Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has never gotten the full high-definition upgrade afforded to the Original Series or Star Trek: The Next Generation.
However, according to TechCrunch, fans have been doing their own upgrades for years using AI tools.
Paramount And CBS Unlikely To Upgrade
This is because Paramount and CBS are unlikely to move forward with doing their own upgrade of what many consider to be the franchise’s best series.
The remastering of Star Trek: The Next Generation was a huge undertaking that cost $10 million and is a remarkable achievement. But thanks to its physical media dropping around the time of the emergence of streaming, the project was not financially successful.
Deep Space Nine And Voyager
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, though it is certainly highly regarded by fans and critics alike, is considered less reliably profitable than its predecessor, meaning it is likely doomed to languish in its originally broadcasted 480p resolution, along with Star Trek: Voyager.
These series were shot on film, which allowed the upscaling of TNG, but they were converted to videotape for broadcast.
The DVD presentations of these series improved what viewers initially saw on their televisions and recorded at home on VHS tapes. Still, they will never be comparable to the high-definition images to which contemporary audiences are now accustomed and for which their televisions and computer screens are designed.
Paramount has no plans to engage in the labor-intensive work of re-editing Deep Space Nine from original film negatives and performing new compositing and visual effects work, as they did for The Next Generation.
And if they change their minds, it will still be years before fans of the series can see any results. This has led to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s inclusion among many TV series and films whose fans have taken it upon themselves to upgrade. They are the cinematic worlds they love. It’s happened with other franchises, and it’s happening with Star Trek as well.
Using AI Tools To Upgrade
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is now benefiting from tools more advanced than those available to creators of earlier HD adaptations. Dedicated fans are now putting AI tools to work to reconstruct detail that is hidden or implied in the lower-resolution images available to them.
The software isn’t perfect, but these armchair technicians are working long hours on their own time to push the algorithmic filtering processes past their apparent limits.
For over a decade, Joel Hruska waited for Paramount to upgrade Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When he saw that they were simply not going to do it, he took it upon himself to use tools like Topaz AI to engage in the painstaking process of upgrading the series himself.
Sometimes this means retooling his process between scenes, and other times, it means employing different techniques for each shot in a scene, depending on what types of lighting are used and what details need to be recovered.
Though these tools can upgrade a video frame in mere seconds when it takes 30 frames to comprise a second of video, the time and the computing power add up quickly.
Studio Will Notice?
Still, Hruska has pressed on, working on upgrading Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, sometimes 40 to 60 hours a week.
Using multiple terabytes of data for each episode and hundreds of passes with different software techniques, sometimes re-encoding an episode thousands of times, Hruska has managed to eke out a 720p image that still leaves a lot to be desired by contemporary standards. But it represents a major improvement over the original.
Hruska says he knows VFX artists, including those who worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who would love to see the series remastered. But, he says, Paramount simply doesn’t understand the value of Star Trek.
Perhaps the work he and others are doing will eventually be noticed by the studio and subsidized so that this amazing and culturally important science fiction series and others like it can be brought into the future where they belong.