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Category Archives: Scifi

Star Trek: TNG Blu Ray: How Does It Look?

Season 5 of TNG has been released. I’ve been going through the new seasons to assess how the show holds up in 1080p definition.

Obviously the Creative team behind Star Trek didn’t know that the medium of television would change so drastically in the new millenium. They did do some ‘future-proofing’, however. They filmed episodes using actual film, unlike many other shows in the 90’s that used low-definition videotape.
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The special effects, which used a combination of small models and computer effects, were a hybrid of film and video: the models were filmed on film, but the effects themselves were filmed using video.
It made sense at the time: no one was watching TNG episodes on the big screen, so there was no need. But it also meant that getting TNG Bluray ready would involve redoing all of the visual effects.

Thankfully the producers went ahead of it, and we can enjoy TNG in glorious HD. Granted, the episodes are still filmed in 4:3 aspect ratio (instead of film’s 16:9 ratio). As much as I’d like to watch these shows in 16:9, it would be highly improbable. If they did release it, there would be lighting equipment, crew members, and unfinished sets clearly visible.

But that’s how it should be: the directors filmed the episodes thinking it was 4:3. If they had known it would be shown in 16:9, they would have staged scenes differently.

The Strings are Visible

The first thing you notice right away is how vivid the uniforms are. On TV the reds and blues were subdued, but in 1080p the bright colors are striking. They aren’t quite as vivid as the red and blue uniforms of The Original Series, however.

This isn’t a bad thing at all. What I did notice was that I could see the stage makeup on the actors’ faces. Sometimes Patrick Stewart would look like a chimney sweeper.

Data’s Eyes Aren’t Yellow

One cool detail I noticed was how Data’s eyes were slightly green. Not yellow, as the DVD quality images show. I actually watched one episode on a movie theatre screen, and I was amazed at how green his eyes were. Again, I’m not sure if this was intentional: they may have given him green contact knowing that they would appear yellow/gold on television.

It’s just one of those cool things where you realize how much high definition can change something that you’ve looked at for twenty years. It can appear new.

As I watched the Star Trek episodes, I began to realize that these were actors, in costumes and make up, saying some lines to a camera. They were probably thinking about what to have for lunch in early 1990’s Los Angeles (where the show was filmed). The HD took the glossy sheen off of the show. It became less immersive than it once was.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. I could appreciate the cheeziness. Maybe in twenty years people will look at Game of Thrones reruns in the same way.

Meanwhile, check out the future of learning here.