Entertainment

Mike and Denise Okuda discuss Star Trek and their new series For All Mankind

Michael and Denise Okuda

Measure Skidmore via Flickr / Apple TV

Michael and Denise Okuda

In order to make the world of science fiction believable for television or film, fans used to “suspend disbelief.” This meant viewers of the shows had to give the filmmaker some leeway with what is considered realistic.

From the late 1970s to today, fans no longer have to play along with what is presented on screen. Photorealistic special effects and computer-generated compositing are the norm, allowing fans to fully immerse themselves in the story. As one of the great franchises in popular culture, Star Trek is part of that maturing process.

Thanks to the people who toiled behind the scenes of the Original Series films and the Next Generation series, sci-fi fans were given a glimpse of a future that seemed like it could actually happen.

Among the talented people who created the world of Star Trek that is enjoyed by millions around the world today Michael and Denise Okuda. The Okudas are considered by many to be just as important to Star Trek as William Shatner or Patrick Stewart. Her skill and talent made the fiction incredibly lifelike.


LCARs for ten hours


Star Trek LCARS Screensaver (10 Hours)2021-06-17T02:50:43Z

Fans are well aware of Okuda-san’s work as he created the computer interface for all of the computer screens aboard the Enterprise-D in The Next Generation. This system, known as LCARs, is so iconic that fans are always trying to change it Windows or macOS computer interface look like what Captain Picard used. Fans can also buy LCAR’s dishes, dresses, socks and many other items. Michael also designed many of the signs seen aboard the Enterprise-D, which often featured the initials of the art department or other funny inside jokes. Those door signs and direction signs were never meant to be seen by viewers, but thanks to TNG’s recent high-definition conversion, everyone’s joining in the fun.

Denise began their Trek relationship even earlier when she was part of the crew gathered to hear Captain Kirk (Shatner) speak before the Enterprise hired V’Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Ms. Okuda is best known for her work in the art department as a set designer for Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, and as a video supervisor for Voyager. Denise is also a writer and helped oversee the restoration and upgrade of TNG to high definition.


The Okudas and Doug Drexler on the Star Trek Set Tour


Doug Drexler, Michael and Denise Okuda guide through the Enterprisestartrektour.com2017-10-29T21:16:09Z

In November, the Okudas were recognized by the Guild of Art Directors for their contributions to Trek over the years. They were greeted with a “Lifetime Achievement Award‘ which was very special for both Mike and Denise.

“We’re used to working in the art department and as members of the art department we keep a low profile on production and honestly we like it that way,” Michael said. “So the recognition was stunning, to say the least.”

“When we received the award, we stood in front of the Art Directors Guild and looked at all these amazingly talented art directors, production designers, chefs, designers, illustrators, people who are theoretically our peers but are actually people we’ve been around our entire lives looked up for a long time. And that was humbling, to say the least.”

While the Okudas are indeed Star Trek royalty, their interests extend beyond the franchise. In a way, working on the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind seems like a very logical next step for the duo. The series is based on an alternate history of the United States and the national space program. Instead of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in 1969, it was a Soviet cosmonaut. Because of this one crucial change in the timeline, many things are happening differently.

In real life NASA 1972 aborted trips to the moon and focused on building a reusable orbiter that could launch satellites and experiments into space – the Space Shuttle. In the show, the “space race” is heating up due to the Soviet victory on the moon, and permanent bases are being established by both the USSR and the US.


For All Mankind: Season 3


For All Mankind – Official Season 3 Trailer | AppleTV+More than two decades after the moon landing, a new battle is upon us – Mars. Stream For All Mankind Season 3 now on Apple TV+ apple.co/__ForAllMankind Season 3 cast includes Joel Kinnaman, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour, Sonya Walger, Krys Marshall, Cynthy Wu, Casey W. Johnson, Coral Peña and Wrenn Schmitt combined With …2022-05-16T14:59:48Z

The spirit behind For All Mankind is Ronald D Moore, who fans may know as the creator of the Battlestar Galactica reboot and many of the great Klingon episodes on TNG and DS9. Moore invited the Okudas to be part of his new show and the couple couldn’t refuse. For All Mankind aired in 2019 and the Okudas are serving as technical advisors for the show.

“So we don’t actually work in the art department,” Michael said. “We work with the writers, the cast and the directors to help them achieve technical and historical space precision. For some space geeks, I can’t tell you how much fun this is.”

“Of course we worked with Ron on ‘Star Trek,'” Denise said. “He knew our passion for the real space program and our commitment to science. We were really thrilled that he invited us to come on board. We were also so happy that everyone in front of and behind the camera was just great – they welcomed us with open arms.”

The show, the stars Joel Kinnaman, Shantel Van Santenand Krys Marshall, now in its third season, is set in the alternate timeline of the early 1990s. The United States and the Soviet Union (yes, the Berlin Wall still stands in this reality) want to be the first to put a human on Mars. But a new player enters the scene, played by Ed Gathegirepresenting a third challenger in the race.

Gathegi’s character, Dev Ayesa, is a mash-up of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and maybe a little bit of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Instead of building computers, electric cars or social networking sites, Ayesa wants to beat the US and USSR in a way that represents “all of humanity”. Ayesa and his company (Helios) are the wild cards that nobody expected to be part of the competition for Mars.


For All Mankind: Season 2 Recap


For All Mankind – The Cast Recap Season 2 | AppleTV+Nuclear shuttles, Apollo-Soyuz, and a near-nuclear meltdown. Recap Season 2 with the cast of For All Mankind ahead of the June 10 premiere of Season 3 on Apple TV+ apple.co/__ForAllMankind Season 3 cast includes Joel Kinnaman, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour, Sonya Walger, Krys Marshall and Cynthy Wu, Casey W. Johnson, Coral…2022-05-31T14:59:46Z

“[Ayesa] has a passion for pushing boundaries and pushing the boundaries of space exploration,” said Denise. “And I think you’ll see that very clearly in Season 3. I find that admirable. But the circumstances of any passion always have limits. I think he’s a really interesting, dynamic character.”

An exciting angle featured in the first episode of Season 3’s For All Mankind is space tourism. While the show featured ordinary people on a beautiful 2001-style space station high above Earth, our time has no equivalent. Some wealthy people are allowed to remain on board the International Space Station, and some very famous (Shatner) are also granted space travel.

Michael is confident that one day ordinary people will be able to visit outer space, like in For All Mankind. But he noted that space tourism was on the show in 1991 and isn’t there yet in 2022 because world governments’ investments in space have pushed science to move much faster.

“One thing that’s really fun about this show is how it combines real space technology, real space history, and real historical events,” Michael said. “It shows them in an alternate universe, [where] Some things are happening much faster – and not just space tourism.”


The Science of For All Mankind


For All Mankind – The Science Behind Season 3: Episode 1, Polaris | AppleTV+Is it possible to replicate the Earth’s gravity? Join Wrenn Schmidt and discover the science behind For All Mankind in an exclusive series. Watch now on Apple TV+ after watching the season 3 premiere episode. apple.co/__ForAllMankind The cast of the ensemble returning for season three includes Joel Kinnaman, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour, Sonya Walger, Krys Marshall, Cynthy…2022-06-14T16:00:30Z

“Even something as simple as LCD computer screens are being introduced much earlier, there’s evidence of internet data, worldwide networks happening in this universe much earlier than in real life,” Michael said. “And that’s part of the show’s design — to show the benefits of investing in space technology, how it not only benefits astronauts, but how it trickles down to society as a whole.”

Michael shared that he has also been working with the team on Star Trek: Picard for the upcoming season. He said it was so much fun diving back into the Trek world for Season 3 and promised fans would enjoy it. Fans who pay close attention will notice the hints and references to Trek in For All Mankind. Denise and Michael said it was intentional and explained why this show could be considered the ultimate Star Trek prequel.

“On the very first day of shooting, Season 1 of ‘For All Mankind,’ Denise and I were on set,” Michael said. “And we actually sat with Ron Moore. Because we were new to the show, we pumped him for information… trying to understand his vision for what they’re trying to do.

“And finally Ron looked us in the eye and said, ‘This show… this story is the road to Star Trek,'” Michael said. “And suddenly we understood.”

READ MORE: How long will ‘Star Trek’ have Anson Mount?

https://heavy.com/entertainment/star-trek/for-all-mankind-mike-denise-okuda/ Mike and Denise Okuda discuss Star Trek and their new series For All Mankind

Brian Ashcraft

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