Star Trek TMP Visual Comparisons

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The Director’s Edition (2001 DVD)

In celebration of the announcement of the 4K recreation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition, I started a side project to try to log all of the changes made for that edition when it originally was released on DVD in 2001. I have completed my comparison and you can find the link below:

Now this is nowhere close to the “over 1000 visual edits” and “over 100 visual effects shots” that have been publicized by the Director’s Edition team, but these are what I could find! Just know there are a lot more even more subtle changes/fixes that I haven’t pointed out.


The 2021 “Theatrical” Version

It turned out to be extra fortuitous that I started my comparisons when I did because just over a month before the 4K release of the theatrical cut was set to come out, the new master was released on iTunes. And I immediately noticed some changes.

While the transfer is great, without the overabundance of Digital Noice Reduction (DNR) that was present on the previous transfer and much better color grading, it does have some poorly done “fixes”. As this is supposed to be a preservation of the “theatrical edition”, there is no reason for them to fix any effects, let alone such poorly done ones. They should let the original film lie and let The Director’s Edition handle the fixes as it’s supposed to be the final cut Robert Wise always wanted. There are also some errors introduced by what looks to be some kind of automated cleanup, which should be fixed as they were not present in the original.

A comparison between the most recent HD master and the new 4K master.

The major “fix” is the covering of where the support arm of the Enterprise model crossed in front of the dry dock model, which were both physically filmed together. In the newest master, they have taken the first frame of the shot and pasted the covered section of the dock with this frame, without any stars moving, lights flashing, or even film grain moving. Towards the end of the shot parts of the Enterprise disappear! It looks bad, and if it was blown up and shown on a theater screen, it would look worse than the original version! Nevermind the fact that the entire shot looks soft now, as if it was rendered in the wrong resolution by whomever made the fix!

The other “fix” made is a star field has been composited behind the first 8 frame shot of the Asteroid exploding in the wormhole, replacing the stage ceiling visible in the test shot used in the original edit. Note that the star field is moving in the second shot of the explosion, so it should be assumed it should move in this one.

There’s no reason this should have been fixed in a preservation of the Theatrical cut! The Director’s Edition removed this shot completely, so “fixing” it is not what the director wanted.

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