Looking back over your Stargate viewing experience, what would you consider your favorite VFX shot/sequence?

Hmmmm. This requires some thought.

It’s tough.  So many to choose from.  I’d love to hear what the fans have to say.  But I’d also love to hear what an expert has to say on the subject.  An expert like, say, this guy –

Stargate Visual Effects Supervisor Extraordinaire Mark Savela.  Over the years, he and his gang have produced some of the most unbelievably awesome VFX shots and sequences on television.  So I decided to corner him and ask him the same question. He kindly agreed to swing by this blog and count down his favorite Stargate Visual Effects shots/sequences.  Each entry will include Mark’s insight into how the shot/sequence came together complete with supporting visuals (photos and/or vids).

Impatiently awaiting his first installment.  What do you figure will kick off the list in the #10 spot?  The super gate in SG-1’s Beachhead?  The big bomb drop in SGA’s First Strike?  The body-burrowing sequence in SGU’s Time?

Last night, the gang got together for dinner at Romer’s Burger Bar.  The highpoint of the night?  Ashleigh doing a shot.  And not just any shot.  I’m talking about the lemon-cream dipping sauce that accompanied our mini-doughnuts.

That girl will drink anything!

Tomorrow, I’m scheduled to go in for my annual check-up.  Well, they call it an “annual check-up” but, in my case, it’s more of a every half decade type of thing.  I went in for a general blood test a couple of weeks ago, so my doctor has been sitting on the results for a while.  I figure that if it was bad news, he wold have already called me up in a panic by now. Unless, of course, he tried my home line which I never answer.  Or tried the production office which has been somewhat deserted of late.

So, dentist today, doctor tomorrow and, next week, it looks like I may be in Toronto for business.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Nope, still no news on the Stargate front.  Tick tick tick…

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Randomness
Randomness

Mine has to be the drones being fired in Lost City. So magical in some ways as you’re thinking OMG earth is doomed, then the drones emerge like magical balls of light converging into a stream that cuts down all of the ships Anubis had.

Also loved the way the sequence where Teal’c is piloting the cargo ship headed towards Earth, pulls up and not long after bores a hole in the ice with the rings.

And LASTLY also on that episode the armarda of Earth and Goa’uld ships clashing over Antartica.

So much to love in that episode alone.

In some ways that would of made the perfect SG1 finale had it not be picked up for a new season. SURE it wouldn’t of resolved everything but the main big bad was gone.

Sean D.
Sean D.

VFX – The end of SG1 season 9 was pretty sweet, though things were gradually getting cooler and cooler in the final seasons of SG1, including both seasons 9 and 10 particularly. And pretty much any of the vfx in SGU. smile Of course, all of that, even SGU’s vfx, is going to look fake in comparison to the new-and-improved stuff in a few years from now. Though, still, pretty sweet stuff for the time.

Bryan M. White

Hello Joe.

Hmm. Favorite visual effects shot… Probably the mountain blowing up in Ark of Truth, followed by those dreaded motion control shots when Repli-McKay and Rodney are talking about how the old uniform bunched up a little.

How are the pups doing? Hope everyone is doing well. And of course, please keep us in the loop about any news regarding the franchise.

Best wishes,

Bryan

Lisa R
Lisa R

I like that shot of the drones being fired too, and I like the one at the end of the third season of Atlantis where Atlantis is leaving the planet and flying into space. I also like the one where Destiny is recharging in the sun–thought that was a cool one.

The video of Ashleigh was cute. She was a good sport to do that.

Hope you have a good night and that your doctor’s appointment goes well tomorrow.

me
me

Favorite Stargate VFX shot/sequence come from the SG:A episode: Be All My Sins Remembered. This episode had A LOT of them. Favorite begins when Fran says Hello, and begins to do her thing.

Bailey
Bailey

My favorite shot ever is Atlantis rising out of the ocean in Rising. The pan out from the hole in the ground through the galaxy to Michaels ship in Search and Rescue was another one I liked.

Elminster
Elminster

Hey Joe

I have to agree with Randomness, that was a wicked episode. Also, the effects in the 2 movies, The Arc of Truth and Continuum, were very strong. Mark is one very special man.

Elminster

IggyMing
IggyMing

If you’re in Toronto next week, then you have to try my husband’s favourite sandwich place — Mustachio’s in St. Lawrence Market (on the lower level). They have the most awesome veal and eggplant sandwiches. The pizza place on the main level is good, too, if you like thin crust pizzas. The mushroom and bacon is always good.

So, I guess when you said there might be a job opportunity across the country, you meant Toronto, then? It’ll be interesting to see you compare the restaurant scene in T.O. versus Vancouver, especially when it comes to Chinese restaurants.

scott_land
scott_land

Yeah Joe,

I would have to agree with Randomness too that really was a GREAT episode. Bailey- seeing Atlantis rise was really AWESOME too.

Okay so maybe its not the biggest visual effects you guys have done but I would have to say this one stuck in my mind beacuse when I first started watching SG1 it had made an impression of “holy crap these little grey guys kick butt!”. It was in the Thor’s Chariot episode where we see the outside of the big old honking Asgard’s ship for the first time dropping out of the sky and zapping all the Goa’uld up.
I think the same effect was used in the episode “Point of View”, no? You know when the Asgard arrive on the alternate earth and zap all the Goa’uld away again in the nick of time.
Yeah I know it probablly doesn’t reach the top ten of his, but like I said it made a big first impression of the Asgard.
*sniff sniff* I miss those lil guys. sad
Hey by the way Joe some of us REALLY, REALLY love visual effects. Do you think you could do another visual effects “showing”. Orrrrrr maybe Mark could show us some screen shots or a quick video of how he makes just one of these gems from raw footage, computer cgi and what they look compositing the together?

Thank ya

Elminster
Elminster

@IggyMing Hey, you in Toronto? I love walking up and down Spadina. I always stop at this one place, the name escapes me, but it has 3 levels of shops and a food court in the basement (the upper levels is a hotel, I put the signs in it). Love it.

Elminster

jam
jam

The first time I saw the replicators in Sg-1 I was amazed at how real they looked. Battle over antartica was pretty sexy too

TheSGC
TheSGC

1. The scene where Teal’c took that heavy staff weapon and shot down Tanith’s ship. Only Teal’c could do that. Nope, not even Master Chief. Not even a Jedi. Only Teal’c.
2. The Beachhead, like you gave an example of. FOR MOTHER RUSSIA!!!! Ah, how I love Chekov.
3. From Continuum: the scene where the gang is being flown in fighters to Russia and they’re attacked by Death Gliders AND THE RUSSIANS SAVED THEM!!! Wow, I have a little Russian thing going on right now… “They’re MIGs!”
4. This doesn’t even count, but Window of Opportunity.

Bryan M. White

Hello Joe.

How could I have forgotten Repli-Marrick in Ark of Truth. What was your favorite scene during your time in the franchise?

Best wishes,

Bryan

Tai
Tai

The opening to “In the line of Duty” (SG-1 Season 2, the episode when carter becomes host to Jolinar) always sticks out in my mind. Such a fantastic sequence.

IggyMing
IggyMing

@Elminster — Nope, don’t live in the GTA, but I have family there, so I visit often. Are you referring to the Eaton Centre? I don’t usually go there, but it is a fabulous place. If I want to go to a mall, I usually head to Yorkdale. Can’t beat the free parking!

Deni
Deni

Gosh, so many! Atlantis rising out of the water was amazing! “Rising” (both parts) was amazing, actually. This sucks.

Brandon
Brandon

I actually have two favorite VFX sequences…

1) The scene where Young stones into the alien ship for the first time.

2) The scene where Rush and James go to the desert/crystal planet in the episode Lost.

Honorable Mention:

The Rush/Alien fight.

Ponytail
Ponytail

Any scene that Ronon was in had a special effect on me. Does that count?

If not, the one scene I still remember as a “WOW”, was SGA Season 5, first episode Search & Rescue, scene one, the camera pulling out from the hole McKay, Lorne, Ronon, and Sheppard were trapped in. The pull out from the planet into and across space. The music and visuals were perfect together and it was breathtaking and beautiful. Like I say, I still remember that one and I see others here do too.

Also in Reunion and Broken Ties watching the Wraith’s aging process on their victims faces was pretty interesting.

How can you pick one? There were sooooo many.

PoorOldEdgarDerby
PoorOldEdgarDerby

I was actually thinking of one of my favorite practical effects you had. It was in “Enemies,” and the replicators sprayed their acid to get out of the crate. The thing just melted open, and apparently that’s exactly what happens when you spray gasoline onto styrofoam.

Not to knock visual effects, but I just thought I’d sing some different praises.

The Choppa’Ko was pretty snazzy, though. Especially when Carter was standing on it when it went off. That only honestly freaked me the hell out.

pg15

What’s this, a general survey about way-cool CGI at a time that I want to get some work done but actually REALLY want to just procrastinate? Awesome! wink

I gotta say, the first thing that popped into my fron while reading the entry was the stuff in First Strike, and that was before you mentioned it. While the bomb drop was unbelievably spectacular, I think I’ll go with the end sequence of Atlantis rising again and then flying off. It was one of those rare moments when Atlantis herself felt like a character; specifically, one whom was giving it her all to escape the terror from above despite her immense age.

I got the same feeling when Destiny dove into the gas giant’s atmosphere in Darkness; the music especially helped, with its intense guitar backing. This million+ year old ship, riding the waves of a massive planet, its atmosphere pummelling her skin like hurricane whipping up the side of a house. It was great.

Here are some others I loved: the first shot of SGU; the galaxy shots in Sabotage; Destiny and the Seed Ship both sundiving in Resurgence; the massive zoom out in Search and Rescue; the destruction of the Wraith and Ori ships in The Pegasus Project; the chair scene at Proclarush Taonas in Lost City Part 2; Atlantis rising; the start of the battle of Atlantis in The Siege Part 2; the massive wave hitting Atlantis in The Eye; the battle footage in No Man’s Land (the setting of the battle really made it unique); the destruction of the Phoenix and the gorgeous shots of Atlantis in the sand from The Last Man; Sheppard vs. Michael on Atlantis’s tower from The Prodigal; Atlantis arriving to battle the SuperHive from Enemy at the Gate; etc. etc. So many.

Eduardo
Eduardo

It’s very very hard to choose but let’s try a top5:

The scene from SG-1 season 1 The Torment of Tantalus when Daniel finds the device that shows the reunion of the four races in a language based on the atoms. The visual, the mystery and the orchestration in the back makes a paralyzing clime!! Pretty awesome!!

The space race in season 7 was SO MUCH FUN!!!!! I love that sequence!!

First Contact from SGA season 5 the entire episodes was oh my god!! Great visual e adventure sequence!! And when the “bridge” of Atlantis exploded I got paralyzed, was a very intense scene. Seconds before the explosion the music in the back stopped, a complete silence was made and then BOOM it explodes!!! Shocking!!!

Sheppard fighting “zombies” in Whispers was breathtaking!!

The blue aliens from SGU entering through the gate in Pain and Chloe with half of the face converted to the alien skin in Cloverdale were SUCH GREAT!!!! When I first saw those scenes in the trailer of season 2 I freak out and I got pretty anxious!!!

I would like to speak more about those scenes but my English is very limited.

David Issel

One of my favorite VFX shots was when the replicators were crawlling all over Apophis.

Or, in the movie Continuum where the guy gets sliced in half with a sword. (I hope I’m remembering that one right.)

Or, the final Anubis battle with the first activation of the drone chair.

And finally, “the puddle”. Every time someone walks through the stargate, I love it. Nicely done!

Those are the ones that stand out to me.

Shawna Buchanan
Shawna Buchanan

I just read the pitching tips. Very interesting and informative. I just have a couple follow-up questions:

1. Do pitches usually happen over the phone?
2. If one wants to be a TV writer, presuming one is willing to move to wherever a show’s produced if one gets a regular job on it, is it absolutely necessary to live in LA/Vancouver, or could someone still get serious consideration if they’re from a non-industry-heavy area? (In other words, I suppose, how critical is proximity in the pitching stage?)

Bryan M. White

@Ponytail

Gaaah!!! You’re right!!! That shot in Search and Rescue was GREAT as well!!! So many moments to choose!?!?!?

The scene where the replicator jumps off the crane, and into the water… in the episode (the name escapes me…) where Sheppard went home for his father’s funeral.

…Wait… Bam Bam did that stunt himself… wink

Best Wishes,

Bryan
Best wishes,

Bryan

@iom666
@iom666

The SGU episode 2×07 “The Greater Good” is the one for me that has even SEVERAL awesome SFX scenes (and music as well). When they cross between ships and any overfly are extraordinary.
Mark Savela should be getting a reward for this.
I think overall “The Greater Good” is one of the best episode of the show. SFX wise, story wise, revelation wise,music wise … acting …. everything is up there, totally blew up my mind that night.