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Fan uses AI to remaster 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' in HD

It's an experiment, but it shows how old shows could be made new again.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
03.15.19 in AV
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CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

Unfortunately, you're highly unlikely to see an official remaster of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Its special effects were shot on video rather than added to film, making an already daunting remastering process that much more difficult -- and since it's not a tentpole show like The Next Generation, CBS might not consider it worth the effort. Machine learning might make it easier for fans to fill the gap, however. CaptRobau has experimented with using AI Gigapixel's neural networks to upscale Deep Space Nine to 1080p. The technology is optimized for (and trained on) photos, but apparently works a treat for video. While you wouldn't mistake it for an official remaster, it provides a considerably cleaner, sharper look than the 480p original without introducing visual artifacts.

More details are coming in the future, CaptRobau said.

Don't expect to see a fully upgraded DS9 hit the web in the near future. Legal issues notwithstanding (CBS is already antsy about unofficial Star Trek material), it's still a technical challenge. It took CaptRobau two days to process five minutes of footage on his PC, and there are 176 episodes of the sci-fi classic. It'd take enthusiasts a long time to remaster everything. And you can likely forget about a fan-made 4K update. While AI Gigapixel does work, it's both more intensive and has the unusual effect of creating very sharp edges while doing relatively little to sharpen everything else.

Not that the enthusiast is necessarily worried. He sees this as a way to goad CBS into producing its own AI-powered remaster, hopefully using customized algorithms and raw material that improve the quality beyond what you see here. This could theoretically give networks a way to improve the quality of many older TV shows without having to spend months or years manually cleaning up every frame.

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