Originally posted on SciFi.com June 10, 1997.
Okuda: Hello everyone! It's good
to see everyone.
Moderator: OK, any opening remarks?
Moderator: Can you hear me? Michael? Denise?
Okuda: Well, as you may know,
we're just starting up on the fourth season of Star Trek Voyager
Okuda: and we are about to start
preproduction on the sixth season of
Okuda: Star Trek Deep Space
Moderator: OK, let's go...
Moderator: <Pilot> to <Moderator>: Mike, is
it true that there is a DS9 Tech manual in the works for the fans
Okuda: I understand that our
friend, Rick Sternbach, has some thoughts about such a project, but
Okuda: we're not sure exactly how
far that has progressed at this point.
Moderator: <photeK> to <Moderator>: over
the recent years in star trek ive noticied that the sets have gotten a
lot better. is that because the artist evolved or because the budgets
have gotten bigger? also did you goto an art school for set design or
Okuda: As you may know, it takes
quite a number of months, years sometimes, before a book project
progresses from idea to print.
Okuda: D: The sets for Star Trek
have gradually gotten a little bigger over the years, and they have also
gotten a lot more sophisticated
Okuda: as we all have gained more
experience in making the show.
Moderator: BTW, the "D" is for Denise, and
the "M" is for Michael.
Moderator: They are sharing a computer...
Okuda: M: Neither of us attended
art school, oddly enough.
Moderator: <OkudaRocks> to <Moderator>: How
did you come up with the Klingon language??
Okuda: D: The written Klingon
language was invented by artists at Apogee for the first Star Trek
movie, based on Matt Jefferies' lettering on the Klingon Battle Cruiser
on the original show.
Okuda: The spoken Klingon
language was invented by Marc Okrand, who is a professional
Okuda: Marc is also the author of
The Klingon Dictionary.
Moderator: <Checkm8> to <Moderator>: Mike,
will we be seeing any new starfleet ship designs in upcoming DS9
Okuda: M: There are some
mysterious shapes to be seen in the background of the last shot of the
last episode. Stay tuned!
Moderator: <Maverick> to <Moderator>: How
do you get all of the information for the information books that you
write about Star Trek?
Okuda: D: It may sound kind of
silly, but we sit down and watch the shows, and we take LOTS of
Okuda: We have several
researchers who help us to do this, because the research is incredibly
detail-oriented and time-consuming.
Moderator: <Pilot> to <Moderator>: Can you
tell us about your plans for the Encyclopedia's Future?
Okuda: M: This way, we can be
sure that the info in the books actually comes from the shows
Okuda: D: We are currently
finishing work on the updated edition of the Star Trek Encyclopedia for
publication this November from Pocket Books.
Okuda: This new edition will be
800 pages long, with all illustrations and photos in full color.
Okuda: As you might imagine, it
has been a LOT of work.
Okuda: M: The new Encyclopedia
will go partway through the 5th season of DS9 and the 3rd season of
Okuda: D: Doug Drexler has done
something like 400 illustrations for the book. He's an amazing
Moderator: <Capper-Deluxe> to <Moderator>:
will there be an updated Omnipedia and interactive Tech Manual at any
Okuda: M: Simon and Schuster
Interactive has announced plans to produce a CD-ROM project called
"The Captain's Chair"
Okuda: which is an Interactive
Tech Manual-like overview of the bridges of several starships, including
a digital re-creation of the Original Series Enterprise bridge.
Okuda: D: They're also thinking
about doing something called the Interactive Star Trek Encyclopedia,
which will probably include all of our updated information.
Moderator: <Heptman> to <Moderator>: Are
there any plans for another Star Trek interactive movie, like "Star
Okuda: M: Not that we know of,
although they always have more projects planned that we haven't heard
Moderator: <CPTMIKE> to <Moderator>:
Looking for better "SPECS" for the Enterprise E... Any chance
something better thant the "First Contact Novelization" is
Okuda: D: Well, we'll have a
couple of fairly detailed drawings of the Sovereign-class ship in the
Okuda: And we're hoping to have
some other cool stuff in "The Captain's Chair" CD-ROM. (Which
we're working on, by the way...)
Moderator: <Forty-Two> to <Moderator>: Have
you done any work outside of Trek?
Okuda: M: Not lately. Both
Denise and I worked on a CBS pilot called "The Osiris
Chronicles" last year.
Okuda: D: And we have started
work on a book that is NOT part of the Star Trek universe.
Moderator: <Fanatic> to <Moderator>: Hi
Mike and Catnip as fan of Star Trek and other things I noticed a few
mistakes in the omnipedia concering The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
tie ins to star trek and I'd also like to know what is with the water
mellon in the chase sequence in Buckaroo Banzai?
Okuda: D: What mistakes
concerning Buckaroo Banzai?
Moderator: <Codeboy> to <Moderator>: Mike,
this has been driving me crazy for years, but... what font do you use to
make the starfleet computer displays? :P
Okuda: M: Mostly Helvetica Ultra
Compressed for TNG-era displays. Eurostyle Bold Extended for TOS
movie-era displays. Corporate Condensed for TOS-era graphics.
Moderator: <charlie> to <Moderator>: You
both wear many hats - writers, designers, etc. Which one gives you the
most pleasure? Which is the most challenging?
Okuda: D: One of the cool things
about what we do is the fact that we DO wear so many hats. When you get
burned out in one area, there's always something in another.
Moderator: <Nikeseqis> to <Moderator>: I'd
like to ask if being so involved with startrek, has it dulled their
excitement for it, have they lost that excitement becuase they're thrown
behind the scenes so deeply?
Okuda: M: There is a definite
sense of loss when you work on the show. You can't watch it and say
"oh no! how are they gonna make it out of THIS one?!" On the
other hand, I must say that this is more than balanced by the fun of
working on the show.
Okuda: D: On the third hand, that
is why both Mike and I enjoy watching "Babylon 5." We have
absolutely no idea what's going to happen on that show, so everything's
Moderator: <Codeboy> to <Moderator>: What's
the weirdest explanation you've ever made for all the high-tech stuff on
Okuda: M: That's a tough one.
Let me think.
Okuda: Probably devising the
guidelines for what happens near Warp 10.
Okuda: We had to figure out how
to account for a number of different things that Gene wanted, as well as
we had to acknowledge a number of different things that several episodes
Okuda: I don't think it is a
perfect solution, but I think it works reasonably well.
Moderator: <carlos> to <Moderator>: what
cool stuff/in-jokes to you guys hide in the scenic design? clue us in,
we wanna know!
Okuda: D: Hmm. I think everyone
knows about the initials on the buttons.
Okuda: The problem is, that as
much as we enjoy putting in the gags, we try VERY hard to make sure that
they can't be seen on camera.
Okuda: Obviously, if we do
something that can be seen, then we have done Star Trek (and its
viewers) a disservice, since we have worked against the drama of the
Okuda: As a result, we really
don't do a lot of gags.
Moderator: <critter> to <Moderator>: Mike,
what is the usual process in coming up with a new starship design, from
initial idea to building the model?
Okuda: M: Usually, if it is an
entirely new design, then the production designer tells one of our
illustrators, Rick Sternbach or John Eaves, what he has in mind for the
Okuda: Rick or John will spend a
couple of hours sketching up some concepts, at which point the show's
visual effects supervisor will get involved.
Okuda: Obviously, the design of
the ship has to work with whatever visual effects shots are being
planned for the ship.
Okuda: For example, if the ship
has to be battle-damaged, we might need to have some areas on which
battle-damage would be clearly visible.
Okuda: And there are specific
considerations if the ship is being built as a filming miniature or
being done as a rendered computer generated image.
Moderator: <preed> to <Moderator>: What do
you think of all of Phil Farrand's "Nitpickers Guide to Star Trek:
[TOS, TNG, DS9]"? Do you find them annoying, or read them and say,
"Yup, good point there..."
Okuda: D: Both of us found the
"Nitpickers'" books to be very clever.
Okuda: We were kind of amused at
the number of things that they DIDN'T catch, however!
Moderator: <preed> to <Moderator>: Speaking
of several starships, do you have a favorite starship design?
Okuda: M: For me, it'd have to
be the original Starship Enterprise from the first Star Trek
Okuda: D: Me, too.
Moderator: <CPTMIKE> to <Moderator>: Can
you give us a VERY LOOSE "whats gonna' happen next time one
VOYAGER, after the BORG-BASHING Cliffhanger?!?!?'
Okuda: M: "Very
loose"? No problem. It'll be amazingly cool and a lot of
Okuda: D: Actually, we just
finished shooting the first episode of the season, and it WAS a lot of
Moderator: <CptNguyen> to <Moderator>: Are
the Chronology updates going to reflect what happens on Voyager, which
is cut off from the rest of the Federation and Starfleet?
Okuda: M: The updated Star Trek
Chronology (the version published late last year from Pocket Books) did
include Voyager story material.
Okuda: We decided that it would
be inappropriate to leave out such a large part of the Trek
Okuda: Even though, technically,
the Federation (and therefore the Chronology) should have no knowledge
of what happened to the Voyager in the Delta Quadrant.
Moderator: <Pilot> to <Moderator>: Why is
it that you of all people chose yourself (or where chosen?) to be what
fans call 'The Ambassador' or the person on the production staff who
fans can deal with the most. Only rarely in the history of Star Trek,
have members of the crew taken it upon themselves to say 'I'm gonna make
some of this stuff official and accessable to fans.". DO you like
to think of yourself as this AMBASSADOR or is it just a desire to set
Okuda: D: There are many people
on the Trek production staff who make a real effort to make stuff
accessible to fans. After all, I think everyone is well aware that
without the fans, we wouldn't have jobs!
Okuda: However, the fact is that
television and film production is an incredibly demanding grind.
Frankly, at the end of a production day, someone working on a film crew
rarely has much energy left over to do anything else, so if it seems
that production people don't reach out to fans, it is more likely due to
exhaustion than to apathy.
Moderator: <WebBuildr> to <Moderator>:
Michael, were you responsible for the reference to 2001 in ST: First
Contact? (the antenna)
Okuda: M: You caught that one!
Actually, I'd forgotten about that.
Okuda: I never thought that
particular readout would be seen so closely, but it turned out that they
did several tight closeups on it.
Moderator: <Maverick> to <Moderator>: In
your next version of Star Trek Encyclopedia, would it be possible for
you to include a pronunciation for the words?
Okuda: D: Not a bad idea, but
it'll have to wait for a third edition, since the text is already
Okuda: Actually, for Klingon
pronunciation, you can always refer to Marc Okrand's books.
Moderator: <OkudaRocks> to <Moderator>:
Mike and Denise, What is your favorite series to work on and why do you
enjoy it so much?
Okuda: M: That is a very tough
question. Each series has something special about it, and it is becomes
very difficult to compare the specialness of each.
Okuda: D: We do, however, have a
very warm spot in our hearts for the Deep Space Nine episode
"Trials and Tribble-ations."
Okuda: I think that was one of
the most remarkable, magical things we've done in the current era of
Star Trek programs.
Moderator: <Dolphin1> to <Moderator>: About
the episode of Voyager where the crew goes back in time to 1997,
shouldn't they have landed in the Eugenics Wars? I noticed no mention of
it in the episode.
Okuda: M: I know our writers
wrestled with that question quite a bit. I think they ultimately
decided that dealing with the Eugenics Wars would have taken away too
much from the focus of the episode, which was our Voyager heroes in the
Moderator: <surak7> to <Moderator>: How
much work went into Trials and Tribbulations?
Okuda: D: We started working on
it, unofficially, a couple of months ahead of time. We started
gathering reference materials and studying videotapes.
Okuda: By the time the episode
had an official"go ahead" from the studio, every department
had put an enormous amount of work into it.
Okuda: As you may know, 30 years
has passed since the original series was filmed, and we had nothing left
over from the original sets. We didn't even have plans or
Okuda: Everything had to be
researched from videotapes and photos, which was tremendously time
Okuda: The director, Jonathan
West, was given the complex task of matching his work to the
look-and-feel of the original series.
Okuda: And our visual effects
department did some of the most ambitious work ever attempted for a
regular television episode.
Moderator: <Spacemonk> to <Moderator>: Who
are your influences?
Okuda: M: Gene Roddenberry. Dr.
Seuss. Richard Feynman.
Okuda: Jim Henson. Ansel Adams.
Syd Mead. Steve Jobs.
Okuda: Arthur Clarke. Robert
Goddard. And Dr. Banzai.
Moderator: <BElanna> to <Moderator>: What
are the actors from TNG/DS9/VOY like to be around?
Moderator: By the way, we've got about 10 minutes left
so please send your final questions in...
Okuda: They are regular human
beings, just like you and I. They are talented, skilled professionals,
doing their best in a very demanding job. And Jonathan Frakes is known
to break into horrible song at the slightest provocation!
Moderator: <Admiral> to <Moderator>: what
computer platform is Trek CG work done on?
Okuda: M: A variety of different
computer systems are used by different departments and vendors. The art
department uses Macintosh computers for our graphics and computer
readout work. Some post-production vendors use a variety of proprietary
systems. Some recent work has been done by our friends at Foundation
Imaging, who use Windows NT machines running Lightwave software. And
some of our friends at ILM use Macs running Electric Image
Moderator: A few fans have asked questions about
Viacom's recent efforts to shut down fan websites. Any thoughts about
Okuda: D: That is a difficult
question. It is hard to criticize Viacom's legitimate efforts to
protect its legitimate intellectual property rights. After all,
Paramount has invested millions of dollars over the past decades to mold
Star Trek into a valuable property. On the other hand, I think it is
fair to say that Viacom could have acted with more sensitivity and
appreciation to the fans, who are, after all, largely responsible for
the ongoing commercial success of the program.
Moderator: <Forty-Two> to <Moderator>:
Mike, how long does it take to design an "Okudagram"?
Okuda: M: It entirely depends on
the complexity of the project and the deadline. I once planned a very
ambitious graphic that I had thought would take three days to design.
The phone rang, and it was a producer informing me that this scene would
shoot the following morning, which meant that my work would have to be
finished in fifteen minutes. I quickly simplified the design, and it
was ready in fifteen minutes, because it had to be. And that's the
nature of episodic television production.
Moderator: <Checkm8> to <Moderator>:
Mike/Denise Is there a listing of e-mail addresses we can use to get
into contact with those involved with and in the Star Trek shows ?
Okuda: D: I don't know of an
e-mail directory. One of the problems is that many of us do some of our
work on line, so we are often facing deadlines that prevent us from
dealing with e-mail.
Moderator: Any place that fans can write to you? Is
there an official Okuda fan club, website, etc.?
Okuda: M: The studio is pretty
good about making sure that mail gets to us, the actors, and everyone
else connected with the show. Unfortunately, I must admit that I
frequently don't get around to responding.
Moderator: <CptNguyen> to <Moderator>: It
seems that technology is slowly starting to catch up with Star Trek.
Nanoprobes are in the works, as are many other Federation technologies.
How are these advances going to affect the technological aspects of Star
Trek, as a science fiction series which should stay at least one step
ahead of real life?
Okuda: M: Staying ahead of
present-day technology is always a real challenge. Real technology
moves so quickly that it is not unusual to find out that something that
we thought was futuristic is already obsolete.
Moderator: Well, that's all the time we have tonight.
Moderator: Thank you both for taking the time out to
chat with us and answer a few questions.
Okuda: Thank you all for some
very interesting questions.
Moderator: I hope we'll find the opportunity to do this
Moderator: And to everyone who's question wasn't
Okuda: We appreciate your
affection for Star Trek, and we want you to know that we share
Moderator: check the Star Trek Encyclopedia, Omnipedia,
Tech Manual and Chronology...the answers are probably in there
Moderator: we're going to go unmoderated...
CPTMIKE: Thank you!!!
Checkm8: That was cool
WebBuildr: thank you!
AlexDTS: Thanks, Mike and Denise!
Trekkr: that was soooooooooooooooooooooooo awesome
OkudaRocks: can anyone tell me the address for the
Vash: thanks very much.
Checkm8: Thanks !!!!!!
pazuzu: thank da bog for the star trek!
Fanatic: Arrigato Catnip!
Maverick: thanks if your still on there
Okuda: Bye. And thanks!
Pilot: 5555 Melrose Ave
BaronT: thank you for chatting with us!
BElanna: Thank you!!