This is my first post here in 4 years, so the first thing … Hi everybody who remembers me 😃
I have a small request regarding The Cage, an unaired 1964 pilot to a show, which you probably heard about, called Star Trek. There are multiple versions available, a brief re-cap.
The first 1964/1965 version was shown only to NBC execs and their family members. It existed as a full color 35mm film. The writer/producer of the pilot, Gene Roddenberry, had in his possession a 16mm black and white copy of this version, which he has shown on numerous conventions during the 1970’s. This version was never shown on TV, or released commercially.
In 1966 during the production of the first season the production team was not able to deliver a finished episode every week, especially because of the optical effects which took much longer than they thought. To save some time, Roddenberry wrote a new two part story called The Menagerie, and they incorporated different bits of The Cage into The Menagerie. The editors thought that they are working with just a print of the pilot threw out all of the scenes they didn’t use in The Menagerie, not knowing that they have been given the original negatives and that they have basically forever destroyed it. They have done tons of other changes too, mostly in the audio mix, they added or replaced music, and added new sound effects. Also, the mail voice of The Keeper was pitch shifted to sound more female.
In 1986, for the 20th anniversary Paramount wanted to give the fans something special, and they wanted to release The Cage for the first time, that’s when they found out that the original negative no longer exists. So they went to Roddenberry, who gave them his 16mm black & white copy. The result was a so called “extended version”, which starts and ends with a new footage by Roddenberry, and mixes footage from The Menagerie (including the new Talosian voice and new music/effects) with the 16mm black and white footage. For whatever reason they didn’t do it properly and the result is roughly 30 seconds shorter than the original version, cutting out mostly dialogue.
In 1988 the full color trims, which were cut out in 1966 were found by Bob Furmanek. He gave them back to Roddenberry, who sold them to Paramount. The result was a new full color version, mixing footage from The Menagerie with the newly found color trims. However they probably didn’t find ALL of the trims, or some of them were unusable, because there are shots which were slowed down to make up for the missing seconds. The audio is the same as in the 1986 version. This was first released as a part of the 1988 TV special “The Star Trek Saga - From One Generation To The Next” which aired between seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek The Next Generation, and a few years later released on Japanese laserdiscs (and maybe even elsewhere). Again, this version was full color, but still roughly 30 seconds shorter and some shots were slowed down.
In 2001 (NTSC) / 2004 (PAL) Star Trek was released on DVD, and it was yet ANOTHER version, this time even shorter. They cut out the “You were like a wild little animal” line (probably because political correctness started to creep in at that time and comparing a woman to an animal considered to be tolerable anymore), lots of shots were trimmed, and some shots are in a different order.
For 2009 the Blu-ray versions were released and they featured not one, but 2 new versions of The Cage, the first one is again shorter than the DVD version, and again has a different order of shots in some scenes. The second version is the same cut, but all effects scenes were replaced by new CGI effects.
If you are interested in a much more detailed comparison of all versions, check these youtube videos I made a few years ago:
Anyway, back to the topic.
I have the holy grail of all Star Trek collectors - a copy of a VHS transfer of the original 16mm black and white version. It looks really bad, it is low resolution, and it is cropped too much compared to the Blu-ray, but it’s the real thing - it has the original soundtrack, featuring the real voice of Malachi Throne as the Keeper, it has the missing 30 seconds, it’s all there.
The first thing I have of course created was a mix of the Blu-ray footage and the new black and white footage. Meaning I have literally cut the Blu-ray version scene by scene and replaced the black and white shots with them. The final result is of course hard to watch. You see some cuts are very small, like 2-3 frames from the end of the shot, meaning when you watch my combined edit, you watch a shot in full colour, suddenly it changes to black and white for a split second and then it continues being full color. So I have created a second version, in which I decided to slowly fade out the color version of the shot, so the changes come much more natural and this version is much more fun to watch, but still, it’s far from perfect.
So my idea was very “simple”. Just colorize the black and white footage. Sounds simple, right? I mean we have the perfect color reference for every single shot, what could possibly go wrong? Well, I tried everything. I tried every method I could find online. I tried automatic methods, I tried manual methods. The best looking versions I achieved when I first ran the shots via DeOldify, which created versions with almost perfect skin tones, but the rest was pretty bad, and then imported these into DaVinci Resolve, where I tried to match the shots to the Blu-ray footage, but I just can’t do it.
So, after almost a year, I give up. Then I remembered that this forum actually used to be read by a huge number of very talented people, many of them being fans of the original Star Trek. So, I am here 😃 Is here anybody who has the knowledge how to colorize the black and white shots in a way that cutting or cross-fading them with the Blu-ray footage would be “watchable”? We are talking here about roughly 30 seconds of footage. Anybody who could help me with this? Thanks a lot