DVD re-invented home entertainment with their great video quality, decent price point and magical special features. Unlike the expensive and not so great VHS home videos which though cornered the rental market, never really inspired home video collections unless one was an avid collectors. Finally, after the failures of Laser Disc and VCDs to capture the public imagination, there was finally a viable digital product to take over from VHS. DVD went from new geek disc, to common video device as quickly as CD took over from vinyl. This was no doubt this was helped by the home theater systems including large flat screen televisions becoming more and more common in homes.
The high definition wars came soon after, with Blu-Ray winning over from HD-DVD. Yet, with limited devices and a high price point (especially in terms of recording and copying) as well as the emergence of on-demand digital formats it seemed like Blu-Ray was going to go the way of Beta. Superior product doesn't always come out on top. However Blu-Ray has stayed the course and as a format, seems the likeliest to remain true to form. It also seems likely that it is the only format which will last in physical form as digital streaming makes DVD all but redundant from a quality point of view.
Where DVDs have become bastardised to the point where movie have been released as simple VHS transfers with 2.0 sound, Blu-Ray movies are receiving true 'back to the original film' and starting again type treatments. This means, when you watch the movies, they look brand new and fresh. Utilising the superior resolution and sound quality availble on Blu-Ray. This is giving the home viewer a totally new experience when viewing older films.
Now, when the time came to bring one of televisions most loved franchises to Blu-Ray, the process to re-invigorate Star Trek hasn't been rushed. My first experience was with the re-release of Star Trek The Next Generation (even though the original series has already been out for a while). You can see from the great comparison video above just how good a job they have done with this.
By all accounts, it has been a lengthy process, returning to the original film and re-scanning it all and essentially doing the complete post production process again, including all the special effects in order to utilise 1080HD. Essentially, there would be little point in releasing a Blu-Ray version of the show without doing this but you still need to give credit when the a large corporation decides to take on an epic job like this. By all accounts it has been a great business decision if the buzz is becoming sales.
On the transfers themselves, the show looks brand new, and even the first season, which wasn't that good from a fan perspective, can be enjoyed as a whole new experience. The most amazing part, I believe, has been the recreation of the special effects, which not only look great, but are also true representations of the original shots. There was no doubt there would have been a lot of temptation to re-imagine these effects based on new trends and technology however they have shown great restrain and chosen to present an enhanced version of the production but not a re-telling of it. You won't find new buzzing robots flying around the corridors that were never there, nor new CGI characters on the bridge, or new lines dubbed over moving lips. Just Picard and crew, as originally intended but like we've never seen before.
Since then, I have re-visited the original series on Blu-Ray and it too looks amazing. Its hard to believe how well this show holds up, this is due to good writing but also great design decisions which at the time, might have had a hocky 50s Sci-Fi look to them but instead have a 60s mod minimalist feel. The enhanced effects are also a nice optional additions on the Blu-Ray. Again, they are a high definition digital re-creations of the original shots and blend in very well because again, they haven't tried to re-imagine or change the original designs. Of course, the purist can turn them off in any case.
So, two thumbs up from me on the work CBS/Paramount have done to bring us high definition versions of a great show that the fans can enjoy all over again in a way that hasn't been possible before.