Star Trek made its presence felt at WonderCon 2013 yesterday with “Star Trek: Into High Definition,” a panel session devoted to answering any and all questions about the current and upcoming Blu-ray releases of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise. The panel featured Brannon Braga, Mike and Denise Okuda, and Blu-ray producer-director Roger Lay, with Robert Meyer Burnett serving as moderator. StarTrek.com was on hand for the event and is pleased to present the following recap:
After playing the trailer for Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete First Season Blu-ray, the panel opened with discussion of this week's release of the collection. The audience was shown a clip from the special feature "In Conversation." All the panelists, especially Braga, were very quick to emphasize what a wonderful surprise it was to have Rick Berman participate in the VAM since he very, very rarely gives interviews on Star Trek.
Discussion then turned to Star Trek: The Next Generation, with Mike Okuda celebrating the painstaking restoration process. Braga chimed in that it was because he saw the tremendous results from the TNG restoration that he wanted to get involved in the Blu-ray release for Enterprise. Lay discussed how it was a tremendous undertaking to complete the cast reunion for the second season TNG release, but that there was such a tremendously positive reaction from the cast on the restoration that they were able to pull off the reunion since the talent was extremely happy to be involved in the process.
Additionally, Lay touted how the forthcoming TNG Season 3 release will include a similar reunion, this time with the writing staff, and will be moderated by Star Trek fan Seth MacFarlane. Lay also spoke about how MacFarlane was such a true fan, and came armed to the reunion panel with his own questions. Braga added how amazing it was to be reunited with his fellow writers, most of whom he’d not seen in a long time.
The panel also included the trailers for Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Second Season, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Three and Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds. The Okudas then began discussing “The Best of Both Worlds,” with Mike emphasizing how the Season 3 finale was the first real cliffhanger in the franchise's history. Mike also discussed the famous "graveyard scene" from the episode and how he was at first apprehensive to tackle a restoration of it. However, as they found all the original model elements for the scene, they were able to do it justice in the upgrade. And though the Season Four Enterprise Blu-ray is a ways off, the panel offered a very cool tease: it’ll reveal the story of the planned appearance by William Shatner that never happened.
The panel then moved on to the audience for questions. The first question was for Mike Okuda. A fan asked what scene makes him happiest to see restored, to which Mike answered the graveyard scene from “The Best of Both Worlds.” Another fan also asked about lost footage, which inspired the panelists to rehash the amazing story of how the lost footage from "Sins of the Father" was found for the Season 2 release. Mike also discussed why deleted footage should often stay deleted, while Braga noted that sometimes when footage is cut it’s simply because the episode is running too long. Such was the case with “Sins,” and restoring that footage resulted in the opportunity to create a very special treat with an extended cut. Denise Okuda then pointed out the Season 3 TNG release, which includes the episode "The Most Toys," will feature never-before-released footage of actor David Rappaport, who originally was cast in the episode, but had to drop out of filming.
Another fan then brought up Star Wars and asked if they were ever directed to "fix mistakes" from the original during the restoration. All chimed in about how they wanted to stay away from the CGI effects that hindered the Star Wars restoration and that the crux of the Okudas’ involvement with the project is to make sure that they stay with the show's original intention. Lay then discussed the exclusive material that is available in the Best Buy Enterprise Blu-ray release.
Another fan asked about Deep Space Nine and why Enterprise was released prior to it. The panelists responded that Enterprise was first because it was already shot in HD, so that it could be easily released on Blu-ray, but that Deep Space 9 would require a more time-intensive process. Next, Braga discussed the new J.J. Abrams films and how much he liked them, but also how he wished they had 1/100th of the budget for effects that Abrams had. The panelists all concurred that the films have allowed for the franchise to be opened up to a wider audience, and have also enabled the Blu-ray projects for Star Trek to exist due to helping sustain awareness and admiration for the franchise.
The panelists were asked how/why they pick which episodes to play theatrically. They discussed how “The Best of Both Worlds” is the ideal episode for the theatrical events and celebrated how Ken Ross at CBS moved the restoration of the episode further ahead in the timeline so that it could be done. Denise Okuda emphasized how impressed she is with CBS' dedication to the project and how she feels like "parents at Christmas when you know what you're getting the kids," as she's so excited for the fans.
The panel ended with Brannon paying tribute to set decorator Jim Mees (who passed away yesterday), and he reminded fans to make sure to remember Mees' contributions to the franchise when watching Star Trek.