Stargate SG-1 had four basic opening title sequences over the course of its ten-year run. The first, used for the initial airings of the first five seasons on Showtime was reused footage from the original film’s opening titles, a slow orbit around a bust of Ra. The next sequence was apparently created early in production of season two, using clips from the first season (and one shot from season two) and was used for syndication re-run airings of the first five seasons, except for the pilot episode, which used the original opening probably for spoiler reasons.
On home video, the first sequence with Ra’s bust is used for the pilot, then the syndication credits are used for all normal episodes up to the season three finale, which switches back to the Ra sequence, which is then used for all of seasons 4 and 5. When the show switched to the Sci-Fi Channel in season 6, a new title sequence was made, and they stopped using a separate version for reruns. It was once again clips from the show, intercut with close-ups of the stargate. This basic style persisted through season eight, with different clips swapped in and out because of cast changes. Season 9 switched to a new, flashier format filled with overlays and stylish transitions, and instead of footage of the real stargate setpiece used a pretty rough CG model that I don’t think appeared in any actual episodes.1I’m considering rendering out replacement elements using my Stargate model, but I really don’t want to try and recreate the motion graphics needed to integrate it into the actual sequence. I might just put the raw renders up for download and let someone else try to finish it off. Again, the same basic style was used in season 10, with some minor swaps to reflect cast changes.
In addition to having the “wrong” titles on DVD, there’s another thing that makes seasons 4 and 5 of SG-1 unique compared to the other eight, which is that the characters use a different stargate to get around. You may have noticed that despite the series never really showing it, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about the idea that every stargate has one unique symbol on it representing its own location. One of the first things I learned when I first got into the show was that there were two stargates on Earth, one found in Giza, and the other in Antarctica, and that while the SGC used the Antarctic (or “Beta”) stargate for two seasons, they didn’t modify the setpiece to change the “point of origin” symbol, nor did they ever do it to the stargate setpieces on other planets, and only vanishingly rarely did they make a new symbol at all, and all us fans just had to live with that.
That’s always something I wanted to correct using high-tech computer graphics techniques. So, as a fun proof-of-concept exercise, I edited together a hypothetical opening title sequence for the fourth and fifth seasons of SG-1, a stylistic mix of the sequences before and after those years, replacing the Giza origin symbol with the Antarctic one, and using clips from, mostly, the third season of the show, as if it were created back in 2000. Here’s a walkthrough of my edit.
00:00—The syndication credits for the first five seasons began with a series of slow pans over a model stargate. I recreated those movements and rendered them out with my CG stargate, with the Antarctic symbol in place of the Giza one. Additionally, my read of that montage was that it was supposed to be the stargate in its prime, when it was being used by the Goa’uld in ancient Egypt, so I wanted to show the Antarctic stargate where it would’ve been used when it was first built, before it was buried in the ice. It’s very subtle, but if you look closely, you might recognize that it’s in the Atlantis Gateroom, as it would’ve been before the city left Earth. In the last shot, as in the original, a ray of light passes over the ‘gate. I don’t know what the original intent was, if any, but in mine, it’s being cast from a Ring Transporter.
00:06—Instead of showing the stargate spinning in the SGC as in the original sequence, I decided to stick with the idea that this is the introduction of a different stargate, with a different history, so the next show is the Antarctic gate when it was rediscovered, from the season 1 episode “Solitudes.”
00:08—And the big musical sting that was accompanied by a quick cut of a chevron locking and the stargate opening in the SGC is replaced with the next part of the Beta Gate’s story, when it was stolen by a renegade agency and used for raids to acquire alien technology, so we get the shot of it opening while in a large crate.
00:10—O’Neill meeting the Asgard in season 2’s “The Fifth Race,” by way of season 8’s “Citizen Joe” for quality reasons. That episode is a pretty fundamental one in the show growing beyond “Army guys versus ancient Egyptian aliens.”
00:13—Richard Dean Anderson’s credit shots are from “Shades of Gray,” “Forever in a Day,” and “Shades of Gray” again. The final shot is a proof-of-concept for painting the incorrect Giza symbol off of an alien stargate and replacing it with a new one.
00:18—My CG stargate again. This is a direct recreation of a stock shot used in the syndication opening titles as well as several episodes. The background is from the original shot, however, I was afraid of how hard it would be to paint out the Giza symbol in a moving shot, and it’s going to cut directly to my CG stargate again, so I decided to use the whole thing for consistency.
00:19—As in the original syndication titles, a cross-fade to a close-up of the origin symbol. Where in the original, the Giza symbol turned into the A’s in “Stargate,” and then faded to a first-person shot of walking through the stargate’s “puddle,” that obviously wouldn’t work here. Instead, I had faded to a front view of a stargate opening superimposed over the large circle in the Antarctic symbol, which the camera then flies into. This was inspired by the third-and-a-half SG-1 title sequence which I didn’t mention before. In season 9 of SG-1 and season 2 of Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica, a shortened title-only sequence was requested by the Sci-Fi Channel, as was the style at the time. Fan reaction was negative, and the full-length sequences returned after the midseason breaks for all three shows. I did think the SG-1 short title was pretty cool, though, and now it lives again, sort of.
(If anyone’s wondering, the puddle and “foam” behind the kawoosh are my work, the Kawoosh itself, the “fog” before entering the wormhole and the initial flare as the stargate forms were extracted from episodes of the show. The wormhole PoV is from the original film for quality reasons, I thought about using Robert Wilde’s version of the wormhole sequence from Stargate: Origins but the show used the movie wormhole up until season 9 and I wanted to be consistent).
00:28—Michael Shank’s clips are from “Small Victories,” “Learning Curve,” and “Maternal Instinct.” The use of the a clip from the season 4 premiere is an intentional reference to Carter’s close-up from “In the Line of Duty,” the only season 2 shot in the syndication credits.
00:32—Death Gliders attack Tollana from “Pretense.”
00:34— Amanda Tapping’s clips are from “A Hundred Days,” “Nemesis,” and “Foothold.”
00:37—SG-1 holding off the Replicators right before using the Giza stargate to escape Thor’s ship in “Nemesis.” Like the clips I picked early on, I wanted to be sure to include this one to remind everybody why the stargate with the pyramid-and-sun symbol is gone, and because the Replicators are an important enemy in the show now.
00:40—Christopher Judge’s clips are from “Into the Fire” and “The Devil You Know.”
00:44—Sokar’s torture-moon exploding in “The Devil You Know.” I wanted to include a spaceship shot, since SG-1 had started spending a good amount of time in space by this point.
00:46—Don S. Davis’s shots are both from “Into the Fire.” General Hammond taking off the monk hood disguise was another early pick, it just feels like such an opening-title shot.
00:50—The shot of the stargate opening from the side is probably the most used stock-shot in the show, and also my least favorite. Most of the shots of the SGC stargate opening and closing look pretty weak because they were done for the pilot episode and never revisited as the visual effect settled into a more polished style. I’d wanted to try and cut this shot up and rebuild it to match kawoosh shots made later in the run of the show, but I haven’t had any success extracting side-angle kawooshes from various episodes, nor with recreating it in 3D. Maybe I will in the future. Other aspects of the shot that could be improved are that the lights on the ramp are tuned off, and you can see the rafters and stage lights where the ceiling of the room should be.
00:52—SG-1 walking through the stargate was shot for season 7, but is taken from a season 8 episode for quality reasons. Everyone looks more or less the way they should despite being three years older. I also painted out and replaced the origin symbol on the stargate in this shot, though a bit less successfully, since there’s a jet of steam pointed directly at it.
Finally, here are the raw renders of the open montage shots, without color-correction, grain, or bloom. Feel free to use them in your own editing projects, standard disclaimers about fan-work apply.
|↑1||I’m considering rendering out replacement elements using my Stargate model, but I really don’t want to try and recreate the motion graphics needed to integrate it into the actual sequence. I might just put the raw renders up for download and let someone else try to finish it off.|