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Machinima / Clear Skies

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Not kidding about that 'half a ship' part.

"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 titular Clear 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:

Tropes contained in Clear Skies:

  • 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 insanitynote ; within the game of EVE Online, however, battleship pilots (and higher-end NPC battleships) will routinely fit microwarpdrives.
    • It doesn't actually cost money to charge the ship's capacitor, so the idea of 'running a loss' shifting quafe around in system would seem rather queer to Eve players.
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  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Averted in 3; while Hausmann is monologuing, he repeatedly passes in front of his agent Ghost, who lowers his gun each time this happens rather than point it at him.
  • 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!"
  • Battle Couple - J.R. and Sasha in 3
  • BFG: The Clear Skies has a six-gun broadside of Tech II 1400mm Artillery Cannons. They'd wreck anything, if the sensors weren't so easily jammed.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In 3, Ghost wastes time monologuing, which gives Charlie and Sol time to salvage a shell and use it to kill him.
  • Buffy Speak: "They even attached the top wingy-bit properly."
  • Call-Back: "Two things I've learned lately: One, don't get jammed! And two, stationary ships don't react well to fourteen-hundreds."
    • "Oh look, another Blackbird. Are they free with cereal or something?"
    • "If only we had a microwarp drive!"
  • Casual Danger Dialog:
    • Cor in the first episode does this; he tells Rourke to stay safe as he disengages from the fight. The scene cuts to a non-verbal Lampshade Hanging of Rourke making a face while Explosive Instrumentation goes off behind him.
    • "Might I suggest we retire to a safer part of the ship?" said Tarquin, calmly adjusting his tie as a bullet bounces off the wall.
    • Episode Three
    Ensign "Sir! Engineering reports that the warp drive has gone offline!"
    Mallozzi "Duly noted."
  • Chekhov's Army: The privateer fleet in Clear Skies 2
  • Chekhov's Gun: The docking computer on the Clear Skies, Rourke's sofa, and the pile of miscellaneous bits and pieces in the cargo hold.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Cormark & Haffa
  • Chekhov's Skill: Rourke is shown to have an Elite Certification as a High-Velocity Helmsman hanging on the wall of his station quarters.note  Later, in the battle of Messoya, he manages to kill two dreadnoughts with one battleship through the application of his high-speed maneuvering skills.note 
  • 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.
  • Cool Starship: Haffa's Widow and the Maelstrom.
    • 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.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Sasha was definitely not happy about getting shot at when the crew broke her out of the prison facility. Cue bickering.
  • 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 EVE Online, 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."
  • Deadpan Snarker
    John Rourke: The door's locked!
    Mr. Smith: Yes, it would seem my captors thought of everything.
  • Didn't Think This Through: At the climax of 2 the Gallente commander defending the Teskanen gate from the rogue fleet clearly knows his mission- stop anyone getting through, especially Clear Skies. But when Haffa jumps in and takes out the tackler that's pinning down Clear Skies, he orders his fleet to "Destroy that widow!" even though Haffa isn't as important as stopping Clear Skies, keeping enough fire off Clear Skies to let them get through..
  • 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. Given their tendency to snark at things, it wouldn't have been out of place for the main characters to make a note of this, but, given the circumstances, it 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.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Tarquin Smith.
  • Evil Gloating: Jarrod Mason.
    • The unnamed Raven Captain in Episode One.
    "That's not your concern, and it's certainly not the concern of a frozen corpse either. I don't care which particular unconcerned thing I leave in my wake. Now give me Smith."
    "Shields are down, Rourke, shields are down. I bet you're not so smug now while your Matari bucket of bolts falls apart around you! [aside] Keep firing!"
    • Ghost in Episode Three:
    "Oh, no, half a Tempest is threatening me! I'm deeply concerned - wait, where the hell is my jamming field? Rourke, what have you done?
  • 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.
  • Fence Painting: Charlies pulls off a pretty awesome one on Sol in episode 3.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 labeled "Imminent 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".note 
    • 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.
    • Again in Episode 2: Mr. Smith pulls up a screen showing the faces and names of everyone in the station, who will die if Rourke and his crew don't help. Later in the scene, the screen can be seen in the background still going through people. Some of the names are fairly amusing, but none of them top "Lord Timelord".
    • Episode Three; several pieces of furniture have IFEAR stickers on them, made up to look exactly the IKEA logo.
  • Here We Go Again!: Episode 1 is about the trio making up the 30 million ISK for their ship's repairs. Episode 2 ends with Smith reminding them to insure their new Maelstrom battleship. Guess how much it costs. The looks on their faces when they're told says it all.
  • Heroic BSoD: During episode 3, after losing the Maelstrom and nearly getting himself and his crew killed, Rourke decides he has enough, and goes into a 10-Minute Retirement phase, where he just lies in his appartment and spends his days drinking.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Haffa
    • 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, You!" Haymaker: Rourke gets one from Ghost.
  • 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.
  • I've Come Too Far: How Ghost keeps Hausmann from reconsidering.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When it becomes clear that he cannot win against the Caldari fleet, Hausman surrenders rather than get more of his people killed.
    • Another one occurs in 2, when Commander Mallozzi realizes he won't be able to stop the Titan from hitting the station, and instead directs his fleet to cover the escape of the evacuees to prevent a(nother) massacre.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Echo: "How much?"
    • "It's got a proper name, you know!"
  • Musical Spoiler: When Flowers of the Forest starts playing during the Magellan's attack run on the fleet in Episode 3, you just know it won't end well.
  • My Greatest Failure: Rourke frequently laments the death of his friend Haffa during Episode 3.
  • Noodle Incident: The first episode started with them making up the repair fees for their ship after their last mission (which was implied to be everything but destroyed).
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Commander Mallozzi in Episode Three.
    Ensign "But sir! With no warp drive how will we escape?"
    Mallozzi "Our escape was always a luxury, Miss, and one that circumstances dictate we can no longer afford. I'm sorry. Today we learn what doing our duty really means."
  • Oh, Crap!: From Charlie; "That's not a mothership, that's a Titan!" The look on his face is, to put it mildly, convincing. The joys of the Source engine.
    • Ghost also gets one during the Hot-Dog as well as earlier at "hot-drop o'clock!".
    • Jarrod gets two in the space of as many minutes in 2, hand-in-hand with a Big "NO!" as his ship avoids being crushed by a piece of Clear Skies hull only to crash into Rourke's sofa
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: See Here We Go Again.
  • Peace Conference: What Jarrod Mason intends to attack in Clear Skies 2.
  • 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.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Various bits of Canon Defilement are done for the sake of making a better movie:
    • In EVE Online, a ship is piloted by a capsuleer, someone who resides within a specially-designed life-support pod, wired in such a way that the pod (and through the pod, the ships they pilot) becomes the capsuleer's body. They don't die permanently, as they are cloned, and are transferred to the clone upon their death. As such, one person has absolute control of every aspect of the ship, they are not going to be able to wander the halls, and death's not much of a risk. This can make for a very boring story. Now, while canon does indicate that ships have normal crews, Rourke, Burke and Fodder are all actual players and, thus, capsuleers as far as canon is concerned. Since this leads to a less-exciting story overall, the series puts them in the role of crew members of an otherwise non-player battleship.
    • 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. It also 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. It's also not nearly as rare as its made out to be.
    • 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.note  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.
    • Sleeper drones by no means "Pop easy enough". Next to hitting them with a massive Alpha damage weapon, the only way to kill them is to have a number of ships that can easily tank their fire, while focusing fire on one drone at a time. But the visual of a Fleet Issue Tempest cutting a swath through a horde of Sleepers is still awesome to see.
  • 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 Equals Death: "Now are we even?"
  • 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.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Subverted: Haffa sacrificed himself so that JR and company could get the cynosural jammer to the station in order to stop Jarrod Mason from jumping in a capital ship. They were too late, but managed to stop Jarrod anyway.
  • Sequel Escalation:
    • 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.)
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Mr. Smith tends to lean towards this.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: Tarquin Smith.
  • Shout-Out: Sol desperately offering an armed gunman "a jelly baby" in 2; much as The Fourth Doctor might.
    • The amount of power pumped into the engines for JR's Hot Dogging in 3? 1.21 Gigawatts.
  • 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.
  • The Stinger: J.R. finds his couch.
  • Techno Babble: Averted when Ghost interrupts an explanation.
    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.
    Cut back to Sol, struggling to his feet, with alarms screaming and displays indicating "CODE YELLOW: IT'S TIME TO START RUNNING" and shield status of 4%.
    Sol (angrily): WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!
    • During Hausmann's monologue in Episode 3, Ghost responds to a quip of Charlie's with "You mess with me, you need a bigger gun than that, sunshine." Ship-to-ship weaponry should tick that box, and messing it does.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Mallozzi's expression in Episode 3 as Rourke requests more time to knock out the cynojammer in Messoya, requiring the sacrifice of the Magellan to buy that time.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer for Clear Skies 3 clearly shows the crew back in the rebuilt Clear Skies instead of the new Maelstrom.
    • It also shows a quick glimpse of the Jovian battleship when there was no prior indication that the Jovians had any presence in the series at all.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The crew gets a brand new, fully fitted Maelstrom battleship at the end, courtesy of Mr. Smith.
    • Even though it promptly gets blown up in Clear Skies 3.
  • Title Drop: At the end of Clear Skies:
    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.
  • Villain Ball: In 3, Ghost could have just actually paid for the power supply while still impersonating Smith and neither Rourke nor Smith would have had any idea what was going on until it was much too late. Money certainly wasn't an issue. Instead, Ghost unintentionally made an incredibly dangerous enemy by blowing up the gang's ship.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: In 3, the Clear Skies does this to prevent Ghost escaping.
  • 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.
    • Jared Mason's Titan is in a laughable state of falling apart, though the only parts the pilot cares about are in working order.
  • 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!