Observations in TNG: "The Last Outpost"

A joint project with TrekCore, by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

Here are some observations about sets, props and visual effects in TNG: "The Last Outpost" without a specific theme, and a comparison of the original TV release (TNG) with the remastered episode (TNG-R).

"The Last Outpost" HD Screencaps @ TrekCore

Description TNG Other caps Comparison TNG to TNG-R Description TNG-R

In some early season 1 episodes, the color of some of the LCARS displays at the aft stations of the bridge would change from green/yellow/blue to red when the ship was at red alert. Red displays like this can be seen early in this episode. In later seasons, the color of the displays did not change when the ship was at yellow or red alert.

Mike Okuda: "I did the art for the bridge aft stations and had those panels rigged so they could change from normal to red alert with the flip of a switch. There was a problem that the red lights provided by the special effects department just weren't very bright, so it wasn't really worth doing."

The red displays are not much better visible in HD.
A C-stand is barely visible on the right edge in this scene. The C-stand is better visible in HD.
First appearance of the Ferengi Marauder. Here a nice view of the ship's ventral side. The HD version allows to recognize even more details of this very elaborate studio model.
In this shot, it can be seen that apparently some kind of gray putty was used to attach Geordi's VISOR to LeVar Burton's temple. The putty is even more obvious in the HD shot.
The planet Delphi Ardu IV is a barren bluish world. Delphi Ardu IV was later recolored (from blue to green) and appeared as other planets in several later episodes like "Lonely Among Us" (as the Selay homeworld), "Too Short a Season" (as Persephone V), "Manhunt" (as Antede III) and "The Perfect Mate" (as Krios).
Re-Used Planets in TNG

TNG: "Lonely Among Us"

TNG-R: "Lonely Among Us"

The planet was redone with much sharper contours of the continents. Similarly to the SD version, the new HD Delphi Ardu IV is also re-used as the Selay homeworld in "Lonely Among Us".

Note that there is now a lot more contrast in the shots of the Enterprise and the Ferengi vessel against the planet.

After "Where No One Has Gone Before", this is the second appearance of the MSD pool table in main engineering. As "The Last Outpost" was broadcast before "Where No One Has Gone Before", this was the first time the audience could see the prop, which was previously seen in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home". No changes

When Geordi enters the bridge, a large gray cube can be seen in the turbolift behind him.

Mike Okuda explains: "The 'gray cube' in the turbolift is something called an 'apple box'."

The apple box is better visible in HD.
In the original episode, the graphics in the upper left-hand corner were upside down (as evidenced by the graphic of the Federation logo). In the remastered episode, the error has been fixed.
Many more of the graphics already seen in "The Naked Now" appear again in this episode. Some of the graphics were not seen before, however. Appearing for the first time are a star chart and illustrations of various insectoid and non-humanoid aliens from the Spaceflight Chronology. Most of the graphics would be seen once more in "Datalore".
Spaceflight Chronology
We can make out some more details of the graphics.

Spaceflight Chronology

Spaceflight Chronology
Black cardboard squares, as seen in many early TNG episodes, are very noticeable in this shot. The cardboard is still clearly visible.
The aforementioned C-stand is once again visible on the very right in this shot. The C-stand is better visible in HD.
Only in this episode the surrender stance of the Ferengi Marauder is seen. The four screenshots nicely illustrate how the ship slowly changes. The changes can be seen much better in HD.
The first appearance of a Ferengi in Star Trek. No changes

A very good look at the ship wall from an unusual perspective.

On a different note, the port door to the observation lounge is connected to a corridor in the first season. From season 2 onwards, both observation lounge doors lead to short beige corridors that lead to the bridge. In the first season, sickbay doubled as the observation lounge. The port door is the main door to sickbay, which is connected to the main corridor set, explaining why a regular corridor appears behind the door here. Between seasons 1+2, the observation lounge was built as a separate set, explaining why the corridor changes appearance.

We can see that the island of the aircraft carrier USS Enterirse CVN-65 is the original version with the characteristic radar dome, before the 1979 refit.

"The Naked Now"
We can see all details of the ships, including quite some imperfections. It is also obvious now that the boy in the foreground is Vulcan.
The transparent holographic plate appears again after it was seen in "Haven" in Riker's quarters. It will be seen again in Admiral Jameson's quarters in "Too Short a Season".

"Too Short a Season"
Only in the HD version, we can recognize that the kids obviously left a shuttle model on the observation lounge table. It is a re-use of the toy/device from "Star Trek IV", "Encounter at Farpoint" and "The Naked Now", built from Klingon battlecruiser parts.
The Tkon seem to use the same written language as the Bandi, as evidenced by the screenshot from "Encounter at Farpoint". This re-use has been confirmed by Mike Okuda.
"Encounter at Farpoint"
No changes
The rarely used holographic desktop display shows the Tkon emblem.
Tkon emblem

Small details, like the galactic coordinates of the Tkon Empire or the star time ref can now be made out. A possible "47" reference is also visible (300472).

Mike Okuda: "The 47 in the Tkon graphic was not deliberate."

The holographic display shows two rotating images. One is flipped, so the person at the other side of the observation lounge table sees the images the right side around. This can be seen in the screenshot showing the Tkon logo. When the display switches to the star charts, the aft image is no longer flipped.

The small error was corrected when the footage of the Tkon star charts was recomposited.

Mike Okuda: "In the tabletop hologram in 'The Last Outpost,' note that one side of the rotating image is now flipped, even though the images themselves are identical to the original."

Also on the holographic display, we can see a depiction of Delphi Ardu IV.


The original image of the planet was replaced with the new planet in the remastered episode.

Integrated window blinds only appear in two TNG episodes. They are seen here, in the observation lounge, and again in "The Child" in Troi's quarters.

Mike Okuda: "In 'The Last Outpost,' the director tried an experiment: He put a light on a boom arm outside the obs lounge windows, which moved slowly up and down, as if the ship was maneuvering as it flew. The results didn't look so good, and it wasn't tried again."

Also in this scene, we see a shadow in Data's face move up and down as he is explaining the hologram.

"The Child"
No changes
In the establishing shot of the scene (the Enterprise and Ferengi Marauder in orbit of Delphi Ardu IV) and in a shot of the viewscreen on the bridge, the Ferengi Marauder is shown to be in its regular configuration. A few seconds later, however, when the Ferengi vessel is hailed and communication is established again, it appears in its earlier surrender stance again. It is still in this configuration when Picard has finished talking to DaiMon Tarr. No changes
A nice close-up of Ferengi teeth. As can be seen, the actors used a prosthesis to cover their upper teeth while their lower teeth remained unchanged. No changes

This shot of the planet surface is rather blurry. It is one of many anamorphically lensed shots in the early seasons where -in lieu of using a motion control camera- the shot was filmed in 2.35:1 Panavision and later "pan & scanned" to achieve a camera move.
Pan & Scan Effects in TNG

Mike Okuda confirms this: "The use of anamorphic shots was an ingenious solution that allowed for a camera move during visual effects shots without the need for motion control photography. The compromise is that there was a loss of picture clarity."

Well, Riker's face is recognizable now, but overall the shot is still blurry owing to the limited resolution of the original material.
However, the sky was completely redone for this shot.
In the first scene with Riker and Data on Delphi Ardu IV, Brent Spiner is not wearing the yellow contact lenses. This small blooper was not fixed in the remastered version.
Ferengi wielding energy whips are not seen again until the Enterprise episode "Acquisition", the last appearance of the Ferengi (well, and the first in chronological in-universe order). No changes
The Ferengi headgear is made from the same material as the 21st century uniform worn by Q and the soldiers in "Encounter at Farpoint". This fabric will appear in several later episodes as well. The material that the decorative, top part of the head gear consists of also appears in TNG: "The Vengeance Factor" as part of Brull's Gatherer uniform.
"Encounter at Farpoint"

"The Vengeance Factor"
A better look at the fabric in HD.
Ferengi fingernails have been consistently shown as bluish since this very first appearance of the species. No changes
This is a first good look at the Type-2 phaser ("Dustbuster") used by Tasha, also nicely showing the size difference between this one and the smaller Type 1 ("Cricket"). No change, but an example of a good shot whose quality is slightly higher in the remastered version, even when scaled down to SD.
Both the phaser and the Ferengi whip beams are diverted by the crystals on Delphi Ardu IV. The effects were redone for the remastered episode.
Semi-transparent curtains separating sections of the senior officers' quarters are only seen in this episode. In "Haven", the set was further divided by strings of pearls. No changes
Portal is human, with the exception of his creepy purple or pink eyes. Portal's eyes in HD.

The Tkon logo nicely mirrors the shape of the blade wielded by Portal 63.

Mike Okuda: "I based the design of the Tkon logo on Rick's [Sternbach] design of Portal's bladed weapon, so Rick's design came first."

The Tkon weapon was later seen again as a Klingon weapon in "Sins of the Father" in K'mpec's office and on Boreth in "Rightful Heir". A similarly designed, but transparent weapon was seen in Karnas's office in "Too Short a Season".

"Sins of the Father"

"Rightful Heir"
No changes



Thanks to Maxwell Everett who pointed out the anamorphic shot at TrekBBS and to Mott the barber who spotted a visible piece of filming equipment.


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