Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Star Trek Remastered

I had more political stuff I'd planned to say, but it frankly makes me tired and depressed, so here's some geekery instead. With no new Trek product in production, this season they're syndicating the original Star Trek, remastered for HD with rerecorded music and digital special effects. There's a trailer here and we'll all be able to watch the finished product within a couple of weeks.

I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, I think the show works well as a product of its times, and I think it ought to be viewed that way. The original space effects were extremely well done, especially given the time and money constraints on a weekly TV show. They've held up amazingly well over time, partly because they were so stylized. The ships had these odd abstract shapes and the colors were striking. The color schemes also work together well between the effects and the live action. The show works as a whole, and it could distract to add modern digital realism, subtle color schemes and fidgety details.

That being said, the show could also use some clean-up. Check out that first shot of the Enterprise in the youtube clip. You'll see a weird wobble in the movement as the Enterprise flies away from camera toward the planet. That eccentricity in the movement was caused by the tracks the camera ran on. That would be an almost invisible fix that could only help the show, because the wobble drops you out of the illusion and alerts you that it's not real.

I also think it would help sell the concept if they make geek-friendly changes. What the hell does that mean? Well, take phasers, for instance. The producers of the original show never really worried about consistency from episode to episode when it came to phaser fire. Sometimes the phasers are depicted as slashing continuous beams with what I consider the definitive phaser sound effect. But sometimes they used the photon torpedo visual, instead, firing discrete white blobs. I don't remember whether they ever used the photon torpedo sound effect, but sometimes they did go for the "no sound in outer space" effect.

Any one of these is a valid artistic choice, I think, but as a fan watching the show back when, I got frustrated by the lack of consistency. I don't fault the producers for it. They had no reason to think that the show would end up with a rabid fan following that would watch the shows multiple times, and even have their own personal video libraries at home. Consistency was not high on their list of priorities.

But the remix offers the new producers the chance to make things consistent across the board. A phaser is a phaser, and a photon torpedo is a photon torpedo, and never the twain shall meet.

If they do that, it's a good thing.

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