Originally posted on SciFi.com on November 2, 1997.
Moderator: we'll be going moderated almost immediately
Swooop: Greetings Michael.
Joe1: Hi Micheal
Robf: hi michael
M-Gullwhacker: OOO! MST3K is on!
Remiah: hi michael
Moderator: ok, we're Moderated
MichaelOkuda: (She'll be logging
in under her own name)
MichaelOkuda: We just bought a
satellite dish so we now receive the Sci-Fi Channel.
MichaelOkuda: We just saw the
first copy of the ST Encyclopedia in a bookstore even though it's not
officially out yet.
MichaelOkuda: We think it looks
great, but we're slightly prejudiced.
Moderator: ok, Denise should also be here now.
Moderator: Say hi, Denise!
DeniseOkuda: Yes, I'm
Moderator: Would you both mind introducing yourselves
and your work, for those who may know the work but not the names?
MichaelOkuda: My name is Mike
Okuda. I'm in charge of the graphics on the Star Trek programs.
MichaelOkuda: I also serve as a
technical consultant to our writers.
Moderator: This chat is Moderated, so please send your
questions to me.
DeniseOkuda: My ;name is Denise
Okuda. I serve as a graphic designer on Star Trek Deep space 9 and
video supervisor on Deep Space 9 and Star Trek voyager.
MichaelOkuda: We are also authors
of Pocket Books' Star Trek Encyclopedia and Star Trek Chronology.
DeniseOkuda: And associate
producers on Simon & Shuster Omnipedia, Captain's Chair and Updated
Interactive Star Trek Encyclopedia CD-Roms.
Moderator: <Pilot> to <Moderator>:
Question: What software you y'all use to create the graphics in the
MichaelOkuda: Tim Drexler used
Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Dimensions. A LOT.
MichaelOkuda: I also made
extensive use of Adobe Photoshop for each processing.
Moderator: <Lorien> to <Moderator>: Mike:
Speaking about tech, what's the basic idea behind Transwarp drive as
used by several races in Voyager? Does it tunnel through subspace, use a
novel field geometry or what?
MichaelOkuda: We were never clear
on transwarp as sceen in ST:III, but "threshold" makes clear
that transwarp is the mysterious Warp 10 alluded to in earlier
MichaelOkuda: We assume that it
is some kind of "deeper subspace domain" just as subspace
presumably coexists with our own time-space conintuum.
MichaelOkuda: In other words,
we're not really sure.
Moderator: <Krash2> to <Moderator>: what is
the difference between the Star Trek encyclopidia, and the star Trek
DeniseOkuda: The Star Trek
Encyclopedia from Pocket Books is updated mid-5th season DS9 and mid-3rd
season Voyager. Also, the updated interactive encyclopedia will have
the same data as the book version.
Moderator: <Timon> to <Moderator>: How long
does it take to do the Graphics of a an episode?
MichaelOkuda: We get a script
five to seven working days before we start actual filming.
MichaelOkuda: So we usually have
about that long, although we have a little longer for graphics we do for
Moderator: <Pilot> to <Moderator>: What
can you tell us about the new ship designs from First Contact and their
uses in future eps of DS9
MichaelOkuda: Those cool ships
from the Borg battle were designed by Alex Jaeger, a computer artist at
Moderator: <ladyk> to <Moderator>: how are
most of the graphics for the episodes created?
MichaelOkuda: Peter Lauripson
(one of our producers) liked the designs so much that they've been used
in some of the big battle scenes for the season's DS9 episodes.
DeniseOkuda: Some of those ships
are illustrated in the updated Encyclopedia.
MichaelOkuda: Once again, we make
extensive use of Adobe Illustrator running on Macintosh
Moderator: It seems like we're getting two major types
of questions: design questions and tech/encyclopedia questions.
MichaelOkuda: The use of
computers makes it faster, better, and more cost effective.
MichaelOkuda: What more can you
Moderator: we'll split the remainder of this panel in
half, first design and then tech...
Moderator: <mattj> to <Moderator>:
Question: With Voy. & DS9 both being weekly shows, I guess going
overbudget on graphics is a regular thing. Are there any tricks you have
to use to reduce your visual FX budget during episodes?
MichaelOkuda: Actually, having
over 10 years of production experience under our collective belts, we
very seldom go over budget.
MichaelOkuda: We pride oursevles
that we spend Paramount's money well, and we put good value on the
screen for the dollars.
DeniseOkuda: AN example of this
is our use of video wallpaper which is used extensively on both Star
Moderator: <Enigma> to <Moderator>: Do you
design the uniforms used in the programme? And if you do can we expect
new duds for the NG crew in the next movie?
DeniseOkuda: We do not design the
DeniseOkuda: That is the
responsibility of the costume designer and his department. Bob Blackman
is our costume designer.
Moderator: <Lobotomy> to <Moderator>: What
is your all-time favorite ST image/graphic?
DeniseOkuda: He uses his
Macintosh computer to assist in the creation of his designs which
continue to amaze all of us.
MichaelOkuda: That would have to
be the bridge of the original Enterprise that we recreated for
"Trials and Tribble-ations" and "Relics."
MichaelOkuda: Those were
amazingly difficult episodes, but it gave us a fresh appreciation for
the genius of Matt Jeffries, in whose footsteps we all follow.
Moderator: <Tkia> to <Moderator>: Mike, of
the jokes you put in the small print of the "Okudagrams", are
there any which really stand out in your mind, say for making one of the
MichaelOkuda: Most f the gags are
deliberately extremely subtle because we never want them to be
noticeable on camera.
MichaelOkuda: To make them
notecieable would be a considerable disservice to the episode.
MichaelOkuda: Nevertheless it's
not uncommon to see cast and crew people, particularly first-timers,
examing the control panels and wall labels to see if they can find yet
another Buckaroo Banzai joke.
Moderator: <mrmagoo> to <Moderator>: Is
there a reason for the preference of Macintosh over PCs?
MichaelOkuda: Easier to
MichaelOkuda: Our colleagues at
Foundation Imaging and Digitial Muse do some of their very fine work on
Windows NT machines as well.
Moderator: <Swooop> to <Moderator>: Ever
thought about putting together a book with the matte's? A lot of the
landscape is EXCELLENT!
Moderator: <DJphish> to <Moderator>: where
did you guys get ideas for creating the spectacular graphics for star
DeniseOkuda: GREAT idea. Its up
to our friends at Visual Effects.
MichaelOkuda: Sheer desperation
born of looming deadlines.
MichaelOkuda: Star Trek is such a
rich universe and most of the basic concepts come directly from the
Moderator: Speaking of Okudagrams: <Lorien> to
<Moderator>: Speaking of that, what's the significance of the
number 3069 which constantly appears on displays?
MichaelOkuda: A lot of graphics
are rebuilt from earlier graphics, part of our attempt to save time
while maintaining graphic consistency.
MichaelOkuda: That's just a piece
that's been recycled.
MichaelOkuda: Either that or it
is a top secret Starfleet Command encryption code.
MichaelOkuda: Now that you know
it, I'm afraid we'll have to have you killed.
Moderator: <Falstaff> to <Moderator>: Any
chance of more CG aliens for Trek? (as opposed to actors with
DeniseOkuda: You betcha!
Moderator: <Krash2> to <Moderator>: once
you've created graphics for a show do they ever get re-used for other
MichaelOkuda: Wherever it's
appropriate, we try to do that.
Moderator: <piratequeen> to <Moderator>: Do
you have science degrees of some sort or just great imaginations?
DeniseOkuda: I have a bachelor's
of science in nursing and worked as an RN for 13 years. I occasionally
provide tech material for both shows.
MichaelOkuda: My degree is in
communications from the University of Hawaii.
MichaelOkuda: I consider myself
lucky to have grown up in the post-Sputnik era, so I got to watch the
Apollo missions as a kid.
Moderator: <Lorien> to <Moderator>: How
much detail do you go into when you design ships? Do you make detailed
deck charts and figure out performance characteristics for every single
MichaelOkuda: The ships are
largely the domain of Rick Sternbach and John Eaves.
MichaelOkuda: The amount of
detail we go into on any given ship varies widely depending on the
requirements of a script and the amount of time available.
MichaelOkuda: There's never
enough time to design all the detail we want, but the trick of drama is
that, if we do a good job on the generalities, the viewer's imagination
fills in the things we aren't able to do.
Moderator: <Enigma> to <Moderator>: I've
noticed in ST:V that there are two types of shuttle craft. One is the
original box like kind with the two nacelles on each side and then
theres the kind with like wings on it. Is the kind with wings just an
experiment with you graphic makers?
MichaelOkuda: The older TNG
shuttle is a carry over from ST:TNG.
MichaelOkuda: The sleeker, newer
shuttle is something that our production designer, Richard James, had
wanted to do all along.
MichaelOkuda: We still
occasionally use the TNG mock-up, but we prefer the newer, sleeker
Moderator: <walt> to <Moderator>: how much
of the graphic displays on the sets r overlays or actuall computer
DeniseOkuda: We use video
monitors, we don't use actual computers on set.
Moderator: <Timon> to <Moderator>: have you
ever glitched or screwed up graphics that can't be replaced and hoped no
one would notice?
MichaelOkuda: Most of the
displays and panels are backlit phototransparencies, but these are
designed on computers, so in a sense they all are.
Moderator: for those who've come late, please send your
questions to me as private messages
MichaelOkuda: Did you
Moderator: <cyclops1> to <Moderator>: to
michael is there an update to the omnipedia ??
MichaelOkuda: Yes, Simon and
Schuster Interactive is publishing the Star Trek Encyclopedia
Interactive Edition, do out any day now.
MichaelOkuda: It's a hybrid
product (Win and Mac).
MichaelOkuda: It's a 4-disc set
that includes lots of video previews and other stuff I don't remember
Moderator: <PresClark> to <Moderator>:
someone online earlier suggested that thre is another Star Trek show
inthe works. Is this corect?
MichaelOkuda: Rumors are rampant,
but the truth is, no one really knows at this point.
Moderator: <walt> to <Moderator>: have u
two started pre-production on the TNG Movie ??
MichaelOkuda: Some preliminary
work has begun, but heavy duty pre-production is still a ways
DeniseOkuda: We are, however,
thrilled, that Johnathon Frakes, will be directing the next Star Trek
Moderator: <Trish> to <Moderator>: msg
moderator: Ths is a personal question Michael and Deniser, where did you
DeniseOkuda: We met through
mutual friends here in Los Angeles.
Moderator: <Acolyte> to <Moderator>: to
both guests: Are there things you dont like in ST? Things you can't
'believe' in, or would have done differently if you were in charge?
MichaelOkuda: There are always
things you would do differently with the benefit of hindsight.
MichaelOkuda: Nevertheless, one
of the great things about ST as an ongoing project is, if you're not
happy with something you've done, odds are you'll get another chance to
do something else similar in a later episode or movie.
Moderator: <Remiah> to <Moderator>: mr. and
mrs. okuda, i love the work that you've done with star trek... my
question is: how much of the technical aspects of star trek, tng
particularly, are based in reality and how much is imagination? (i.e.
warp travel, sickbay technology, etc)
MichaelOkuda: Gene Roddenberry
took great pride that ST's future science was solidly based in
MichaelOkuda: Nevertheless, in
order to tell the stories, some pretty big assumptions had to be
MichaelOkuda: For example, we
have very little real idea how to travel faster than light, and we
certainly have no idea how one could beam a person from a spaceship down
to a planet.
Moderator: We'll move away from design-related
questions and focus on technical, "historical" questions, and
questions about the CD-ROMs and books.
Moderator: <Kruge43> to <Moderator>: In one
episode of Voyager a transformation occured due to Transwarp. Yet other
races have used it without such an effect. Can you explain that?
MichaelOkuda: Obviously they know
something we don't.
Moderator: <Lorien> to <Moderator>: Mike:
How fast is the Enterprise-E compared to Voyager, for instance? To fly
from Neutral Zone to Earth in 3.5 hours sure seemed fast :)
MichaelOkuda: The history of
technology is full of amazing technical developments that can't be used
until someone figures out how to counteract undesired side
MichaelOkuda: One of the reasons
we've been extremely reluctant to come up with a definitive map of the
ST galaxy is precisely because of these kinds of questions.
Moderator: <Tkia> to <Moderator>: So,
Denise, with your nursing experience, are you sometimes called to be a
"medical advisor" for Julian and the Holodoc?
DeniseOkuda: Occasionally I have
been asked to come down to set and demonstrate certain medical
MichaelOkuda: Denise also will
sometimes catch medical faux pas in scripts.
MichaelOkuda: For example, for a
while we were getting lines like, "Give them 75 ccs of
MichaelOkuda: Denise pointed out
that 75 ccs of liquid is probably bigger than the entire
DeniseOkuda: Not to mention that
that much liquid would hurt.
Moderator: <Sambo> to <Moderator>: Are
there going to be any more CD ROM games like Star Trek Klingon and Borg?
MichaelOkuda: We don't
MichaelOkuda: The products we've
been associated with lean more toward the reference and simulation sides
Moderator: <slirp> to <Moderator>: One
thing that always frustrates me about ST is the use of the word
'quadrant', why is this used to define location in 3 dimensional space?
MichaelOkuda: Quadrant is a term
that dates back to the original St.
MichaelOkuda: It's probably not
the best choice, but we all feel a strong desire to retain consistency
with the show's roots, and the use of the word "quadrant" is
one such carry-over.
Moderator: <Timeline> to <Moderator>: Have
you ever been an extra on the show?
MichaelOkuda: Working in the art
department seldom gives you that kind of free time.
DeniseOkuda: During the pilot for
Star trek the Next Generation, senior illustrator Andy Probert was
supposed to be an extra for one day. In reality, he was on set for 3
days. That type of time is unrealistic when we're shooting the
Moderator: <andre> to <Moderator>: How do
Star Trek vessels keep warp bubbles stable?
MichaelOkuda: Through the use of
phase-balanced subspace interferometry alignment sensors.
DeniseOkuda: In other words, we
Moderator: <Aloysius7> to <Moderator>: How
much can you tell us about the third TNG movie?
DeniseOkuda: Johnathan Frakes is
MichaelOkuda: We've not seen a
script, so we know very little about it. All we can say is that it will
be really great.
Moderator: <Ulkesh> to <Moderator>: How was
Federation able to adjust their weapons so well to the Dominion's
MichaelOkuda: They're really,
Moderator: <Sambo> to <Moderator>: To both
guests-What is your favorite visual effect you've created?
DeniseOkuda: This isn't a visual
effect, but as Michael mentioned earlier, the Deep Space 9 episode,
"Trials and Tribble-ations" was alot of work but a helluva lot
Moderator: <xytani> to <Moderator>: Was Ms.
Okuda the one coaching the Star Trk crew in Klingon in Star TRek 3 and
does either Mr. or Ms. Okuda collaborate with the Klingon Language
Institute in Pennsylvania?
DeniseOkuda: Marc Okrand was the
technical consultant and the inventor of the Klingon language.
MichaelOkuda: I understand that
Marc does stay in touch with the KLI>
Moderator: <DJphish> to <Moderator>: did
you guys help in the design of the star trek experance at the hilton in
MichaelOkuda: We are pleased to
have been a part of this exciting project. They consulted with us to
make sure the control panels, graphics and other technical details were
consistent with what we've done in the movies and TV shows.
MichaelOkuda: We also consulted
with them to help maintain the "Star Trek content."
DeniseOkuda: Part of the queueing
area is based on our book, The Star Trek Chronology.
Moderator: two related questions:
Moderator: <Krash2> to <Moderator>: Can you
shed any light on the mystery about where Voyager keeps getting
replacment shuttles for the ones they've lost?
Moderator: <Enigma> to <Moderator>: In
ST:V do you ever approach the writers or producers and ask them how your
going to explain how the Voyager gets repaired with little to no spare
parts? I think it would look cool to show the Voyager in future episodes
with holes in here hull from battle damage.
MichaelOkuda: Jeri Taylor (exec
producer) once joked that Janeway has a Maquis crew below decks that
does nothing but make shuttles 24 hours a day.
MichaelOkuda: You may recall the
first couple of episodes of this season, when the Voyager was badly
damaged and Foundation Imaging did a bunch of cool battle-damage shots
becuase the ship took a couple of episodes to get repaired.
DeniseOkuda: Stay tuned for
Voyager episodes "Year of Hell Parts 1 & 2
DeniseOkuda: for all you battle
Moderator: we've got to wrap up, one lsat question
Moderator: <NetQ> to <Moderator>: Is the
Cardassian Art (interfaces and machinery) inspired on some Earth
DeniseOkuda: "Yeawr of
Hell" is a dynamite show; when you see it, you're not going to
believe what we did inproduction (I still don't believe what we
MichaelOkuda: It was a
collaboration between Doug Drexler, Denise and myself, in which we were
making a deliberate effort to distance ourselves from most Earth
Moderator: Thanks to both of you for being here for our
Moderator: We look forward to the new books, episodes,
MichaelOkuda: Look for Pocket
Books updated ST: Encyclopedia any day now.
MichaelOkuda: And also look for
the Captain's Chair.
Moderator: Jerry O'Connell will be here shortly.
Moderator: More Trek later in the con with Nimoy
tonight and de Lanice tomorrow.
DeniseOkuda: We are especially
excited about Captain's Chair. Captain's Chair is an interactive
environment 3-D simulation of 5 Star ship bridges, including the bridge
of the original series Enterprise 1701.
Enigma: Bye Mrs. and Mr. Okuda! Keep trekking!
Swooop: Thanks for coming Denise and Michael.