If you’ve seen the 2018 documentary What We Left Behind about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then you may remember that for the occasion the filmmakers remastered a single scene into high definition. Probably the most epic space battle in the history of the franchise — the combined Starfleet and Klingon fleets fighting their way through that of the Dominion in season 6’s “Sacrifice of Angels” — and the result is amazing. Yet now, five years later, regardless of where or how you watch either DS9 or Star Trek: Voyager, you have to watch it in standard definition. Well, now one guy is taking on the task of remastering both series, but the surprising part is that the guy doesn’t work for Paramount, and he’s using his work to try to get the studio to do the thing themselves.
Joel Hruska of Extreme Tech says he began the “Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Voyager Upscale Project” — to remaster both series into high definition — two years ago. Considering he’s working all on his own without a major studio to back him up, what he’s accomplished is an incredible testament to ingenuity, patience, and persistence. For example, below is the standard definition opening credits for DS9. Below that is Hruska’s restored version.
To anyone familiar enough with the series, the difference in the restored version should be apparent even without the comparison. He offers a number of other DS9 scenes he’s restored. In particular he offers a number of moments from “Trials and Tribble-ations” — the season 6 episode which mixed new footage with that from Star Trek: The Original Series, mostly from the 1967 episode “Trouble with Tribbles.” You can see those examples below.
In case you’re hoping for something with a little more action like the scene that was remastered for What We Left Behind, you’re in luck. He also posted a restored version from the season 4 premiere, “The Way of the Warrior.” Along with Michael Dorn’s Worf entering Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a regular character, the episode is known for a couple of great space battle scenes. This is the shorter of the two: when the Defiant saves besieged Cardassians from the Klingons. You can watch the clip below.
While there aren’t quite as many restored clips in the story about Star Trek: Voyager, the series isn’t left hanging. Hruska posts clips from “Endgame” — the two series finale. You can see those clips below.
At no point does Hruska even hint that he has the intention of illegally distributing the Star Trek series once he finishes restoring them. He calls the project a personal one, and uses what he’s done to challenge Paramount. He writes, “The explanation for why Paramount can’t remaster these shows has been blamed on the expense of recreating the CGI, combined with the cost of rescanning the film at higher resolution. After seeing the quality I’ve been able to achieve when working with the DVDs, I’d like to call this what it is: Horses–t.” There is, he argues, no need to recreate the CGI or even to rescan from the film source.
A Trek News interview from 2017 may cut closer to why DS9 and Voyager remain unrestored by Paramount. The site spoke to Robert Meyer Burnett who — along with a technical explanation of the difficulty that might put most who aren’t already invested in the field to sleep — explains that when Star Trek: The Next Generation was restored to HD and released on Blu-ray between 2012 and 2014, Paramount’s bottom line didn’t fare well. With streaming services like Netflix booming, many fans were unwilling to shell out the extra money for physical copies when they could just watch the show on a streamer. Since neither DS9 nor Voyager were ever as big as TNG, Burnett says, there’s little hope Paramount would be willing to grant them an HD restoration that proved unprofitable already.