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 here.
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 Encyclopedia?
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 episodes.
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 omnipedia?
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 post production.
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 ILM.
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 computers.
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 ask?
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 Trek series.
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 uniforms.
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 cast/crew laugh?
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 use.
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 trek
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 scripts.
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 prosthetics)
DeniseOkuda: You betcha!
Moderator: <Krash2> to <Moderator>: once you’ve created graphics for a show do they ever get re-used for other episodes?
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 ship?
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 design.
Moderator: <walt> to <Moderator>: how much of the graphic displays on the sets r overlays or actuall computer screens
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 notice?
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 right now.
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 off.
DeniseOkuda: We are, however, thrilled, that Johnathon Frakes, will be directing the next Star Trek feature.
Moderator: <Trish> to <Moderator>: msg moderator: Ths is a personal question Michael and Deniser, where did you two meet?
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 present-day science.
MichaelOkuda: Nevertheless, in order to tell the stories, some pretty big assumptions had to be made.
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 effects.
MichaelOkuda: You’re right.
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 techniques.
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 cordezine.”
MichaelOkuda: Denise pointed out that 75 ccs of liquid is probably bigger than the entire hypospray.
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 know.
MichaelOkuda: The products we’ve been associated with lean more toward the reference and simulation sides of things.
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 series.
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 don’t know.
Moderator: <Aloysius7> to <Moderator>: How much can you tell us about the third TNG movie?
DeniseOkuda: Johnathan Frakes is directing.
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 weaponry
MichaelOkuda: They’re really, really smart.
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 of fun.
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 las vegas
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 damage fans.
Moderator: we’ve got to wrap up, one lsat question quickly:
Moderator: <NetQ> to <Moderator>: Is the Cardassian Art (interfaces and machinery) inspired on some Earth culture?
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 did).
MichaelOkuda: Not specifically.
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 cultures.
Moderator: Thanks to both of you for being here for our online convention!
Moderator: We look forward to the new books, episodes, CD-ROMs…
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.