers for various nebulous (though valid) reasons

"What if we go over budget?"

"Does this mean they 'own' any rights to the remaster?"

Isn’t that answered by the nature of kickstarter? If your lawyers aren’t offering solutions to implement your idea get new lawyers.

The lawyers have to protect the shareholders, else the executives picking the lawyers are being kicked out.

I doubt paramounts hurting for money. Imagine they want to do a kickstarter and it's only 800 for the series.

But you could take the raw footage and the edited video and recreate the edit lists (which they should still have btw). Or just scan each film frame, then match the video to film frame by frame and re-assemble the list of frames. All software done by one person. No creativity or judgement needed.

The bulk of the work is cleaning up each of the scans, re-framing the picture, balancing the color, and making sure the correct takes are used, rather than simply applying an EDL.

It's possible ML could help with a lot of that, but the budget just isn't there.

While it was shot on film, the effects weren't, each has to be created again, not just the external scenes like the Defiant shooting something, but scenes like Odo morphing

Here's a comparison picture of the DVD vs film quality though


That's an incredible difference. Obviously NTSC was going to lose a lot of color detail, but it also lost quite a bit of vibrancy. In particular the warm highlight lighting from offscreen to the right is barely visible in the DVD version, but on the film version it really pops; look at his sleeve, the shadow cast by his hand, and the contrast of the bottle with the background. The value contrast is similar but the color contrast is greatly muted.


On second thought, considering the shirts that Jake wore on the show, it's probably better for the world that we don't have the higher vibrancy film version.,,

But also, compare the color of Garak's hand to his head. The high-quality one brings out more inconsistencies that break suspension of disbelief.

That's because of the orange light. Looks close enough to me.

> Obviously NTSC was going to lose a lot of color detail, but it also lost quite a bit of vibrancy.

Remember that those who do a lot of video call NTSC "Never The Same Color"

As opposed to "People Appear Lavender"?

When I played a broadcast engineer helper for one of the British TV companies in the 80ies NTSC feeds that we would sometimes get from AP would cause a total freak out. We would tweak the colors on a test feed and pray that the live AP feed would be at least somewhat close. We would hit it on the nose less than 1/3rd of the time.

Star Trek: The Original Series had the opposite problem. They wanted their aliens to be different colors (e.g. green Orions) but:

The technician over at the film lab would receive the film every day and run it through the development solution. As the image formed on the film, he kept saying to himself, ‘My God, this woman is green!’ And so he kept correcting the film developing process in order to turn her back to normal skin color again!

"Imagine everyone’s surprise, upon viewing the developed film the next day, to find the actress’ face just as normally pink skinned as ever! There was no trace of green."


Wow. The film looks so good. This upsampling, on the other hand, is to my eyes so subtle of an improvement to almost be imperceptible.

It has artefacts. If you look at some near similar defined geometrys, they stay unmoving for split seconds. Siscos upper head collapses in on himself, when he moves..

I think I saw that on the DVDs themselves, or at least on netflix. I suspect the source material was heavily compressed

Incidentally, it appears most of the CGI models still exist, at least in the hands of the original modelers. http://trekcore.com/blog/2013/05/deep-space-nine-in-high-def...

Send out a call for volunteers. I guarantee you, you'd have a group of fans with the know how to do it. And they would do it for free.

I guarantee you, you'd have a group of fans with the know how to do it. And they would do it for free.

The problem is they'd devolve into various camps bickering about the "right" way to do it, creating their own mini standards bodies, and forming a massive internal bureaucracy of tribalism.

It seems the more passionate a group of people is about something, the more convinced they are that they know the right way to do things.

You just described a prior workplace.

And if the technology doesn't exist, they'll probably invent it too.

This is Star Trek we are talking about. Their fans are dead serious.

~Just run the colorquads through the main optical processor, then reverse the polarity, compress the lightstream in the warp field, and blit the output texels through the main deflector dish. That creates a virtual lightfield holo-display, using the starfield as the light source, with practically infinite resolution. Then all you need to do is point an image recorder at it, and downsample back to 1080p at 60Hz.~

Don’t forget to account for the temporal variance created by high levels of tachyon emissions.

You missed a TNG buzzword... Dilithium Crystals. :P

But the parent used the reflector dish, any good hack always utilizes the RD.

Ya, I can't think of any show with such a long lasting, rabid fan base. Just look at that recent "fan film" that CBS tried to sue over. Production quality was off the charts for a fan film.

It’s pretty crazy. If the franchise were somehow freed from copyright control I have no doubt that several near-studio-quality fan productions would pop up in no time at all. People love their Trek.

Axanar was pretty impressive, but I love what the Star Trek continues crew did. The love and respect they showed to the original material was very impressive.

So was the budget, hence the court case.

We are, we also tend to skew more towards the technology end of the spectrum than the average TV show fans.

The fans will come, but there are limits to how far even they will go to create a product that will be owned and sold by someone else. Having toiled to edit together the HD version, id be screaming mad to see it sold for 100+ per season. If it was made by fans it should be sold at cost.

FWIW, they failed to recoup their investment in TNG's remaster, selling at 100+ per season. By definition, that arguably means it was sold below cost.

(I bought individual TNG remaster seasons as they came out specifically to support the remaster effort.)

> FWIW, they failed to recoup their investment in TNG's remaster, selling at 100+ per season. By definition, that arguably means it was sold below cost.

It means they charged at a level where sales volume times net (after variable costs) price per unit was insufficient to cover fixed costs.

But whether that's because they charged too much (variable costs for the disc sets were a small fraction of the price; it's quite possible they would make more profit with higher volume and lower price), too little (maybe the people willing to pay as much as was charged would have paid even more), or either would have worked and they priced in an unprofitable valley, or neither would have worked is speculation.

I mean, currently the entire series is $126 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Star-Trek-Generation-Complete-Blu-ray...

It makes sense to price high to get maximum returns from the users who must have it now, and then catch everyone else later with lower priced offerings.

Commercial sense.

It makes cultural, or creative, sense to release the footage at cost and let people remix and use it for whatever purposes.

The profit for the show was already made, it should be public domain by now.

That's a rather naive view apparently based on a consumer-level underestimation of the complexities of asset management and funding on a big movie/show.

I'd guess from a studio's POV the trade-off is between spending money updating an ancient show in the hope of making a little cash now and a little more from residuals, and making new shows which are more or less guaranteed to bring a profit.

But that aside, I'm not sure there's any way to make something like Star Trek public domain. Never mind the studio - the actors, writers, and producers will still be relying on residuals for continuing income.

And even if that weren't true - what exactly do you make public domain? You can't just hand out the original unedited film stock to anyone who asks for it. How about the scores for the music? Or the audio mix files? Or the EDL? Or the various revisions of the scripts? Props? Set carpentry - if there's any left? Wiring?

Reality: very few elements are digital files that can be copied/shared, even if you wanted to allow the public to copy/share them.

You make it all public domain. It's been over 20 years, well past the founding father's original intent for copyright. The perpetual copyright garbage that exists today is culturally toxic and isn't seen in any other field of work. Should builders get paid on buildings that keep standing? Highway workers on roads that they make? No? Then why the hell should creatives get special treatment? Look at the house of mouse and the crap they've pulled. The fact that you can't take something you've loved for over 20 years and make derivations on it is theft from the public in my eyes. People being born today most likely won't be alive by the time it goes into the public domain. Think about that.

You both make compelling points

>That's a rather naive view apparently based on a consumer-level underestimation of the complexities of asset management and funding on a big movie/show. //

The situation is that the studio could do work on the footage to make it releasable, then sell the processed footage for profit.

The argument is that the processing of the footage makes it too expensive to do this, the studio might make a loss.

So, all the IPR, releases and such need to be in order for it to be possible to release the processed footage.

It's possible there is contractual obligation preventing release of rushes and other unfinalised footage, but it seems highly unlikely. I'd imagine the studio have rights to publish anything, thus enabling "making of" and "blooper reel" type videos.

So, if it's possible to arrange the IPR for the processed footage, then it's close to certainty that there's no IPR limitation on releasing the unprocessed footage.

Meaning finances are the only remaining issue.

Sure, the studio may not want to spend the money up front to arrange release of the footage; but that is likely to be primarily to avoid fan works based on the footage from competing with their own outputs.

>You can't just hand out the original unedited film stock to anyone who asks for it. //

You could hand it to an archive for digitisation and give them rights to sell it at cost. Or, burn it. Or leave it in a canister to degrade until it's unusable.

>How about the scores for the music? Or the audio mix files? Or the EDL? Or the various revisions of the scripts? Props? Set carpentry - if there's any left? Wiring? //

Well, IPR aside, why not. If you're paying to keep the set in storage, why not give it away and save your storage costs and get on with making new sets that are going to be used?

Primarily however, we the demos should be taking the question of what to do with unneeded IPR away from the studios. Make copyright terms shorter to match patent terms.

No. It means they charged too much. The fans were priced out of the market and, probably, acquired copies elsewhere.

The Blu-Ray sales can’t be the real story. Surely they expected the long term value to come from the significantly added appeal of HD content for streaming services.

IAE, I can understand the reasons something upscaled is all we’re ever likely to see of DS9 or Voyager. Primarily that as soon as CGI became the dominant effects technology, the frequency of use went way up, and all those scenes would require non-trivial reconstruction.

I am sure the TNG remaster will eventually be worthwhile to CBS, due to streaming, re-releases, etc. It's an asset they will monetize for decades to come. But studios do not think long-term like that, and are unlikely to attempt it again if they don't think they'll make their money back for twenty years.

As I noted in another comment, many of the effects artists from DS9 and Voyager have their original meshes and scene files, and some have posted insanely high resolution files on their blogs. It would be a frustrating effort to gather all of this, but arguably, CBS already owns the works in question, so compensation for retrieving these would be minimal probably, and the quality of the work done for the series was more than adequate if re-rendered in HD.

Similar situation with Babylon 5. There some defenders using the original stuff but in HD quality. Even using the original textures keeps looking impressive. Sadly, Warner not have idea of the golden goose that they have.

Does anyone have a high-resolution picture of the comet at the beginning of the DS9 title sequence?

IIRC the phrase they used was "failed to meet expectations", which is very different from 'failed to recoup their investment'. The idea that you can sell a remaster for 100 a season aside the second one is a factual statement. The first one is arbitrary. Maybe they expected 100 million profit and only made 90.

If I understand correctly, you would still have to overlay text, voice over, sound, music, etc. That's still a lot of work.

And even worse is special effects.

A bigger part of the issue with these remasters tends to be the conversion to 16x9 which most people expect with HD. Even if you have the 'missing' out of shot data on the origin film there are often problems where set equipment, cameramen, etc are just out of the shot so it requires manual digital touch up to fix. It also can require re-rendering any CGI.

When I saw the submission title I was actually hoping re-creating the out of shot image data is what the ML was being used to do.

The remastered TNG box sets kept the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the original standard definition.

Some TV networks have aired a 16:9 version of TNG (as well as an upscaled Voyager and DS9) but they just zoomed and cropped. There wasn't anything smart going on.

The zoomed and cropped from 480p, i.e. making it even worse quality?

Basically, yes. The upsampling algorithms they use are pretty good though so it’s passable for most viewers. But obviously there’s no substitution for having HD quality at source

> they would have to scan all those original pieces of film and then edit together each episode again, themselves.

Once they have manually scanned all those pieces, surely they can let machine learning edit together each episode again?

How would you go about doing that?

I’m guessing by using image recognition of the original digital / DVD releases against the newly scanned hi-def video?

You'd have to match the framing and position, and clean up the frame.

Then try to color balance (when the original information isn't there),

If you get ML to do that, congratulations, you'll make a fortune in the production industry.

The hype around machine learning has reached a point where every time someone sees a moderately challenging problem they leap to some nebulous "ML" solution.

No, we've long had the technology to solve most of this. Clip correspondence is content based image retrieval across a database of keyframes. Matching framing and position is an image registration problem (feature correspondence). Color balance seems like an almost trivial problem if you've solved the other ones, because the information _is_ there -- just modify each channel to match the histogram in the lower resolution image [1]

The challenge is that earlier stages in the pipeline need to be robust to inexact matches, and we don't want to rely on absolute color or pixel position. But I don't think that should be insurmountable for a slightly creative implementor - use local variation in color, gradient descriptors, pull in the motion vectors for an additional channel, etc...

Sure, you could go down the deep learning path by trying to reduce scenes to bags of labeled objects and semantic actions but that's bringing a water cannon to a squirt gun fight, which only makes sense if Google is giving you a free water cannon.

I'd probably try it if I really thought there was a fortune to be made here, but it's such a niche application. When something hasn't been done yet, there's usually a good economic reason, unfortunately.

1. First Google result for "histogram matching color balance": https://blog.mapbox.com/color-balancing-imagery-with-histogr...

Cropping a video to match another, and adjusting the color balance to match, seems simple enough, compared to asking a computer to do it without a reference. In other words, "make X look like Y" as compared to "make X look good".

Of course, the quality won't be as good as something done by a professional, but the question is that since we don't have a HD DS9, whether the version produced by an automated system is noticeably better than what we have.

I think you overestimate how difficult that is and how much it's worth.

I've never done it myself, basing it on the cost of the machines that professionals do, and the cost of employing people to do it (both do it and make the judgement calls), you're probably looking at $200k for feature film quality.

If you're aiming for network TV quality you can probably do an episode for $5k though.

Of course that's from scratch. The trouble is that using the original video as your source will have lost a lot of data, and that means making a lot of judgement calls about what the scene is meant to be doing, so you're not much nearer.

I wonder if it would be worth it for long tail revenues from streaming? I can’t imagine the HD widescreen remaster of The Wire selling lots of new DVDs (it was completed in late 2014 [0]), but it made the show a lot more appealing for continued rewatching over the years.

0: https://davidsimon.com/the-wire-hd-with-videos/

> original retail price $118 for just season one

Where, precisely, did that number come from? It doesn't happen to include marketing, does it?

Also, this kind of stuff of course can only be profitable in the long tail. So what means failed to reach any expectations? If it gets a reasonable price it will probably constantly sell in low amounts for 10+ years.

They should crowdsource that work- start operation Turktrek. (Sorry i couldnt resist).

Wasn’t worth commercially, but as a fan I’m really happy they did it.

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