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Report from Vancouver - August 2006
:: Part 1: Global report of the trip
:: Part 2: Photos of the city & people
:: Part 3: Visit at Rainmaker Studios
:: Part 4: Visit of the sets of Stargate
:: Part 5: Photos from the sets
Part 3 : Visit at Rainmaker Studios

I would like to send a big thank you to Bruce Woloshyn for having taken a few hours of his time to show me all of the facility at Rainmaker Animation & Visual Effects!

Rainmaker Animation & Visual Effects is a big visual effects company in Vancouver, where visual effects are producered for TV shows such as Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis, Dark Angel, Dead Like Me, Smallville, The L Word and many more. The company has also worked on a lot of movies such The Da Vinci Code, Elektra, I, Robot, Garfield, Antitrust and Firewall, . . . Check their website at: www.rainmaker.com
For full credits, check here: http://www.imdb.com/company/co0003502

Before my arrival, I was expecting a big building, with several floors, and actually I was surprised when I first saw it, only 2 floors! But very large! So, after a few minutes in the lobby, Bruce arrived and we began the visit! The second floor was dedicated to visual effects and post-production and the first floor to visual effects and the motion picture laboratory. We began on the second. There were a lot of rooms with tons of cables, computers, and machines everywhere! I first entered to one of their high definition film transfer suites, where you can control the transfer of motion picture film to HD television. Then, in the transfer machine room, several "HD transfer machines", and the central routing system that moves the final product of everything made in the building.

The console of one of their
high definition film transfer suites

Tthe actual HD tranfer machine

The central equipment room for post production & dubbing services

Then, the next room was the central equipment room for post production & dubbing services, where I saw a small part of an upcoming episode of Stargate: Atlantis while transferring.

Just a door from there was the main videotape vault, where are stocked all the episodes from every show currently in production at Rainmaker. In only 2 isles, all the HD-Cam Masters of Stargate SG-1 were before my eyes ... The original videotapes from which everything comes from! The next couple of isles were dedicated to Stargate: Atlantis. I had the opportunity to take the original master tapes in my hands! All the episodes of Stargate SG-1 & Stargate: Atlantis are post-produced at Rainmaker.

Me with the HD-Cam Masters of:
Stargate SG-1: Children Of The Gods

Me with the HD-Cam Masters of:
Stargate Atlantis: Rising

Close-up of the HD-Cam Masters of:
Stargate Atlantis: Rising

Bruce Woloshyn with the HD-Cam Masters
of: Stargate Atlantis: Rising

Then, another set of rooms: the high definition edit suites, where I was able to sit at the main console! The room is used for editing television shows and commercials and is totally soundproof.

After that, Bruce showed me their own "home cinema theatre", where we can watch everything in either 35mm or 16mm motion picture film or high definition video, a real home cinema with popcorn!

Next place was the working area, where all the artists create the special effects for motion pictures, a lot of people working on the biggest upcoming movies! And just in front of the door stands an artifact from I, Robot, actually the only non-3D computer artifact of the big robot destroying the house where Will Smith was visiting. And the first room after that was the bar! A very luxury bar! All the hallways of the building were covered of posters, one was signed by Jessica Alba (Dark Angel).

A quick visit to the rooftop were you can enjoy a nice view of Vancouver and where people can have a break when it's not raining. Actually everybody says that in Vancouver, there's always rain ... but during my entire 10 days trip, I never saw a drop of water!

The first floor .... the floor of Stargate visual effects done at Rainmaker and the motion picture laboratory! Firstly, a room, the room where is the black chamber and where all the reels are developed. Impressive, a man must do everything in the TOTAL darkness, not even the red lights from the photo laboratories. The man must know by touch alone what he is doing...

The motion picture laboratory
On the left are the stairs to the black chamber

The working area of
the Stargate artists!

The other rooms are similar with the ones from the second floor, editing rooms, etc.
Now, the working area of the Stargate artists! A big place where I was pleased to meet Wes Sargent, lead animator and the man that created many of the 3D models for the Stargate television series! Atlantis, Puddle Jumpers, Wraith Darts, all his work, and sometimes so detailed that you can't even see it on TV! Even more detailed than the sets model (for the Puddle Jumper).

Then, Bruce showed me a demo reel of Stargate, the "before-and-after" of several scenes from Stargate: Atlantis, especially the ones from episode "Grace Under Pressure", where I saw all the steps from the on-set shot to the final product. The whale was actually a combination of a humpback whale and a manatee. Some details of the crash of the Puddle Jumper into the sea cannot even be seen on standard definition TV, such the water drops soaking on the hull of the ship. Some other scenes from "Trinity", at the end of the episode, where the Puddle Jumper is escaping, with lots of explosions were also impressive. Actually most the explosions are real explosions! A camera put in a secure room filming from the bottom a big "BOOM"! One piece of a destroyed Hive ship was made from ... a finger! And the scene from "Orion" where the ship is blown out of the hangar by the volcano took 1 month to do! And if you look at that hangar, earlier in the episode, you will recognize some ancient writings, try to decrypt what is written, same for "Metamorphosis" with the machine of Nirrti, all are ... just try to discover that by yourself!

And that was it! Very interesting visit! Thank you again Bruce!

Author: Gilles Nuytens
Date: September 2006


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