A day late but oh well, here’s our next Throwback Thursday! In this edition we’re going back to 2006 when Halo 2 was king. Everyone remembers LAN parties with Halo 2, long nights going into the early hours of the morning, zombies, matchmaking, mods, and whatever crazy game types we could come up with. All of that was great, but another aspect of Halo 2 that a huge community grew out of was machinima; or video game movies. Halo 2 was probably the greatest game for making videos with the ability to have no HUD and other small aspects like putting your gun down and the ability to move just your characters head to seem like it’s talking.
Insane LLama followed all of the big names in Halo machinima; from the big names like RoosterTeeth, Hollywood Halo, and my personal favorite Jamie98s, but also all of the small community machinima clans that posted their videos to the old Halogrid forums. I watched so much Halo 2 machinima during the period; at one point I became a movie reviewer on the old Halo.Bungie.org; there they had a system where people would submit their movies and 10 reviewers would rate and give feedback on the video, if the video got a 70% or higher, the video would be posted on the front page of the website, which every Halo machinima clan strived for since making the front page would gain you huge publicity. Like all things that sound good in principle this would eventually crash and burn, thus in the end be abandoned when the system became corrupt as reviewers started giving high marks and passing work submitted by friends, people they knew, and even their own work. All of that is just some back story or history I thought was cool to share, back to Insane LLama at the time; we saw all of the amazing Halo videos coming out and decided that it would be fun to make our own. So we set forth on the task!
I researched into everything one would need to make machinima, a little looking and I noticed most people used the Pinnacle Dazzle series of capture cards, the Dazzle 90 to be exact was the most popular in the machinima community. I set off for the old Circuit City which ended with me buying a decent capture card, one part of the almighty popular Dazzle series, precisely the more upper end version of their capture cards, the Pinnacle 500 USB. For about 100 bucks, the package I ended up getting was a film-makers bundle that came with the capture card, a shitty microphone that we never used, and a decent sized green screen we would use as our primary green screen for about 10 years. It took me awhile to figure out all the inputs and wiring going from the Xbox, television and computer, but I finally saw the game pop up in my capture program and we were ready to get at it.
This was 2006/2007 so all of us were still pretty young teenagers that were just getting into film-making, so the films we did eventually make on Halo 2, I’d say are pretty shitty; but we had a complete blast making them, plus there were some lessons learned that would be put forth into our late live action movies. Anyway let’s show the magnificent work we drew out of Halo.
The first one I’m sharing is the first machinima we ever made, simply titled ‘Impossible’. Set in the Halo 2 map Headlong, it follows one spartan as he tries to rid the entire city of the elite enemies; or laughingly just the same 3 bad guys over and over. We or more me thought I can do some pretty ambitious stuff; things I saw the big film clans doing, one such aspect was a cloning effect to make more enemies onscreen. I couldn’t even get close to doing the effect because I had literally no fucking clue how to really do anything in my editing software, which at the time was still Windows Movie Maker. I even screwed up the connection from the computer to the Xbox, which in turn made it so no sound from the game was captured, to fix this I ended up putting some pretty terrible sound effects into the movie; but come on, who was able to find good sound effects on the internet around 2006, I know I didn’t. Enough random information, here’s the video.
Link To Video – Impossible
The second video here is a short horror flick I made for a editing contest on the Halogrid forums. The theme for the contest was to make a horror video or literally just something scary. I wanted in and set forth to make something good for the contest, which when I made my submission, I kind of cheated and used some mods for the video such as the night setting, custom paint jobs like the Black/Red warthog and bloody Spartan armor, and even a mod where I was able to shoot out whole Spartan characters out of the plasma pistol and set them where I want. I had seen some other film-makers use the technique to get more characters on the map; all in all it was pretty easy to do since I was a decent modder that knew how to change most aspects of the game, but also the Halo 2 modding community was pretty robust and had many guides and tutorials to do pretty much anything you wanted. I ended up making the video all by myself, moving every character, sometimes using two controllers at once.
I finished filming and moved onto what the contest was really judging you on: post-production or editing. By this time since almost every major editor in machinima was using Sony Vegas to edit their videos, I bought in and started using it too, Sony Vegas 6 was the first editing software I ever bought; which in turn I still edit everything on to this very day, 7 complete versions later, Sony Vegas Pro 13.
Once I got editing, I thought I did a pretty badass job with everything; including some sick sound design encasing a lot of foot steps and some gnarly screams. I included a Happy Halloween from Monkeyman91 (My old Xbox Live Acccount) at the end and happily submitted to the editing contest expecting some positive feedback. WRONG. I got last place in the contest and was dumbfounded. Well now that many years have passed I know why… My editing did suck in the video; bad cuts, out of sync sound effects, no progression, and the mods I used were unfair to the people in the contest who had the normal game to go by. All in all a learning experience that still has some entertainment and appeal to it. Here’s the video.
Link To Video – HGEC
The Last Halo 2 and machinima short we ever made is this next one I’m sharing, sharply named ‘In The Army’. This was the biggest project we made with a bunch of Insane LLama regulars helping man controllers such as Spencer, Eliot, Brad, and Ethan. Basically it follows a lonely guy as he joins the army and goes through a bunch of shit. We utilized about half of the maps in the game and again used mods, more specifically a custom built race track mod. Probably the funniest part of this short was I (Evan) voiced every single character, just setting different pitch effects on each one. Once finished I’d say it was our best machinima and easily the most entertaining. BUT sadly only about half of the video is available since the original file got corrupted, only letting the first couple minutes be seen before going blank. Like most middle 2000’s machinima, I uploaded the video to the well-known hosting site Mythica; which unfortunately closed down in 2009, abandoning all the files and videos to be gone forever. So sadly I present to you the first half of ‘In The Army’.
Link To Video – In The Army
Insane LLama’s machinima days were short, but had a lasting impact on us; we learned a few new aspects of film-making, but more importantly it was simply fun to do and being part of the Halo 2 machinima community is a memory I will never forget, I personally never felt so attached to a community, which has only happened one other time since, almost a half a decade later with a little game called MAG, but that’s a story for another time.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little about halo 2 machinima and Insane LLama’s small part of its history. If you enjoyed scrolling through this maybe consider giving us a follow on the blog, we got lots of entertaining post planned in the future, you won’t be disappointed. See you next Thursday for our next Throwback. Enjoy!