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Sunday, December 5, 2004
[ DRAWN & QUARTERED ]
‘Red vs. Blue’ mines
This is because the animation was created by actually playing Halo, which explains the circular cross hairs that are constantly on the screen. The Red staff set up a multiplayer game in Halo in the area of Blood Gulch, made each character with his distinctive armor color, captured and edited the resulting footage, and dubbed in voices -- a technique called "machinima."
As such, the scenes are limited by the game's engine, and the staff had to get creative with some of the shots.
Season 2 develops the Red team members' personalities more, particularly Donut and Caboose. Unfortunately, "development" for those two means they lose more of their marbles as time goes on, and by season's end the rookies talk and act more like lunatic-asylum escapees than army soldiers. (Perhaps that says something?)
A running gag is Donut's sexuality. He eventually changes his armor color from standard red to, well, "light red" -- figure out what color that is and you'll understand -- causing some confusion as to his gender. Keep an ear out for subtle references to that.
The end of season 2 and beginning of season 3 see a rise in the action as the story moves away from Blood Gulch and hints at issues larger than the simple Red-against-Blue battle.
But season 3, which incorporates character models from the recently released Halo 2 game, throws the teams into a ridiculous situation and has limited member interactions, leading to a lack of witty dialogue. Here's hoping the humor will pick up.
"RED VS. BLUE" is a great series that requires no knowledge of Halo to enjoy. Its military humor strikes a chord with a lot of service members, who, the directors said, have e-mailed saying the series dead-on captures military life.
The series has gone the circuit of film and video festivals, winning awards for Best Picture and Best Writing for machinima.
Seasons 1 and 2 are available on DVD, which are fun to watch from the very beginning; take a close look at the requisite introductory screens warning against copying the disc. Episodes range in length from two minutes to as long as six. (If you think six minutes is short, remember how these things are made.)
The DVDs also include staff commentary, outtakes and various public service announcements featuring the Red characters on subjects such as WMDs, tattoos and Fourth of July safety tips.
The first six episodes of season 3 are currently available for download at the "Red vs. Blue" Web site at redvsblue.com, with new episodes released weekly. (Even if you have broadband Internet access, be prepared for a wait; the smallest files are about 20 MB each in size.) The site also has a limited archive that offers previous episodes on a rotating basis.