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The STAR TREK Remastered Team Talks About Klingons (Then And Now), Gimpy Spy Antennas, And The Coolness That Awaits Us!!

Merrick here...

-from "Tomorrow is Yesterday", airing this weekend on STAR TREK Remastered. [CLICK TO EMBIGGEN]

We've been bringing you quite a bit of coverage from STAR TREK Remastered, so I thought you might enjoy this discussion with Remastered producers Dave Rossi, Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda. It's an interesting insight into how the Remastered episodes are approached, and a fun look forward at what lies ahead in the upcoming weeks. AICN would like to warmly thank the trio for sharing their precious time and intriguing insight. Without further delay...

MERRICK: What’s ahead on the remastered STAR TREK? DAVE ROSSI: Lots of cool stuff. In the next few weeks we go to war with the Klingons, take on the Nazis, and run into a guy named Finnegan! But our first stop is 1960s Omaha in “Tomorrow is Yesterday.” In fact people may not realize how heavy that episode is from a visual-effects standpoint.
MERRICK: There are many effects in that. How did you approach the episode? DENISE OKUDA: We’re really excited about that one. It was STAR TREK’s first real time-travel story. I love the opening scene at the Air Force base. There’s absolutely nothing to indicate that it’s a STAR TREK episode, until suddenly we see the Enterprise floating in the clouds! MIKE OKUDA: Most of the shots of the Earth as seen from space were done with real NASA images. Niel Wray, our visual effects supervisor, was able to use some high-definition video of Earth orbit taken by a space shuttle crew. He even added the Moon into a couple of shots. Also, when the Enterprise is struggling to climb back into space, some of the scenes of the ground below use images of the American Midwest, taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. DAVE ROSSI: We were also able to show more of the slingshot effect around the sun as well. In the original, all they could do was to show the ship shaking violently. In the remastered version, we actually see the Enterprise skimming the surface of the Sun at high speed. You really get a sense of the danger involved in the maneuver. And, you get a sense of the immensity and power of the Sun. MIKE OKUDA: Actually, the surface of the Sun, believe it or not, started out as one version of the “hammered titanium” texture that we developed for the skin of the Doomsday Machine . CBS Digital ended up taking a slightly different approach for the planet killer, but we realized that this art bore a striking resemblance to the “convection cell” pattern in real photos of the Sun. So we just saved it for this episode.
MERRICK: “Tomorrow is Yesterday” made an amazing prediction about the future…a prediction that has already come true… DAVE ROSSI: (laughs) You mean predicting the day on which Apollo 11 was launched? DENISE OKUDA: Yes, there’s a line in the script where a newscaster says something like “the first Moon-landing mission will be launched next Wednesday.” This, of course, was filmed in 1966, before astronauts walked on the Moon. By amazing coincidence, Apollo 11 actually was launched on a Wednesday. July 16, 1969 to be exact. Ironically, it was just a few weeks after STAR TREK ended its original network run. MIKE OKUDA: At least, we think it’s a coincidence. Maybe someone at NASA was a STAR TREK fan. Neve underestimate the power of STAR TREK’s fans!
MERRICK: In “Errand of Mercy” (airing May 12), the Enterprise stands down a Klingon fleet – this wasn’t really realized for the original iteration of the episode. How is it being handled for the Remastering? DAVE ROSSI: We see a little. We got to show the attacking Klingon battle cruiser in the opening scenes, then there’s a quick glimpse of the fleet later on. DENISE OKUDA: Actually, it’s pretty cool. Sulu reports that the Klingon fleet has just appeared, and we cut to the Enterprise facing off with the Klingon ships. It’s a short shot, but it really shows the Enterprise outnumbered and out-gunned. MIKE OKUDA: We thought it was really important to do this because “Errand of Mercy” is such a pivotal episode for the series. It’s Gene L. Coon’s script that first introduces Klingons to the STAR TREK universe. DAVE ROSSI: John Colicos plays the first Klingon, the wonderfully sinister Kor, the guy you love to hate. It’s no wonder that the Klingons became recurring adversaries. Of course, Colicos is also known to genre fans for playing Lord Baltar in the original 1970s version of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA…
MERRICK: Yeah, about those Klingons…In many of the Original Series “Klingon” episodes, we never saw their ships. What was that about? DAVE ROSSI: That’s because they didn’t HAVE a Klingon ship during the first two seasons. Matt Jefferies couldn’t afford them until the third season. For the first two years, they could only afford to talk about Klingon ships, and maybe show them as an occasional blob of light. DENISE OKUDA: But now, thanks to digital technology, we can show Klingon ships in the very first Klingon episode!
MERRICK: That’s cool - but are you gonna give those Klingons bumpy foreheads? DENISE OKUDA: No!
MERRICK: Why not? It’s this whopping continuity gaff that still sticks out like a sore thumb, despite numerous efforts to explain it away. Do you feel fans want to have those kind of mistakes fixed? DAVE ROSSI: Well, first of all, we don’t regard the smooth-headed Klingons to be a “mistake.” It’s just part of the look-and-feel of the original series. Remember, part of our mission is to respect the style of the original art direction as much as possible. MIKE OKUDA: Also, there was an episode of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – two episodes, actually – that explained all of that. Something about a secret genetics experiment gone awry. DENISE OKUDA: Yeah. Weren’t you paying attention?
MERRICK: I was. I sense conspiracy, though. MIKE OKUDA: Actually, we did talk briefly about adding wrinkles to the foreheads. Not seriously, but we thought about sneaking it onto one of our shot lists, just to see Niel Wray’s head explode when he realized how much work it would be! DENISE OKUDA: Unfortunately, we took pity on him at the last moment. DAVE ROSSI: Too bad. We need to plan something equally sinister for Niel. After the amazing effort he and his crew are putting forward, something like that’ll keep them grounded…yeah that sounds good.
MERRICK: “Shore Leave” is coming up…the one with Finnegan, the bane of Kirk’s Academy existence. What kind of enhancement did you bring to that episode? DAVE ROSSI: That was a pretty light episode for visual effects. The main difference is that the amusement park planet, when you see it from orbit, now looks beautiful, and you can see why Kirk and crew wanted to go there for R&R. DENISE OKUDA: Not too much work for us in that episode, unless you want to create a CG animated white rabbit!
MERRICK: The thought had crossed my mind. What about the weird antenna on the planet – the one that was spying on the people? I mean… MIKE OKUDA: Yeah, that was another one of those things that we thought about. A lot. DAVE ROSSI: Don’t get Mike started on that one! DENISE OKUDA: (laughs) Yes, please don’t!
MERRICK: So, about that antenna… MIKE OKUDA: The antenna in the original episode looked like something you put on your roof in the 1960s to watch STAR TREK in black and white! I thought it would be fairly easy to paint out the antenna and substitute something more interesting. Unfortunately, when we studied the shots more carefully, we realized it would have been fairly time consuming. Certainly it was something that CBS Digital could have done, but we ultimately decided that it would have not been all that much of an improvement to the episode, and that it would be better to put those resources elsewhere. DAVE ROSSI: But first you made us sit through those shots over and over for almost an hour! DENISE OKUDA: The funny thing was that…later on…we found out that this was one of Neil’s favorite episodes, and he was disappointed that we didn’t ask him to redo the antenna! DAVE ROSSI: “Shore Leave” has always been a real fan favorite. Another delightful romp. As the Caretaker says, “the more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”
MERRICK: You work on “Patterns of Force” would’ve been pretty light, no? Unless you can re-master Nazis, of course… DAVE ROSSI: Yes, not too much in that one, either. We did show the missile that was launched from Ekos to try to blow up the Enterprise. MIKE OKUDA: We had them make a digital replica of the old German V2 rocket. I’m interested in space history, so it was cool to be able to use that historic design.
MERRICK: That’s awesome. DENISE OKUDA: That episode was filmed on the Paramount lot. The exterior of “Nazi headquarters” was one of the studio office buildings. We used to walk past that building twice a week on our way to production meetings!
MERRICK: Will we see any cool new spaceships or redesigns coming up? DAVE ROSSI: Well, Captain Christopher’s F-104 in “Tomorrow is Yesterday” counts, doesn’t it? DENISE OKUDA: Even though the aircraft doesn’t actually go into space, the pilot does!
MERRICK: OK, so, what about that fighter? Are you going to replace all the stock footage (used in the original episode) with CGI? DAVE ROSSI: Partly. We’re keeping the stock shots of the plane on the ground and taking off. After that, CBS-Digital has come up with all new digital renderings of the fighter in flight. The best part is that we could do a couple of scenes with both the fighter and the Enterprise in the same shot. That was something that the original couldn’t do.
MERRICK: I have my theories, but why do you think “Tomorrow is Yesterday” such a popular episode? MIKE OKUDA: It’s a great “fish out of water” story. First, we see a 20th-century man in the world of STAR TREK’s future, then we watch Kirk way out of his depth in the 1960s. DAVE ROSSI: D.C. Fontana’s script gives us some great comedic moments. No matter what Kirk does in this episode, he gets deeper and deeper into trouble. Until the end, of course. DENISE OKUDA: My favorite line is when the Air Force colonel tells Kirk, “I’m going to lock you up for two hundred years.” Kirk rolls his eyes and says, “That ought to be just about right.” Priceless! DAVE ROSSI: You bet. Captain Kirk is the MAN!

HERE's a list of airdates and stations showing the Remastered TREK. If you can't find a station near you, they can be downloaded via iTunes, and XBOX Live (where an increasing number of episodes are available in High Definition - the series is not shown in HD by many broadcasters).
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