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Question about Star Trek The Motion Picture transfer

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9 replies to this topic

#1 of 10 OFFLINE   BrianShort


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Posted January 01 2002 - 11:28 PM

I rented this disc the other night, and watched it with one of my friends who is a huge Star Trek fan. He said it was made a lot more sense than the original... I can't really comment since I've never seen the original, but I thought it was quite good. Anyway, I have a question about the transfer. Most of the DVD looks gorgeous, except for once scene. I'm talking about the scene where Vger is scanning the bridge of the Enterprise with that blue lighting thing. The transfer look horrible here! There were hairs and dust and scratches all over, and the color seemed off to. It seems strange that they would spend so much time cleaning up the movie, and forget this scene, so there must be a reason it looked as bad as it did? Brian

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Derek Miner

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Posted January 02 2002 - 02:24 AM

That particular scene is rather unique. Whereas most special effects in the film were created by adding things to the shot, part of the image in this sequence was actually REMOVED. The thin strip of light moving across the screen was originally a person carrying a light bulb! To fix this, they removed the middle of the shot optically. If you go back and watch the sequence again, you can tell what they did, because as the light moves from left to right, the background shifts position. Then because the resulting image wasn't as wide, left to right, they had to blow it up larger. When film goes through this much handling/processing, you're bound to get a lot more dirt. And not to mention a grainier appearance because it was blown up. The only way they could have made this look better was to go back to the original negative (if it wasn't altered in the first place) and re-create the effect in the computer, which I guess would have been to difficult and/or expensive.
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#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Chuck Anstey

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Posted January 02 2002 - 05:20 AM

That isn't the only shot where it doesn't look right. There are several scenes that have a very blurry background for a vertical strip for seemingly no apparent reason. 1. Every shot of Captain Kirk when Spock first goes to the bridge has a blurry background that starts just behind Kirk and goes to the right but not for the whole background. 2. When Kirk, Spock and Decker are in SickBay with the Vger probe getting examined, when Kirk puts his arm on Decker, it is completely blurry, again for no apperent reason. Anyone know why? As a whole I am extremely happy with the new version and it definitely has a different feel that the original. Chuck Anstey

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

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Posted January 02 2002 - 05:52 AM

Chuck, those two shots are actually supposed to look that way. Robert Wise shot those scenes using a split-field lens (that's probably not the correct term, but I can't remember what it's called), a special lens which keeps both the foreground and background in focus. He also used it in The Andromeda Strain.

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#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Scott D S

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Posted January 02 2002 - 06:21 AM

The device is called a split diopter. Robert Wise mentions it in the commentary and Mike Okuda also touches upon it in the text commentary.

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Mark Anthony

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Posted January 02 2002 - 06:37 AM

I'm probably gonna get flamed for this but...some of TMP looks great, in fact quite a lot of it, but some of it looks awful - it looks as if any shots involving special effects have not been cleared of dust and dirt (or at least not to the extent the rest of the film has had).

They also appear overtly grainy, I am well aware of the technical reasons for this - but given this was supposed to be a restoration, I would have thought these shots would have looked better - certainly similar shots in star wars and superman, made by some of the same guys with the same-ish technology don't suffer from this.

The very opening shot with the 3 klingon cruisers coming toward the screen also appears overly bright (unless this is supposed to be the reflection of the v'ger cloud.)

Is this the best that was possible, did they run out of time and or money? It just seems strange that's it's almost there but not quite...as if they didn't wanna erase the dirt from the sfx, which is a shame as it kinda distracts you Posted Image

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted January 02 2002 - 11:25 AM

Indeed, the blurriness is caused by the use of a split-diopter lens. This was needed because of low lighting on the bridge set. Unlike later Star Trek films, the bridge displays in TMP were rear-projected (rather than using CRTs or flat-panels). In order to have the rear-projections show up on film, the ambient light had to be reduced, requiring a larger lens aperture on the camera and a resulting loss of focus depth. The only way to keep two actors at different distances in focus is to have a lens that can, in effect, focus on two planes at the same time. The split is an area of the lens, sort of like bifocal glasses, where nothing is in focus. As for the grain - grain is one thing that is very difficult to remove from film, without softening the whole picture to an extent where the result is worse than the original image. Again, due to lighting constraints, and the fact that frames were blown up for reasons of FX, grain is inevitable, given the processes they used and the technology of the day. -sk

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   BrianShort


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Posted January 02 2002 - 11:27 AM

I'd also noticed the shots with the blurry strip, but forgot to mention it when I wrote my original post. That's an interesting bit of info. I suppose I'll eventually buy the disc, then I can listen to the commentary. Brian

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Ed St. Clair

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Posted January 02 2002 - 12:43 PM

I also enjoyed the DC of this film. My 'problem' is with the 'outside' of VGER. A loss of detail in the blue cloud that surrounds VGER. It used to have very sharp outlines, ala the colored light patterns at the bottom of the main spacecraft in CEotrTK. Now, in comparison, I just see a blue cloud. Anyone with both discs to check this out?
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#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Lyle_JP



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Posted January 02 2002 - 05:56 PM

There's a right way and a wrong way to use a split diopter. The right way would be to find some object just behind whatever is in the foreground with a sharp vertical edge, and line the split right up with it (see the scene in Pulp Fiction where Willis is running from Rhames and ducks behind a wall). That way you don't have the "blurry strip hanging in space" look. ST:TMP is not the biggest offender in poor diopter shots; DePalma's Carrie wins that contest hands down. Just check out the scene where the P.E. teacher is punnishing the girls with endless excercise. -Lyle J.P.

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