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:

Adrift:Lifeline coverDuring 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

Atlantis - Control Room
Atlantis – Control Room

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).

Keller's lab
Keller’s lab/infirmary

Clearly, the meager two-bed set-up is optimistic.  Room for plenty more in the event of some unforeseen catastrophe – like an Asuran attack.

Atlantis ZPM room
Atlantis ZPM room

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”.

Atlantis - balcony
Atlantis – balcony

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.

Atlantis - halls & corridors
Atlantis – halls & corridors

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.

Elizabeth's office
Elizabeth’s office

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.

Replicator core room
Replicator core room

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.

Replicator City - control room
Replicator City – control room

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.

Operating room
Operating room

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.

Infirmary outside operating room
Infirmary outside operating room

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.

Damaged hallways
Damaged hallways

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?

Hallways - outer city
Hallways – outer city

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.

Chair room
Chair room

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.

Atlantis - halls and corridors
Atlantis – halls and corridors

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.

Replicator City - corridors
Replicator City – corridors

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.

Holding cell
Holding cell

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?

Asuran City - ZPM room
Asuran City – ZPM room

The south wall was presumably an issue so we just got rid of it.  Bless the set’s modular design.

Puddle jumpers on Asuran rooftops
Puddle jumpers on Asuran rooftops

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.

Puddle Jumper Bay before take-off
Puddle Jumper Bay before take-off

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!”.

Limbo set
Limbo set

One of three different looks outside our parked jumper.

Midway Station
Midway Station

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!

Apollo Bridge
Apollo Bridge

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”.

Atlantis to M35 117
Atlantis to M35 117

And, since some of you asked, the Art Department packages also contained gate addresses when appropriate.  Point of Origin: Atlantis = Subido.

Atlantis to Earth
Atlantis to Earth

Always wanted to dial Earth from Atlantis?  Well, here ya go.

39 thoughts on “March 26, 2013: You asked for it! Atlantis floor plans! The Control Room! The ZPM Room! Weir’s Office! The Adrift & Lifeline Art Department Package!

  1. That is so cool. Thanks for these, Joe! Now I’ll have to memorize that Atlantis -> Earth gate address, because well, you never know when it might be needed!

  2. Oh, I meant to add that I’ve got my fingers crossed that all goes well for you with the (hopefully) upcoming projects.

  3. Simply amazing! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see these drawings and the amount of detail that was put into them. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of the ‘bones’ that make up our favorite series.

    Any chance you have detailed drawings of the gate (any or all versions)?


  4. Thanks for posting these, Joe, very cool! It’s going to take some time to go through them all, though! Have a good night!

  5. really nice, joe! i (yay, sam!!)

    i miss stargate… such a wonderful franchise… one of the very, very few i’d give up my real life to go into!! 😛

  6. Thanks for these! Very cool!
    Good luck on your projects!
    And why, with all those pianos, did you never do an SGA musical episode?

  7. Thanks for posting the set schematics. They bring back memories of the set tours.

  8. WOW! Very interesting. The detail is tremendous. Good luck with all the projects. I hope you have something good to share next week.

  9. Thank you very much! Y’know, I’ve never been really sure why I became so “stuck” on Stargate: Atlantis. Other series I have liked and lost, and I remember them fondly, but Atlantis… the Stargate universe just became so familiar, and so easy to slip into mentally, more like a book series read and re-read. Like Asimov’s Foundation series, Andre Norton’s Forerunner books, all the way back to Smith’s Lensman series, I still keep wishing for another door to open up back into it. I suspect it was all of the attention to details, to continuity, to (reasonably) coherent mythology, to satisfying stories and well-drawn, grown-up characters, that left me feeling homesick for a place I’ve never been!

  10. Goes without needing to say it… but am hoping that the calm is before a wonderful type of storm where you get what you want and won’t have to exhaust yourself fulfilling the things needing done.

  11. Best of luck on your projects. Fingers and toes crossed and double-crossed!

    Wait, is that a good thing?

    The blueprints and plans are way cool, thanks for sharing. I was the kid who once had a complete set of Enterprise blueprints. I still have an old Map of Middle Earth on the wall (hell, I went to the British Museum specifically to see the original Hobbit map). Just had a very detailed dream about having a batch of production from some scifi show handed to me, and then here’s this blog this morning. You’ve invaded my dreams! Ack Ack!

    (The dream show was Face Off, which makes me sad that I like a Syfy reality show quite that much. Where’s my dream Combat Robots?)

    In the dream I also “remembered” I was the voice for a character in an animated space opera which ran for seven episodes, and that I could live off Comicon appearances for life. I love the random turns of my dreams. I can’t make this crap up, but my sub-conscious can.

  12. Very cool Joe!

    What does BLU stand for? It’s listed on a few of the drawings.

  13. really really hoping that next month brings definitive word, and some go signals, on some or all your projects. and love that you have shared so much with us. Now, who in SG fandom has the will and means to produce some fan videos?

  14. Wow, those floor plans are amazing. So much hard work went into making SG and you can see if on the screen. The chevrons are fascinating, but I’m bummed now that I didn’t get think to offer “Robandus Hacemil” as a first and middle name for Trevor’s baby. Little Robandus would have the most unique name in her class.

  15. @das: and exactly how would you know that?

    Joe, Joe, Joe, dive into one of those projects! You’re a pro at changing course midstream; if another excellent job offer comes in after you have started your solo project you’ll figure out how to handle it when the time comes.

    And thanks for those amazing blue/yellow prints!

  16. That was a nice detail: 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.

    Oh my, I’ll have to watch that scene again: 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. I was so involved in the scene, I doubt I would have noticed it at all.

    Wow! Thanks for posting all that. I’m still amazed about how much work goes into an episode. It sounds like the details are still crystal clear in your mind. “Break a leg” with the new projects! Oh and give the pups a hug from me please.

  17. Love all this stuff! Thanks, Joe. It’s amazing how your mind fills in/glosses over details that would unravel the make believe world of TV. It’s really neat to see how the same room(stage) can be used dozens of ways and with a bit of set dec changes and different camera angles, and the viewer’s none the wiser.

    Hell, I’m still busy rewatching all of the SG1 episodes Martin Wood directed just so I can find him and Dan Shea talking, or holding that bloody big wrench, or whatever other cooky-ness they managed to insert themselves into.

    I’ve always wondered why all of the addresses in SG1 started with a P, like P3R-233, and the Atlantis ones started with M, like M35-117. Seems to me like the P and M would stand for Pegasus and Milky(Way), corresponding to their respective “home” galaxies, but are actually reversed. It also amazes me that it was someone’s job(or multiple people’s job) to come up with all the constellation names/designs and assign full addresses to locations. Granted, there are those fans who will watch an episode and take note of what buttons were hurriedly mashed in the Jumper in that two seconds it was on screen in an attempt to “map out” the Pegasus galaxy. Actually, I was always more impressed that all the characters were so well versed in Stargate address theory, able to decipher all the new constellations of each new planet they went to, and were able to dial so quickly upon their departure. I mean, outside of a standardized dialing pattern that existed irregardless of actual constellation “button information”. It’s like using a rotary phone from another country. The numbers and letters on it will look different, but the 2 is still a 2 and so on.

    That was always a “logic stumbling block” for me with the franchise. I accepted it as where I figured anyone assigned to off-world activities had extensive training by Daniel or whomever on dialing procedure and protocol.

    Funny thing is, I had less of an actual “logic stumbling block” when it came to everyone, on all planets, speaking english. I didn’t use the whole “Stargate-infused translating nanites” theory, either. I figured since the Goa’uld transplanted everybody from Earth in the Milky Way and the Ancients took care of everyone else, everywhere else, their languages might have looked different(as written) but they all “sounded” english. Much like how some southeast asian cultures now use english letters to write in their language. Sure we can recognize the letters used, but sounding it out is actually their words. I don’t know why that started happening. I think somebody mentioned how less and less of them can read/write their language’s actual characters anymore. Makes sense, I guess.

    -Mike A.

    PS. How’s Bubba been doing lately? Any other developments?

  18. I’m sure it won’t be long before a superfan recreates the entire Atlantis city in their home/building available too them.

    Unless someones done it already? No clue lol

  19. Earth built the Orion?? :->

    Was there any way of telling the 304s apart from the outside? Did the art department drop any hints in there for the audience? I remember watching “Camelot” and thinking it was the Odyssey that blowed up.

  20. @JimFromJersey: I think “BLU” stands for “Blinking Light Unit” – the computer-ey looking things that would sometimes line the walls to give a tech look and more visual interest to the scene.

  21. You are going to make me go watch it now: “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.”

    I guess I was so worried about Elizabeth that my eyes were drawn towards her and not the surrounding screen.

    You know that saying, “it takes a village.” This pictures make us appreciate how many little details we just all take for granted in the production of a show. In this case, I’m thinking “it takes a city” is more appropriate.

    And yes–how ARE the fur-kids?

  22. @Joe:

    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.

    I’m sending good wishes and prayer your way…here’s hoping!

    On the scans…I liked the Puddle Jumper DHDs the best…I can’t help but think the prop makers had a little fun with some of the button/constellation names. I see a few peoples names mixed in with perhaps a couple of inside jokes:

    Elenami = Elena
    Danami = Dana
    Dawnre = Dawn
    Amiwill = Am I Will (nuff said!)
    Aldeni = Alden or Deni
    Gilltin = Gill
    Poco Rey = “Little King” in Spanish…it’s also the name of a racehouse from1948.

    It’s kind of like a word scramble puzzle! 😀

    Or maybe I’m reading too much into this???

  23. So freakin’ cooool – thanks for postin’ Joe
    All the best to you and Paul on your endeavors.

  24. Mike A:

    “P” stands for “Planet” and “M” stands for moon. Got smaller bodies in the Pegasus Galaxy, apparently.

  25. I forgot to tell you. When I was driving around The Woodlands a week or two ago, I saw a license plate (not a vanity plate, but just some random plate the state issues) that had the initials ZPM on it after the 3 numbers. I smiled.

  26. HAIL DOROTHY! (As Jack once said) This is a Fan wirtiers dream, well, if they’re really into continuity with the series and being accurate to it. Holy cow, thanks Joe! It’s like Christmas and Easter and Halloween and Birthdays all in one. Awesome!

  27. Joe, You just made my entire Decade!! Thank You, THank You, THank You, THank You! lol Man, You are so awesome. We are blessed to have such a generous stargate alumni to chat with. I’ve wanted these for years and thought i would never get such things. This is a great day!! Sorry for posting so late. I haven’t been near a computer in a while.

  28. These are incredible!!!!! Are there more? Can you post them? No, can you post all of them? Like, everything?????

    1. I love them too Jonathan. lol I try to get a copy of everyone i can. I would love to have the originals or 1 of the originals etc. wishful thinking on my part. lol

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