View Full Version : Deep Space Nine in High Definition: One Step Closer? (Re Rendering Legacy LW scenes)

06-18-2013, 02:23 PM
It's long since been the belief of fans - and indeed CBS - that the scene files used back in the 1990s to render these CG shots have long since been lost. After all, it was far easier to neglect computer files than it was rolls of physical film. Couple that with how hard disc space was such a valuable commodity 15 years ago, and an assumption that the original files were lost or simply overwritten could certainly be believable.

As part of an upcoming feature profiling the original CG artists who worked on Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, I set about researching and contacting a number of the team who were responsible for CG work back in the day for effects houses such as Foundation Imaging and Eden FX. A startling breakthrough came during an interview with former Senior CG Supervisor Robert Bonchune who worked on all three post-TNG spinoffs and won a host of Emmys for his CG work on several famous episodes. During the interview - which will be published later this month - Bonchune revealed that he still has in his possession all of the original CG scene files which he worked on during his time working on Star Trek.

CG work on Deep Space Nine was originally split between two FX houses, Digital Muse and Foundation Imaging, as Bonchune explained:

Digital Muse was doing most of the work on Deep Space Nine – I don’t know if they’d changed their name to Eden FX – but they did most of the CG for that show. We [Foundation] did a fair amount of work for that show as well, but I can’t say that we were regularly doing weekly work on DS9. We were certainly part of the bigger shows, because they just didn’t have the capacity to do it all; it just needed two big teams.

The spaceship stuff is a little easier. If you have all of the assets – all the ships that are needed – and you load the scene file, theoretically, if it loads all the ships with textures it needs, then yes, you’d just hit ‘render.’

[Deep Space Nine] is much more difficult for the last three [seasons] because of the combination of CG and motion control – and when there was CG, it was usually those massive, full-blown war scenes. Going back and revisiting it isn’t as simple as just hitting ‘render’, but it’s still pretty straightforward.

Bonchune went on to describe how he has all of the original assets for not only his work with Foundation Imaging on Deep Space Nine, but also the vast majority of Star Trek: Voyager:

Unless someone has some fantastic algorithm for up-rezzing to make it HD quality – and I guess that could be possible – but to redo it is to virtually start over from scratch. You’re talking about what they did for the Original Series, getting a real team to sit down and redo basically everything from the third season on, almost from scratch.

If they ask one of us – and if they use a team that uses LightWave – it’ll be much easier for them to redo… because the guys who worked on it, like me, have the assets. We have the original ships; we have most of everything that was used [in the making of the series]. That would eliminate a ton of the cost of rebuilding.

So, how would I approach it? The same way I did at the time – I’d figure out what was done in CG, and we’d just start from there. And today, it would be easier! Literally, you could just load the scene files and hit ‘render’ – it would be done! I mean, not everything… but a lot more than you’d think.

06-18-2013, 03:28 PM
Cool Quote from the Commnets section:

Interesting that Adam "Mojo" Lebowitz confirms in the comments there that they didn't start rendering multiple passes and do compositing until Voyager's finale, "Endgame." So that means 99.9% of the DS9 and VOY CG shots are all one pass renders with every necessary element in the scene file. So, as long as all the linked assets were backed up (textures, materials, etc.), it really would be rather straightforward to render anew in HD.