Controversy Over Star Trek: TNG Season 2 Blu-Ray Effects Work

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When it was announced that Star Trek: The Next Generation was coming to Blu-ray, that was enough to get any die-hard Trekkie excited. That excitement built even further with the word that the TNG eps would be getting the same treatment as the Original Series sets, getting a massive digital restoration and having much of the effects work replaced with snazzy new versions. The result was a first season release that any SF fan would be happy to add to their collection. The much-anticipated second season of The Next Generation hits shelves today, and unfortunately it’s being greeted with a chillier reception thanks to effects restoration work that is said not to live up to the high standard set by the first release.

Garth Franklin over at Dark Horizons has rounded up the story, and it basically comes down to this: CBS Digital was responsible for the effects restoration on the first season set. However, because of the tight release schedule — CBS wants the whole series on Blu-ray by 2014 — CBS Digital simply doesn’t have the time or manpower to handle all the TNG sets. Because of this, CBS Digital is working on the odd-numbered seasons, while the even-numbered ones are being assigned to other post-production. Season 2 went to HTV Illuminate.

While early reviews say that the live-action footage looks great, there are some problems when it comes to the visual effects. There are ongoing discussions of the problems at places like Trek Core and Blu-ray.com, but they include things such as a sharp, high-def Enterprise on top of a fuzzy, low-rez background (click for bigger version to really see the difference).

Or then there’s this lovely screen capture, featuring the Enterprise apparently having learned to cloak just the leading edge of its saucer section…

The good news is that the set is still earning high marks aside from the problems described above, and TrekCore says that HTV will not be handling the fourth season release. (This isn’t to suggest these issues cost them the job, however; it sounds like season 4 was always scheduled to go to a different post-production house.) I imagine many of these problems wouldn’t even be noticed by many Trek fans, unless they’re series videophiles. However, given the positive reception for the first Next Generation set, as compared to Season 2, I wonder if CBS will rethink its release schedule and keep the work in-house.

You can buy Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 2 on Blu-ray right here.


  1. heronymo says:

    Damn. Never rush things. Just do it properly, even if it takes longer. As someone who works in video production, I can only say wtf when it comes to the cropped Enterprise frame. Is that really in the final release?

    • Steve Ulrich says:

      surely it cant be? I mean that is very, very poor.

      • heronymo says:

        I suppose I’ll find out this week. I pre-ordered Season 2 and it should arrive in the next couple of days. If it hasn’t been confirmed by then, I’ll post my findings here. Any idea what episode that is? I can’t find the reference. I’ll have to look through the links again later at home.

        Damnit CBS. You don’t need to get the whole series out by 2014. I was actually expecting maybe 1 or 2 seasons per year, that would have been fine lol

    • hypnotoad72 says:

      Even in a day and age where “competition” is spewed increasingly inanely and inaccurately, what does TNG have to compete with?!!

      There is no reason for the substandard work that’s been done… 🙁 Apart from time constraints and not having the ideal people suited for the ideal tasks.

  2. jammindude says:

    Just reposting my FB comment for the non-FB crowd:
    You think? Don’t get me wrong, the effects looked *fantastic*….but the film shots looked freakin TERRIBLE. They were gritty and blurry and I was shocked that they couldn’t clean them up AT ALL. I just watched The Wizard of Oz…and it looked a BILLION times better than the set shot on S1 TNG. With that, plus the most boring packaging I’ve ever seen in my life (night and day compared to the original DVD sets) I wasn’t even going to bother with the rest of the seasons. Overall, I thought it was a piss poor product.

    • hypnotoad72 says:

      Some issues are inherent with the original choices of film stock used. But even the DVD versions can’t hide the grain in some scenes from some episodes. And they don’t hide scan lines and video test patterns, caused by the editing techniques of the time, nor does DVD hide its limited color gamut (e.g. purple outfits instead of red).

      The higher resolution and color gamut will yield every issue with the source film, assuming it is restored properly. One big issue with season 2’s work is color timing – in a few episodes, the Enterprise or other ships have turquoise nacelles. In one episode, one scene has the nacelles glowing a purplish blue (the opposite extreme).

      Sometimes layering of elements got wrong, hence the ship looking fuzzy and/or with a halo…

      Even the Borg cube shown in the article is too bright. (but, in most shots, the Borg cube looks far better than the SD original!) The interior matte shot used is far better as well…

      Season 2 is a mixed bag, which didn’t need to be so haphazardly made. With proper time, and a little more of it, it would have been on par with season 1. But the amount of mistakes, both subtle and gross, stand out very badly. Especially with the technology utilized in this day and age.

  3. zirtoc says:

    So…get the even movies, and the odd Blu-Rays?

  4. Jeff says:

    I’m on the third disc now – the restoration is appalling – I can’t believe they released this – there are scenes that look like vhs quality throughout many of the episodes – something should be done to fix this tragedy.

  5. I just watched the season two set, didn’t notice anything. if that screenshot from The Schizoid Man is only one frame or a small group of frames, it probably wont be noticed by the general public.

  6. ebinrock says:

    CBS Digital should sue HTV Illuminate for the bad effects work, and take the money from that lawsuit to redo the effects on Season 2 themselves. As the old adage goes, “You want something done right, you do it yourself.”

  7. chrychek says:

    It had better cost them the job. They should never be allowed to touch the series again.

  8. Sam says:

    Poor transfer and bad VFX work from HTV Illuminate.