"They even attached the top wingy-bit properly." —Charlie Fodder
Clear Skies is an EVE Online machinima fanfilm that uses footage from EVE itself for its exterior space scenes, much like Red vs. Blue is filmed entirely in Halo. As the game had no interior areas at the time of filming, interior shots are done using the Half-Life 2 engine. While Half-Life 2's character models are reused, all the 'sets' are newly designed to great effect, and windows looking out into space are accomplished by blue-screening EVE footage onto them.The plot follows John Rourke, Solomon Burke and Charlie Fodder. Together, they form the motley privateer crew of the titularClear Skies, a Minmatar Tempest-class battleship out in the boonies of space. Currently, three "episodes" exist, but they take a bloody long time considering the amount of sheer effort the creator must endure to make one, so the series is filmed like an hour-long television show, complete with scene breaks where commercials would be.Clear Skies is notable for the quality it presents. The visuals are filmed with a professional level of direction, the music was well-selected and well-timed with the scenes, the voice-acting is top notch despite being entirely amateur, and the writing is far better than many actual television shows.All three episodes are readily available for download:
Ace Pilot: In episode 3, John Rourke shows us why he's the captain.
Adaptation Distillation: First, the titular battleship is flown and operated by three people, a ship class that in lore would have even a skeleton crew complement of about 1,200 people; See Pragmatic Adaptation below. Second, different weapon systems are shown either greatly overpowered or greatly underpowered to their game counterparts, obviously to achieve dramatic effect.
Sol treats the idea of a microwarpdrive on a battleship as flirting with insanity*
and his fears turn out to be justified
; within the game of EVE Online, however, battleship pilots (and higher-end NPC battleships) will routinely fit microwarpdrives.
Art Evolution: The visuals for 3 are a cut above the previous 2 parts, with the battle scenes being particularly jaw-dropping. A large part of this is due to improvements to EVE's graphics engine in the time between movies, but the character animation is also far smoother and more natural-looking- they're even able to convincingly portray a full-on brawl between 2 men.
Mr Tarquin Smith is one too : Turns out he's Jovian, a master hacker, and that he's hiding a freaking machine gun in his suitcase !
Bavarian Fire Drill: In 2; justified in that the crew have a set of face-covering uniforms and an authorization code. Played straight in that Charlie babbles jargon at the mook and then promptly averted as the authorization code comes back as several years out of date.
"Hey, it was a long mission! Suddenly I get this call off of James-"
"-Jared, 'come here, do a 111-D', blah, blah, you know what it's like; it's chaos out there, oh forget it, PLAN B!"
Chekhov's Skill: Rourke is shown to have an Elite Certification as a High-Velocity Helmsman hanging on the wall of his station quarters.*
This can also be awarded to EVE players who are patient and diligent enough to develop the proper skills.
Later, in the battle of Messoya, he manages to kill two dreadnoughts with one battleship through the application of his high-speed maneuvering skills.*
This cannot be achieved by EVE players, barring the application of insane hacking skills, massive bribes, or potent hallucinogens.
Code Emergency: the second episode mentions that Clear Skies has fifteen emergency color codes. Four can be seen on screen (Red, Orange, Yellow, and Blue), and a fifth and sixth are mentioned (Magnolia and Fuschia). Charlie, naturally enough, is the man responsible.
Not the Clear "looks like an explosion in a girder factory" Skies, though.
Clear Skies is made of this trope. Especially after the Jovian upgrades.
The second teaser indicates that Clear Skies 3 is going to add a whole lot more. That's a Jovian battleship!
The Phantom Fleet of Episode Two has a lot of pirate faction ships (several Machariels and Nightmares, at least one Bhaalgorn) that are rarer and more expensive in EVE Online than their standard variants.
On the villainous side, there's Ghost's high-tech Proteus Strategic Cruiser.
Colony Drop: Though not on a planet, but it's definitely the same idea.
Continuity Nod: Some small details in Clear Skies 2, like Sol's comment about the "big explodey thing" and Charlie's response. Jarrod Mason's plan is essentially to copycat a major atrocity that happened in EVE canon.
"Another Blackbird. Are they free with cereal now or something?" (A Blackbird ship was used to jam our heroes in the first film)
Mr. Smith's name: "Possibly I use it, because that is your name."
In 2, Sasha is initially referred to by Rourke as "One unit of Damsel In Distress." A regularly occurring mission in , called "Damsel In Distress," involves the player rescuing exactly that.
Smith describes a task for Rourke and crew in 2 as being "courier service...only about ten jumps through Empire space..." at which point, the crew as one demand "DOUBLE FEE."
Upgrades carried out to Clear Skies in 2 are jokingly referred to by Charlie as "top secret duct tape." It's a widely held opinion in the EVE community that Minmatar ships are held together by duct tape and rust. Clear Skies catalogue of dodgy wiring, broken docking computer and so on are another nod to this.
"Is now a good time to mention the light above my console?"
Clear Skies 1 was released shortly after an EVE expansion which saw a major graphics upgrade and new textures for most ship models. Rourke's line "They must've...cleaned the windows or something" refers to this.
Curse Cut Short: Toyed with in 3. Turns out Sol was calling Charlie a "Fundamentally Flawed Individual."
Mr. Smith: Yes, it would seem my captors thought of everything.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Plenty of EVE players might say this about the Avatar-class Titan, which goes well beyond just being vaguely phallic. It's almost strange that the main characters don't make a note of this, but, given the circumstances, the Titan was understandably being treated as Serious Business.
Dog Pile of Doom: The Sleeper drones to the Clear Skies, until the EMP Smartbomb is deployed.
Dramatic Drop: In episode 3, John drop his coffee mug when he discovers that Charlie was a Presidential Guard.
Famed in Story: Charlie mentions at the beginning of episode 3 that no one (hostile) will go near them because they're famous for blowing up a Titan.
Charlie himself, apparently, also falls at least partially under this trope due to his past as a member of the Caldari Presidential Guard.
Foreshadowing: "Short of sticking a doomsday device up its backside, I think the only way to kill one quick is to ram it with a station..." At this point, we already know Jarrod intends to ram a station with a capital ship, but the "doomsday device" turns out to be Clear Skies herself with a warp core breach... and yes, she docks in the backside.
First Name Basis: Mr. Smith, using Rourke's first name instead of referring to him as Mr. Rourke or Captain Rourke, at the end of Episode 2.
Fun with Acronyms: "This is Captain John Rourke of the Clear Skies, broadcasting on Caldari emergency channel Oscar Mike Foxtrot Golf."
Funny Back Ground Event: In 2, several of the readouts have fairly amusing text. One of the various emergency colors aboard the Clear Skies is labled "Imminant Judith Chalmers Encounter", while another reads "Time to start running". The readouts on the Titan are all fairly blunt, grim assesments: "Disaster", "Imminent doom", "Seriously leg it", "You are going to die", "Scary" and the like. 3 has a few, too: When Sol's boosting the drive output near the end, his screen shows a prompt warning him that rerouting the power will void the warranty, and the amount of power transferred is 1.21 gigawatts.
And in Episode 1, when Haffa's raid on a mining op gets interrupted by JR's pre-recorded plea for help, his com screen lights up with "JR FFS".*
"Oh, for f%#$'s sake..."
Episode 2, as Rourke fires up the MWD and Clear Skies runs for the Teskanen gate, the damage readout behind Sol clearly shows the top wingy bit as the most damaged bit of the ship.
Episode Three; several pieces of furniture have IFEAR stickers on them, made up to look exactly the IKEA logo.
Rourke almost makes one, but an offhand comment pulls the trigger on Chekhov's Gun, and lets him survive the experience.
Commander Mallozzi in the third.
Subverted with Sasha during episode 3 : no way Rourke is going to lose another friend!
Hey, It's That Guy!: Sort of; the characters are all done with character models from Half-Life 2 and episodes, without modification, and are pretty much all recognisable from those games. A lot of the characters are just generic Red Shirts (mostly rebels or civilians) but quite a large number of them are major characters:
John Rourke is Barney Calhoun.
Mr Smith is the G-Man.
Sasha is Judith Mossman.
The Raven captain is Dr Breen.
Jarrod Mason is Dr Breen with a dye job.
Cormark is Father Grigori.
Shady Slater is Odessa Cubbage.
Haussman is Eli Vance.
Hey, It's That Voice!: Ghost is voiced by Francis Capra, best known for Veronica Mars. Capra had commented at a convention attended by some of Ian Chisholm's friends that he wanted to do machinima, but his attempts to get involved had been rebuffed as people didn't believe he was who he said he was.
Richard Grove, another professional actor with a number of guest roles and film appearances, also contributes to CS 3.
Honor Before Reason: Rourke insists on bringing Smith to his destination even though the mercenaries trying to kill him have a decisive upper hand and will be waiting for them, after they've already pounded the armor off of Clear Skies.Lampshaded by Sol and Charlie. Subverted in that Rourke knows Haffa will win him the fight.
Info Dump: A small one explaining why large capital ships use jump drives and cynosural fields instead of gates so the non-EVE players can understand why a cyno jammer would stop Jarrod Mason's plan dead in its tracks. Although it's a bit odd that Sol (the engineer) would be getting an explanation on this topic from Charlie (the gunner).
Ludicrous Gibs: Ghost takes a direct hit from a van-sized armour-piercing artillery shell. There's not much of him left apart from a large smear of blood.
Burke: John? Are you okay? John?
Rourke: Yeah. If a little damp.
MacGuffin: The cynosural jammer, the Jovian artifacts.
Made of Indestructium: The couch on the bridge of the ship. The bridge was inside the titan's thrusters when the warp core failure occurred, which means everything in the bridge would have been caught up in two fireballs, and yet, the couch remained in one piece, upholstery and all, and flew with such force to crack the glass window of Jarrod's escape craft, after which it was picked up by the Rourke and crew.
Plot-Induced Stupidity: Episode One Blackbird pilot, who upon being engaged by an assault frigate which he should easily be able to jam whilst still jamming Clear Skies, panics and fails to jam anybody.
Haffa's Widow, a Black Ops battleship, jumps into systems in Clear Skies without the aid of any the cynosural fields it would require in-game.
There's actually a LOT of this sort of thing in the series. In-game, Haffa's Widow wouldn't have a chance in hell of taking out a tackling frigate with its missiles alone, their signal radius is far too small for battleship-sized weapons to get a decent lock on them. That's the reason battleships pack drones.
The first thing the irregular coalition fleet does at the start of the battle in Clear Skies 2 is take out the Heavy Interdictor that dragged them out of warp 40km off the gate. With it down there's NOTHING stopping them from simply warping out again then warping back directly onto the gate and jumping through- except dramatic necessity. A similar thing happens in Clear Skies 1 when the gate camp manages to prevent the crew from warping directly to the gate despite a lack of any form of interdiction whatsoever.
Punny Name: "Clear Skies" is a Tempest-class battleship. (Given the fact that the other two Tech 1 Minmatar battleship classes are named Typhoon and Maelstrom, this was inevitable if they were going to use a Minmatar T1 BS and keep the name "Clear Skies".)
Ramming Always Works: Some context and lipservice is given to explain why the occurrence here works just fine.
Redemption Quest: In Clear Skies 2, Rourke is persuaded to risk his life and prevent Jarrod from destroying a populated station by being reminded of his accidental destruction of a civilian tour bus while helping Haffa steal a prototype ship.
Clear Skies featured a battle involving three battleships (one a specialized Black Ops), one cruiser, and two frigates (one a specialized assault ship).
Thanks to the popularity of Clear Skies, Clear Skies 2 was able to gather dozens of "stunt pilot" participants, and "film" a fleet battle on EVE's test server with a significant number of expensive faction ships, including pirate battleships that would cost over a billion ISK apiece on the EVE main server's markets. And a Titan that undoubtedly would have cost significantly more than both fleets at the gate battle put together.
Following the success of the first two installments, CCP gave Chisholm access to their in-house cinematic engine, which allowed him to stage a capital-ship fleet battle with spectacular choreography that would be flat-out impossible to achieve within the game. (For example: if you're in a battleship being targeted by two blaster-armed dreadnoughts at close range, your options for survival do not include rolling your ship to one side to slip between their shots.)
Sociopathic Hero: Haffa, to the point where Sol describes him by saying "our backup is someone who scares me.'' When we first see him, he's about to hit a mining operation before John's distress call reaches him seconds before he decides which ship to shoot. Turns out he's faking it and his conscience has been gnawing at him over the civilians who died when John helped him steal his Widow.
Stupid Sacrifice: Sadly (and undoubtably unintentionally) Commander Mallozzi and the Magellan. He orders the emergency warp-out that would have allowed them to live cancelled to buy Clear Skies the 2 minutes it needs to finish off the cyno jammer, guaranteeing the destruction of his ship. Which would have been all very well, except Ghost didn't even notice the jammer had been destroyed until several minutes after it had happened, making the Magellan's distraction honestly somewhat unnecessary- although it was possible Ghost might have noticed the attack warnings if the attack had been still been ongoing at the point the Magellan had withdrawn. Still, it's highly unlikely he would have been able to get any ships to warp out there in time.
To be fair, they didn't know that Ghost was not aware of the attack on the jammer, and likely believed that he was ready to warp ships over the moment the Magellan withdrew.
Scientist: When powered up in the current state, this artifact seems to emit interspatial frequencies, equivalent to that of a fully functional-
Ghost: Excuse me?
Tempting Fate: Rourke comments that the Clear Skies and the assembled Caldari fleet may just have enough firepower to bring down Jarrod Mason's mothership when their plan to stop it from jumping in fails. The way this trope usually goes, there would be a spoiler-tag here covering "Rourke is wrong and they can't stop it," but we actually don't get to find out either way. Because it's a Titan.
This example from the battle of Messoya in Episode 3:
Charlie (in gunnery control): We've picked up two fighters on our tail! They're too fast to hit!
Sol (in engineering, in front of a shield status display reading 86%): We can tank them; just don't get us hit by anything big!
Exterior shot of the ship getting blasted sideways by a broadside from something big.
J.R.: No clouds on this horizon. We've got Clear Skies.
Referenced in 3. Sasha asks if there are clouds on the horizon, and Rourke looks meaningfully at the hull designation.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Hausmann, The Heavy of chapter 3, just wants his home planet back. The prospect of heavy casualties in this pursuit gives him pause and eventually makes him surrender.
We Meet Again: Jarrod Mason, gloating over his apparent victory and especially tickled that Rourke will be there to witness it.
What a Piece of Junk - Obviously the Clear Skies although this generally applies to most Minmatar ships by default.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When Jarrod Mason jump his titan into system at the climax of 2 we get a shot of his scientist assistant's corpse sprawled across the blood-spattered command chair.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: After Clear Skies runs a huge blockage and succeeds, against the odds, in getting a cynosural jammer to the station in order to stop Jarrod Mason from jumping in a capital ship, the cynosural field required for the jump goes up before they can actually get the jammer set up and turned on.
Charlie Fodder: That jammer is no good with the cyno already up, we're too late! After all this, we're too late!