In the new forum at fan site The Scifi World, Stargate viewers had a chance to ask detailed questions of the special effect master, Bruce Woloshyn. Bruce is the Digital Effects Supervisor and Lead Digital Compositing Artist at Rainmaker Entertainment in Vancouver, and has worked on both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis since the begining of both series. For the fans, he described how old and new techniques give the special look to both series.How is the kawoosh made? “The kawoosh of the Stargate is not CG, but the puddle is,” Woloshyn explained. “What appears to be a column of water is actually a column of air (photographed in a tank of water). An air cannon was used to fire compressed air into the tank (a really big aquarium) that was then photographed for compositing into the kawoosh shots.”But some effects are done the old-fashioned way. He says the hardest weapon to create and “still takes the longest to actually produce when we use it, is the blue zat blast from the zat’ni’katel hand weapons. This is mostly due to the “b-side” (when the beam strikes the target with of the arcing energy) being hand-drawn one frame at a time.”And the hardest ship to create and make?”The Wraith hives and cruiser were a challenge, just to come up with something that was going to look good in all three dimensions at that scale. But hands down … and it is a ship … the city of Atlantis was the hardest.”Sometimes the best technique is good-old photographs. “We always start with a photographed image,” Woloshyn said. “Many of the sky plates have been photographed right off of the beautiful rooftop deck we have here at Rainmaker. Then, depending on what is needed for each individual shot, we will go back in and airbrush or color-correct the photographs to create each custom sky we need.”But some matte painting is also still used. “Where the camera moves can be huge, we paint several large-scale images together for texture mapping to the inside of a huge sphere.”To get the effects to look in-place, software is used extensively but is “not a magic blanket fix. Our matchmove artists have also gone in and done lots of hand tracking as well with sheer brute force camera animation.”What was the toughest assignment to date?”The most difficult project I’ve ever had is the pilot to Stargate Atlantis, ‘Rising.’ Every single model we needed, from the digital props and set pieces to the spacecraft and city itself, had to be modeled from scratch.””We spent approximately 108 hours of design modeling and — are you ready for this? — over 1,300 hours of modeling and texturing on the main model.”Many types of lighting augmented that effort. “Lighting the (Jumper) bay was done with 200 lights of all types: shadow mapped spots, point lights, and area lights,” he said.”There is no better example of this process than the climactic space battle in the pilot of Stargate Atlantis. The sequence consisted of over 30 shots, all of which had only brief descriptions of the action in the script. In order to better work with the producers and director in choreographing the battle, we set up an on-site animation station. This physical proximity to production allowed us to be able to receive quick feedback and implement changes much faster.”Finally, what is Bruce’s advice to anyone wanting to try this for a career? “This industry requires a lot from you, both in dedication and time. To excel, you have to be ready to give both.”Visit Bruce Woloshyn’s complete Q&A forum at The Scifi World!