The entire process of converting an episode into high def can take anywhere from four to six weeks — some episodes have as few as a dozen effects shots, while others can have over 100. Most of the visual effects were also shot on film, and then assembled in standard def video. But there were many effects that were made using analog painting tools in standard-def only. “We have artists going frame-by-frame, recreating using digital tools what was done on analog video back then,” says Okuda (pictured, third from right, with CBS TV exec Ryan Adams, fellow consultant Denise Okuda, and CBS TV exec David Grant).
With several episodes being converted at any given time, the project has pretty well consumed the Okudas life, from making detailed notes on every effects shot in a given episode before it’s converted, to screening upgraded shots for approval. Michael Okuda says the most difficult episode so far was the first, “Encounter at Farpoint,” but each episode has presented its own challenges. One of the three episodes included in the preview Blu-ray disc — season 3′s “Sins of the Father” — had 13 seconds of original film negative that could not be located, so the disc had to be released using 13 seconds of standard def video instead. A few months later, however, the missing footage was finally found in a mislabeled box.
And as for some of TNG‘s most ambitious, best regarded episodes — like “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Best of Both Worlds” — just mentioning them draws apprehensive sighs from the Okudas. “We’re focused on the moment,” says Michael Okuda. “When you called, there was an issue with a planet, making sure the clouds are right. That sounds very trivial, but that’s the issue of the moment.”
Along with the high-def episodes, new interviews with cast and crew members will be included in the Blu-ray edition. “We have interviews from people who are telling stories that we’ve never heard before,” says Denise Okuda with a laugh. “That’s pretty hard to do. We’ve been immersed in this universe for I don’t know how many years. I think people are really going to be happy.”
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