Costume Designer Val Halverson
Costume Designer Val Halverson

My writing/producing partner Paul and I work well together because we have different strengths and interests when it comes to production.  Whereas he has a great eye for visual effects and a great head for scheduling, I’ve always preferred the personality of casting and creativity of costumes.  The latter, in particular, has been a favorite of mine, in no small part due to the hard work of Costume Designer Val Halverson and her team.  For those of you interested in learning a little more about our costume department, I suggest you check out this piece, written by my talented friend April McIntyre, for monstersandcritics.com: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/smallscreen/features/article_1356435.php/Stargate_Atlantis_Big_Fall_Return_Costume_Designer_Valerie_Halverson_Suits_the_Cast
And, once you’ve done that, here’s that long-promised Q&A with Val:
Ytimyona writes: “Questions for Val: What is, in your opinion, the most difficult costume you have been asked to design?”

THE MOST DIFFICULT DESIGN WAS IN “MISSING”. WE MADE AN ARMY OF BOLO’KAIs IN AND EACH ONE WAS DONE INDIVIDUALLY IN THE FITTING. A HUGE CHALLENGE AND SOMETHING I AM VERY PROUD OF.

“How about the weirdest one?“

THE WEIRDEST ONE WASTHE WRAITH QUEEN IN “SPOILS OF WAR”. BESIDES HER DRESS AND ARMOUR, WE HAD TO MAKE A LATEX VINE COVERING FOR HER SO SHE WOULD BLEND INTO THE CHAIR WHEN SHE WAS FEEDING THE HIVE.

“What is your favorite part of working on Stargate: Atlantis?“

I HAVE TO SAY THAT I ADORED THE CAST, THEY WELCOMED ME AND MY TEAM WHEN WE CAME ONBOARD WHICH WAS GREAT.

“How much of the final costume design comes from you, and how much is given to you (by the writers, canon, et cetera…)?”

I AM LUCKY TO WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO ALLOW ME TO BE CREATIVE , THE WRITERS, DIRECTOR AND I DISCUSS IDEAS SO THAT WE ARE ON THE SAME PAGE AND THEN I JUST GO TO TOWN.

Jedi43 writes: “What was the hardest costume to make for SGA and why?”

HARDEST COSTUME WAS RONON’S COAT IN “DOPPLEGANGER”. JASON AND I HAD NOT MET YET AND WE MADE A COW (OUR NICKNAME FOR THE COAT). HE LIKED IT AND WE WERE ON A PATH TOGETHER.

Christle writes: “How do you choose what fabrics to make the costumes out of, other than what you can afford, and do different fabrics flow better on different people?”

SOMETIMES I BUY FABRICS AS I FIND THEM AND THEN HOPE THAT THE SCRIPT COMES ALONG TO USE THEM ON. THIS REALLY ONLY WORKS ON THE LEAD CAST BECAUSE I KNOW THEIR CHARACTERS. AS FAR AS TYPES OF FABRICS, I MIX A LOT OF TEXTURES BECAUSE THAT WORKS BETTER IN HD.

Angel B writes: “How did you get your start in the Stargate franchise?”

I FIRST CAME TO STARGATE SG1 AS THE ASSISTANT DESIGNER TO CHRISTINE MOONEY. SHE DESIGNED SG1 SEASON VII/ VIII/ IX AND PART OF X. WHEN SHE HAD TO LEAVE THE SHOW THE PRODUCERS GAVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO DESIGN SG1 AND THEN MOVED ME OVER TO SGA FOR THE LAST 2(TWO) SEASONS.

“When you look at other shows do you analyze the costumes and clothes and forget to watch what is going on with the characters?“

IT IS ALWAYS A GOOD SIGN WHEN I DON’T NOTICE THE COSTUMES. THAT MEANS I AM ENJOYING THE SHOW.

“Have you ever looked at a finished episode and saw a mistake or something that you wished had never seen the light of day and said “oh crap that looks wierd.”

OH YEAH, THAT CAN HAPPEN. SOMETIMES WITH A LARGE GUEST CAST YOU LOOK AT IT ALL AND THINK THAT IT DOESN’T BLEND AS WELL AS HOPED. AND THERE IS THE ODD DESIGN THAT JUST DOESN’T WORK. YOU HAVE TO LEARN FROM THOSE!

“And, lastly, what is the most beautiful outfit you have ever designed for a Stargate character?”

I HAVE TO SAY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COSTUMES WAS FOR ADRIA IN “DOMINION”. I CREATED SOMETHING NEW BY BUILDING LAYERS WITH LACE AND LEATHER. IT IS ALWAYS GREAT TO DESIGN FOR BEAUTIFUL EVIL CHARACTERS.

Patricia Lee writes: “What inspired the beautiful maternity outfits for Rachel? They were absolutely lovely! She was stunning in them… did you design them or get them off the rack? Will you be continuing with SGU or are you moving on too?”

RACHEL WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR ALL THOSE COSTUMES. I TRIED TO KEEP THE ATHOSIAN FEEL THROUGHOUT HER PREGNANCY. SO WE MADE THEM ALL. SHE WAS LOVELY, WASN’T SHE? AS FAR AS SGU, GOES THE CREW HAS NOT BEEN DECIDED ON YET.

“Thanks for all your wonderful work on the show! In my humble opinion, the cloths make the scene!”

I HUMBLY AGREE!

Arctic Goddess writes: “Are you the one responsible for Ba’al’s costumes? If so, can I give you a huge hug? Those were absolutely fantastic! And, if that was you who got to dress Cliff, was he a good boy and wore what you told him too? I know Cliff is pretty easy going. I’ve been working with him on some Motivational CDs. He has a wicked sense of humour, so I can see him giving you a hard time just for fun.”

I HAD THE PLEASURE OF DESIGNING SOME OF BA’ALs COSTUMES. CLIFF IS A JOY AND COULD WEAR ANYTHING WITH APLOMB. I DID HIS COSTUMES IN DOMINION, THE QUEST, AND ALSO THE SHROUD.

Narelle from Aus writes: “Question for Val Halverson:
1. Teyla’s costumes while pregnant were stunning. Very flattering. Was that a combined effort with Rachel and yourself to develop costumes that were flattering yet also practical for a rapidly growing stomach?”

RACHEL WAS THE MOST WILLING PARTICIPANT IN THE WHOLE SCHEME. IT WAS FUN AND CHALLENGING TO CONCEAL HER PREGNANCY FOR THE FIRST 5 MONTHS AND THEN BE ABLE TO REVEAL IT. KEEPING AN ATHOSIAN INFLUENCE TO THE COSTUMES WAS WHAT MADE THEM UNIQUE. RACHEL WAS SO RADIANT THAT IT ALL WORKED

2. I’m not sure if you were involved in the costuming for Continuum, but what happened with Vala’s sizing on her main Goa’uld costume? When she first appeared I couldn’t help but audibly say “Geez, look at those!”

I DID NOT DESIGN CONTINUUM

3. With the amazing advancements in materials over the last decade or so, has this made your job easier? What has been the best new material advancement for you?

MY FAVOURITE NEW MEDIUMS TO WORK IN ARE LATEX (USED ON THE WRAITH QUEEN IN SPOILS OF WAR #412). AND I AM STARTING TO WORK WITH LASER CUT LEATHERS DONE BY OUR MODEL SHOP.

4. Odd question – Why is Rachel Luttrell always fitted with high-waisted pants? Her shape would seem to compliment hipsters similar to Vala.

IN SEASON IV I CHANGED TEYLA’S PANTS TO A LOWER CUT BUT SHE WAS PREGNANT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY SO WE HAD TO RAISE THEM AGAIN. SHE IS IN AMAZING SHAPE SO SHE COULD DEFINITELY WEAR THEM NOW.

6. I loved the detail in the Ori costuming. So few colours, but the textures were brilliant. Adria’s costumes were AMAZING! If I was still attending a lot of formal functions I would have asked if I could hijack her wardrobe. Is there a particular type of costuming you enjoy? ie: good ol’ fashioned peasants or the complexity yet beauty of Adria’s costuming.

ADRIA WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITES BECAUSE SHE WAS SO EVIL. BECAUSE OF THAT I GOT TO PUT HER IN A LOT OF LEATHERS BUT MAKE THEM BEAUTIFUL AS WELL. A DREAM FOR A DESIGNER.

7. Do you worry about any of the costuming dating? I use the series V as an example.
Congratulations on a fantastic job. Costuming can either add to the reality of the show or pull you right out of it. Thank You.”

THE COSTUMES ARE NOT AS EASILY DATED AS THEY DON’T START FROM CURRENT INFLUENCES. THE IDEAS EVOLVE FROM THE SCRIPT, THE TYPE OF ACTION, NEW ALIENS, WHERE WE ARE SHOOTING (TYPE OF TERRAIN) AND OF COURSE THE CAST.

Breeze writes: “Oh, just on another note some question for Stargate: Atlantis Costume Designer Val Halverson. 1) How do you guys plan out whose wearing what? Like who comes up with all the ideas?

AFTER I READ THE SCRIPT I PITCH MY IDEAS TO THE PRODUCERS, DIRECTOR, AND WRITERS. I THEN START SKETCHING, BUILDING AND EVEN TRYING TO REWORK SOMETHING WE ALREADY HAVE IN STOCK. SOMETIMES THE TIMELINES AND BUDGETS DICTATE HOW MUCH I CAN BUILD FOR AN EPISODE.

2) Do you gather inspiration off other shows i.e. Star Wars or StarTrek, maybe?

I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I HAVE SEEN THOSE FABULOUS MOVIES AND TV SHOWS BUT I TRY AND MAKE THE COSTUMES UNIQUE TO OUR SHOW.

3) Was there a character that you had particular troubles with designing a costume for?

I HAD A BIT OF A CHALLENGE DOING THE ALIENS IN “DAEDALUS VARIATIONS”. I HAD A DESIGN FROM OUR PRODUCTION DESIGNER AND WE TRIED TO MAKE IT COME TO LIFE BUT IT WAS A TOUGH ONE.

4) Out of all the costumes you’ve designed, which one (in your opinion) was the best one?”

I HAVE TO SAY THAT I LOVED SO MANY OF THE COSTUMES I DID FOR TEYLA. HER COSTUME IN “THE QUEEN” WAS FUN AND OF COURSE HER LEATHERS FOR OFF WORLD MISSIONS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A FAV.

Cheeky Lil Devil writes: “Thanks Val for showing two fangirls all your wonderful costumes. We were the ones that got terrible giddy at Shep’s uniform and admired Rachel’s lovely maternity wear. Still think you could start off your own maternity range of clothing, they’d sell like hotcakes. Have you always designed for TV shows? How did you get into working for the Stargate franchise?”

YOU ARE WELCOME! THAT WAS A FUN DAY AND IT IS ALWAYS FUN TO SHOWCASE TO REAL FANS! I HAVE BEEN IN TV LAND MOST OF MY CAREER AND SCI FI IS MY FAVOURITE GENRE FOR SURE. WHERE ELSE CAN I DO THIS? SO I GRAVITATED TOWARDS THE BEST….THE STARGATE FRANCHISE.

Wolfenm writes: “To Val: First, let me say like others have said, that Teyla’s outfits, while attractive in general (and I appreciate how hard it must be to make something that’s good-looking, looks “native”, *and* is practical for fighting in), were especially fetching while she was pregnant. In particular, I loved her blouses in “Quarantine” and “The Kindred, Part 1″, and I adored that long, black coat, especially with the silvery underdress in the latter ep. Just gorgeous!

THAT WAS TEYLA AS A ROCK STAR.

And I love the Wraith costumes as well, particularly the Queens’.

THE WRAITH QUEENS ARE ALWAYS FUN.

Todd’s also suits him very nicely, a good cut for him.

TODD IS ESPECIALLY FUN AS HE IS SO TALL AND REGAL. OH YEAH, AND EVIL.

I noticed that Michael’s costume was similar to the typical Wraith commander get-up, but something of a rust colour instead of black — I thought that was clever!

THANK YOU, AS MICHAEL IS A HYBRID I WANTED TO KEEP A FEELING OF THE WRAITH BUT STILL HAVE IT EVOLVE.

Now my questions:
1) I notice that Rodney is now wearing a plain cotton/canvas jacket in the field now instead of his leather one or his Atlantis uniform. What’s the story behind that?

WE CALL IT THE “MCKAY”. DAVID CAME UP WITH THE IDEA, HE DOESN’T GET TO CHANGE TO OFTEN SO IT IS ANOTHER LOOK FOR HIM.

And was using both “lamp black” and “ivory black” in his outfit in “Tracker” intentional, to make the pieces stand out from each other, or just how it worked out?

IT WAS NOT INTENTIONAL.

2) I like the casual, “alternative” clothes John wore in “The Shrine”, in his room. How did you decide to put him in such an outfit on his downtime — was it something Brad requested, something you felt best fit the character, did Flanigan have input? And is there a story behind the bracelet he was wearing?

AS SHEPPARD IS SELDOM IN CIVILIAN CLOTHES WE LIKE THEM TO REFLECT ANOTHER SIDE OF THE CHARACTER. JOE DEFINITELY HAD INPUT. THE T WAS HIS OWN AND SO WAS THE BRACELET.

3) For things like alien boots, do you have a cobbler on the staff, or do you use “normal” shoes as a base and just cover them with material?

WE USE MOTORCYCLE AND ROCKER BOOTS A LOT.

4) Expanding on Breeze’s q, what costume have you been the least happy with? And have you ever designed a costume that just didn’t work out at all when it was finally put on the actor?

SOMETIMES IT DOESN’T WORK OUT THAT IS TRUE, LEAST HAPPY WITH? IN “THE SEER” LINERA WASN’T WHAT I HAD HOPED FOR IN THE END.

6) Who are your idols amongst costume designers?

MARGARET ATWOOD IS THE BEST.

And do you have any non-costuming-related, fashion-industry inspirations?”

I LOVE GAULTIER,THOMAS WILD,AND BETTIE PAGE.

Smiley_face06 writes: “What’s the average day like for a costume designer?”

MY DAY STARTS EARLY (I LIKE TO BE ORGANIZED WHEN THE TEAM ARRIVES). THEN OFF TO MEEETINGS, DOING SOME SKETCHING, FABRIC SHOPPING, CALLING CAST, TALKING TO THE CUTTERS WHO MAKE THE SKETCHES COME TO LIFE, AND TOUCHING BASE WITH OTHER DEPTS, LIKE PROPS, THAT WE WORK CLOSELY WITH. IF A NEW COSTUME IS PLAYING THAT DAY I GO TO SET TO “ESTABLISH” IT. IT IS IMPORTANT TO SEE THE COSTUME FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE CAST TO MAKE SURE ALL IS AS IT SHOULD BE.THAT IS ABOUT IT.

Nyssa writes: “Questions for Val:
1) LOVED the offworld outfits in Season 4 and hope to see our heros in them for the movie(s)! I remember reading Rachel, and in particular, Jason get very involved in their costumes. Do David & Joe have less to say cause they don’t get to wear the cool “I’m from another planet wardrobe”? Or are they just not that into the whole clothes thing?

JASON AND RACHEL DEFINITELY ARE INVOLVED BUT JOE AND DAVID HAVE INPUT WHEN WE ARE DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT, USUALLY WHEN WE ARE GOING TO EARTH AND THEY NEED A NEW LOOK.

2) The “on base” Atlantis outfits & Teylas & Ronans clothes are pretty snug. Do you usually have to resize them throughout the season as the actors gain or lose weight? I know several of them have mentioned how good the Craft Service food is:)

NOT TOO MUCH AS THE CAST IS PRETTY CONCIOUS OF THEIR DIETS.

3) Do the actors ever wear their own clothes? I specifically ask cause in ‘Miller’s Crossing’ the pants McKay wears look like some retro sixties Herman’s Hermit cast offs. They were so distracting & they didn’t seem like something that would belong to McKay.

AS A MATTER OF FACT DAVID AND I BOTH LOVED THE NEW MCKAY LOOK. MCKAY IS PRETTY EDGEY YOU KNOW!

Mairi writes: “Hi Val, I love the costuming on Stargate! (I have a bit of background in the field but ended up with a career elsewhere *pouts*) and just have to tell you that I think the work you and your whole staff have done is fantastic!

THANK YOU SO MUCH. WE HAVE A BLAST.

Where did you get your training and how did you get into working for Stargate?

I HAVE A FASHION BACKGROUND AND JUST GRAVITATED TO THE FILM INDUSTRY AS IT GOT BUSIER AND BUSIER IN VANCOUVER.

What kind of a setup does the wardrobe dept have? Do you tend to build, or are you able to rent/buy for certain costumes? Do you contract out construction of some things that you need multiples of (BDU’s etc) or is all the sewing done in house?

WE HAVE 11 TALENTED PEOPLE ON THE TEAM AND WE MAKE IT ALL IN HOUSE, FROM CONCEPTION TO BREAKDOWN. AND THAT INCLUDES ALL OF JOE’S BDUs.

Where do you source your fabrics?

WE HAVE SOME GOOD RESOURCES IN VANCOUVER BUT I ALSO GET FABRIC AND FINDINGS FROM LA AND NEW YORK.

Do the actors give you feedback on designs or are they pretty much happy to wear what you give them? – I seem to recall some “interesting” discussions with stage actors over the years. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!”

THE CAST IS PRETTY GOOD, NOT ONLY BECAUSE WE BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER BUT THEY HAVE SO MUCH ON THEIR PLATES THAT WE TRY AND TAKE THAT WORRY OUT OF THE MIX. AND YOU ARE WELCOME.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
Aside from all the cool costume creations and wonderful fashions that have graced our screens in the past, I’m still a HUGE fan of the BDUs! I recently had the opportunity to visit Mr Paul Brown’s Legends Memorabilia stand at Ms Tapping’s Con in London and saw close up the Blue BDUs, as worn by SG1 back at the SGC….Are these standard issue or did you guys die a navy one so that it would be bright for the cameras? The shade is a really light blue. Just curious! (…and where can I get a pair!)”

SORRY TO REPORT THAT WE DO NOT DYE ANYTHING. WE BUY THE FABRIC THAT COLOUR AND MAKE IT ALL IN THE SHOP SO THEY ARE NOT AVAILABLE I’M AFRAID.

Iamza writes: “How much freedom do you have to design costumes? Are there strict guidelines in the scripts for all the alien races, or do you just get a general impression (village peasant, dress accordingly) from the scripts, and otherwise complete freedom in the colours/patterns/shapes of the clothes? How much do you have to work with other departments (e.g. art dept/set visualization) to come up with the perfect costume? Is there one person in charge of making sure everything comes together into one cohesive design (costuming + set + ??)?

I WORK VERY CLOSELY WITH THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER, JAMES ROBBINS. HE OVERSEES THE SETS, PROPS, COSTUMES, ETC. AND SOMETIMES HAS A SPECIFIC ALIEN IN MIND WHICH WE TRY TO PROVIDE. OTHER THAN THAT I HAVE A LOT OF FREEDOM TO DESIGN WITHIN THE SCRIPT PARAMETERS. AND EVEN MORE WITH THE CAST;)

I really love the look of the new (season 4-5) Atlantis uniforms, especially with the bell-shaped sleeves. What inspired that change?

WHEN I WAS HIRED IN SEASON IV I DECIDED TO MAKE THE UNIFORMS SEXIER SO THEY BECAME MORE FITTED ON BOTH THE MEN AND WOMEN, AND THE SLEEVES MORE FEMININE ON THE GIRLS.

I’m rather unobservant, and have only just noticed on some photos that Teyla’s leather jacket has laces on the sleeves. Was that a conscious choice to make the jacket more feminine?”

ABSOLUTELY. WHEN I DESIGNED AN OFF WORLD LOOK FOR THE LEAD CAST I WANTED TO IMPART THEIR CHARACTERS IN THE DESIGN. TEYLA HAS A VERY DETAILED JACKET AND PANTS THAT ARE BOTH REGAL AND SEXY. MCKAY HAD SOME CIRCUIT BOARD DETAIL ON HIS. I THINK RONON WAS OBVIOUS. HE WAS A HUNTER. AND CARTER WAS MORE UNIFORM WITH SOME FEMININE QUILTING DETAIL. IT WAS FUN TO HIGHLIGHT THEIR CHARACTERS WITHIN THE COSTUME.

Stormy writes: “Where do you find your inspiration to create the pieces you do?”

IT COMES FROM THE SCRIPT. THE TYPE OF PLANET WE ARE ON WILL INSPIRE ME. THE ACTION OFTEN REQUIRES CERTAIN DETAILS AND OF COURSE THE ALIENS NEED SOMETHING COOL.

Bailey writes: “Do you design the costumes to show off an actor or actresses’ “assets?” I imagine you try to do this while serving the story.”

I DEFINITELY TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE ACTOR’s ASSETS. I WANT THEM TO BE COMFORTABLE AND FEEL THEIR CHARACTER IN THE COSTUME.

Is there explicit direction to show a little skin here and there or make the leather tighter? Or is it just something that is done so routinely in show biz that you don’t even think about it?

I DO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE ACTOR AND THEIR COMFORT LEVEL WITH THE COSTUME, BUT WE DO TRY AND MAKE IT SEXY AS WELL.

Have you ever had an actor/actress refuse to wear one of your creations because it was too revealing or they just weren’t comfortable in it?”

I TRY AND MAKE THE ACTOR AS COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE AS WELL AS GIVING THEM THE COSTUME NEEDED TO PLAY THE CHARACTER.

Enzo Aquarius writes: “Question for Val Halverson: In general, how long does it take to make a complex costume, such as a Wraith costume, and how much material is required to make one?

A WRAITH COSTUME TAKES ABOUT A WEEK TO MAKE DEPENDING ON THE COMPLEXITY OF THE DESIGN. IT IS GENERALLY THREE PIECES AND THERE MAY BE MULTIPLES REQUIRED. IT TAKES ABOUT 6-8 COW HIDES AS WELL AS CONTRAST LEATHER FOR DETAIL, GAUNTLETS, AND BELTS.

DasNdanger writes: “1. In the first two seasons of SGA, Wraith costumes seemed much more varied and detailed. Lately, the male Wraith costumes have become more simplistic in design (not in material), with little variation. Is there a reason for this?

I CAN’T SPEAK FOR SEASON 1-3 BUT WE FELT THE LOOK WAS GOOD IN SEASON 4-5 AND USED MORE SUBTLE DETAILS TO DIFFERENTIATE THEM.

2. It appears that the material on Todd’s coat has changed. Of the the three pieces on the upper arm (?epaulettes?), the center one is now smooth. Is this to signify a change in rank, or simply a design choice?

WE CHANGED A FEW THINGS ON TODD’s COSTUME IN SEASON 5, MORE FOR THE COMFORT OF THE ACTOR THAN ANYTHING ELSE.

3. Wraith finger armor thingys – what are they for? (NO one is exempt from this question!)

THAT IS A GOOD ONE! I THINK THEY ARE COOL BUT CAN’T EXPLAIN THEM.

4. Male Wraith – boxers or briefs?

THONG!

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. I really wish I could think of better questions, but right now my mind is elsewhere.”

Dr. Rodnay McKay writes: “Who got the idea of the new suits, “striped jackets” ?”

WHEN I CAME ONTO ATLANTIS IN SEASON 4 I WANTED TO CHANGE THE LOOK OF THE UNIFORMS. AS THE FIT CHANGED I HAD TO FIND A SLEAKER WAY TO DESIGNATE THE DEPARTMENTS, ECHNICIAN,ENGINEER,MEDICAL ETC.

It’s such a good idea. And why only the Department heads wear them ?

I COULD ONLY CHANGE THE LEAD CAST SO IT APPEARS AS IF IT IS THE DEPARTMENT HEADS ONLY.

Which material are they made from ???”

THEY ARE MADE OF COTTON.

Erinblast writes: “My question is about Tayla and Kellers jackets, the women cosplayers are going mad trying to find out if these are original concepts or mods off of an existing jacket. Oh, and if so, what jacket?”

TEYLA AND KELLER’S JACKETS ARE A NEW LOOK THAT WAS DESIGNED IN SEASON 4. THEY ARE MORE FEMININE AND FITTED WITH A SLIGHT BELL IN THE SLEEVE. THE STRIPING TO LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT DEPARTMENT THEY ARE WITH IS NEW AS WELL.

Montrealer writes: “Is there a reference photo library of all the Atlantis costumes? Will we get a look at it in some form or MGM have veto? Would be fun to have a photo DVD-RAM of the Atlantis costumes along with audio commentary.

SOME OF THE COSTUMES AS WELL AS A COMMENTARY WILL BE IN THE SEASON 5 DVD.

Which costume is the most time consuming to produce?

THE WRAITH ARE QUITE TIME CONSUMING BUT TEYLA AND RONON WIN IN THAT CATEGORY BECAUSE OF THE DETAIL IN THEIRS.

Which costume gave wardrobe the most headaches during filming?”

WRAITH ONCE AGAIN BECAUSE OF THE SNAPS, VELCRO, AND WEIGHT OF THEM.

 

39 thoughts on “October 25, 2008: Stargate Atlantis Constume Designer Val Halverson Answers Your Questions

  1. Hey! I just saw the concept art for Stargate Universe. I like it, it looks interesting, except… it doesn’t look Ancienty. I understand that there are two major architectural styles: Milky Way, and then Pegasus. I also figure there is plenty of space in between for evolution from one stage to the next. However, from what I’ve seen so far, it looks like a fusion between the Daedalus and the Travelers’ ships.

    Either way, I’m still optimistic about the show itself. I just hope the style of the ship is addressed, or that perhaps we haven’t gotten a good feel of the interior of the ship based on three or four concept drawings.

    I haven’t seen Inquisition yet, I’m about to iTunes it right now. I’m excited!! Have a good night!

  2. Many thanks to Ms. Halverson for her participation. Unfortunately I’m now going to have to go back through the last season and a half to pick out some of the many things she pointed out (circuit-board stuff in McKay’s uniforms?!!!). I’m looking forward to seeing how some of the Earth-based adventures at the end of the season look, as well as any other glimpses we get at new Pegasus costumes.
    A safe and successful journey to the best writing/producing team on either side of the border.

  3. Many thanks to Val Halverson for such wonderful insite and awesome answers!

    I Love this show…. I wish it was not cancelled!

  4. Nobody asked about JF’s red-checkered shirt. Is that his own? See, I never think about the questions until it’s too late?!?

    I could cram in a whopping 55 restaurants! Or die trying.
    GeekBoy says: “At least he’d die happy.”

  5. “THONG!”

    Best. answer. EVER! 😆

    Thanks, Val – your answers, time and talent are much appreciated!

    @ Sessy – “Like the poo of predatory birds?!” Oh, god…and I thought it was bad being pooped on by a seagull… 😕

    @ Perragrin – Thanks, luv! Let’s see how long I hold out this time…

    @ green – A bidet? Okay, now I have quite the disturbing mental image of Edward Sleazyhands discovering the joys of the water jet…”No, no, NO! You’re not supposed to DRINK it!” 😛

    RE: Inquistion – I didn’t watch it last night, wanted to wait for feedback. Hubby watched it and liked it. He’s working tonight, so I gave it a go, and – like I expected – I was disappointed. I didn’t hate it, but as many others have said, there was so much potential, but it was all shot to hell so the Lanteans could come out all rosy-smelling. Yes, a couple good things came of it (acknowledging Todd’s help, for instance), but how they can stand there and justify that things are better off than before they came is just ridiculous. It’s not…at least, not based on the episodes I’ve seen. Every civilization the Lanteans have come in contact with – and many that they haven’t – have been tainted or harmed because of them.

    Even back in The Rising, it was the necklace that Sheppard found that brought the Wraith to the Athosians in the first place – they set off every disaster the galaxy has experienced since they set foot in it. And yet, they continue to put the blame on the Wraith, or whoever else they can point the finger at, instead of looking at themselves.

    This is the problem I am having with the Atlantis team – they’re smug, self-justifying people who never show remorse or accept accountability for their actions. They have murdered, conducted experiments, imposed their principles on others, encouraged genocide, and basically tossed morality out the window. And I’m not just talking about the Wraith here, but also in their treatment of other human cultures. But, of course, the Wraith get the brunt of it.

    Poor Wraith. Not sure how bad they are anymore, because right now they remind me of naive children, so easily deceived by their food supply…then kicked while they’re down. It takes me back to high school, back when the misunderstood emo kids were always getting beaten up by the jocks, and then the jocks where patted on the back, while the emo kids got suspended. Yeah, it’s just about like that. I hated jocks back then, and I hate them now. Guess that’s why I am having major problems with this team at the moment, they’re the cocky jocks picking on the kids who no one quite understands, while everyone else stands around and laughs.

    I know I’m in the minority, but when I first started watching this show it was because of Todd, and Common Ground. What I saw in that episode gave me hope that these Stargate folks would start taking responsibility for their actions, and would start trying to understand different life forms instead of changing them, or killing them. I thought the show was going in a more positive, less ‘us or them’-type direction. I started watching the show regular when I realized Todd was back, starting with BAMSR…and S4 DID give me hope. But S5 is going right back to where we started, ‘Wraith bad! Kill!’ 🙄

    And now Woolsey’s warning in Inquisition confirms my fears – one Wraith faction will defeat all others, and come after the humans with a vengeance. Oh, I wonder who will win THAT battle. 🙄 Right back to the threat of Wraith annihilation, the one thing that I hoped the events in Common Ground would prevent.

    So, yeah – just thinking about this is getting me down again. Much more fun discussing poop.

    das

  6. Hi Joe:

    I just watched Inquisition. I enjoyed that Woolsey managed to pull the team’s butts out of the fire by using his strength as a lawyer and understanding how the game is played. It really speaks to the fact that no matter who people are or where they live, most humans have a vested self interest.

    One thing I did notice at the end of the show was that, standing out on the balcony at that height above the city, there would have been at least a small breeze. The smoke from the cigars would have not just wafted up as if Sheppard and Woolsey were in a closed room. Yes, the actors were, in fact, in a closed room, but the characters were supposed to be outside looking at the city. Someone should have held up a small hand fan to blow the smoke away so that Sheppard and Woolsey would look like they werre actually outside.

    Patricia (AG)

  7. Das, I gotta give it to you..hands down you ask the best questions… but I thought you would have already known that? 🙂

    4. Male Wraith – boxers or briefs?

    THONG!

    And Val gave the best answer. I almost choked when I saw that. I was not expecting THONG…especially since it wasn’t a choice and somehow Todd doesn’t strike me as a THONG wearer..but you never truly know. I’m glad that mystery is solved. 🙂

    Joe,
    Whats up! Hows it going? Nothing much going on here..just mad no new epi next week…you think you can send me your copy? I don’t know if I can wait 2 weeks to see Ronon and Teyla in action 🙁

  8. @ Mellow Yellow – Well, I actually have analyzed Wraith underwear (surprise, surprise!). I posted it here a while ago…too lazy to try to find it. I forget exactly how it went, but the breakdown was something like this: Steve allows only the finest of silk briefs to caress his skin, The Defiant One struts around in smiley face boxers, Erik (I think it was Erik), the Allies’ scientist, wears tighty-whities, Edward Sleazyhands (The Hive) slinks about in a leopard print thong, and Bob sports Batman Underoos that he stole out of Ford’s dresser drawer. Oh, and Todd? Commando all the way, baby! 😀

    I am gonna have sweet (or very weird) dreams tonight.

    das

  9. Hey Joe. The end to Inquisition felt very Boston Legal.
    Next time, or in a future movie, could we possibly make it a Sheppard, and O’Neill drink on the balcony? Mitchell and Landry got their alone time… please?

  10. Re Inquisition: mostly boring. I didn’t feel any real drama in it until Woolsey showed up, and even then, the drama for me was in my irritation at Woolsey. Three folks with their own agendas questioning Sheppard while his pals were in a cell. Boring. Why weren’t the others questioned? It seemed pretty glaring tha they weren’t. Teyla, Rodney and Ronon were basic window dressing. (And I don’t hate clip shows; I still enjoy watching most of the SG1 clip shows).

    Although I was mildly intrigued to find out that Woolsey actually had a history of practicing law, I wasn’t impressed with the way he used it. I know something or two about practicing law. I am an attorney with both very large firm and very small firm experience, representing clients ranging from huge corporate clients to the small ordinary human being clients, so I have some acquaintance with both sorts of practice. When I practiced at a large law firm specializing in corporate tax planning, I never saw anyone at any time bribe anyone. Such practices are unethical and cause the loss of law licenses.

    When I became tired of the large law firm practice, I changed fields and moved to a small law firm practice representing clients in workers’ compensation and PI cases. In that venue, I also never saw anyone bribing a tribunal. Such things are not done if you want to keep your license.

    For Woolsey, it was all about winning with bribery, not persuasion. He was right about the contrived situation in the episode, certainly, but my problem was the impression he gave that this kind of behavior was par for the course with him; it was how he practiced law when he was in practice on Earth, at a big NYC law firm.

    Woolsey has always been portrayed as a somewhat misguided straight shooter type. Straight shooter types don’t bribe tribunals. Even if they do because it is necessary for the story set in another galaxy because it is the only way to win/save lives/etc, they should not then give the impression that that is the way they normally practiced when they were at home on Earth. At least, they don’t do that if they expect anyone to respect them. Or if the story isn’t supposed to completely blow up the impression that this person had any ethics whatsoever.

    What is more, the episode raised my initial irritation with Woolsey in the first place. When he was first introduced in SG1, Carter said something stupid like, “he’s got an LLB from Harvard Law.” Well, that hasn’t been the Harvard Law School degree for a very long time. The law degree from Harvard, as from every accredited law school in the US, is a Juris Doctor (JD). It has been for a very long time. It’s been the REQUIRED law degree in the US since the 1970s, I think, although this is not the case for Canada. I have heard that Canada is moving to the JD system, but I am far from certain about that. In any event, the JD is equivalent to a doctorate; the LLB (bachelor of laws, usually an undergraduate degree) is not.

    I figure Woolsey is somewhere between 50-55 or so, and he would have graduated from law school around 1980-1985 or so. His degree would be JD. It’s not that hard to look up. And it annoys the heck out of me every time I see the episode in question.

    I know, I know, that’s picky even for me, but it has annoyed me for a while.

    So we now know that Woolsey the straight shooter is in fact someone who practiced law in an unethical manner before he got on whatever track that led him to the SGC.

    I also hated the end scene; the cigars and booze. Obviously this came from Boston Legal, but really, it was lame. And, btw, people who practice law the way they do in Boston Legal also would lose their licenses, but Boston Legal is a farce and doesn’t really pretend to be realistic.

    Mary, J.D. 1980

  11. Great interview!! Please pass on a thank you to Ms. Halverson. And I do know what you mean about costumes–period costumes, sci fi costumes, fantasy costumes–I love them all! Hence, the suit makes the man, the long black jacket makes the wraith!!

    Heh, heh, heh…I’m going to have scary images in my head thinking of Brendan Penny, James L and Chris H is leopard pattern thongs!! That’s more than I think I wanted to know.

    And I hope that SGA will do some sort of convention circuit where they take their costumes on tour. The only sci fi convention I’ve been to had a workshop titled “period costumes” naively I thought I would see period costumes from shows under glass–nope! Someone had taken a BBC tv show on period costumes, taped it on VHS and decided that was the workshop….really, REALLY low rent.

    WK

  12. Random food shopping question…

    Do you know where I could find a whole coconut for sale in Vancouver at this time of year?

  13. Coucou Joseph! Sa va ???
    Waou c’est super toutes ces questions/réponses!!
    Mince, j’ai oublier que l’on changer d’heure -_-‘ donc je me suis réveiller à 07:15 du matin…
    Ce midi je vais au restaurant éhéhé =D Je vous direz ce que j’ai manger si vous voulez^^!

    Passez une trés bonne journée! Bisou Bisou!! je vous adore!

  14. Thanks Joe for the guest blogger, and thanks to Val Halverson for taking the time to answer questions!
    Nice episode Friday. I thought it was very good for a clip show, and I enjoyed the political aspect of it (the political junkie that I am). Next week looks great too!!
    ~Rich

  15. I agree with das and Mellow Yellow about the THONG-answer xD

    Thanks to Val for the Q&A!

  16. Hello Joe!

    This is it. It’s official. I must be blind!

    After reading the fascinating Q&A with Val, I’ve just realised there are so many details in the costumes that I can’t see! Wow! I knew I was loosing sight in one eye but it is worse than I thought.

    So thanks for the Q&A but no thanks for the bad news. Joe, you are so inconsiderate! First your birthday falls on the day I decide to get divorced then then you make me realise I’m going blind! Everytime I wish you a happy birthday, I’ll be reminded of the awful event. That’s it. From now on, you will have been born on the 17th. This will come as a surprise to your mother but that can’t be helped! Anyway, somewhere on the planet, it WAS the 17th while you were being born (or constructed. After all, you’re superman, you weren’t born).

    I think I’ve invented a new tense. The future past. Or the pasty future. I’ll call it the sciencefictiony tense! It’s probably already in use somewhere in France. They have all the weirdest tenses there already.

    Thank God for puppies and chocolate, that’s all I’m saying. And confiture de caramel. Yep. I didn’t know this wonder existed but apparently it does! And it’s sooooo goooood! Darn, I’m drooling all over the laptop. And getting stuck to the keys because of the caramel.

    I wish there was such a thing as a Nobel prize for food. I would nominate whoever invented this marvel. Probably French as well!

    And no, I won’t send you any. It’s all mine. Mine I tell you! I won’t even share it with Charlie. Especially since the pup has turned traitor and changed his allegiances from SGA to the Fringe. Anyway, you’d only take pictures of it and then I wouldn’t be able to look at it anymore!

    Thanks Joe!

  17. I was thoroughly disappointed with Inquisition. It was a rare miss in the season so far, but a miss nonetheless. I felt that too much time was spent on showing clips as opposed to showing the TEAM.

    Honestly, Star Trek The Next Generation did a better job pulling the trial style ep off in Encounter at Farpoint. I really had hoped to see more team interaction not just John Sheppard speaking.

    It was downright boring and semi unbelievable. Woosley did shine and I did enjoy the twist about the lady blaming Atlantis for what happened to her family, home, and town.

    I like the flashbacks but I think there were just too many. This episode could have been better if it were a 2 hour deal. The time could have been spent flashing back and also getting more involved with the characters in the situation. I feel that the proper time could not be given to make this work which made it flash by so quick like spicy chilli on a sensitive stomach.

    Flashbacks are hard to integrate nicely, but I believe this is still a miss for the season. Good concept. Good acting. It’s the lack of time to develop the story fully that absolutely killed this episode. I found myself so bored I actually reached for my laptop to do something else while it played. 🙁 A first for me in years, and I had remained totally, positively spoiler free this week.

  18. Aww, nuts. I didn’t get any questions answered again. 🙁
    But, it was interesting to hear about Val’s day and how she chooses the fabrics and what goes into the costumes. Thanks for visiting.

    crazymom1 said:

    Nobody asked about JF’s red-checkered shirt. Is that his own? See, I never think about the questions until it’s too late?!?

    My bet would be that it is his, ‘cos Joe F loves plaid. He seems to wear it frequently and his fave colour is red.

    Cheers, Chev

  19. Hmm, Wraith thong… Todd, thong… Kenny, thong…Michael, thong…. I like it.

    Good one, thank you Val for taking the time to answer all those qustions, I really enjoyed and appreciate all the great, creative work you designers do!

  20. Hey Joe!

    I was wondering if there’s a particular reason why Woolsey’s uniform just has a black outline of where his Atlantis tag is supposed to be, instead of an actual tag?

  21. Thank you Val, that was much fun to read! Always interesting to learn about the elements of the Atlantis production.

  22. Das,
    SGA are the Ancients.

    I actually read that Q&A all the way through. It was very interesting. I could have sworn the lady who used to play all the Wraith queens mentioned in one of her blogs that the finger armor was to protect their feeding hands when in combat…or at least that was her take on it.

  23. me revoila=) Je suis rentrer du restaurant, c’etais pas mal, j’ai manger une salades avec plein de produit de la mer, un faux fillet, différent fromage et des profitrols =)!! Je me sens ballonné maintenant^^!

  24. Thong? I was thinking “commando”. Apparently, I am not the only one.

    Slian … the black is velcro. As in the real world, uniform patches and insignia are detachable, so if a person is captured, the enemy doesn’t have their command/unit, etc. Makes it harder for the baddies too know where folks are from, and harder to copy uniform details.

    I’m alive, and somewhat awake … last night was out Decompression, the local burning man after party. Co-incidentally, I was fully costumed for the first time in a very long time, and received many compliments on my MOOP Princess (MOOP = Matter Out Of Place, aka TRash). I even got hit on … I mean, really, fat old me got an enticing offer. Amazing what trash bag ruffles do for a gal. I’ll throw pics in the blog later.

  25. Hi Joe,

    I enjoyed the Q&A!! Please pass on a thank you to Ms. Halverson! And now every time I see the Wraith, I will being thinking THONG! No wonder they are always in a bad mood 😉

  26. Mary wrote:

    Although I was mildly intrigued to find out that Woolsey actually had a history of practicing law, I wasn’t impressed with the way he used it.

    Mr. Woolsey wasn’t practicing law. That’s what he went there to do, yes, and I believe he would’ve done so ethically. There just never was a real trial. It was simply the new Coalition’s way of showing some authority over Atlantis, real or imagined. As Mr. Woolsey said, “Now I know the game, I know how to play it”. The ‘game’ he referred to is, of course, politics.

    I found it quite interesting that many of the points made about the Expedition’s exploits in the Pegasus Galaxy were very similar in nature to comments Kinsey, Woolsey himself, and many others made about Stargate Command in Stargate SG-1: no oversight; do things that imperil the world without anyone having any say in it, etc. Arguments that lead to the forming of the IOAC.

    Woolsey had to commit Atlantis to more “day-to-day participation in the politics of the Pegasus Galaxy” which at first glance looks like they want the Expedition’s input but probably means they want to know what Atlantis will be doing and have a say in it.

    Anne Teldy

  27. I really should have done my daily reading before posting yesterday: I didn’t realise that Inquisition was Alex’s ‘first dramatic live-action script’, as he puts it in the skiffy blog. And as that’s the case, then i’m gonna tip my indeterminate scales in favour of a grateful well done.

    It still doesn’t resolve the issues that I felt were left flailing here and there, but I can understand that it was probably quite a difficult script for him to throw together. Sooo… kudos, Alex and thanks. Tis greatly appreciated 😉

    ‘Thong’

    lmao!

    Pure brilliance. And i’m presuming that’s so we get a flawless seam of shiny, leather perfection around those Wraithy buttocks?

    Thanks to Val for popping by and giving us yet another insightful dose into the inner workings of Atlantis 🙂

  28. “I also hated the end scene; the cigars and booze. Obviously this came from Boston Legal, but really, it was lame. And, btw, people who practice law the way they do in Boston Legal also would lose their licenses, but Boston Legal is a farce and doesn’t really pretend to be realistic.
    Mary, J.D. 1980”
    And SGA does?
    Loved that scene

  29. I enjoyed Inquisition, but then I’m quite fond of clip shows since they let me see clips from episodes I haven’t been able to watch yet, like Underground and Common Ground.

    But I wonder, why was only Sheppard questioned by the judges? I know he’s the leader of the team, but I think Teyla or Ronon would have provided a unique perspective on the Atlantis expedition’s actions, since they are natives of the Pegasus galaxy.

    I’d be especially interested in seeing Teyla defend the expedition’s actions regarding Michael, since I think she’s suffered the most from him (kidnapped her, kidnapped her people, wants to kidnap her son).

    Still, it was a good episode and I look forward to The Prodigal.

  30. @ Anne Teldy – I agree with your point that Woolsey wasn’t practicing law in the episode – he was doing what he had to do to get his people out of there. My problem with his ethics was that he very strongly implied was that he was experienced at behaving just that way, that THAT was HOW he practiced law. I was shocked by that, frankly, particularly because characters have repeatedly said that Woolsey is a standup guy, a straight shooter.

    If he really WERE a straight shooter, he’d have had ethical problems with what he was doing, and a better story would have shown his angst at the necessity of giving up his ethical values. Instead, he made it seem like it was typical behavior for him in the law. And he was PLEASED with that result and the way it worked out. Again, a better story would have shown that he didn’t like what he had to do, but found it to be the lesser of two evils in the circumstances.

    Frankly, my impression was that they were going for the whole Boston Legal outrageousness, and the way the lawyers behave on that show is not typical. It may be good entertainment, but it’s not, hmm, realistic.

    They trashed Woolsey’s character, IMO, by portraying him as an attorney who (impliedly) regularly and willingly embraced bribery to get what he wanted.

    Mary

  31. Thornyrose wrote:

    Many thanks to Ms. Halverson for her participation. Unfortunately I’m now going to have to go back through the last season and a half to pick out some of the many things she pointed out (circuit-board stuff in McKay’s uniforms?!!!).

    What Thornyrose said! *grin*

    Thanks, Val!

  32. Thank you for presenting another great guest blogger.

    I think the answer to the idols amongst costume designers was meant to read “Colleen Atwood.”

  33. @ Hachi – Actually, yes, SGA does pretend to be realistic. What makes SF work is its verisimilitude. SF stories don’t work when they don’t make sense in the context of their world. The context of SG1 and SGA is our world and time, together with their respective back stories built over the past 12 years.

    Part of that backstory for Woolsey is his reputation as trying to do the right thing.

    I wouldn’t even begin to compare Boston Legal with anything besides itself, and it’s not realistic in its storytelling about the legal world. It IMO is a farce; SG1 and SGA are not farces.

    Mary

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