Monday, July 23, 2012

STV: VFX master Dan Curry on TNG, Part I: Tales and Blurays

It's TNG Blu-ray week,and I just sat down to talk about it with Dan Curry, one of the original luminaries in Trek—along with Mike and Denise Okuda, for starters—who have had a big hand in the remastering project. Season 1 is on sale Tuesday, July 24 (discount presales in force already), with a nationwide screening of two episodes to kick it all off the night before, tonight at participating theaters (plus Canada and Australia). Our man Dan especially worked on the Season 2 episodes, for now, as he'll describe (video below the fold).

And with recent events— yes... GO tonight. Prove the grip of terror will not take hold on "fan tribe" events after the Aurora massacre, as the LA Times wonders will happen. If you have not yet got your tickets to your nearby theater for the big Fathom Events 25th anniversary tie-in— "Where No One Has Gone Before" and "Datalore" plus documentary shorts, starting at 7 p.m. local times—do it now.

UPDATE: Now you can "remaster YOURSELF" into Blu-ray TNG with this fun app on Facebook from CBS, using any of six stills with more to come— plus wallpapers, ringtones and custom Facebook banner tools for TNG's 25th.

Of course, by now if you don't know about the masterful miracle of the Bluray remastering of The Next Generation, you need to get out of the wormhole. Where the amazing game-changer of the original series' "Remastered" vibe was the all-new visual effects—modernized but laboriously respectful  to the original intent—the TNG story has been about restoring the original film quality to apply Blu-ray to. Most all fans unaware how the entire filmed picture was "down-rez'd" to video quality to make the FX composting of elements affordable with 1987 budgets and technology, and the live-action had to be made to match—and avoid that uneven "tape-to-film-to-tape" look of a lot of early BBC Doctor Who and Monty Python, for instance.

Here's Part I with Dan at his home, with a few special props you may recognize; Parts 2 and 3 in coming weeks will focus on some all-new TNG stories, and also his time on dearly departed, fan-favorite Chuck, home to other Trek vets:

The picture and audio upgrades for HD Blu-ray would be amazing enough, but leapfrogging past this original "dumbing down" of overall picture quality is proving just breathtaking to most fans—or any viewer of a typical then/now comparison. Producers Roger Lay and Robert Burnett have also done a great job on the bonus features—way more than shorts, there's a full-length ongoing documentary that dozens of TNG insiders and pundits are a part of over all seven seasons—including yours truly—along with makeup tests, camera tests, audition tapes and the like.

If you are excited about all this, you're not alone: the San Diego Comic-Con was SRO at 500+ and double that many were turned away in line (bottom), as seen in these pics from CBS. The TNG Remastered Bluray panel include (clockwise from left): Ryan Adams and David S. Grant (Director and Vice President, Multimedia, CBS Television Distribution), Wade Felker (Film Transfer Technician), Eric Bruno (Lead Compositor), Lay, Craig Weiss (Creative Director, CBS Digital), the Okudas—and Burnett (not in photo). 

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