This week feels like the calm before the storm. Of course, I could be wrong and it may actually be the calm before the calm before the storm. Or, worse, the calm before the storm that never comes. Paul and I are closing on several writing assignments (an action feature, an SF pilot, another SF pilot), and a few projects poised to move forward (development on one, going to camera on another pilot, and a potential series pick-up on a third), but, of course, in this line of work nothing is assured. Things certainly look promising but, in all fairness, they’ve looked promising for some time now as we’ve maintained a holding pattern in expectation of a decision, one way or the other.
I’m considering working on another spec pilot or going the kickstarter route and just shooting that horror script, but I fear that the moment I start on either, one of the aforementioned deals will close and I’ll have to switch gears.
For better or worse, things seem to be coming to a head so here’s hoping that, sometime next week, I’ll be able to make a big announcement.
In the meantime, I’ve got this blog to keep me busy – and this entry in particular. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a slew of Stargate plans – blueprints, schematics, sketches, and designs – from the last few seasons of Atlantis and both seasons of Universe. Most of these are huge, oversized documents that need to be scanned and digitized. About a dozen, however, are part of Art Department packages for specific episodes. Rather than offer them up in order of their air dates, I thought it would be more interesting to just pick them at random and upload them as dedicated, individual blog entries.
And so, since you asked, today’s entry offers up a host of Atlantis designs. From the season 4 two-part opener Adrift/Lifeline:
During prep week, the Art Department assembles a package containing an overview of the various sets and builds for a given episode. As changes are made, the package is tweaked and these progressive stages are reflected in the color of the ensuing drafts. For those of you interested in learning about the various revisions and their corresponding colors, check out my explanation here: March 10, 2008: THE ULTIMATE EXTREME EXTRA SUPERFANTASTIC BEST LUCKY ULTRA NUMBER ONE FINAL FINAL DRAFT
While there was a four month hiatus between production of the third season finale, First Strike, and the fourth season premiere, Adrift, hardly any time had passed onscreen. Thank goodness for our eagle-eyed Art Department who placed little continuity reminders throughout: “One monitor was askew at end of First Strike” and “First Strike continuity – windows OUT throughout/aftermath still in place”. These, of course, a reference to the blast that blew out the windows at the end of the season finale, seriously injuring Elizabeth. A reminder also goes out to the various other departments for a Zelenka leg brace and that nasty-looking piece of glass that embeds itself in Ronon. By the way, there’s a reference to “large piano in deep background”. Obviously, we’re not talking about an actual piano – rather, a control console that resembled one (thus the nickname).
Clearly, the meager two-bed set-up is optimistic. Room for plenty more in the event of some unforeseen catastrophe – like an Asuran attack.
I love the reminder to “check ZPM functioning”. And then, just in case someone actually did check and found it lacking in the expected energy requirements: “one section lights up”. Oh, is that all? Another reference to those darn “pianos” and continuity reminder as per “The Siege”.
Whenever we shot outside, on the balcony, we tended to stay on our characters and relied on lighting, the occasional breeze, and the grey practical backdrop to convey a sense of an overcast day. In scenes where we actually wanted to see the background, we relied on our VFX team to create something convincing – in this case, a beautiful night-time twin-moon view.
That, of course, is the gate at bottom left. The door to Stage 4 (via the productions offices), where the Atlantis set once stood, is corner right.
The layout didn’t really change despite the changes in command although the set dec was a little different. Whereas Elizabeth’s tastes ran to the artistic (ie. Athosian statuettes), Carter added a more personal touch in the various photos that lined the back wall. Woolsey’s office was a little more austere, but he did include a personal touch with the photo of his beloved yorkie, lost to his wife in the divorce.
The layout of the replicator core room looks a lot like the Atlantis gate room. Note the tiny human figure at the bottom left, included for scale.
This being the replicator version of the Atlantis control room, set dec is reminded to strip away all Earth touches like computers, desks, and chairs. Things should be just as they were the last time we were here – in the episode Progeny.
The doors on the right presumably lead out to the infirmary and the area is “dressed” as such – gurneys, equipment – to suggest the operating room adjoins it. Since the doors on the left remain closed, we have no way of knowing what’s on the other side. My guess is the home theater room. On the bottom left is a note to Prosthetics/Make Up re: Weir’s skull/brain swell. I remember seeing the “brain swell” demonstration and being impressed (and slightly nauseated) by the very realistic brain that expanded as air was pumped inside. If I remember correctly, it was the work of Todd Masters and Masters VFX.
This is the area Ronon walks out of to visit Weir and deliver his bedside talk – one of my favorite scenes of the two-parter.
This was shot in the VFX stage, the biggest on the lot. This is where we shot the space jump. There’s a note: for the greenscreens and “Atlantian floor treatment, bordered by green” because the view of the devastation below is a visual effect. Up top, construction is asked to pockmark the wall with “asteroid” (meteorite) hits. Wonder where they got the meteorites?
This, the VFX stage, was so massive it actually held several sets simultaneously including, at one point or other, the village, the hive ship, and the various Earth ships.
And before we took over the space, it was the set of one of the Blade movies – which is why we would occasionally refer to it as The Blade set. Love the attention to detail on the snowflake design bordering the chair.
There’s a note regarding “Gurney will roll into McKay’s Lab/Infirmary & Operating Room”. This is, of course, part of the frenetic opening sequence in which a badly injured Elizabeth is wheeled through the halls and into the infirmary. So frenzied, in fact, that we didn’t notice that part of the medical equipment being wheeled through the shot off the top wasn’t medical equipment at all but actually a camera.
Again, similarities to the real Atlantis are intentional on the part of the Asurans – but certain visual cues suggest a different location. SPFX/PROPS are reminded what they need to bring to the party for the scenes in which the replicators hit the AR fields: weapons and, of course, aluminum shavings.
An interesting set. While there was certainly enough space between the bars to accommodate our cameras, one could argue there was also enough space for a determined prisoner to slip through. Which is why there were always guards posted on duty. Still, I would argue you wouldn’t need guards if that cell would have been just a little more secure. What were the Ancients thinking?
The south wall was presumably an issue so we just got rid of it. Bless the set’s modular design.
I always preferred the coziness of the jumpers over the roomier Universe shuttle or utilitarian SG-1 cargo ship. As I mentioned in a previous post, “gak” refers to the exposed inner-workings/guts of some high-tech device – in this case the ARG.
It’s amazing the amount of work and detail that went into shots that would last mere seconds onscreen. But they went such a long way toward creating this world. None of this: “Hey, we parked the jumper up on the roof. You’ll just have to trust us!”.
One of three different looks outside our parked jumper.
It wouldn’t be until much later, in the aptly titled Midway, that we would actually get a tour of the place. Check out more floor plans of the station here: March 15, 2013: Things Stargate! Note: “All objects in this area must appear to be strapped or bolted down to sell zero-gravity”. Check out Carter’s zero-g ballet, compliments of VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and his crew, here: September 4, 2012: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! SGA’s Fourth Season! Adrift!
Yes, now that you mention it, it DOES look very similar to the bridge of the Orion, the Prometheus, and the Daedalus. Oh, and the Korolev and Sun Tzu if you must know. But that’s because Earth built them on the same designs. Of course you know you’re on the Apollo thanks to the “dimensional brass Apollo plaque”.
And, since some of you asked, the Art Department packages also contained gate addresses when appropriate. Point of Origin: Atlantis = Subido.
Always wanted to dial Earth from Atlantis? Well, here ya go.