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HTF HD-DVD Review: Star Trek: The Original Series Season One


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#1 of 223 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted November 17 2007 - 09:53 AM

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Star Trek: The Original Series Season One (HD-DVD)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: Not Rated
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG4-AVC
Audio: HD-DVD side: English 5.1 TrueHD, English 2.0 Surround, Spanish Mono. SD-DVD side: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Spanish and French mono
Subtitles: HD-DVD side: English SDH+; Spanish. SD-DVD side: Spanish, French
Time: HD: 24hrs 35min; SD 24hrs 34min.
Disc Format: 10 double sided HD-DVD/ SD-DVD combo discs
Case Style: See body of review
Theatrical Release Date: 1966-1967
HD-DVD Release Date: November 20, 2007


A couple years ago, Paramount and CBS announced there had been a restoration effort conducted on the original Star Trek series which aired between 1966 and 1969. The restoration included adding in new, updated effects for many of the scenes with the ships and alien worlds. While these scenes were not changed, they were enhanced into digital effects from the original optical elements. Besides these refurbished elements, each episode was being remastered in HD and going through a restoration process to make the episodes look better than even when they aired. Examples of the enhancements included using new space images inspired by the Hubble space telescope and design differences of the Enterprise between some of the initial episodes to account for its size changes. The original theme was re-recorded with a live orchestra and soprano singer to take advantage of the current technology and quality. Paramount is now releasing these 29 remastered season one episodes on the HD-DVD/ DVD combo format.

The new set comes in packaging that is reminiscent of the original season releases. The set comes in a clear case that snaps open to access the glossy yellow holder and the 10-disc clear flipper case inside. The holder for the first disc had broken free in my first set and it scratched and scuffed Disc One making it unusable. I requested another set and I found another couple pieces of plastic were broken in the replacement flipper case but it did not affect playback of any of the discs. You may want to do a shake test of the set when you make your purchase to ensure none of the discs are loose.

The HD sides of the discs contain “Starfleet Access” which can be enabled in the menus. This feature will grant you, “…security clearance to explore Starfleet Command’s central computer network. As you are watching the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise, various data icons will appear to indicate that there is additional information available. By using your remote, you can then select the icon of your choice and the computer will bring up the video file or data screen available. There are various categories to choose from including science, technology, personnel files as well as the Genesis category that provides further insight into the missions and adventures of Captain Kirk and his crew.” Michael and Denise Okuda, story editor and writer D.C. Fontana, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, David Gerrold, Have Bennett contribute information, as well as numerous producers, writers and actors. This is a great feature and I just wish it was on all of the episodes, especially City on the Edge of Forever, one of my personal favorites. If you access the option when it first pops up, it will subsequently come up as the option is available within that episode.

The “Starfleet Access” feature is available on the following episodes:
Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Menagerie, Part I and Part II, Balance of Terror, The Galileo Seven, Space Seed, Errand of Mercy.
I selected the “Starfleet Access” feature for Disc One in the menu, but when I accessed the icon during the episode, I found I could not hear the audio. I tried all combinations of audio set-ups in the menus with no luck. I was using my Toshiba XA2 for the review, and it has the latest firmware, 2.7, which adds a Direct Digital Audio Mode option for high bit rate audio. After trying all forms of audio settings and combinations with no success, I tried the disc in my Toshiba A1 and the audio on the “Starfleet Access” segments worked fine. The next day I went back to the XA2 and tried again, setting the new Direct Digital Audio Mode to “off” and it worked. This appears to be the only way to, and please forgive the out of place pun, “make it so” on the XA2 with the new firmware.

Some of the episodes allow you to press the “B” button on the remote control to bookmark your favorite scenes. The “Communications” option allows you to choose your audio and subtitle options. The HD-DVD’s automatically default to Dolby TrueHD, but I doubt you’d want to listen to the Dolby Digital 2.0 or Spanish mono track, the latter of which can be pretty funny if you jump over to it.

Since we are dealing with a ten disc set, I have decided to go through each disc one by one to describe the contents, including listing the episodes on each disc, the bonus features, and any anomalies in the audio or video presentation. If I don’t note any specific differences in a given episode, it should be taken as conforming to the presentation I describe in the audio and video sections of this review. The episodes are presented in airdate order, starting on 09/08/66 and continuing through 04/06/67. The menus on both sides of the disc denote actual production order of the episodes, and the “Mission Stardates” are listed as well. Each individual episode comes in at approximately 50 minutes. The set contains “five special collectible data cards” that detail the information on each disc.

I have chosen to leave out the descriptions of the individual episodes, but this information, and much more, can be found on the Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Toshiba HD-XA2 HD-DVD player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the 1080p/24 video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

Each of the episodes is presented in their native 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The HD-DVD versions are encoded in the MPEG4-AVC codec at 1080p. I have noticed a few early reviews of this set have caused some controversy in regards to the graininess of the original masters. Some are noting video noise in addition to the grain, but in my inspection of the episodes, I find there to be more grain than video noise or artifacts. That is not to say there is not some video noise noticed (see below). This grain is also very inconsistent from episode to episode and scene to scene sometimes. It can be very heavy at times, but then much lighter; it never completely goes away, but it lessens. At a proper viewing distance of 1.3 screen lengths away, much of this graininess, again, lessens and it does not detract from the viewing experience. The new effects shots do show a minor amount of video noise which I believe is also contributing to the graininess of the overall picture. In some of the “Starfleet Access” segments there is a comparison of the original effects shot to the new digital shots and it is obvious the new shots are clearer. The new digital opening credits show a minor amount of noise and this may also be on purpose to maintain consistency with the rest of the image.

When I watched some of these episodes broadcast over my local TV affiliate, I was only able to see them over standard definition channel so I didn’t get to appreciate how good these new masters now look. Paramount has done an excellent job in restoring the episodes by going back to the original negatives. I have watched this show in re-runs for many years and I don’t ever remember them looking so bright, clear and colorful. Colors are lush and bold showing excellent variations in the costumes and sets. I noticed the green tinge to Spock’s makeup and the inconsistencies to it that seemed to be an error of the make-up of the time. Black levels are also excellent maintaining good shadow delineation and detail. Detail and sharpness fluctuates but it is overall good. I also noticed some good dimensionality to the new effects images, making the Enterprise seem to hang among the stars.

The standard definition versions on the DVD side of the discs maintain similar color fidelity and black levels, but they lack the sharpness and detail of the HD versions. The grain issues are still present as well.

Audio:
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the Toshiba XA2 to the Denon 3808CI.

The Dolby TrueHD track for the HD-DVD’s provides a crisp and bold sound while also presenting a good soundstage. While the audio is not on par with more current releases, what is available from the original recordings has never sounded better. The musical cues, which come off as flat and blaring on the SD Dolby Digital track, sound more musical and natural here. The surround provide a good soundstage that allows the music and environmental effects to place you in the center. LFE’s are minimal but present.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks on the SD-DVD sides are well done, but are quite as present or spacious and their TrueHD counterparts.


Conclusions:
Paramount has put a great deal of effort into re-mastering this series and they have done the show and the new work proud by showcasing it on these ten HD-DVD’s. I wish they would have also been able to put this kind of effort into another TV show from a popular franchise (cough-Young Indy-cough). The transfers are excellent, graininess aside, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen and heard them presented so well. The new extras to this set are very enjoyable and I hope Paramount adds more of these in the future.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 223 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted November 17 2007 - 10:50 AM

thanks for the review Pat.
Quote:
The new set comes in packaging that is reminiscent of the original season releases. The set comes in a clear case that snaps open to access the glossy yellow holder and the 10-disc clear flipper case inside. The holder for the first disc had broken free in my first set and it scratched and scuffed Disc One making it unusable. I requested another set and I found another couple pieces of plastic were broken in the replacement flipper case but it did not affect playback of any of the discs. You may want to do a shake test of the set when you make your purchase to ensure none of the discs are loose.

I just realized something.
For these big multi disc sets, why don't these studios start using DVD-sized versions of plain cardboard record jackets for each disc and then house them all together in a simple carboard (or plastic) slipcase? The jacket itself would have have a spine for easy identification, has room for chapter listings or liner notes on the front and back (voiding the need for a seperate booklet or insert), allows easy acces to each invidual disc, and would likely never, EVER, result in a loose or damaged disc (especially if the slipcase itself is shrinkwrapped within any outer plastic housing).
It would also cut down on shelf space considerably.
I'm sick of dealing with faulty or scratched discs in these multi-disc sets. its a real PITA. Why the hang-up on cheap plastic trays? Do they think that's more impressive when they slap a hefty price tag on the thing?

getting back to the review- is it your opinion Pat that what some other reviewers are taking as compression artifacting, is in fact noise or grain? In the case of the noise in the CGI shots, do you think this was intentional (to mimic grain) or the result of some fault in the transfer or compression?

#3 of 223 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 17 2007 - 11:58 AM

Great review Pat!

I appreciate the completeness of the review.

I look forward to picking this set up first thing Tuesday. I had a feeling all this talk of compression artifacting wasn't actually a problem, but film grain. All the pre-release promotional material and Remastering program promos from one year, two months ago when the series was re-issued for a syndicated run all indicated a first class effort for the live action film element remastering. I hesitate to say restoration of the film elements, given the amount of re-work done. I really felt that Paramount CBS wasn't going to shortchange on that part. (Now you can say what you want about the CGI work as that is subjective to a degree)

It will be interesting to read the comments as we all start viewing these discs this week. I know that there are at least 5 or 6 members here as hardcore as me and will chime on the PQ and AQ!Posted Image

Great warning on discs coming loose, I decided to go to a brick and morter to check the sets rather then mail order.

By the way, I rather enjoyed the typo, "The Alternative Factory". An appropriate little slip for a weak episode! Don't fix it!

#4 of 223 OFFLINE   Dave Vaughn

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Posted November 17 2007 - 12:59 PM

Pat,

Nice review. By the way, the reason why it didn't work on your XA2 is that the HDi environment is bypassed for the secondary audio stream, which is why every HD DVD player has built in audio to handle all of the mixing in the player for advanced authored content. Nothing was broken, that is the way it's supposed to happen.

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#5 of 223 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted November 17 2007 - 02:20 PM

Thanks for the comments, guys, it was a pleasure doing this set and I enjoyed every minute of it!

I'm not going to go so far as to say it's ALL grain and NO artifacting, but it looks more like grain than video noise. Of course, the noise could be compounding the grain, but it just doesn't look like it. Many of the scenes look better than the rest. One interesting thing I noticed was the full screen images of the viewscreen on the bridge of the Enterprise: the borders of the screen wall looked about worst of all. I don't know if this had something to do with how they added in the effects shots late or what. I would really hope one of our fine archival experts will know exactly what happened on this release. The Trek fan community is pretty vocal, so they may speak up.

Nelson, I'll leave "Factory" just for you!

Dave, thanks for the explanation. This explains the difference between the A1 and the XA2. This XA2 has really been a headache (literally for me during the review), first, with the 1080p/24 lip sync issue (now fixed) and the shutdown in 1080p (still not fixed).

Pat
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#6 of 223 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted November 17 2007 - 04:05 PM

Excellent review, Pat!

So it sounds like you are saying that, to you, it doesn't seem like there are really any compression problems...just normal issues from the age of the source material? Posted Image

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#7 of 223 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 17 2007 - 04:22 PM

Indeed thanks Pat. My fears have been allayed - very much looking forward to this release!
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#8 of 223 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted November 17 2007 - 05:01 PM

Nice review, Pat. I am really looking forward to this set. It is going to be a great way to re-experience Trek. (I've watched some of the cut, syndicated broadcasts, so I can only imagine how splendid these episodes are going to look in HD. I was kind of luke warm on this release when first announced, but I'm getting pretty stoked over this title as the release becomes imminent.)

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#9 of 223 OFFLINE   Manus

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Posted November 17 2007 - 10:17 PM

Agree with the point about the packaging on these big sets . I just got the big 'Roots' giftset and 9 of the 10 discs were damaged inside with scratches and a 'gluey' substance on most . I think they need to put holders/grips rather than 'envelope' shapes inside .

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#10 of 223 OFFLINE   Jim_K

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Posted November 18 2007 - 02:02 AM

Quote:
This explains the difference between the A1 and the XA2. This XA2 has really been a headache (literally for me during the review), first, with the 1080p/24 lip sync issue (now fixed) and the shutdown in 1080p (still not fixed).

Can you elaborate on the "shutdown in 1080P" comment? I didn't see it mentioned unless I'm completely missing it in your review.

I have the XA2 and I'd like to know what I'm getting into here.
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#11 of 223 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted November 18 2007 - 03:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim_K
Can you elaborate on the "shutdown in 1080P" comment? I didn't see it mentioned unless I'm completely missing it in your review.

I have the XA2 and I'd like to know what I'm getting into here.

Sure, sorry about that...

The XA2 has a bug while in 1080p (not 1080p/24) where the unit will shut down while playing. I have contacted Toshiba about this and they said it could be and was going to be fixed via a firmware update. Some are suggesting the HD chip in the unit is getting incorrect information in 1080p that the unit is too hot and it shuts down, which is not the case as mine does it about a minute into power up. With the new firmware from Toshiba, 2.7, 1080p/24 now has the proper lip sync as well as enabling the high bit rate audio, but I haven't checked to see if the problem in 1080p was corrected.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#12 of 223 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted November 18 2007 - 03:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Frezon
Excellent review, Pat!

So it sounds like you are saying that, to you, it doesn't seem like there are really any compression problems...just normal issues from the age of the source material? Posted Image

Thanks and yes, Mike, as near as I can tell on my equipment. I'm sure they'll be further debate on this as the set comes out. I'm interested to hear what owners of LCD displays think of it since LCD picks up noise and compression artifacts pretty well.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#13 of 223 OFFLINE   Dave Vaughn

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Posted November 18 2007 - 03:47 AM

Pat,

I've had the XA2 for a couple of months now and haven't experienced that issue at all (shutdown). That doesn't seem to be something that can be fixed via firmware, but I'm not an engineer...I only play one on TV Posted Image
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#14 of 223 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 18 2007 - 04:33 AM

I just read a short review of this set on a Trek site. I often wonder if he comes here....

He's also chimed in on the grain issue. What is interesting is that the reviewer could see grain in the live action, but also felt they added grain to the new CGI effects in an attempted to match the grain of the film. This is in contrast to what Justin sees in his review. No mention in the review that I recall of what equiptment he used. I imagine the player and the display's ability to process the image has a lot to do with this, so everyone's perception will vary. This is killing me, I am looking forward to seeing this myself!

Additionally, there was a photo of the box set all opened and spread out. Looks like a nice set with the cards that have disc content info and added liner notes for each disc.

#15 of 223 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 18 2007 - 07:36 AM

Yes I read that review too Nelson. Lots of varying opinions. I wonder about the muted colour statement. Could be people are remembering videotapes being played on non-calibrated TVs. Colour smearing may have led to over bright colours. What we are getting now could be the proper representation.
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#16 of 223 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted November 18 2007 - 07:55 AM

On the firmware issue, I consider a fix for this via firmware suspect too. There is a supposed work around if you have the issue where you power up the XA2 until it gets to the time readouts on the front display, then power up your switcher or reciever (if that's part of your chain), then power up the display. That didn't work for me. I may jump up and down on one foot and chant and see if that helps.

This will be a very interesting set to watch reviews on. My Marantz displays one of the best images you can get so I like to think it and my eye will be accurate. As I mentioned earlier, I'm wondering how well an LCD will resolve this image. I'm no fan of them because the first thing I usually see on LCD's is the breakup in small detail and background images. Can you post the link to the review you guys mentioned? I'm curious to hear about what it says on the color. Nothing looks muted in these re-mastered episodes, if nothing else, colors are a little boosted.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#17 of 223 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 18 2007 - 07:56 AM

Yes, I agree Lou, so many variables out there in AV hardware that each person has a different perception. You must be CanuckLou!

PAt, This particular review is at trekmovie.com. It should be the first item at the top of the content area, and it says; Review- Star Trek HD-DVD Box Set. It's not a super technical review as the audience is not an HT one.

#18 of 223 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted November 18 2007 - 10:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Au
I just read a short review of this set on a Trek site. I often wonder if he comes here....

He's also chimed in on the grain issue. What is interesting is that the reviewer could see grain in the live action, but also felt they added grain to the new CGI effects in an attempted to match the grain of the film. This is in contrast to what Justin sees in his review. No mention in the review that I recall of what equiptment he used. I imagine the player and the display's ability to process the image has a lot to do with this, so everyone's perception will vary. This is killing me, I am looking forward to seeing this myself!

Additionally, there was a photo of the box set all opened and spread out. Looks like a nice set with the cards that have disc content info and added liner notes for each disc.

I know in one of the interviews I saw, one of the guys from CBS digital talked about how they added grain to the new effects shots to try and get them to match the original photography. On the big screen they seemed to match pretty well.

Doug
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#19 of 223 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 19 2007 - 05:22 AM

Yes the CGI shots in The Menagerie matched quite well with the live action ones.

And Nelson, guilty as charged.
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#20 of 223 OFFLINE   Duncan Harvey

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Posted November 19 2007 - 07:33 AM

Got my UK copy today from Amazon, and am part way through watching The Menagerie.

Picture quality is outstanding - am watching on a 100 inch screen via a 1080p projector and it is gorgeous. The only grain that I can see appears to be natural to the film, although the picture does of course go somewhat fuzzy everytime a female lead gets a close up Posted Image

Dont like the disc menus - too confusing and trying to be clever. Designed to be looked at and admired rather than used. And whats more you cant skip of fast forward through them. Given HD-DVDs pathetic lack of a mandatory resume function - this is incredibly annoying when you press stop and then have to laboriously go through the menus again.

Worst thing is the packaging. Its absolutely disgraceful - cheap and tacky. No decent booklet or anything - just a few laminated "beer mats".

When I pay £85 for a set of discs I expect packaging that is high quality and robust - unfortunately this is neither.

I also think its very poor that we dont at least have a HD transfer of "The Cage" now whilst I realise that this wont have been prepared for broadcast like the other episodes, it is of significant historical interest and aside from anything is one hell of a good story. Watching The Menagerie is not the same thing.

So whilst the quality of the original episodes shines through yet again they are somewhat let down by Paramount who seem more concerned with gimicks than with quality - no surprise given the awful packaging that has become a standard for Trek on DVD.


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