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One of the last things we did before packing it in for the holidays was go on a walk-thru of our standing sets.  Of course, not all of them are quite yet standing (ie. the shuttle, parts of the space station) and those that are still have a ways to go, but our Art Department did a phenomenal job making it presentable for the tour.  The bridge consoles were in, the corridors lit, and there was even some preliminary playback on the screens.  It all looked, in a word, superfantastic.  I snapped a bunch of pics – and have been doing so for weeks now, documenting the ship’s progress.  I’ll hold off on posting them until we’re officially in production  – but there are plenty of other behind-the-scene pics to show you in the meantime…

Alex Mallari Jr. in training with Stunt Coordinator John Stead

(photos c/o Alex Mallari Jr.)

Those of you familiar with the Dark Matter know that the character known as FOUR (aka Ryo Tetsuda, aka Ryo Ishida, aka Slashy McStabberson) isn’t the gunslinging type.  Oh, sure, he packs a sidearm, but his preferred weapon is the katana – sometimes two.  Despite having no formal sword training experience prior to landing the role, under the guidance of our incredible Stunt Coordinator John Stead (more on him in the coming weeks!), actor Alex Mallari Jr. has transformed himself into a twin-blade wielding natural.  Earlier this week, John showed us a video of Alex in training, running through the choreography for the first “training room discovery” scene – a jaw-dropping sequence that perfectly captured the moment as scripted:

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“He stands frozen, eyes fixed straight ahead.  Shuts his eyes.  Beat.  And suddenly launches into action: charging, turning, back-pedalling, leaping, ducking, as the blades whirl and sing around him, slicing through the air.  He makes his way across the room in a remarkable display of swordsmanship, lightning quick reflexes controlling the deadly katanas in a blur of movement…”

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It was unbelievable.

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Check him out on twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexMallariJr

Over the course of series, Alex will use two different “production katanas”.  The first is a super lightweight painted bamboo that, I’ve been told, is all the rage on Hong Kong action movie sets.

LBW testing the bamboo blade.

LBW testing the bamboo blade.

The second is the hero sword, forged of equally light aluminum -

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Here it is c/o of our Props Master, Victoria Klein.

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Our Production Designer, Ian Brock, designed the unique signature symbol that adorns the saya (scabbard) -

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And the blade itself.

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Paul checks the weight.

Anyway, we’re all done for the time being (except for the Art Department, Construction, the cast, and yours truly who will be doing another pass on all the scripts) and look ahead to our January 5th return.  Yesterday, it was one final stroll through the sets and then we locked up for the holidays.  Done and done.

Still, I can’t help but feel like I’ve forgotten something…

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So much for the Christmas spirit.  Today, Akemi did something she rarely ever does.  She actually bought herself something.  The girl hardly ever spends on herself but, this afternoon, she made an exception when she came across a cup emblazoned with the letter A at a local shop.  Being a big tea drinker – and having a name that starts with the letter A – she thought it would be perfect, so she bought it.  About an hour later, she was getting off the subway, when some guy, in an obvious rush, bumped into her, knocking her purchase out of her hand.  The guy didn’t even slow down, jumping into the car and heading off, leaving Akemi to check on her cup – which was, of course, shattered.  Her disappointment was apparently so apparent that a subway employee consoled her with a shoulder pat and some words of encouragement.

Still, in good spirits.  And silly slippers.

Still, in good spirits. And silly slippers.

Well, two more days until we depart for the holidays – which means roughly a week’s worth of ground to cover before we go.  In addition to tomorrow’s early EARLY morning tech survey (which leaves the production offices at 7:00 a.m., meaning I’ll have to leave my place at 6:30 a.m., meaning I’ll probably have to wake up for 5:45 a.m.), I’ve still got to do another pass on scripts for episodes #103, #104, #105, and #106, incorporate Jay’s notes into #107, #108, and #109, and get notes from Paul on #112.  Oh, and then there’s the meetings.  And the camera tests!  Today, Lawren, our VFX Supervisor, showed us some preliminary FTL (fast than light) effects as well as some animatics of the ship – and the missile pursuit.  Very cool.  I’m making a note to keep everything on file so that I can share with you all in time.

Meanwhile, the production offices are embracing the Dark Matter theme…

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I need to place this on my dash, otherwise Vanessa will knock off my side mirror with a baseball bat.

I need to place this on my dash, otherwise Vanessa will knock off my side mirror with a baseball bat.

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Adorning the walls of the cafeteria

Adorning the walls of the cafeteria

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Please note our strict no Facebook, no twitter, no photo policy.

Bon Appetit!  Please note our strict no Facebook, no twitter, no photo policy.

One more day for our Dark Matter Holiday Toy Drive!

And one more day for our Dark Matter Holiday Toy Drive!

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We’re heavy into prep on episodes #101-102 and, with the commencement of principal photography about a month away, sets are coming together nicely.  Our ship, The Raza, has come a long way in the past couple of weeks.  The corridors have been textured with faux-grate flooring, pipes, vents, and grills, its walls painted in metallic hues, sliding doors installed; the quarters are coming to life, the sub-level cargo hold and walkways finished, and the bridge…the window are in, front AND top, and the consoles went in today.

Meanwhile, work is being completed on the shuttle (the Phantom Class Marauder) interior design.  We’ve gone back and forth on its various elements – width, depth, seating layout, windows, and location of the door – and are in the process of finalizing the look.  I wanted something similar to the puddle jumper in terms of layout with a little more of the depth of the SGU shuttle.  Ultimately, I think we’ll also incorporate an element of the SG-1 cargo ships with its sectioned cockpit and separate hold.

Anyway, I contacted Stargate Production Designer James Robbins, who has been doing some fabulous design work for us on Dark Matter (Can’t wait to show you his work on The Marauder, the space station, and the various cruiser, destroyer, and shuttle class versions of the Ferrous Corp, Mikkei Combine, and Galactic Authority ships!), and asked him about the dimensions of those smaller Stargate ship designs.  He sent me the following which I thought were too cool not to share with you -

SGU Shuttle_Dimensions_R001

As James points out, the dimensions are from our VFX department and may not reflect what was actually built.  80 feet long for the SGU shuttle seems a bit much, but the 40 foot length of the Atlantis puddle jumper sounds about right.

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Takes you back, no?

Many thanks to James for digging these up from the archive!

Prep continues with non-stop meetings.  Today, it was the concept meeting followed by visual effects, playback, and impromptu hair meeting, stunts, and special effects.  Tomorrow, it’s an Art Department review, props, paints, another hair meeting, and not one but TWO gun meetings!

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My writing partner, Paul, got in yesterday for what should be a big week.  We’ve got budget meetings tomorrow, script meetings with Jay Tuesday and Wednesday, and a whirlwind trip to the SyFy offices in New York that will see us flying out early Friday morning and flying back later that night.  Today, we sat down with (well, actually, we all stood but you know what I mean) the Art Department, Costumes, and Props.  In the case of the latter, it was all about the guns, guns, guns!  And some swords and miscellaneous weaponry…

A veritable smorgasbord of firepower!

A veritable smorgasbord of firepower!

So we’re looking to use replicas of established guns as the base models for the futuristic sidearms and ordnance our crew – and everyone from Galactic Authority officers to Corporate Guards – will be packing.  Both Three and Six will wield big-ass guns and carry chunky holstered handgun variants (something along the lines of what you see bottom left).  One, Two and Four will go with sleeker shooters.  Holster options range from hip and leg to shoulder and back.

Yo, Slashy McStabberson!

Yo, Slashy McStabberson!

Apparently the longer swords are your go-to blades if you’re looking to decapitate someone – but you already knew that.  Four, our resident swordsman, would be adept with all four sheathed varieties – so we’ll keep all four in his quarters so that he can always have a choice.

And this lovely medieval pruning knife can be yours...if the price is right!

And this lovely medieval pruning knife can be yours…if the price is right!

The ship’s training room will house a variety of weapons, from simple training staffs to more exotic blades.  Here, Property Master Victoria Klein shows off a little something from her personal collection.

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Trevor gets mouthy with Alison.  She responds in kind.

1Our Props Buyer’s (Susan Woorts) shopping list will include: milk, eggs, cheese, and a half dozen fresh Berettas.

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Testing Alison’s reflexes.  Her rubber training sword is no match for my steel!

And you thought today was fun!  I can’t wait for tomorrow’s two hour script note session!

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Two down, one to go.  The Toronto and Vancouver second round casting sessions are in the books and only the L.A. session remains.  Be Vanessa and I won’t be able to attend, we’re going to live stream it to the production offices.  Theoretically anyway.  I imagine it’ll be sort of like those interactive video conferences that look so cool in the movies but never quite work out the way you want them to in real life, with participants dropping out, losing audio, losing video, the whole punctuated by the background caterwaul of children or dogs in desperate need of feeding.  Still, we’re going to give it the ole college try (let’s say more Devry than Harvard).  Festivities get underway at noon PST, which means we’ll be watching well into the twilight hours.  Guess we’ll be ordering pizza!

The plan is to have our selects, Top 3 for each of the seven roles, by early next week.  And that’s when the decision-making will get REALLY tough…

Paul delivered his first draft of episode #10, the first part of our late season two-parter.  He promises to have #11 to us before his weekend arrival – which means I’ll be able to do my pass on #12 (already written) have that out by early next week.  Leaving us with…only the grand (season one) finale to write.  Or, rather, finish since I’m already 15 pages in.

Meanwhile, no rest for our awesome construction crew who have been working their little tool belts off -

Right this way, step right up...

Right this way, step right up…

On our way to the bridge.

On our way to the bridge.

The crew of The Raza = Alison Hepburn and Trevor Finn

The crew of The Raza = Alison Hepburn and Trevor Finn. 

The bridge in its infancy.

The bridge in its infancy.

Corridor going one way.

Corridor going one way.

And the other.

And the other.

Hey!  We’re on instagram!  http://instagram.com/dark_mattertv

And facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darkmatterseries

And twitter:  https://twitter.com/dark_matterTV

Tell your friends!

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While we’re on the subject…

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SUPER DIMENSIONAL FORCE MACROSS

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ANDROMEDA ASCENDANT

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STARBUG

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SERENITY

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THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

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SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO

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VORLON CRUISER

Moya

MOYA

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STAR DESTROYER

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ASGARD SHIPS

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THE BEBOP

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ANCIENT AURORA CLASS BATTLESHIP

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THE ARCADIA

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THE USS SULACO

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THE MILLENNIUM FALCON

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THE DESTINY

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USS ENTERPRISE NCC-1701

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THE NOSTROMO

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KLINGON BIRD OF PREY

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ROMULAN WARBIRD

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Alas, it was a herculean task and despite my best efforts, I came up short.  In the end, I sampled only 47 of the some 60 varieties of hot chocolate offered for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival.  Still, 47 hot chocolates in 24 days aint bad, especially considering I took those four days off to visit mom in Montreal.  This year, I doubled last year’s score.  And, next year, I vow to do even better!

So, what were the standouts?  Well, what follows is my list of the Top 5 Hot Chocolates of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival!

When all was said and done, six hot chocolates actually made by top 5 list.  After much consideration, I decided to offer a Top 5 +1 for good luck!

Honorable mention goes to…

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A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Single origin Mexican chocolate with Mexican chili poured over house made chocolate ice cream. Accompanied by a flourless chocolate cookie.

Available at: Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).

http://www.chocolatearts.com/

#5…

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Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.com

#4..

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Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

http://www.belcafe.com/

#3…

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Trio of Chocolate: The base of this hot chocolate is 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe 1059 Alberni Street

http://www.thierrychocolates.com/

#2…

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Hera’s Habit: Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls.  Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.co

#1…

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Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck: A 70% dark chocolate ganache with condensed milk, salted kettle chips, and vanilla whipped cream.  Served with a 72% dark chocolate wafer.

Available at: Mink Chocolates, 863 West Hastings St., Vancouver. On the park (cross street, Hornby.)

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Congratulations to all the winners.  I’m hoping I’ll get to see you again soon.  REAL soon.

Continuing Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…The Eye!

1Ah, now this is more like it!  Akemi was on the edge of her seat (or, actually, her side of the bed) throughout this episode.  She loved it.  Action!  Suspense!  Humor! And, best of all, those dazzling visual effects!  She was blown away by the the sequence of Atlantis shielding itself within seconds of the giant wave crashing down on the city (“Always very last minute your show!”) and also had high praise for the Teyla-Sora showdown (compliments of our former SGA stunt coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford).  She continues to enjoy McKay, greatly appreciated seeing her favorite Dr. Beckett, and is even warming up to Sheppard.  She had one big bump = McKay dressing his arm wound OVER his sleeve.

Overall: “I liked it a lot.  I’m getting used to this city.  At first I thought not as good as SGU’s ship but now pretty cool.”  And then: “I’m beginning to like SGA too!”

A couple of years ago, I offered some thoughts on this episode (and the next one) in one of my Trip Down Memory Lane entries:

June 13, 2012: Dark Matter at Comic Con! Save Lennox the dog! Days of Stargate Past, Atlantis! The Eye and The Defiant One! Vote on our favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter for a chance to win!

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