Interview: We talk Red Vs Blue, animation and Halo 5 with Rooster Teeth
Back in 2003, three guys who loved playing Halo set out to make a web series using the game. They bought a few Xboxes and some recording equipment, and set about creating Red Vs Blue, which added voices and stories to characters in the game. The first episode of the show was downloaded 20,000 times in a single day. The second: 250,000. Those numbers would be impressive today; for a brand new show, in 2003, they were incredible.
12 years later and RvB is bigger than ever; Season Thirteen is in full flow, the first five are available on Netflix and the viewing figures are through the roof. Those three guys now have a company called Rooster Teeth and the machinimation and animation team has expanded – things have really stepped up.
This month, we sat down with Miles Luna, writer and director of Season Thirteen, to find out how the second half of the season is going to kick things up to 11.
How is Season Thirteen different from previous seasons?
I think the number one thing that sets Season 13 apart from other seasons of Red vs. Blue is its size. It’s an extraordinarily ambitious project, from both a production and a story standpoint. We’ve taken the Reds and Blues and tangled them up in a planet-wide war for survival, filled with aliens, mercenaries, and lots and lots of fighting. In order to pull that off, we’ve assembled a team that rivals the Avengers. Our animators, modelers, compositors, lighting artists, fight choreographers, editors, tech team, musicians, sound designers, AND (of course) machinimators are all the best of the best, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have them working on the show.
How long does it take to put together an episode of Red vs Blue?
The amount of time it takes to make an episode of RvB varies greatly. When it comes to machinima, we’ve knocked out episodes in under a week (it’s one of the reasons RvB was able to succeed with such a small team in the first place). We’ve gotten really good at cutting the audio, setting up sets and characters, and knocking out the performances in Halo 4. Animated episodes, on the other hand, are a much more labor-intensive process. Episode 11 of Season 13 has been in production for several months, and once it comes out, I think people will understand why (spoiler alert: it’s f***ing huge).
In what ways has the creative process evolved as each new game has been released?
Every new Halo game brings with it a new slew of questions. How many maps are there? What does the armor look like? How do the characters behave? It’s always fun (and sometimes terrifying) to find out how much has changed between games. The introduction of Theater Mode in Halo 3 was by far the most significant change to the production process. Suddenly we were able to get complex and interesting shots that never would have been possible in the days of the Blood Gulch Chronicles. During my time with the series, however, the evolution of Forge Mode has had the greatest impact on the creative process. It allowed us to dress sets, use green screens, and sometimes create entirely new areas from scratch. For example, the New Republic Headquarters from Seasons 11 and 12 was designed entirely in Forge mode.
Will the release of Halo 5: Guardians change the way you make Red vs Blue? Can we expect to see any new characters or new locations in future seasons?
As someone who was fortunate enough to have early, one-on-one time with the game, I can tell you I am very excited by the idea of machinimating in Halo 5. The question for me isn’t necessarily if, but when we’ll make the jump. It all depends on how the story will continue to evolve, as new games mean new locations (and potentially new characters).
You can read the rest of this interview, plus our conversation with Burnie Burns, Rooster Teeth’s co-founder and creative director, in issue 126 of X-ONE magazine, on sale 8 July. Spoiler: we talk about whether it actually looks like a Puma.