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Updated April 16, 2013  
Hello, and Welcome to Startrekhistory.com
It’s hard to believe, but the original Star Trek – the television series that went where no television series has gone before – is over 45 years old. This website is about its production, and includes rare behind-the-scenes photos, documents, and interviews.

Open Call For Original Series Film Trims and Restoring Them…Why?

We like to have fun, but there is a serious side to this site as well.

To ensure their longevity, the original negatives of the series are kept in a climate controlled storage facility deep within a converted salt mine in the central part of the United States. There is, however, a part of Trek history that is being lost as you read this – a visual record of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the series.

salt mine film storage

The Trek Film Clips
First, some history. As Star Trek was nearing the end of its production, Gene Roddenberry answered the fans calls for Star Trek memorabilia by making available to them single frames of film called “film clips.” These clips were trims from the work prints of the episodes that were normally discarded. Roddenberry’s company, Lincoln Enterprises (also called Star Trek Enterprises) packaged and sold these trims in categories such as Planet Interiors, Planet Exteriors, Kirk, Spock, Aliens, etc. Fortunately for us, anything and everything that went before the cameras wound up in these packages, so mixed in with the “normal” episodic film clips are frames that show studio personnel, pre-special effects work, etc. From a historical perspective, these clips are excellent sources of information as to how The Original Series (TOS) was produced. If you have any of these clips you should be aware of their longevity and what you can do to preserve the images.

Nothing Lasts Forever
Unlike today, negatives of film footage not used in the actual episodes was not saved. Unused processed footage from these negatives was eventually considered garbage, including the work prints. Additionally, the dyes in the work prints – prints made on Eastman Kodak color film manufactured prior to 1982 – have begun to deteriorate causing the colors to fade. Specifically, as the yellow and cyan dyes degrade the magenta layer becomes more prominent. Numerous professional attempts to chemically restore this faded film have thus far failed. However, through the use of software manipulation of digitized images, it is possible to regain or restore much of the original color fidelity of the images – if the restoration is performed in time before the film has deteriorated further.

Before & After
The best way to illustrate how the original luster of these fading clips can be restored is to show some examples.

Do you know what episode this is from? Probably not, it was a scene filmed but never shown from the third season episode, Elaan of Troyius.

 

Another example. This clip hasn't succumbed to the magenta tint yet, but it has plenty of stains and scratches.

This is a behind the scenes special effects shot. The gray circle has the dual purpose of providing an exposure for a spot meter and is also used in color timing. Notice also that the interior lights of the model are not lit. This is to prevent heat build up and use of the lights. The slate, also known as the clapper, is shown in this image being held in front of the camera lens. It contains the scene, take and other information and is typically photographed before principal photography begins.

 

This next clip literally had the scene number and take scratched into the film. Editors would do this to quickly find a particular take.

Some of you may own black and white film clips. In the process of shooting films on a day to day basis reviews are done of the previous days' work. These segments of film are referred to as dailies or rushes. They are very rough cuts of film without sound tracks or effects of any kind. They are printed in black and white as it takes less time and costs less then processing color prints. Dailies are viewed daily early in the morning by the producer, director, cameraman to see what has been accomplished and what else needs to be done for the completion of a particular scene.

Dailies are often referred to as rushes because of the haste with which they are assembled for viewing. In the trek blooper reel there is a shot of Shatner addressing the camera saying, " I want you to know in the rushes that I am doing this shot under protest". If you happen to see this scene in color and with sound it is because it was saved specifically for the Christmas party blooper reel by the editors. Below is a restored daily clip.

Publications
Several restorations were published in the recently released Star Trek 365 book and Titan's publication of Star Trek Magazine UK.

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Titan's 10th anniversary issue of Star Trek magazine published in the UK.

“My favourite feature this issue is probably our revamped Flashback feature, which covers the making of the ST: TOS episode ‘Space Seed' and features some great behind the scenes visual effects images. A guy called Curt McAloney has digitally restored them and they look terrific.”

– Chris Teather, Titan's Editorial Director

Restoring Your Faded Clips
We've restored many clips from contributors like yourself. If you want to have your clips digitally scanned and restored, this is the process.

First, for us to restore the images on your clips, they need to qualify as unique and/or special (e.g., behind-the-scenes, special effects, a missing scene and/or anything else that you would not find in a broadcast episode). If you think your clips qualify, you need to contact our restoration expert Curt via e-mail. After you have contacted him, and if he determines that your clips are unique, he will e-mail you with an address to send the clips to. You may send your clips insured, but be aware of the post office’s regulation for insuring packages. Once he receives the clips, they will be handled with lint-free gloves and be inspected, then cleaned with PEC-12, an archival emulsion cleaner, which will remove the embedded dirt, stains, grease pencil marks, etc. The clips will then be scanned on a high resolution scanner and imported into a computer for processing. After scanning, the clips are returned to you. When the clips have been restored, you will be contacted via e-mail. Depending upon your needs, you will be sent either low resolution or high resolution images or both. Remember, we do not need your clips after we have scanned them, therefore there is no incentive for theft.

FAQ's
What will the restoration cost me?
Other than postage and insurance, all of this will cost you nothing. Normally this would cost hundreds of dollars for the time and effort spent for restoration.

What's the catch?
When you send startrekhistory.com your clips for restoration, you are agreeing that the restored digital images are property of startrekhistory.com and can be used as startrekhistory.com sees fit, such as posting on the internet or used for any other venture without compensation to you. Considering you get your restorations for free, we feel this agreement is mutually beneficial for both parties involved.

Please be advised that printing services are not offered. You will be able to print pictures from the digital files provided to you, or you can take them to a professional photo finishing service. You should be able to print pictures up to 8.5 x 11 inches.

What about rolls of film?  Can you transfer those to a digital format so that I can watch them on a DVD?
You bet! If you have a roll of Star Trek film that you’d like transferred to a digital format, we’d be happy to take a look at it. Be advised though that, similarly as for the film clips discussed above, it needs to qualify as unique and/or special (e.g., special effects, a missing scene, an outtake, and/or anything else that you would not find in a broadcast episode). If you think you have such a roll, definitely contact Curt via e-mail and he’ll send you an address to send it to. We’ll take a look at it and see if it's unique and worth transferring. Of course, if you send the roll to startrekhistory.com for transferring, then you agree to allow us to use the resulting digital movie in any capacity as we see fit. We’ll return the original roll to you along with a DVD that can be played in any home player.

How can I find out when the site is updated?
Click on this e-mail link and ask to be put on our mailing list.

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