Marc Wade: Welcome to STAR TREK: CONTINUUM. We are coming to you LIVE from Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California. Today we are honored to have as our special guests… Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda!
Mike Okuda is the Scenic Art Supervisor on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” Denise Okuda was the Scenic Artist on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and is the Video Coordinator on “Star Trek: Voyager.” Together they are the authors of “The Star Trek Encyclopedia” and the newly published “Star Trek Sticker Book.” They are here with us today to answer your questions about their work on Star Trek and their books.
Your host for tonight’s chat is Guy Vardaman, Senior Producer for STAR TREK: CONTINUUM. Jackie Edwards is typing for our guest. Welcome, Mike and Denise! We are delighted that you could join us today.
The Okudas: Hi everybody, it’s nice to be here.
Admril Moore asks: Why do you keep coming out with Star Trek Encyclopedias, when you know that the “whole story”, so to speak, isn’t over yet?
The Okudas: We hope the story will never be over. We like to keep the fans continually updated.
Joe asks: Do you have a web site where we can view your work, especially your famed okuda-grams. I have always though they were the coolest things.
The Okudas: As much as we would enjoy putting together a Web site there are not enough hours in the day. Besides, there are some pretty good starfleet style graphics right here in the Star Trek Continuum.
Mark from England asks: Where do alot of your inspirations come from? Is that inspiration from classical, historical or biological backgrounds or is a bit of everything?
The Okudas: Usually its desperation from an immutable deadline staring us in the face. Yes, we do try to study design from a wide variety of sources. But its usually so that we can try to come up with something that does not appear too contemporary.
PopMaze asks: Hi! I know there will be two editions of the encyclopedia revision coming out, paperback and hardcover. But is there any difference in the content between these two editions? If so, what are they?
The Okudas: The hardcover and trade paperback versions of the 1999 edition are identical. Except for price. (Actually, we like the trade edition ourselves; it’s easier to use. And also a lot cheaper.)
Griffin Scott asks: Do you guys still use Macs?
The Okudas: You better believe it.
Dave asks: Is there going to be a new trek series?
The Okudas: Got us… we sincerely hope so.
Deanna888 asks: What achievements in your Star Trek work are you each the most proud of?
The Okudas: The DS9 episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations”
Doctor Schwartz asks: Will the Star Trek sticker book ever appear in the UK?
The Okudas: It should, from Titan almost concurrently with the US release.
Leeta asks: How did you find out all the info you needed for the encyclopieda? You guys did a great job, I have a copy of the latest edition on my bookshelf.
The Okudas: A lot of the basic research was done by Curt Danhauser, who worked with Denise to gather and document the information. It’s a lot harder than just watching the episode. We have an 18 page questionnaire that we use to help ferret out all the data points from the episode. It’s a lot of work, as Jackie Edwards can attest. Thanks for the compliment.
kacedax asks: What kind of stickers you will be using in your Star Trek sticker book
The Okudas: The sticker book is full of Starfleet emblems, alien symbols, drawings of spacecraft and hardware, Starfleet doorsigns, ship markings and other cool stuff you can put on your Palm Pilot.
Saahra asks: What do you think first contact will be like for the human race?
The Okudas: I don’t think it will be like any of the science fiction films or television shows, but it will be the most important event in human history. I hope to be around when it happens. Maybe if enough fans participate in SETI at home — who knows?
Chris in Lafayette asks: Can you tell me where I can get copies of the Trill, Klingon, Bajoran, Vulcan, Romulan, and Cardassian alphabets? In working on a possible book, and I’d appreciate it if I could add some words in it from the Trill language.
The Okudas: There are examples of alien languages in the Star Trek encyclopedia.
Chris J Luddeni asks: Is there a technical manual for deep space nine?
The Okudas: Yes, Rick Sterbach, Doug Drexler, and Herman Zimmerman wrote the Star Trek Deep Space Nine technical manual for Pocket Books. It’s very cool and full of amazing technical details and illustrations.
Cerise asks: Where was the crash scene in “Timeless” filmed? Or was it computer-generated? Also, where is the excellent location that was chosen for New Earth on “Resolutions”? I’d like to vacation there someday with a little starfleet-issue emergency hut of my own som
The Okudas: The crash scene in “Timeless” was computer generated by our friends at Foundation Imaging who do absolutely incredible work.
HoloDarlin’ asks: How many bathrooms are there on Voyager?
The Okudas: Not enough. That’s what the transporters are for.
Le’Maki asks: Do you work with the cast personally-and if so , do you enjoy it?
The Okudas: The actors are our co-workers. And they’re a fun bunch.
Daphne asks: Are you even there?
The Okudas: Did you really send this question to us?
Tiberius asks: Are you both fans of the original series?
The Okudas: Yes.
Captain MM Huber asks: Greetings Denise and Michael, Denise a question for you, what exactly is a Video Coordinator?
The Okudas: Basically it’s my responsibility to make sure video elements are translated from script to stage. Jim Van Over designs most of the animation seen on our on-set video monitors. My job is to make sure all the ship’s readout screens are displaying information appropriate to the story at each given moment. I should mention Ben Betts, our video operator, on Star Trek: Voyager who works his tail off .
Marcus asks: Do you make a conscious attempt to differentiate the various alien written text? It looks great and must be hard to create over and over again…
The Okudas: As much as possible we try to do this, taking into account the production designer’s overall vision for each set.
Chas47# asks: Do you know what someone should study to get into the real space program?
The Okudas: Engineering and science are very valuable, but, you should study the areas that interest you most and become expert in them… so that you’ll have something unique to offer in whatever field you choose.
Sneeder asks: What do you think of the fans websites out there?
The Okudas: Love ’em, they’re a lot of fun.
Moogie asks: Have you seen either Free Enterprise or Trekkers? What did you think?
The Okudas: We were disappointed with “Trekkies” but very much enjoyed “Free Enterprise.” By the way, for those of you who didn’t get a chance to see it in the theatres, we’ve heard it’s coming out early November on DVD and video. We both laughed so hard at “Free Enterprise” that we had to go back a second time. In fact, it’s the best movie we’ve seen this year.
Nick asks:I love all the computer software for Star Trek! How much were you involved with Starship Creator, and will there be a follow-up to Captain’s Chair, schedule permitting?
The Okudas: We very much enjoyed working on “Captain’s Chair”. The fact that we were able to recreate the original series bridge was icing on the cake. Actually Jay Roth of Electric Image performed the actual rendering. We’d love to do a follow-up but that depends on our friends at Simon & Schuster Interactive.
Rob asks: What does LCARS mean?
The Okudas: It’s a term invented by Dorothy Fontana for the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It stands for Library Computer Access and Retrevial System.
Captain MM Huber asks: Okay Michael, while your really cute, when are we going to see a picture of Denise, or is she just shy?
The Okudas: I am most definitely not shy and I believe there’s a picture on the back of the encyclopedia.
Jim Pointer asks: When if ever will we see an update of the Star Trek Encyclopedia? Especially of the CD-ROM version?
The Okudas: Pocket Books is publishing a minor update of the Star Trek Encylopedia this month. It’s in a trade paperback as well as a hardcover edition. There may be a CD ROM update as well sometime in the future.
Yavris4 asks: What do you think of Species 8472?
The Okudas: Scary. Wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley.
Trekkie in Toronto (Harrison) asks: Hello Mike, Denise. I am still looking for the ST:Encyclopedia, I cannot find it anywhere. Any suggestions?
The Okudas: Have you tried Amazon.com? Or any of the other on-line booksellers?
3024E asks: The data displays in the Astrometrics Lab of Voyager are incredible! Do you have plans for doing more with them?
The Okudas: Those are done by our friends at Digital Muse and Foundation Imaging. In fact, some recent ones were done by former DS9 scenic artist Doug Drexler, who now works as a CG artist at Foundation Imaging.
The359 asks: What did you feel the first time you saw your names on the credits for The Next Generation?
The Okudas: Pretty cool.
Christiana Burrell/Ft Wash, MD asks: Will there be any future behind the scenes looks at your work on Star Trek.
The Okudas: The current issue of “Star Trek: The Magazine” has an article on Mike and his cohorts along with a picture guaranteed to scare small animals.
The359 asks: What’s your personal opinion on the Babylon 5/Deep Space Nine issue (concerning the stealing of ideas by one show or vice versa)
The Okudas: There are Babylon 5 fans working on Trek and there were Trek fans working on Babylon. The fact that the shows may be competitors doesn’t change the fact that we’re all professional enough to admire good work no matter who does it. Dammit.
Data J. asks: What was the first job you had related to Star Trek, and how did you come about getting it?
The Okudas: Ralph Winter hired me (Mike) as a graphic designer on Star Trek: IV. He’d seen some of my work in low budget television and I think he was convinced that I could bring some of the same sensibilities to Star Trek.
Jennifer Bunney asks: Can the constant strobe lighting on Borg ships cease please? It gives me a headache and isn’t necessary!
The Okudas: If it gives you a headache then it’s obviously working.
Picards Hair asks: What is it like to stand on the bridge of the Enterprise!
The Okudas: It’s not quite like it is on television. it’s usually full of lights and equipment and people and noise. Still, sometimes you can ignore all that and just for a moment, imagine that you’re really on a starship. It’s cool. By the way, you can have pretty much the same experience at the simulation at the Las Vegas Star Trek Experience. In some ways it’s even better. Because its lit and all the control panels are running and there are sound effects.
The359 asks: I was watching a show about space travel to Mars on The Learning Channel, and I noticed they used some of your Movie Era Okudagrams (in different colors) on their mock-up of a spacecraft! Have your Okudagrams been used on other science shows?
The Okudas: We’re not familiar with the program you speak of, but we’ve noticed that some graphics on the Fox Sports Networks look suspiciously familiar.
Stark asks: When are you going to contact microsoft and design a ST-like computer?
The Okudas: As soon as Microsoft contacts me.
Captain MM Huber asks: Penny Juday was here in Denver at StarCon this past weekend and brought some samples of items from the set of DS9 before it was taken down mostly for archival purposes. Have you aquired any samples of your work from the sets before they were taken down?
The Okudas: Actually, we were not allowed to take anything from the sets, unfortunately. I wish we could have gotten the Defiant dedication plaque. Guy tells us that Ira got it. Darn.
Voyager L-CARS asks: What graphic design are you most proud of?
The Okudas: The overall creation of the TNG era Starfleet graphic style. I’m very pleased with the degree of consistency we’ve been able to maintain over the years, even though it’s been on so many episodes and movies.
Marc Wade: Thank you very much, Mike and Denise, for taking the time to chat with us today. We’re all looking forward to the exciting sixth season of “Star Trek: Voyager.”
The Okudas: There is some cool stuff coming up for the sixth season. We’re very excited about an upcoming episode inwhich we’ll see one of the first missions to Mars. There is some eerie parallels with the unfortunate fate of the Mars Climate Observer, you’ll have to watch for them.
Marc Wade: To find out when “ST:VOY” is on the air in your area, check “Viewing Stations” in “Earth Support” of STAR TREK: CONTINUUM.
We always have exciting chats here at STAR TREK: CONTINUUM. Check www.startrek.com for details.
Copyright (C) 1999 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.