on January 31, 2012
Let me start by saying Star Trek: The Next Generation has never looked this good! Having seen TNG from the first airing, syndication, and on DVD, I'll say without reservation this is by far the best quality release.
As soon as I started watching Encounter at Farpoint, I couldn't help but stare at the detail. The extra detail is amazing, especially in the effects shots. It's hard to believe that so much was washed out in the lower resolution original. But the new transfer of the film really shines.
The uniforms pop, you can see the detail in the fabric. The Klingon costumes in Sins of the Father really show this. The space aliens in Farpoint look amazing. Until seeing this on Blu-Ray I knew they were both the same color - but they're not! The rebalanced color looks great. It's no longer washed out and it really brings out the details.
The only possible negative I would point out is that you can see some of the imperfections in the makeup. Worf's especially, including some stray hair in one scene. Everyone else has lost their smoothed out unblemished skin, now replaced with a more natural texture. At one point I swear you can see a red mark on Riker's forehead.
One of the most notable things that's fixed is the blue glow on the left side of the screen. They finally removed it!
None of the over smoothing from DNR that happened in the movie releases is present here. The picture quality is truly top notch. If they do the rest of the series this way, this will be by far the definitive version.
I'm also ecstatic that they didn't redo the visual effects in CGI. I still think actual filmed models look more realistic if done well. There's just something that CGI doesn't quite replicate. For the original series I was hoping they would reshoot the effects scenes with new models, but they took the CGI route and it stands out. Not here! Because they had the original film elements they were able to rescan and re-composite the effects shots and they look wonderful!
The only real hiccup is 13 seconds of missing footage from Sins of the Father. They were unable to locate the original film for a scene where Beverly and Riker talk on the bridge. They had to replaced it with up-converted standard definition video. They did a good job color balancing it and looks good with the rest of the video. Paramount gets credit for not only mention this on the box, but on the menu under the episode selection as well. It's great when a company is upfront about what you're getting. That said, even though I knew it was in the episode and was looking for it, I missed it on my first viewing. I had to look online to find where the scene occurred and watch it again it to notice the difference.
All in all this is a great taste of things to come. As they said the night TNG premiered:
"Tonight, the 24th century begins!" I can't wait for the rest of the seasons to be released on Blu-Ray! Excellent job!
on February 2, 2012
This is in reply to all the "It's not fair, it doesn't fill my TV... why do I have these black borders at the sides?" people:
The ratio on the Blu-ray discs is the same as it ever was for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Same as it was shot in, same as it was broadcast in, same as it was presented on VHS and the same as it was presented on DVD. Why on earth some people expect Blu-ray to magically alter this situation is beyond me, but you only have to note the two and one star reviews to see they are. The series was filmed in 4:3, a quarter of a century ago, long before anyone envisaged that we'd all have 16:9 widescreen TV's in our homes in the future. "But I could make my Star Trek TNG DVD's play in widescreen", I hear you cry. No, actually you couldn't. What you were doing was stretching or zooming the image to fill your widescreen TV. This is fake widescreen, and something purists never do, but was quite easy to achieve with a standard definition DVD, on a standard definition DVD player, over a standard definition connection. This is HD though, and stretching or faking widescreen is not really an option. "Why?", I hear you cry. Well, HDTV resolutions are either 720p or 1080i/p... 1280x720 or 1920x1080. These are 16:9 'widescreen' resolutions by default. This means that your Blu-ray player HAS to display everything as a 16:9 image. In the case of films and TV shows shot and framed for cinema or 16:9 broadcast, it will fill your widescreen TV. Sometimes with small black borders at the top and bottom if they have chosen to present the original cinematic ratio. Now, when they are presenting a 4:3 image on HD Blu-ray... this same rule applies. It HAS to be displayed as part of a 16:9 frame. Meaning the 4:3 picture displayed correctly in the middle of the screen, and two black bars, one either side of your TV's screen, which all forms the 16:9 frame. It is pretty much unavoidable.
"But wasn't there more screen information on the 35mm negatives", you may ask. Well Mike Okuda has said in some scenes there was. Not all, but *some*. However, in many of the scenes there was lights stands, bare studio, crew and other equipment in the wider frame. In other words, it was framed *purely* for 4:3 broadcast.
So zooming and pan scanning was the only other alternative. I have ONE DVD set that had this treatment out of the thousands I own. The TV series 'From Earth to the Moon'. This was shot and framed for 4:3 broadcast, and it was released in America in the correct ratio. However, when it released in the UK, for some bizarre reason, they decided to zoom the image out to 16:9. The result is not pretty... you think those black bars at the side of the screen are ugly? You have not seen ugly! From Earth to the Moon in Region 2 DVD is the most claustrophobic and fuzzy mess you will ever witness. There was also a huge public outcry when they recently did this same thing to The World at War documentary series, and people returned their box sets in droves. It literally means that in closely shot scenes, of which there many in Star Trek: TNG, that people's faces are cut off at the eyebrows, and legs are cut off at the knees. Further, it will no longer be true HD as you are zooming the image. Think passport photo blew up to A4 size. In other words, it is FAR too much of a sacrifice to even contemplate for something as cherished as Star Trek. Had they done this to Star Trek, there would have been an outrcry from fans, and they wouldn't be selling too many box sets. Of that I can assure you. Plus, the people charged to see that this franchise is represented the best way it can be, people like Mike and Densise Okuda, who oversaw this restoration, could never sanction such a travesty.
So I can only suggest you try get used to those black borders at the sides, as if you have a fondness for anything filmed for TV from this era or before, that is how your Blu-ray discs will come. It is the same for Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-ray, seasons 1-3 of Farscape on Blu-ray... anything and everything that was shot for 4:3 broadcast. It is also true of many films, such as It's a Wonderful Life on Blu-ray, and very old films like The Wizard of Oz. All of these come with fixed black borders in HD. It isn't some sinister Big Brother forcing you to watch it a certain way, it is literally the only way they can present 4:3 without totally ruining the composition. The good news is that everyone goes through this stage when they first play 4:3 on their widescreen sets. At first you can't help but be conscious of the offending black bars. However, hand on heart, I never even see them now, and many people will tell you the same. Your brain just cancels them out. It just takes time, and a little appreciation for why this situation happens.
Back to the Star Trek The Next Generation: The Next Level on Blu-ray:
It is superb. There are details no one has ever seen before. This series may have been shot on 35mm film, but it was edited and stored on videotape. Even on DVD we were watching videotape resolution and quality. I believe one popular sci-fi magazine had nicknamed it "Blurry Trek" in a preview from before it was even broadcast. All that is in the past now, or at least it will be when we can buy all seven seasons on Blu-ray. Unlike with Star Trek: TOS Remastered, which I loved, they have not chosen to re-create the special effects scenes in CGI. Instead, they have re-composited the images from the original negatives (a far more lengthy and costly exercise than new CGI). So what we are seeing is the original effects and the original studio models in all their HD glory. Elsewhere, they have lovingly restored every last frame, freeing it of dust and debris. The grain structure is still in tact, meaning no sacrifice in fine detail from the use of DNR filtering. The result is beautiful. Colours and contrast are perfect... rich, deep blacks and vibrantly coloured Starfleet uniforms. One of the biggest let downs for me as regards the DVD sets was that they didn't try and restore the series a little back then. This meant washed out VHS quality colours. Not so here, I'm pleased to report.
The sound is impressive when listening to it in the context of the era it was made. It is not a modern summer blockbuster made with multichannel audio, it was only ever recorded in stereo. So they have fashioned a 7.1 surround sound mix from what they had. With this in mind, I am impressed with both levels and channel separation. Decent speakers will punch the air in all the right places, mark my words.
In summary, it is a huge success. Pre-orders for the complete season sets will be the easiest purchasing decisions I will ever make.
on January 20, 2012
The original masters for this show, edited on videotape, were so bad, in my opinion, and the transformation into HD by painstakingly piecing together original film elements and when necessary, recreating the CGI, is being handled so well, that the end result to the eyes, is just stunning. For a fan of TNG, this is really a priceless addition to one's library. I'll be purchasing every season to encourage them to do the same thing with Deep Space Nine.
Edit: This sampler pack actually has better video quality than the season release set probably due to the fact that they crammed more episodes onto the discs resulting in more compression. The quality of this sampler is stunning.. worth it just for that.
on February 1, 2012
This TNG Blu-ray is a gorgeous new look at our old friend Star Trek: The Next Generation. I grew up on the series, it was my absolute childhood favorite, and I still love the show. From my old recorded VHS tapes to the DVD boxsets, TNG has long been trapped in a less-than-stellar medium. While the DVDs got the job done, the show was definitely showing its age. Because it was edited on video, many pessimists across the web figured there would never been a genuine HD presentation of TNG.
Thankfully on the approach to its 25th anniversary CBS has begun the massive project of returning to the original film negatives and reconstructing the show in HD. Having now viewed this sampling of their work I can say this project is a great way to honor TNG's legacy and truly worth the re-purchasing of the show. The new HD transfer really makes colors pop, and the fine detail is infinitely better than the old DVDs. Best of all are the original special effects in all their old-school miniature glory!
"Encounter At Farpoint": TNG's first episode, though lacking somewhat in storytelling and some of the performances, finds new life in the HD transfer. The special effects in this episode are gorgeous. The scenes featuring the Enterprise are absolutely striking and far more interesting to me than the most overloaded CGI scene from modern movies. It was a lot of fun seeing the new fine detail presented here, from the fantastic model work done on the Enterprise to the decoration of the individual sets.
Unfortunately you can now see little flaws that might have been missed on the original releases. The first I noticed being bits of fluff on the carpets of the bridge, I guess housekeeping didn't vacuum the carpets before the Enterprise left spacedock! Data's facial makeup during the holodeck scenes is a bit lacking too (and his stunt double for Wesley's "rescue" is easy to spot). The matte paintings (though revealing of TNG's age) look much better here. You can really appreciate the detail put into them by the scenic artists, kudos to those that created them. The biggest surprise came at the end of the episode, the jellyfish creatures meeting in space looked absolutely fantastic. They are actually beautiful in HD, the detail and color is much improved over the old SD version.
So to summarize, even though Encounter At Farpoint is a somewhat flawed opening to TNG, I appreciate the seeds planted here, eventually growing into an absolutely wonderful show. One thing though, while I am thankful that CBS opted not to replace the effects with CGI or monkey with the show as much as they did on TOS, couldn't they have replaced the man-skirt uniforms with standard outfits? Or maybe gotten rid of Troi's cheerleader costume? ;-)
"Sins of the Father": Ahhh! Wesley's got acne! Yes, with the newfound detail it'll be easier to spot our crew's human imperfections as was the case in this Ten Forward scene. The amusing banquet scene with Kurn was more lively for me on this HD viewing, I can actually identify the food they are eating now. And how about those utensils? I wouldn't be able to stand those forks.
Things get going once Worf and Kurn have their little show down, the Enterprise warps to Qo'noS (still unnamed and known only as the Klingon Homeworld at that time). The matte paintings here look fantastic, brought to life by the flash of lightning and several figures walking amongst the buildings (I never noticed the people in earlier viewings). The Klingon costumes and makeup all look great in this episode as well. Though this episode is somewhat light on special effects, it still looks much better than before. The Klingon culture was really fleshed out in this episode, and this new HD release makes everything look great.
If you've been following the news surrounding this Blu-ray release you've likely heard about the missing film footage of Dr. Crusher arriving on the bridge to deliver news to Commander Riker regarding a second survivor of the Khitomer Massacre. Unfortunately this brief scene does stick out like a sore thumb. One moment we're in crisp HD, the next we're back in 1990 with the old fuzzy footage. Thankfully it's brief, and with any luck they'll find the footage later in the restoration process in time for the forthcoming Season 3 release. I certainly hope these hiccups don't occur often!
"The Inner Light": One of TNG's best episodes! This episode I actually went into nerd-mode and watched in sync with my old Season 5 DVD. I can say that, unfortunate for absolute purists, that some "changes" have been made. First, the opening warp flyby of the Enterprise is somehwhat different (this is easily seen in that different windows are lit up). Upon first watching I thought they substituted a CGI Enterprise but now I'm not so sure. I think it's the physical model of the Enterprise but maybe I'm wrong. The second "big" change was the shot of Picard on the top of the mountain looking down on Ressik. The matte painting is quite a bit different (many of the village buildings, the river, some the grass in the foreground) It' a very close approximation but there are differences. To be honest, this is the shot that inspired me to play the DVD and Blu-ray in sync as I never noticed the people walking around in the original episode. There are people walking around on both the Blu-ray and DVD but the shot of the village is definitely different. Please don't take this as a bashing of the HD project or outcry for changes being made, it's simply an observation and I imagine it was necessary as they reconstructed the episode. Perhaps the original matte-painting elements for the village are gone? On a much more minor note, the framing is a slightly different at times between the SD and HD versions. Sometimes you'll see more of the ceiling here, or more off to the side of the shot there. The changes are ever so minor but sometimes are noticeable if watching both versions simultaneously.
On the positive side of things, this episode benefits from more vivid colors and sharper picture. I found myself noticing all the little decorative touches inside the village, and the better contrast between objects in light and shadow.
So, in closing, to the critics who think this to be a cheap money-grab I say that you couldn't be more wrong. This revitalization of The Next Generation is a nerdy dream come true for me. We'll finally be getting a beautiful new HD release of a wonderful show. Thankfully CBS is doing it right, going back to the film negatives and they are leaving the wonderful old-school special effects in place. This sampler is just a small glimpse of what is to come. And I'm betting the Blu-ray sets will prove to be the ultimate collection of TNG episodes. Hopefully digging through those old film negatives will finally bring us blooper reels and some decent behind-the-scenes documentaries! If you're wondering if you should buy this Blu-ray, I can say with absolutely certainty: Make It So!
on January 31, 2012
I have reviewed this disc on a 140 inch 16:9 projection screen using a Panasonic PTAE-7000U 1080p projector. For contrast, I also watched this disc on my 60 inch 1080p HDTV. Watching an image at 140 inches reveals every detail, both the good and, sometimes, the not-so-good. A lot of this detail wasn't very obvious on the TV set but was quite apparent on the projector.
Video Quality: TNG has never looked better, and probably never will. Even on a 140 inch screen the image holds up very well. I was immediately struck with the textures present on the Enterprise D, in particular, the walls and the carpet! Color was also rich and exceptional. At times, if not for the Pan & Scan Aspect Ratio, one might actually mistake these episodes for a Star Trek movie and not a television episode. In particular, the Enterprise-D model looks amazing and is movie-theater quality. The only thing that I did notice about the overall image quality was that sometimes I found the film grain to be a little distracting. However, my guess is that this was chosen over applying a stronger noise reduction effect to the remastering process. I think that they made the right choice on this, as I can use my blu-ray player and/or my projector to reduce the film grain if I want to. If they would have softened the image, thereby also removing the detail, you can't do anything to bring that back into the image even if you wanted to. The way it was done, the viewer is given the option of tweaking the image at home to better suit their own taste, or to simply leave the image alone, as well. I greatly appreciate this consideration and thank the project developers for this asthetic choice.
Speaking of the image, one of the things that I actually found quite amusing is that there are a lot of things that I'm sure were never considered an issue when the series was made. Here are a few examples.
In "Encounter at Fairpoint" there are scenes where stunt doubles are being used that look absolutly nothing like the cast member (i.e. Data rescues Wesley from the holodeck pond (both Data and Wesley's doubles) and when Yar attacks a soldier in the Q courtroom sceen). Check these out on a large screen and you can't help but laugh! This was also an issue on the TOS episodes on blu-ray. Additionally, some models and matte paintings now are fairly obvious to pick out (i.e. the Old Bandi city that is being attacked by the alien looks pretty weak, and in the alien ship / fairpoint station interiors you can now see the seam and the contrast between the actual set and the matte paintings behind them intended to extend the coridor).
Another example of a pre-HD era production issue can be found in the "Inner Light" episode. The old-age makeup applied to Picard, and to his wife, looks way overdone, to the point of being almost cartoonish in appearance. However, this was probably done at the time in order to attempt to emphasize his aging and to really make this stand out for the 1980's-1990's era homeviewer watching this on the, then-standard, 20-30 inch TV set.
Lastly, "Sins of the Father" has some footage missing that they had to spice SD negatives into in order to complete the episode. The disc actually tells you where this is at in the episode, which was thoughful but not needed because the contrast between the two images is striking and obvious on a large screen; but not as much so on a smaller one. If nothing else, wathing these upconverted SD images will really help the viewer to appreciate the work that is going into these episodes. They could have easily been upconverted instead of painstakingly being rebuilt from the original negatives. The decision was made to do it the right way, and it was clearly the right choice in order to do TNG justice on a large screen and in an HD viewing era.
Audio: I won't say much about this, except that it is first rate. Both the new DTS Master Audio Stereo and Multichannel tracks. I had no idea how much detail was present in both the sound effects and, suprisingly, in the score. As with the video quaility, the audio is vastly superior to the previous TNG DVD release.
Extras: They are very sparse, and the only real letdown on this release. You get the TNG remastered project teaser promo (which fans have already seen), a brief Season 1 blu-ray promo with little new footage shown, and an advertisement for an I-pad app. That's it! I would have liked to have seen even a 5-10 minute documentary on the creation of this disc, progress on the TNG project, anything...just to further fuel excitement for later releases and encourage customers to buy the upcoming boxed sets...again. My guess is that they just wanted to get this disc out to the public ASAP and that this was where they had decided to cut some corners for expediency.
Overall: I am very happy with this release, if for no other reason that to get a sample of future TNG episodes in this format and with this level of video and audio quality; assuming they continue with this project in the same manner. After watching these episodes, I know that I will be rewatching every TNG episode again when they are released on blu-ray; something that I would have been unlikely to do anytime in the near future if not for the quality of these remastered episodes. Watching Encounter at Farpoint, last evening, felt like I was seeing this in a theater for the first time. I could not help but remember how different this experience was for me when I watched it in my living room as an over-the-air broadcast in 1987 on my 20 inch TV set. :)
If you really want to see what can actually be done with TNG, (especially on a large screen), you have always been a TNG fan, and you want to encourage work like this to continue to be done, it is well worth the price of buying this sample disc IMHO. I hope that this review has been helpful for some of the readers who were skeptics of TNG remastered project and who were on the fence about making this purchase.
on January 31, 2012
Received the blu-ray today, and currently watching Farpoint on my 58" Plasma HDTV. Excellent color and sound compared to the poor transfer of the DVD's of the past. Deanna and Tasha are even more beautiful in HD! Detail in the picture is excellent and clean, but wouldn't say it's perfect. There are occassional little white dots/specks that flash on the screen in some places. So it looks like they are not doing frame by frame cleanup, but using an automatic approach which misses some spots. Ocassionally can also see a mark on the floor of the Enterprise, showing the actors where to stand. I wish they would've erased these marks from this transfer. Also noticed at the end of the beginning credits, there are some white lines at the top of the frame that show up for a split second. It is so funny actually seeing all of the background characters reactions in the future "court" scene in Farpoint. Some of their reactions crack me up when Q rolls in on his throne. Some graininess on darker scenes, especially in the ready room where Picard is talking with Riker. The right side of the screen appears a little washed out, just like the DVD transfers.
DTS surround sounds excellent, and the Star Trek main title theme hasnt sounded better since now! Ship uniform colors now look great with no color cast. Bitrate of the blu-ray is high on each episode, using about 25+Mbps rate. the Enterprise model detail really holds up well to HD. The running lights and glow of the nacelles are awesome looking! Even noticed on the main title sequence that there are two people walking around on the bridge, as the ship goes to warp! In the past, I've only noticed one person. Overall, a great step up in detail and color accuracy from the DVD set. Warp 9! Engage!
Update during watching Farpoint: During the holodeck sequence where Riker meets Data, and they go behind a tree...On the DVD version, there was a noticeable film cut here using two takes that were spliced together. In this Blu-ray, the cut is not noticeable anymore and looks great!
on June 8, 2012
This is an introduction (in Blu-Ray format) to the upcoming release of the thoroughly remastered 1080p version of STNG's first season - and assuming the series' Blu-Ray release remains consistent with the quality of the content on this introductory disc, it will be SPECTACULAR.
This introductory disc contains three completed HD-remastered episodes (the 1.5 hour-long series pilot "Encounter At Farpoint" from 1987, the 46 min.-long "Sins Of The Father" from 1990, and - one of my all-time favorite Star Trek episodes, the 46 min.-long "The Inner Light" from 1992), a couple of teasers/trailers for the upcoming first season's release that present you with little hints of the nature of the HD restoration process, and a brief promo for the new iPad Star Trek app (which really DOES look *very* cool). Understandably, there is no audio commentary or other significant bonus features on this disc beyond the few small ones that I just mentioned. But somewhat surprisingly, there also are no BD-Live features either (probably no great loss, as most BD-Live "content" seems to consist primarily of trailers, teasers and other ads anyway).
The disc's navigation scheme resembles the beautiful "LCARS"-styled theme that was used on the original dvd-format release, along with pleasant background sound effects. You can play all episodes on the disc sequentially or individually, select the sound output desired (regular stereo or 7.1 DTS HD surround), the audio language desired (there are a multitude of them), and the closed captioning language desired. Each episide's on-disc listing includes its title, original episode number, original date of broadcast, *and* its STARDATE.
The sound is incredibly crystal-clear, even in regular two-channel stereo, and the 7.1 surround is exceptionally good. Even with equipment that only produces simulated surround and/or broadened stereo separation from the original source, or even just straight two-channel stereo, the result is truly beautiful audio. Clearly, the audio has been *very* carefully re-mixed and mastered such that the dialogue, sound effects and music are each so clean and clear that one does not overwhelm the others - a perfect balance.
Visually, the HD remastering is about as perfect as one can possibly hope for, especially given the level of difficulty and complexity involved in remastering the original source material (which to put it simply was a mix of analog film and video) to 1080p. Colors and their hues and saturation levels - including but not limited to flesh tones - have been thoroughly corrected and stabilized. Contrast has been dramatically improved throughout, but not so much that the depth of black levels would be ruined. The sharpness of images' edges and details is near perfect - good enough so that you can clearly see every single facial wrinkle, bump in facial skin, and details of the props, effects and sets very clearly and without effort - but not so much that it all looks artificially and/or excessively sharpened (like so many cheaper "quick and dirty" HD transfers look these days).
It is important to understand that the engineers, technicians and others who were responsible for this remastering and HD restoration project APPROPRIATELY decided to do it in such a way that in many (but usually very brief) shots the original film's "graininess" remains - in these shots, removal of the original film's graininess would have resulted in an appearance of excessive "smearing" and/or dramatically reduced image sharpness with significant loss of detail. So visually, the overall end result *looks* like a filmed (rather than videotaped) product with all the clear detail and sharpness that a current-day filmed product on Blu-Ray would have - in other words, as it *should* look. Therefore, when viewing these HD episodes if you find the occasional graininess distracting you probably have your tv set's, monitor's, or Blu-Ray player's sharpness turned up too high (on my equipment I've found the middle settings to be *perfect* for this disc).
As others have mentioned, it was simply not possible to remaster STNG into a widescreen format without either losing way too much visual information or including extraneous and ephemeral stuff from the original production environment in the process (as far as *I* know, the only "pre-1080i broadcasting" episodic television series that was originally filmed with a full widescreen "safe area" was "Seinfeld" - and even *that* series has not yet been released in a widescreen version on disc, only to broadcasters via syndication). In fact, a few bits of original 35mm *film* footage may have been lost for good - even for this introductory disc, 13 seconds of the original film elements from "Sins Of The Father" could not be found in time for its release and therefore "restored" and upconverted SD video had to be used for those 13 seconds. (To their credit, CBS and Paramount state this on the disc's packaging. However, since this disc's release the "lost" footage HAS been found, restored, remastered in high definition, and will replace those 13 seconds of upconverted video in that episode when its season's boxed set is released).
Finally, this disc plays perfectly smoothly without any skips, stalls, stutters or dropouts.
When I first heard that Paramount and CBS decided to proceed with this remarkable HD restoration of STNG's first season, and heard of the amount of difficulty, complexity and cost that would be involved - and how much they would therefore ultimately have to charge for a season's set - I had my doubts as to whether or not it would be worth the cost to consumers, especially those who have already purchased one of the original dvd sets. But after viewing this introductory Blu-Ray disc, I no longer have any doubts - a set full of a season's episodes plus the tremendous bonus materials that will be included will be well worth the expected initial street price of about $80, even for people (like me) who already have the complete set of the series' original dvd release. The episodes on this Blu-Ray disc look and sound *so* good, when you watch them you'd think they were just produced within the past year or two rather than 20-25 years ago! In fact, the high definition restoration job done on this series was SO good I'm really surprised CBS didn't hold off on the high definition Blu-Ray format release until first running each season on the CBS network on Sunday nights (or whenever) FIRST (or at least release them for syndication first)... even some of the "behind-the-scenes" footage originally shot 20-25 years ago has apparently been restored!
So should you buy *this* introductory Blu-Ray disc? Answer: If you've already decided to purchase season one on Blu-Ray, don't bother - you'll be THRILLED with what you see and hear, and the bonus features that will be included in the Season One boxed set are absolutely FANTASTIC! But if you're still "on the fence" about it, by all means buy this disc... after any Star Trek lover sees it I'm certain they'll want to buy the full season set as soon as they can, it's *THAT* good. And this introductory Blu-Ray disc would make a WONDERFUL small gift or "stocking stuffer" for any Star Trek fan that you might know.
P.S. The truly astute observer will notice on this disc that CBS Television Distribution has decided to - during its final credit title "card" at the end of each episode - alternate between the original and very well known Paramount Television music track and CBS Television Distribution's original music track.
P.P.S. On 07/23/2012 NCM Fathom ("Fathom Events") and CBS Television will broadcast to select theaters a one-night only special high definition program commemorating the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation and heralding the release of the Next Generation's First Season Blu-Ray release. Next Generation fully restored episodes #106 "Where No One Has Gone Before" and #114 "Datalore" will be presented along with new documentary footage of cast, crew, and the high definition restoration process.
on January 31, 2012
At it's core it is an amazing HD transfer, CBS digital went through a lot of effort to go back to the 35mm film and re-cut the episodes, the last release i read said that they had 20 regular employees working on a 24 hour a day restoration schedule trying to complete all 7 seasons, releasing 2 each year, and at least 1 in 2012. The quality is staggering. Everything is vivid, no detail hidden. There are however a few issues that seem to be getting a lot of attention in reviews that i hope i can clear up.
First of all, it IS in the original 4x3, a lot of people have complained about this, and while i agree it would be nice to see a non-stretch 16x9 TNG it is never going to happen. Not only is the 4x3 bringing the most authentic release to the series, but the 16x9 format would pose several large issues. The show was shot to be shown in 4x3, as well as the special effects, the transition could not be made with the original SFX stock, and as CBS has gone out of it's way to preserve the original SFX it would defeat the point. The other issue is that since it was shot for 4x3 things like boom mikes, crew, set ends and such would show up in a 16x9 shot, this would take significant CGI work to cover up, again defeating the point of it being "authentic".
One big complaint i hear is that the release is quite grainy, and it is. And no matter how much we would like it to be otherwise, it will always be grainy, its straight from the original 35mm footage, which is grainy. Disappointing, yes, but nothing can really be done about it.
The last thing i have to comment on is price, a lot of reviews on here have complained about the cost of buying re-release after re-release, there is no point in complaining about it, if you are fine with the DVD then stay with the DVD, those who want more can buy more. EOS.
I loved what i saw and heard, and cannot wait for season 1 later this year, and am hopeful they proceed onto other ST series.
In the mean time im sure i will watch this many more times.
I am flabbergasted !!! This Blu Ray sampler clearly shows what we are all in store for in the coming years as far as STTNG goes! I was prepared to be dazzled and I am beyond dazzled. The overall effect of seeing and hearing these in 1080p with DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 is truly a dream come true and a benchmark for all television being transferred to Blu Ray.
On my properly calibrated 47inch display, output from an Oppo BDP-93 and passed thru an iScan Duo video processor I am here to tell you this is as good as it gets folks! Brilliant well balanced color with proper timing, rich textures and fine detail overall , gorgeous and well focused cinematography with no sign of print damage or telecine wobble, no visible banding or DNR and beautiful uncompressed audio that reveals depth never before heard!
Yes there is grain as this is FILM! Yes there is a small HINT of digital noise from time to time but it is SO SLIGHT that I can honestly say this transfer for all intents and purposes appears as good as any HD scan I have seen so far, including blockbuster films of all types. After all these long years of watching and enjoying this series sourced from low quality Video Tape masters this is truly a revelation!
I watched each episode as it was broadcast and many MANY times since and never before have I actually SEEN what the camera saw, until now! I am 'ALL IN' when the BD seasons are released and eagerly await Season One of STTNG with great anticipation and joy!
If only more companies would treat their vaulted classics like this!
on January 31, 2012
Just the fact that Paramount/ CBS are willing to bankroll this painstaking conversion, pretty much reverse-engineering each episode from its original film components, is worth the price of admission. TNG was "my" Star Trek as a little kid and to see episodes as you remember them, and not as the VHS-grade shadows of themselves, is extremely gratifying. The producers of this blu-ray should be proud.
The 35mm original prints appear utterly pristine. Colors pop, especially the uniforms, and skin tones are pleasingly natural. Black levels are mostly very good, though many shots are darker than I would like. Fine grain is variable but usually very subtle. There is probably a small amount of NR but it doesn't interfere with textures such as hair or fabric. Makeup effects are surprisingly seamless, a notable feat compared to Star Trek II & III, for example. I spotted only one shot that appeared a touch out of focus. I spotted 2 brief shots in "Sins of the Father" that appear to be upscaled, but I consider it a credit to the restoration team that they put them out there now rather than trying to hide them in a box set later. Ultimately those bits only serve as a reminder of the miraculous gift to fans that this project truly is.
I do not have a critical ear for sound but I thought the sound comparable to the TNG DVD sets. Dialogue is still (gratefully) prioritized. 7.1 seperation seemed minimal/ natural to my ears, although a few model effects shots get more elaborate treatment.
Ultimately the very existence of these shows on blu-ray is a monumental achievement. If you're a big fan of this series, and you want your voice to be heard in the future, you owe it to yourself to pick up this disc and (more importantly) the seasons to follow.