“Every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in.” A phrase that could apply to a gangster struggling to go straight, but would really be more appropriate to a television producer trying to enjoy some time off between seasons. When the doorbell rang this morning and I spied the courier through the side window, my first thought was: “Oh no. Not that. Not now!” Paul, my writing partner, tends to adopt a more optimistic approach, quietly praying: “Please be visual effects. Please be visual effects.” Because, you see, if it is visual effects, they’ll amount to a handful of shots requiring comment or approval. But if it isn’t visual effects, then it can only mean one thing: a mix!

When people find out I never watch finished versions of Stargate episodes, they are genuinely surprised. But, to be perfectly honest, by the time the final version becomes available, I’ve seen the episode so many times I’d sooner watch Celebrity Duets. Okay, maybe not Celebrity Duets – but Amerca’s Got Talent anyway. You see, after coming up with the idea for a story and/or spinning the notion in the room, the producer will read at least one version of the outline, three versions of the script, watch the episode dailies, screen the director’s cut, view two producer cuts – and finally arrive at “The Day 1 Mix”. If you’ve got comments on the music or sound effects, this is where to make them. In some respects, it’s fairly straightforward. Joel Goldsmith does such a good job as the composer for both shows that we’ll rarely have a music note. Instead, we’re usually providing critiques and suggestions on the various ships rumbling, zats blasting, alien creatures roaring, staff weapons charging, ring devices initiating, chevrons lighting, gates kawooshing, force fields activating, failsafes deactivating, engines powering, weapons firing, wraith darts buzzing, drones releasing, shuttles crashing, and weird alien birds cooing (to name but a few). It’s an important part of the production process but I can’t help but feel silly arguing over the merits of other-worldly bleeps, chirps, and wa-zangs. We’ll be watching a mix and, suddenly, Paul will pause the dvd and ask the room: “Does that alien monster squeal sound a little too high-pitched to you guys?” And someone will agree and say: “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” Then, someone else may disagree, insisting they like it just fine and be resistant to any changes because in their mind, adjusting the pitch would somehow detract from the authenticity of that alien monster squeal. Again, don’t get me wrong. The last thing we need is to have some fan sitting at home watching the show suddenly turn to her husband and say: “Who do those people thing they’re kidding? That didn’t sound anything like an unas!” Getting it right is an important part of the process. Which is why we have mix conversations that go something like this:

Martin: That alien ship alarm is wrong. I think it should be more like “beeeOOOwaaa.”

Brad: Or “bEEEEoooooweee”.

Rob: BweeeeOoooo –

At which point I’ll chime in with the wholly inappropriate: “EEEEweeeeOOOaaaa!”

Paul: No. Not that.

Still, by the time we get to that Day 1 Mix (to say nothing of the ensuing Final Mix), we’ve reached the point where we can practically recite the episode dialogue from memory. Which is why when one lands on Rob’s desk and we agree to reconvene in five minutes to watch it, everyone scatters to the four winds and proves as elusive to track down as Osama Bin Laden. He will of course deny it, but I honestly believe that, on one occasion, Martin Gero actually hid under his desk to avoid detection.

So, yes, I watched/listened to one of the two mixes delivered. Then, took my dog Jelly to visit her vet, Dr. Adams (Looks like Jelly will have to go in on Friday for a teeth cleaning). Then spent most of the day writing all of three pages of my new script. Three pages may not seem like a great accomplishment but at this point, it’s fairly impressive. Starting a script is the hardest part. As I’ve often told Brad: “After this, it’s smoooooth sailing!”.

5 thoughts on “December 12, 2006

  1. Hi Joe, I’m going blind reading your small font size for Dec.12. Dec.10 or something between the two would be good.
    Have a nice day!

  2. Joe, I think it’s funny how for you, Stargate fans are female… :p you wrote: “The last thing we need is to have some fan sitting at home watching the show suddenly turn to her husband and say: “Who do those people think they’re kidding? That didn’t sound anything like an unas!”” LOL, or is it that you think that women complain by nature! Oh My…. what have we done to you!!!! Hmmmm…..

    As for the “EEEEweeeeOOOaaaa!” have you guys considered bringing in the dogs? I’m sure they can help!

  3. Well, Joe, you have me confused here…

    You say: “Joel Goldsmith does such a good job as the composer for both shows that we’ll rarely have a music note.”

    But how can that be? He provides you with so many music notes for every episode! Maybe you should watch the completed episodes, after all, because I swear: I can hear all them music notes just fine when the episodes air! And they all go together so beautifully! 😀

  4. Being serious for a second (yeah, I can do that): Joel Goldsmith’s scores are so fabulous that I’m not the least bit surprised that you rarely have any notes regarding his music. In my view, it elevates two great shows to an even higher level. Oftentimes, it feels more like watching a feature film than a TV show.

    Among Joel’s many beautiful creations, one particular “gem” stood out for me: “Beyond the Night” from the season two episode “Critical Mass”, sung beautifully by Rachel Luttrell. I’ve raved and rambled about it at length over at Joel Goldsmith’s forum, so I (hopefully) won’t exceed the comment length limit here by not repeating everything. If you’re bored in between seasons, Joe, and got nothing better to do (ha!), you can kill a few minutes by reading my
    "Beyond the Night" post
    over there.

    I do, however, have a question / suggestion regarding “Beyond the Night”: how about putting a “Beyond the Night” music video as a bonus feature on the season 2 DVD set? That would be absolutely awesome!

    The costs would be negligible (see my thoughts below), and the payback (in the form of higher DVD sales figures) would more than make up for it, so everybody wins: the studio, the fans, the performer (Rachel), the composer (Joel Goldsmith)…

    Here are my thoughts about how an amazing “Beyond the Night” video can be created with minimal effort and cost:

    I’m sure there’s still plenty additional footage from the “Ring Ceremony” that got cut from the episode and that still can be used… somebody just needs to pick it up from the cutting room floor… 😉 (I know, I know… it’s all bits & bytes on hard drives nowadays…)

    I was thinking along the lines of creating a “Beyond the Night” video that stays mostly with the “Ring Ceremony” (using some of that additional footage not used in the episode), maybe intercut with just some exterior Atlantis (plus ocean) shots, some “Gliders in Space”, and maybe some “Rising Sun” shots, such as the sun rising above the ocean with Atlantis in the foreground… I guess, you get the idea… (And no sound effects, please… just the music… pretty, please?)

    If that makes sense to you, Joe, and I hope it does, and if the season 2 DVD set is not “written in stone”, yet, I’d be thrilled to find said music video as an “extra special bonus feature” on the DVD set. And in case it is already to late for the DVD release: how about releasing it online as streaming (or even — gasp — downloadable) video in various resolutions, all the way up to true HD picture and multichannel audio beauty? (I so very much miss the stellar picture and DD 5.1 sound quality from way back when Stargate still aired on Showtime in High Definition – the crummy picture on the SciFi channel and the Dolby Surround down-mix just can’t compete…)

  5. “Martin: That alien ship alarm is wrong. I think it should be more like “beeeOOOwaaa.”
    Brad: Or “bEEEEoooooweee”.
    Rob: BweeeeOoooo –
    At which point I’ll chime in with the wholly inappropriate: “EEEEweeeeOOOaaaa!”
    Paul: No. Not that.”

    You know, that is exactly how I pictured a SG production meeting taking place…:P

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.