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Dark Matter - Pilot - Technical Preview: “Visuals”



I have already previewed the first episode, but due to length I couldn’t really say much about the technical aspect of the show. A long lasting aftereffect of studying film production in college is the inability to watch anything without dissecting the technical components of it. As with any show, the lead up to the premiere is promotion based and very heavily actor and character focused, but I feel that the technical side of it deserves a little exposure too. But fear not, I would be remiss to not provide a few extra preview tidbits in here, so read through for fun information and some cool images.

When Stargate: Universe was cancelled, well before its time, it seemed to take with it the space opera format. As I was watching the pilot of Dark Matter again, because I can justify it as research, I was trying to think if we have had any good space operas on TV since that show ended. The depressing realization I came to is that we haven’t had a single one. We’ve gone so long without a space opera that I was beginning to wonder if the format would ever find the right show to give it a second life. Space opera fans, like me, can finally rest easy because in Dark Matter we’ve found our phoenix to raise space operas from the ashes of television obscurity.

Dark Matter is poised to gallantly launch us all back into space and the visuals the show provides are a very big part of what makes this show so unique. I thought Battlestar Galactic would always reign supreme for having the best space visuals and effects, but after only one episode I’m prepared to make what could be a controversial declaration and declare that Dark Matter is about to demote that show to second best. Yes, Dark Matter’s visuals are really that good. Take a look below to get a little sneak peek look at some of these amazing visuals you can expect to see flying off your screen.

The show employs Lawren Bancroft-Wilson as the Visual Effects Supervisor and with his resume we can all rest assured that the visuals on this show will not only continue to be stunning, but they will also continually evolve in dynamic ways. He’s worked his magic on some amazing scifi shows including (but not limited to) Bitten, Primeval: New World, and Falling Skies. He is not only familiar with the genre, but he’s got a true gift for crafting the visuals that make Dark Matter explode from the screen. Lawren also has a long standing history with Creators/Executive Producers, Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, from their Stargate days, which will certainly aid in their collaboration to provide the visuals space opera fans crave. Joseph has said that the show will be “ship based” which is exciting for those of us craving space scenes and very good job security for Lawren. I look forward to exploring life on board with these characters.

In the premiere the show spends a good portion of the episode on the ship, but there is an adventure that does introduce us to our first non-ship experience. While I can’t tell you anything about that, because it’s to fun to risk spoiling anything, I can tell you that in future episodes we will get to explore life on space stations and how they exist in the world of Dark Matter. The images I can share with you show the conceptualization and evolution of the space station and you can see how this intricate design came to be. This is a prime example of the exemplary work we can expect to see from Lawren and his VFX team.


The show is building a large and detailed universe for the crew to explore, which means we can expect to see different versions of this space station design. Lawren describes what went into crafting this base design, ” …the concept had to be modular in a way that a space station on one side of a galaxy would be reminiscent of another, but different enough to reflect the economics of what that particular pocket of space could support.” I’m quite excited to see all the different variations we will get to see of this space station design. Space operas of the past had so many different architectural designs for ships and space stations based off of alien races that it was sometimes hard to keep up. Choosing to go with a a basic design, as it seems they plan to, is a smart choice. It also poses a big question for me, within the universe of the show what is the history of these space stations? If they are going with, as Joseph describes it “…space stations suggestive of a single architectural vision…” then who is the architect? Something tells me this is something that will play into the plot of the series and I’m intrigued to see how it is incorporated.

Viewers want to watch a space opera and for the time they are tuned in they want to feel like they are in the dark void of space right along with the characters. In just the first episode all the elements come together in a perfect marriage that will give even the most critical scifi fans pause. From the opening seconds you will be sucked in to your screen and you will feel as if you are standing shoulder to shoulder with these well crafted characters. It takes a truly brilliant show to be able to draw viewers in like that.

One of the biggest parts of bringing a show to life is the casting and it’d be irresponsible to not mention them when talking about the technical aspect of the show. No matter how amazing a story is, or how gorgeous the visuals are, if the cast can’t bring the characters to life a show can’t survive. Some people erroneously believe that actor’s jobs aren’t that hard. Let me just express how inaccurate that is. Actors, and the crew working around them, work hours that most of us can’t even fathom. In any given day an actor may have to run the full gambit of emotions and follow that up with grueling action work. That’s not even going into the work that actors have to put in to memorizing their lines to such a level of accuracy that every word out of their mouths seems natural. Actors do not have easy jobs and those that make it in the business have truly earned their place. While you’re watching Dark Matter on Friday, and hopefully supporting it on social media, be sure to take a moment to thank each of them. They are the faces and voices that give life to this amazing crew of characters and they deserve recognition for their hard work. Dark Matter hit the lottery with this cast as each of them is truly gifted at their craft.

Speaking of the cast, we all need to thank Melissa O'Neil's agent for getting her “out of New York” and onto our screens as Two/Boss Lady. They encouraged her into this project and for that we should all be eternally grateful because Dark Matter couldn’t have found a better leader. In fact, we owe a debt of gratitude to the casting team that gathered up this extremely talented cast. Dark Matter could not have been any better cast.

With all the seasoned television veterans on this show, both in front of and behind the camera, the fans are in safe hands. Be sure to tune into Syfy at 10pm this Friday night, June 12th, and get on board with this beautifully crafted space opera. Use social media to help promote this show and while you’re praising the actors, who truly deserve it, don’t forget those that put equally as much work into the back side of the show. We wouldn’t get to watch this show in all its glory without every last one of them.

To give the actors the individual recognition they deserve I have a fun character analysis piece in the works, but that will wait until after the show premieres because I don’t want to spoil anything. In the meantime, I’ll provide your preview hookup at every opportunity I’m afforded and Lindsey Salazar will join you every week for detailed reviews about each exciting adventure. Join us on this journey back to space.

To do you until Friday I'll gift you with one more set preview from Lawren, "One of the really nice details of this particular build was how much of the interior of the docking bays we were able to create so that once our ship is inside we can actually see out the windows to the realistic 3D interior of the bay.” Gone are the days of so-so docking bay visuals from space operas of yesteryear. Dark Matter is going to give us an aesthetically pleasing interpretation and I for one am excited to see that come to fruition on my screen.

About the Author - Aimee Hicks
Aimee works for a local newspaper and has a BA in Broadcasting and Cinema. She has been a TV lover since before she really understood what TV was. She has a long list of shows that she loves to watch and can be found on twitter (@ahicks83) live tweeting about each new episode whenever she can. A list of her favorite shows includes (but is not limited to) the following: 12 Monkeys, Orphan Black, Outlander, Chasing Life, Scorpion, The 100, The Night Shift, Bitten, Black Sails, 2 Broke Girls, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Continuum, Lost Girl, Faking It, Falling Skies, Finding Carter, Once Upon A Time, Orange Is The New Black, Switched At Birth, The Fosters, The Flash, The Originals, Teen Wolf, Under The Dome, & Z Nation. The upcoming shows she is most excited about are: Supergirl, Dark Matter, UnReal, Blindspot, Lucifer, Legends of Tomorrow, Stitchers, Recovery Road, Shadowhunters, Quantico, Code Black, Heartbreaker, and Chicago Med. She has a large and passionate dislike of ""reality"" TV, espeically ""reality"" dating shows, but has a weakness for Americas Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance. But those two don't really count as ""reality"" shows, at least that's how she justifies those guilty pleasures. She was the original creator and co-founder of LOST Video Island (lostvideo.net) which is still operting under the management of the very capable and skilled group she turned it over to.
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