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Feature: Stargate Visual Effects

It can be done, with bytes!

If you think you’ve seen it all, then think again. The masters of the impossible and the imagined in the universe of Stargate highlight their work…

They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, and the talented men and women who work in the Stargate Atlantis Visual Effects department have certainly taken that to heart this season. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty and, together with some outside vendors, have created a virtual Sci-Fi smörgåsbord of VFX treats for fans to savour, starting with the Year Three opener No Man’s Land, a favourite of the show’s VFX supervisor Mark Savela.

No Man’s Land was an incredibly fun episode to work on because it was Allies [Atlantis’s Season Two finale] times two,” says Savela. “Don’t get me wrong, Allies was a terrific show, but we had to cut back on the dogfight sequences with Colonel Sheppard [Joe Flanigan] and the Wraith darts. However, the show’s writers, in their wisdom, had a plan and we got to see that and more this time around.

“Some of the shots I enjoy most are those where you have live-action plates within a three-dimensional environment with usually some kind of move, either a pullout or a push-in to whatever. There’s a fair bit of those in No Man’s Land. One such scene is where Sheppard is being chased by the Wraith darts. The shot is pretty tight on him in the F-302 cockpit, then he puts on the brakes, the darts fly past him, and he shoots them. It’s an amazing shot when the darts are hit, you see all the wreckage and then Sheppard flies through the explosion in his F-302. That sequence starts from a live-action place with our hero, and I just think it makes the overall environment much more real and brings so much believability to a shot.

“In No Man’s Land we also get to see the Orion in action for the first time where it and the Daedalus are battling two Wraith hive ships. That was cool to do as well. You see the Orion firing its drones and taking out the Wraith darts while on its way to the hive ship. Then, of course, we blew up the Orion, which everyone was sad about, but the thing is we didn’t make that big a deal out of it. At the time, our heroes were in one of the Wraith shuttles and it kind of happened in the background. It wasn’t one of those ‘heroic’ explosions if you will. That said, I thought the battle itself had a really nice look to it with the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies and us fighting in the void between the two. The Space battles in this story were extremely fast-paced and had a great deal of energy to them. I was quite pleased with the work that was done on those sequences, and in particular the two I just spoke of.”

by Steven Eramo

Read the full interview and much more on Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis in
TV Zone Special #74

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Stargate © The Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone Special #74, see below for ordering options
TV Zone Special #74
Stargate Seasons' Ends 2007
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