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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Comparison:

  • 4K Director's Edition
  • DVD Director's Cut
Release: Sep 14, 2022 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB
Comparison between the Director's Cut on DVD (2001/02) and the Director's Cut in 4K UHD (2022).

 


- 87 listed changes
- Difference without logos/credits: 10 sec (of which about 7 sec are pure master errors on DVD)

 

STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE and its troubled production

Released in 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a prime example of years of lingering chaos on a major theatrical production. It wasn't originally intended for the big screen, either, as they were actually working on Star Trek: Phase Two in series format as a continuation of the '60s series Star Trek. Paramount Pictures then switched to a feature film in the middle of the project, which was a challenge especially with regard to the already built sets and effects planning.

The budget was massively exceeded with 40 million US dollars, a considerable part of which was spent on visual effects. The first company, Robert Abel and Associates, was unable to deliver usable material, so all the effects shots had to be hastily recreated. To be on the safe side, veterans Douglas Trumbull (2001, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and John Dykstra (Star Wars) were brought on board. Under such difficult conditions, they delivered a remarkable outcome, but with more time, more would have been possible.

On top of that, some annoying mishaps happened, for example the original ADR sound was not used in 1979. In America it is a common practice that parts are re-dubbed due to poor quality of the studio sound. All of these ADR shots were indeed recorded, but in the hurry they only resorted to the studio sound. So a comparatively poor audio track was delivered and the effects shots came in at the very last minute before the theatrical release, so there was some fine tuning missing here as well, which both the director and the seasoned FX artists were actually aiming for.

 

Extended TV version and a DVD-exclusive Director's Cut

In the '80s, an extended TV version first aired on ABC in the U.S., and it was immortalized on various VHS and laserdisc releases worldwide in the years that followed. Here,  the theatrical version, with all its flaws, was supplemented with a few additional scenes lost on the cutting room floor. Among other things, Kirk's spacewalk is exciting, with an unfinished Enterprise set in the background. Thanks to full screen this goof was a little "covered up", but the unfinished set is still clearly noticeable.

In any case, director Robert Wise was never quite satisfied with the film over the decades. Various matte paintings and storyboards are also a good testament to the different vision he had for various scenes in the film at the time. Ironically, the digitally remastered versions of the "quasi-competitor" Star Wars may have been a major factor in why Wise was given another chance to work on his baby at the turn of the millennium. In contrast to Lucas' ever-changing improvements, the 2001 director's cut can be said to have an absolutely undeniable added value.

Some of the longer scenes already known from the TV version were added here, focusing on those with a real added value and leaving out filler material. At the same time, material from the theatrical version has been trimmed, e.g. logic and continuity errors that have been corrected in this way. Various effect scenes, which were faulty or simply never completed at the time, could now be created retrospectively for the first time. For this, too, some shots used in the theatrical version as a substitute for those missing effects were deleted. In addition, a new sound mix was created, which was a clear improvement over the theatrical/TV version, but basically used the same source material.

 

The Director's Edition was completely remastered  in 4K

However, the effect scenes created in 2001 in particular turned out to be a weak point in the following years, as is the case with many films from this era. Thanks to the technology of the time, the digitally recreated CG material was only rendered in SD and thus not suitable for HD. This also explains why the 2009 Blu-ray premiere only featured the theatrical version. Fortunately, about 10 years later, after several fan requests, the project was taken on again. Thus, for the 4K release with the now advanced technology actually ALL the effect shots, which exclusively created for the Director's Cut, were rebuilt.

 

Another highlight was that in the meantime the original ADR recordings had been recovered and the original score by Jerry Goldsmith had been restored. So even the troubled audio situation could now be tackled with a significantly improved starting point and in the spirit of the original version. 

For the 55th anniversary of the series on September 07, 2021, they unfortunately weren't ready yet, so "only" the theatrical version was released in 4K here for the time being. However, in April 2022, a 4K version of the director's cut premiered exclusively in the US VOD offering from Paramount+. Since September 05, 2022, this "Director's Edition" is also available on 4K Blu-ray as well as Blu-ray. We now work up here what eager fans have already collected in the months since VOD release sometimes more and sometimes less detailed.

 

The differences in the 4K director's cut

In the course of the 4K remastering, as mentioned above, especially the 2001 SD effects were all remastered again. This must be clearly emphasized here, because in the new version, large parts of the finished version were not simply reworked, but painstakingly reconstructed. To do this, they went back into the archives and searched for the individual elements of finished effect shots in order to completely reassemble the missing shots using digital compositing.

In the course of this, even the original effects were given a makeover. In contrast to the 1979 theatrical version, which was of course composited using the trick technology of the time, there was no longer any generation loss and obvious edges around the matte paintings. Also, because of the time pressure at that time, some composites of effects scenes were much blurrier than usual, this is now also fixed.

Some elements remained unfortunately lost, so that one had to trick here otherwise. Details about this are explained in a 90-minute YouTube interview with the people responsible for the 4K restoration, which is worth listening to. Many nice examples of reworked effects can be found in DVD Schweizer's huge image comparison. Here, we will only focus on the cases where clear differences between the visuals itself are also noticeable.

As just mentioned, the access to original elements at that time was worth its weight in gold there. Goofs in e.g. landscapes in the background were often ironed out, or a curious example in this respect are the changing jackets of Spock and McCoy shortly before the end credits. In general, small continuity errors and geometric inconsistencies were often addressed. The completely rebuilt CGI models got different shapes here and there in detail. Again, it must be clearly attested that these changes don't seem out of place at any moment, as is sometimes the case with George Lucas' many reworkings of the original trilogy.

Also curious are a few alternate or completely exclusive shots. In some moments of the 2001 director's cut, such as the scene with Spock in the 11th minute, alternate takes were used. The 4K DC goes back to the original theatrical version footage here. In the 95th minute, there is an approximately 3 sec long completely new shot of the rings, which was probably added for continuity reasons.

Last but not least, the recovered ADR bits in the audio track should be highlighted again. In the documentary on the new bonus Blu-ray there is an excerpt of the ADR session with Leonard Nimoy as Spock, where you can see for yourself the effort that director Robert Wise made back then. Also in several other places, which are not even highlighted in the cut report, a clearly better sound quality is noticeable. In some cases, radio calls are distorted differently or dialogues were deliberately mixed left/right for spatiality. In addition, the soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith has also been polished up, as mentioned in the previous section.

It should be summarized as a conclusion that these are mostly adjustments that are actually clearly to be welcomed. Revisionist, yes - but in a conscientious way that respectfully gives the film another little polish. With excellent picture quality and the touching up of many little things that Wise unfortunately couldn't do himself during his lifetime, the classic has now been duly archived for eternity

 

Summary on the three main versions of the movie

Here is a quick overview of the three main versions, which also includes a few small comments that have not found a place in the long text up to this point.

1. Theatrical version (1979) - 132min Blu-ray (resp. 126min in 25fps)

a) VHS/DVD/2009 Blu-ray: In several editions this is clearly the version that has been released most times. For director Robert Wise, however, this has more the character of an incomplete rough cut due to incomplete realization of effects, soundtrack and some action scenes.

b) 2021 4K-remastered: Basically the same film version, but in one scene in particular it was noticeable that an attempt was made to digitally conceal a film error (model arm of the Enterprise covers the dock). However, this was done carelessly and even a piece of the Enterprise was cut away, see high-resolution image comparison from DVD Schweizer.

2. TV version (1983) - 145min 4K Blu-ray (or 138min in 25fps)

a) On VHS/Laserdiscs from the 80s and 90s, a version was released based on the theatrical version, adding just under 13 minutes of Deleted Scenes to it. Was also released in Germany on VHS, including re-dubbing for all additional parts.

b) 2022 4K-remastered: Basically the same film version, but for the additional scene "Kirk's spacewalk" the missing set background was now completed digitally.

 

3. Director's Edition - 137min 4K-Blu-ray (or 131min in 25fps)

a) 2002 DVD: Personally supervised by director Robert Wise, this is a reconstruction of his desired version. With many digitally redone effects and some new action scenes, but also some scenes cut from the theatrical version.

b) 2022 4K: Newly restored version of the Director's Edition by the core team also involved in the DVD reconstruction. Further details that could not be technically realized in 2002 were added.

 

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Before the Paramount logo, the film had an overture over blackscreen in the theatrical version. In the DVD Director's Edition (= DVD-DC), a star field was inserted for these roughly two minutes. The 4K version of the DC (= 4K-DC) shows a revised version of the star field, with it moving a bit slower. Also, this part is about 14 sec shorter.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




02:56-03:11 / 02:50-03:03

The Paramount logo differs. The DVD had the variant that was in use from 1995-99. The 4K version, fittingly, again uses the older version (1975-86).

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




03:12-04:30 / 03:06-04:28

The credits have been revised. As on DVD, these are in yellow, while the original theatrical version was in white. However, they are built up differently now in 4K - exemplified here by the first credit "Paramount Pictures presents". Again, the other star field in the background stands out. The title card comes flying into the picture from the front, and here you can see particularly well how the whole thing now simply looks much fresher.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here is another picture from the theatrical version for comparison.




05:43-05:48 / 05:43-05:48

Black borders around the screen, which revealed the transition of the matte painting, have been covered up a bit.

Directly after that, there is a first example of subtitles appearing in the picture during the dialog in Klingon. On the old DVD, these are only in the player-specific standard font. On Blu-ray/4K-UHD, they have fortunately thought along and now offer these passages in the correct font.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




07:30-07:38 / 07:35-07:43

As the astronaut flies past Epsilon 9, the shot has been revised. It is noticeable that the new DC is much closer.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




07:51-07:56 / 07:58-08:03

Here, on the screen on the left, the background has been replaced by another shot. Only in the DC you can see a Klingon text appearing.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



The theatrical version had normal English on a black background.




08:51-08:52 / 09:00

In the few frames with the explosion, the effect has been reworked. The blue circle is now much larger (and the whole frame is colored blue).

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




09:07-09:09 / 09:16-09:18

Hardly noticeable at the small screenshot size, but in the 4K DC, green digits have been added to the screen, virtually flying up to illustrate the computer's calculation.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




09:30-09:37 / 09:40-09:48

The shot of Vulcan was reworked another time, because the matte painting was only available in SD for the DVD version. Compared to the theatrical version, night has already been turned into day and the moon has been removed. In the 2022 DC, especially the landscape now looks significantly different.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here is the original shot from the theatrical version:




09:50-10:05 / 10:01-10:17

The shot of various statues on Vulcan, which was also rebuilt for the DC, has been changed again in the background: Sunlight and completely different landscape.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here is the original shot from the theatrical version:




10:08-10:30 / 10:20-10:43

Again a shot already processed in the DC that has been touched again: The background on the left of the image differs.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




11:07-11:14 / 11:21-11:29

A shot of Spock was replaced here on the DVD-DC. This is said to be due to the fact that the original take was no longer found after the subtitles had already been burned in. The 4K DC again shows the original take as in the theatrical version.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here is the original shot from the theatrical version:




11:40 / 11:56

Again, the background on the right side of the image was changed in various shots. Not mentioned again individually, this shot occurs several times in the next minute.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




11:49-11:51 / 12:05-12:07

There is also an alternate take of Spock to discover here.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




12:18-12:46 / 12:35-13:04

The introductory shots of the Golden Gate Bridge (almost all supplemented for the DVD-DC) of course also had to be rebuilt and thus deviate again. Buildings on the left and on the right were exchanged, moreover there are e.g. other shadows on the water. Only the third comparison image here was already in the theatrical version, but digitally reworked for the DVD-DC. The following interior shot was also already heavily changed from TC to DVD-DC and deviates again in the 4K-DC.

Note: The final shot from the inside with the bridge in the background is used again in the next minute.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here the only, deviating shot of the bridge from the theatrical version and the following one inside: There, the Golden Gate Bridge was still incongruously far away, the trams looked different and so did the building on the far right.




13:27-14:10 / 13:47-14:32

In the closer shot with Captain Kirk, the trams on the left and right were replaced with new CG models. Immediately afterwards, a shuttle pod was added to the lower left of the ship in two shots.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



In the theatrical version, especially the top of the pods still looked a bit different:




14:21-14:27 / 14:43-14:50

Already in the DVD-DC, Kirk's docked pod was added to the left of the picture compared to the theatrical version. For the 4K DC, this CGI pod was reworked again and the proportions are now somewhat different.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here is the original shot from the theatrical version:




15:21-15:30 / 15:47-15:56

The earth on the left of the image was reworked in 4K DC. Same game afterwards over the whole background.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




Two more shots with Kirk's capsule in space were recomposited one minute later. But especially on the small screenshots the tiny deviations are not really visible.


17:04-17:14 / 17:34-17:44

Kirk's capsule and the dock are now at the same height. In both the theatrical version and the DVD-DC, the dock was significantly higher up.

Note: This finally fits the position of the dock in the rest of the scene.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




During a tracking shot around the ship, there was a somewhat blurry transition to a matte painting just under a minute later. This has now been somewhat improved digitally, but is just as difficult to immortalize on screenshots. The same goes for two shots of the pods that were recomposited shortly after.


18:58-19:04 / 19:33-19:39

Already for the DVD-DC, a reflection of the ship was placed over Kirk's head. This has now been digitally reworked a bit in the 4K version.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here is the original shot from the theatrical version:




Shortly after that, there is another minimally deviating newly built shot of the space capsule.


19:27-19:39 / 20:03-20:15

The nacelle in the center (slightly left) of the image used to be transparent, so that the Earth in the background shone through. For the 4K DC, this part has now been colored black.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




19:41-19:39 / 20:17-20:15

Here again a star field has been added in the background.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



In the following a few recomposited shots, which can't be captured vividly.


20:45 / 21:23

Also difficult to capture, but another interesting fix: The wall in the window on the left shook for a short moment. This jerkiness was corrected for the first time in the 4K version.




22:02 / 22:44

Here, as well as in various subsequent shots, the rapid flickering on the screens (see far left in the image, difficult to show on screenshots) has now been stabilized.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




Relevant audio change
22:59 / 23:45

Chevkov now says something on the radio during this shot: "Engineering. Show me your readings on photon capacitors."




Relevant audio change
23:10 / 23:56

Again, Chevkov now says something on the radio during this shot: "All WD stations. Maintain current status."




28:23-28:26 / 29:21-29:24

Some text was added to the screen for the first time in the 4K DC, which builds up during the shot.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




30:11-30:25 / 31:14-31:29

In two consecutive shots, there's a lot more blue and the astronaut was inserted a bit cleaner. For example, the background no longer shimmers through under his helmet. On the left of the second screenshot, you can also see that the 4K image has been cleaned of damage.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut




35:48-36:13 / 37:06-37:32

Only visible if you look very closely: The model arm of the Enterprise covers a part of the light from the dry dock in two shots here. This has now been digitally eliminated. In the second screenshot, however, it is even more noticeable that a part of the outline of Earth can now be seen on the left side of the image. This is the original matte painting from the 70s, which was not used back then by mistake and also wasn't reconstructed on the DVD-DC.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut


Here again the relevant part for the model arm marked in close-up:



Note: As already linked in the intro, you can see this much better in a comparison in original HD size. Here you can also see that a new error has been created in the 2021 4K version of the theatrical version, because a part of the Enterprise was cut off unintentionally.



37:10-37:16 / 38:31-38:37

The model of the earth on the left in the picture was exchanged.

2001 DVD Director's Cut2022 4K Director's Cut



Here is the same spot from the theatrical version, which still had a matte painting of the earth.

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