Red vs. Blue
|Red vs. Blue|
Red vs. Blue official promotional image
|Game(s)||Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo Reach, Halo 4, Marathon 2: Durandal, Marathon: Infinity|
|Genre(s)||Comic science fiction/Black comedy and Drama/Thriller (since season 6)|
|Running time||Seven minutes per episode (average)|
|Created by||Burnie Burns1|
|Directed by||Burnie Burns
|Release(s)||April 1, 2003 – present|
|Number of episodes||244 (Blood Gulch Chronicles: 105, The Recollection: 66, Project Freelancer: 51, Season 11: 19) (including episodes from mini-series)
(List of special episodes)
Red vs. Blue, often abbreviated as RvB, is a comic science fiction video web series created by Rooster Teeth Productions2 and distributed through the Internet and on DVD. The story centers on two opposing teams of soldiers fighting a civil war in the middle of a desolate box canyon (Blood Gulch), in a parody of first-person shooter (FPS) games, military life, and science fiction films. Initially intended to be a short series of six to eight episodes,3 the project quickly and unexpectedly achieved significant popularity following its Internet premiere on April 1, 2003. In its run, the series has had eleven full seasons and five mini-series that extended the series' plot. The fifth season of the original Blood Gulch Chronicles series ended with episode 100, released on June 28, 2007. Three mini-series — Out of Mind, Recovery One, and Relocated — and the three-part Recollection trilogy containing the full-length Reconstruction (2008), Recreation (2009) and Revelation (2010) series (Seasons 6–8) have extended the plot. The Project Freelancer saga began with Season 9 (2011) and follows two separate stories: a continuation to the Recollection trilogy and a prequel set before the events of The Blood Gulch Chronicles. The two stories are continued in two further mini-series - MIA and Where There's a Will, There's a Wall - and concluded in Season 10 (2012). Burnie Burns confirmed in What's Trending that the series would continue with Season 11, which premiered on June 14, 2013.4
Red vs. Blue emerged from Burnie Burns' voice-over-enhanced gameplay videos of Bungie Studios' FPS video game Halo: Combat Evolved. The series is primarily produced using the machinima technique of synchronizing video footage from a game to pre-recorded dialogue and other audio. Footage is mostly from the multiplayer modes of Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4, along with its prequel, Halo: Reach, and Halo 3 ODST on the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game consoles. Minute sections of the series as it was originally filmed as well as the remastered versions of the first four seasons were also achieved using the Microsoft PC version of the same game.
Red vs. Blue has been generally well-received within the machinima community as well as among film critics. Praised for its originality, the series has won four awards at film festivals held by the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences. It has also won the award for "Best Animated Web Series" from the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV). It has been credited with bringing new popularity to machinima, helping it to gain more mainstream exposure, and attracting more people to the art form. Graham Leggat, former director of communications for Lincoln Center's film society, described Red vs. Blue as "truly as sophisticated as Samuel Beckett".5 While special videos continue to be released online, the completed series is also available on DVD, making the series one of the first commercially released and successful machinima products. Rooster Teeth has created videos, some under commission from Microsoft, for special events, and Red vs. Blue content is included with the Legendary Edition of Halo 3.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Development history
- 3 Production
- 4 Music
- 5 Filming
- 6 Reception
- 7 Distribution
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Red vs. Blue centers on the Red and Blue Teams, two groups of soldiers engaged in a supposed civil war. Originally, each team occupies a small base in a box canyon known as Blood Gulch. According to Simmons, one of the Red Team soldiers, each team's base exists only in response to the other team's base. It is later revealed that there is no actual civil war; both the Red and Blue armies are under the same command, Project Freelancer, and only exist as training simulations for Freelancer Agents. Although both teams generally dislike each other and have standing orders to defeat their opponents and capture their flag, neither team is usually motivated to fight the other.
The Red vs. Blue storyline so far spans eleven full-length seasons and five mini-series. Rooster Teeth periodically releases self-referential public service announcements (PSAs) and holiday-themed videos, which are generally unrelated to the main storyline. In these videos, however, the members of both teams claim to be from Red vs. Blue.
Although the visual background of Red vs. Blue is primarily taken from the Halo series, Rooster Teeth consciously limits connections to the Halo fictional universe. A special video made for E3 2003 portrays Master Chief, the protagonist of the Halo series, as a larger-than-life member of the army, and the Red vs. Blue trailer and first episode establish that the series is set between the events of the first two games. Beyond these references, the storyline is independent, a decision that, according to Burns, is intended to increase accessibility to those unfamiliar with the games. For example, even though the season 4 and season 5 casts include characters from the alien Covenant Elite race, Rooster Teeth never portrays those characters in their original Halo context.6 Beginning with season six Reconstruction the series begins to follow Halo more closely. It is established that Reconstruction onwards takes place one year after Halo 3 and several characters indirectly reference Smart AI, the Human-Covenant War, and Forerunners. Also at several points it is noted that Project Freelancer is under the jurisdiction of the UNSC.
Red vs. Blue features characters whose personalities are skewed in different ways and to varying degrees. Character interaction and dialogue, rather than action, drive the story.7 The series has centered on eleven main characters. Other characters, both team-affiliated and unaffiliated, human and non-human, have played significant roles throughout the story. Notable new characters include The Director and The Chairman, as well as the Freelancers, which are named after U.S. state names. AIs are also important characters, and are named after Greek letters.
Initially, the Red Team consists of Grif (Geoff Ramsey, under the credit of Geoff Fink); Simmons (Gustavo Sorola); rookie Donut (Dan Godwin); their leader, Sarge (Matt Hullum); and a robot engineer, Lopez (Burnie Burns). The Blue Team consists of Tucker (Jason Saldaña), rookie Caboose (Joel Heyman), de facto leader Church (Burns), and an artificially intelligent tank named Sheila (Yomary Cruz); prior to the events of the series, the Blues were led by the late Captain Butch Flowers (Ed Robertson). Church is killed in friendly fire by Caboose, and reappears as a ghost after freelancer Tex (Kathleen Zuelch) is called in to replace him. It is established that Tex comes from an experimental super-soldier program, which paired freelancer soldiers, code-named by U.S. states, with artificial intelligence programs. After Tex is killed in combat, her AI, O'Malley (various),8 transfers to and possesses Caboose.9 Three months later, neutral medic Doc (Hullum) arrives, taking commands from both teams due to a lack of resources. The Blues take Donut hostage, and negotiate his release in exchange for robot bodies, constructed by Sarge, that the ghosts of Church and Tex can possess. O'Malley soon transfers to Doc, kidnaps Lopez, and escapes Blood Gulch through a teleporter.
The Red and Blue Teams join forces to pursue O'Malley,10 eventually confronting him just before a bomb built by Sarge into Church's robot body detonates. The soldiers wake up in a wasteland, and (wrongly) conclude the force of the blast sent them into the future; this is used as a plot device to explain changing from the original Halo to Halo 2. Church, however, travels a thousand years into the past. Living the events leading up to the explosion over and over, Church attempts to alter the timeline and avert the disaster, with every failure sending him back to the past once more. He also accidentally causes several of the problems seen in the earlier seasons, such as causing Sheila to malfunction and kill him, causing Sheila and Lopez's rebellion, and killing Captain Flowers. He eventually abandons his plans, and manages to join the others in the supposed future. The teams gather at O’Malley’s new fortress, and plan to plant the sentient time bomb, Andy (Nathan Zellner). Instead, O’Malley is defeated (temporarily) by an Alien creature.11 As the Red Team discovers the continued existence of Blood Gulch, the Alien leads Tucker, Caboose and Andy on a sacred quest, but the alien is killed. His murderer, Wyoming12 (Hullum), is also part of the super-soldier program, prompting Tex to pursue him with the help of fellow test subject York (Sean Duggan) and his AI, Delta (Mark Bellman). York is soon killed as well. It is revealed that Wyoming has an armor enhancement which allows him to alter time,13 which caused Church to travel into the past to begin with. The Blues, Andy, and Tex eventually return to Blood Gulch, and Tucker becomes ill; Church calls Doc, whom O'Malley still controls, for help. Doc diagnoses Tucker with male pregnancy, caused through parasitic symbiosis with the Alien. Tucker gives birth off-screen12 to an alien child, Junior (Saldaña).13 O’Malley leaves Doc.12
A ship crashes into the gulch,12 carrying Grif's sibling, Sister (Rebecca Frasier), who is assigned to the Blue Team. Both teams are soon ambushed by Wyoming, Lopez and O’Malley, who now possesses the reanimated corpse of Captain Flowers. They reveal their joint plot to steal Junior, the prophesied ruler of the alien race, in order to raise and control an army of alien creatures. In the ensuing battle, Wyoming and Flowers are killed. Tex, however, sees the possibility of rule over the aliens as a method to end the war, and convinces O’Malley to possess her once more. She takes Junior, and leaves in the ship. The Reds, however, have planted Andy on-board, and the ship explodes on their command.1314
Agent Washington (Shannon McCormick) retrieves Delta from York's body,15 and has an encounter with a new enemy, a rogue Freelancer known as "the Meta", who is killing Freelancer agents for their AI and abilities. After Tex's ship crashes into an outpost named Valhalla, the Meta arrives and captures her, Omega, and Gamma as well as Tex's cloaking mechanism and Wyoming's temporal distortion unit, while later killing everyone in the valley except for one Red. Command has Washington gather the Blues to counter the Meta's growing threat, with the Reds getting embroiled in the plot soon after. Following an encounter with the Meta, Delta is captured. Washington resolves to bring the teams to Freelancer Command in order to retrieve the Alpha, the original AI from which all of the Freelancer AIs were derived. Inside the AI storage facility, Washington reveals that Church is in fact the Alpha, based on the mind of Project Freelancer's director, and not a ghost as originally thought. Washington and Church trigger an electromagnetic pulse which destroys all of the Meta's AIs, including Church and Tex. Sarge, Simmons, Grif and Caboose escape with the Epsilon AI before the pulse destroys it, as it is needed as evidence of Project Freelancer's crimes. During the raid on the base, the Reds deleted all files related to the Blues from the UNSC database (Sarge had wrongfully assumed that this would literally delete the Blue team and win the war), consequently Caboose and the Epsilon AI are not located and Washington is imprisoned as a result.
The Reds settle into the new base awarded to them in Valhalla when Lopez and Donut arrive. Donut finds Caboose, who has been trying to fix the Epsilon unit, and tells him Tucker is in trouble. Caboose sets out to rescue him, with Sarge and Grif following, while Simmons, Lopez and Donut remain behind. After reaching Tucker at a desert dig site, Caboose finds a forerunner monitor which he uploads Epsilon into. Epsilon acts as a back-up of Alpha, having Church's voice and personality but no memory of any of the events that have happened throughout the series. Meanwhile, Simmons, Donut and Lopez come under attack from the Meta. Washington arrives as the Reds in Valhalla attempt to escape, killing Donut (supposedly) and Lopez while demanding Epsilon from Simmons, revealing that he is now working alongside the Meta in order to return the Epsilon unit in exchange for his freedom.
Doc is sent to Valhalla, at Simmons' request, to give the Meta a medical examination. Sarge and Grif manage to rescue Simmons, but Doc is left behind; stuck in a wall. Church leads the teams to a Freelancer storage facility run by a computer identical to Sheila. Church releases a copy of Tex from himself into an unused robot body made specifically for her. Tex then proceeds to effortlessly beat the Reds, Tucker, and Epsilon before Sheila and Caboose force her into armor lockup (which Donut was currently in). Tex researches her past to discover who she truly is and leaves for another Freelancer facility with Church. The Reds search Freelancer's database and discover that all the events they have been through in The Blood Gulch Chronicles were just one of many simulated scenarios used to train Freelancers for combat and was in fact simply a training scenario that had gone terribly wrong, which devastates Sarge. Tex sets a trap for Washington and the Meta to interrogate them and find the Director. She then proceeds to fight Washington and the Meta, though the showdown ends with the Meta stabbing Tex in the face with the capture unit, trapping her. The Meta then uses Tex to regain some of his armor abilities and betrays Washington who is saved by the arrival of the Reds and Blues in a dropship. In a final showdown with the Meta, the Reds manage to throw the Meta over a cliff by hooking him to a Warthog, causing him to fall to his demise. Church enters the capture unit after Tex, but it shuts down before he can return, trapping him. As the UNSC arrive to clean up the scene, Washington fakes his death and joins the Blues while the Reds escape in a stolen transport. Inside the capture unit, Church relives a version of his memories of his time in Blood Gulch in the hope that Tex will find him there.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2012)|
Both the ninth and tenth seasons of Red vs. Blue are divided into two different, but interrelated storylines, one following Epsilon Church in the present day and another following the events surrounding Project Freelancer, before the events of The Blood Gulch Chronicles.
Before the events of Blood Gulch Chronicles, Project Freelancer conducted experiments to create supersoldiers augmented with artificial intelligence programs and advanced technology, under the supervisor of Dr. Leonard Church, the project director and template for the Alpha AI. Project Freelancer was primarily concerned with fighting a rogue faction of the UNSC following an insurrection. The AI given to the soldiers was procured by torturing Alpha, the only AI that the UNSC permitted the project to use, and splitting it into fragments, each representing a part of the Alpha's personality. The Freelancers were trained and ranked against each other, creating a highly competitive environment and leading to a rivalry between agent Carolina and agent Texas. Agent Maine is partnered with the Sigma AI, who represents Alpha's ambition, leading to the deterioration of the former's sanity and eventual transformation into the Meta. Implantation of AI into further soldiers is abandoned after the implantation of Epsilon into agent Washington leads to both having a severe psychotic episode. Concurrent to this Tex discovers that she is in fact the Beta AI, a recreation of a woman named Alison, the Director's long-lost love, the memories of whom were inherited by Alpha. The Meta steals Carolina's AI implants and apparently kills her.
In the present, within the memory unit, Church hopes to relive the original events in Blood Gulch in order to meet Tex again, and while there are some inconsistencies in his recollection of Blood Gulch, eventually things settle back to normal. The canyon is rocked by a series of earthquakes, which Church attributes to the gradual failure of the memory unit in which he is trapped. Church eventually reunites with Tex. Church reconciles that Tex is merely a memory and choose to delete her rather than continue to chase her. Church is then rescued from the memory unit by the red and blue teams, who have been recruited by Carolina, who is revealed to have survived her encounter with the Meta. Church and Carolina track down the Director, intending to kill him to avenge the crimes committed by Project Freelancer, and find that he has been living in isolation attempting to replicate Tex to recreate Alison's personality. Carolina chooses to spare the Director, who deletes his research and all of Project Freelancer's remaining work before committing suicide. Church and Carolina then part ways with the reds and blues, deciding to devote themselves to clearing up the remaining loose ends from Project Freelancer.
A teaser trailer for Season 11 was released on May 19, 2013, revealing that the season will premiere on June 14, 2013. In the trailer, two soldiers named Jerry and Dennis (voiced by Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox of Smosh) talk about the Reds and Blues, who are being transported back home after being pardoned for helping bring down Project Freelancer. Unfortunately, the ship crash lands at an unknown location (most likely the combined fault of the Reds and Blues). Knowing they'll be stranded for some time, Sarge suggests that they begin building their bases and wait to be rescued. It is implied that Epsilon and Carolina may be off on their own adventure, as they are not with the Reds and Blues.4
In the season kickoff, it is made clear that the Reds and Blues are having trouble living together and Wash talks of a worse danger on the horizon. The Reds and Blues soon realize that they crashed landed on Chorus, a former UNSC colony that has been since forgotten. Felix, a mercenary, says the planet is in a civil war between the Federal Army of Chorus and the rebel group called the New Republic, who Felix works for. The Reds, Blues and Felix then get into a major firefight against Federal soldiers led by Locus, though it ends with Sarge, Donut, Wash and Lopez being captured. Caboose, Tucker, Grif and Simmons are relocated to the New Republic's main base. Vanessa Kimball, leader of the New Republic, promises the remaining Reds and Blues that the Rebels will help them save their captured friends and leave Chorus if they agree to help the Rebels take back the planet. At a Federal Army facility, Locus informs his anonymous superior that he recovered a crate in the crashed ship, though is concerned about keeping the captured Reds and Blues alive. The anonymous superior, revealed to be Carolina, tells Locus to continue their plans and that she is on her way.
|Season||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|The Blood Gulch Chronicles|
|Season 1||April 1, 2003||September 28, 2003||19|
|Season 2||January 3, 2004||June 11, 2004||19|
|Season 3||October 12, 2004||May 18, 2005||19|
|Season 4||August 29, 2005||April 1, 2006||20|
|Season 5||October 2, 2006||June 28, 2007||23|
|Season 6: Reconstruction||April 5, 2008||October 30, 2008||19|
|Season 7: Recreation||June 15, 2009||October 26, 2009||19|
|Season 8: Revelation||April 1, 2010||September 13, 2010||20|
|Season 9||June 14, 2011||November 14, 2011||20|
|Season 10||May 28, 2012||November 5, 2012||22|
|Season 11 - present|
|Season 11||June 14, 20134||November 11, 2013||19|
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|The Blood Gulch Chronicles|
|Out of Mind||June 16, 2006||September 4, 2006||5|
|Recovery One||October 28, 2007||December 7, 2007||4|
|Relocated||February 9, 2009||March 9, 2009||4|
|MIA||November 13, 2011||December 17, 2011||6|
|Where There's a Will, There's a Wall||April 14, 2012||April 28, 2012||3|
Red vs. Blue emerged from Burnie Burns's voiceover-enhanced gameplay videos that he created for a website called drunkgamers.com, which was run by Geoff Fink (later Geoff Ramsey) and Gustavo Sorola. Having played Halo: Combat Evolved extensively, the drunkgamers crew discussed one day whether the Warthog, an automobile in the game, looks like a puma. This discussion, re-created in episode 2, was "the spark for the whole series".16 Seeing potential for a full story, Burns created a trailer for Red vs. Blue which was released September 5, 2002 on the Drunkgamers website, but it was largely ignored, and, for unrelated reasons, drunkgamers soon closed. Four months later, Computer Gaming World contacted Ramsey for permission to include a different drunkgamers video in a CD to be distributed with the magazine. Ramsey granted permission, but he and Burns felt that they needed a website to take advantage of the exposure from Computer Gaming World. They therefore resurrected Red vs. Blue and re-released the trailer to coincide with the Computer Gaming World issue. The first episode proper was released on April 1, 2003.17
Rooster Teeth was initially unaware of the broader machinima movement. In 2004, Co-producer Matt Hullum stated in an interview with GameSpy, "When we first started Red vs. Blue we thought we were completely original. We never imagined that there were other people out there using video games to make movies, much less that it was a new art form with a hard to pronounce name and an official organization."18
The nature of Red vs. Blue was different from Burns's initial expectation. A partial character introduction released between the original trailer and the first episode featured extensive action and violence, set to Limp Bizkit's song "Break Stuff". However, as work continued, the focus shifted to situation comedy rather than the heavy action initially implied.19 Although the series parodies video games, Ramsey noted, "We try not to make it too much of an inside joke. And I think we use more bureaucracy and military humor than anything else, which everybody working in an office can identify with."20 Rooster Teeth has stated that Red vs. Blue was influenced by Homestar Runner,21 Penny Arcade,6 and possibly Mystery Science Theater 3000.20
Rooster Teeth initially envisioned Red vs. Blue to be short, but the series grew beyond their expectations. Burns and Ramsey had preconceived a list of jokes for which they allocated six to eight episodes. By episode 8, however, they realized that the series had fleshed out more than expected; they had covered only about one third of their original list.22 Later in season 1, Burns estimated a series of 22 episodes; however, driven by the series' popularity, he realized that there was more potential story than could be covered in that length,23 and was able to conceive an extension of the season 1 plot. The whole production team eventually quit their jobs and began to work full-time on the series; to generate revenue they created an online store to sell T-shirts.
On June 16, 2006 Burns announced a five-part mini-series, Red vs. Blue: Out of Mind, which chronicles the adventures of the mercenary Tex after her disappearance in season 4. The mini-series premiered exclusively on the Xbox Live Marketplace,24 but Rooster Teeth later made it available on their official site.25
The original series, The Blood Gulch Chronicles, ended on June 28, 2007, with the release of episode 100. On April 4, 2008, Burns announced a new series, Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction,26 the group's first Halo 3 series and the beginning of the new Recollection story arc. Several voice actors returned in Reconstruction,27 which ran from April 5 to October 30, 2008. Rooster Teeth announced plans for a sequel Red vs. Blue series, each separated by a few weeks' break. The mini-series Red vs. Blue: Relocated bridged the gap between Red vs. Blue: Recreation and the previous season. During a Late Nite Jenga Jam podcast, Burnie Burns officially confirmed that the working title of the eighth Red vs. Blue series was "Red vs. Blue: Resolution".28 The title was later finalised as "Red vs. Blue: Revelation".29 The first four episodes were previewed at PAX East in March.30 On April 1, 2010 the premiere of Revelation attracted such a large audience that both roosterteeth.com and Blip.tv (which hosts Rooster Teeth's videos) crashed.31
On March 28, 2011 Rooster Teeth presented the first trailer for Season 9 of Red vs Blue which aired on June 14, 2011. Season 9 acted as a semi-prequel, fleshing out the event surrounding Project Freelancer, one of the key elements of the plot in previous seasons.32
Season 10, which debuts the character of Sigma, voiced by Elijah Wood, began on May 28, 2012 and will finish the Freelancer back story.
On September 7, 2012 Burnie Burns appeared on What's Trending and confirmed that there will be a Season 11, which premiered June 14, 2013.4
The process by which the show is written has changed as the show progressed. In the first season, Michael "Burnie" Burns would typically write an episode script on a Sunday afternoon before the episode was to be released on Friday. Scripts were written with minimal planning as the storyline grew beyond the 6 to 8 episodes originally expected. Church's death, as well as the revelation of Tex as a female character, both of which drove most of the season 1 plot, were conceived shortly before their respective episodes began production.
In January 2005, Michael Burns and Kathleen Zuelch were interviewed in an episode of The Screen Savers on G4. In response to a question regarding any drawbacks to using machinima techniques, Burns responded "There are drawbacks, like it's a very limited world".33 PC games often allow for the addition and integration of new game assets, such as new levels and textures; console games are much more limited in this respect.33 "But really what you end up doing is you end up writing around what's in that world, that limited world ... sometimes we sit around and we think 'what can we possibly do with stuff that's in the game?'".33 As an example, the skull from the Oddball multiplayer mode of Halo was used for the flashback scene in episode 10, in which Tex beats Private Jimmy to death with his own skull.33
After the first season, the writing process changed significantly. Matt Hullum was added as a main writer in the next season, and plot events were planned much more in advance. Approximately 40 to 80 pages of rough plot and dialogue are now written out before production on a season begins. In describing the writing process, Burns has said that main plot points are assigned to occur at certain points in a season, and that they would begin writing each episode by asking how much they wanted to advance towards the next plot point.
Burns has said multiple times in DVD audio commentary and in public journal entries that he had minor issues writing towards large events in season 3, in terms of scheduling and pacing. The first problem was in compacting the plot from episode 39 to where the characters are sent into the future in episode 43, to mark the release of and the transfer of filming to Halo 2. The second issue involved the pacing of events leading up to those planned for the special 50th episode. The events initially envisioned for the episode were then deemed too many for a single episode, and were instead spread over episodes 50 to 52. In turn, this led to new hardships when events had to be compacted once more to meet the tradition of ending a season on its 19th episode, episode 57.
Dialogue for an entire episode is typically recorded over one or two days and cut together for filming the day after. Until midway through season 3, audio for the voice actors living in Texas had been recorded in a makeshift soundproof booth in Burns' guest room closet. Currently, however, audio is recorded in a professional recording booth in the Rooster Teeth offices in Austin, Texas, with the recordings later being compressed to a slightly lower quality. During season 1, dialogue for the voice actors living in Los Angeles, California — Joel Heyman, Kathleen Zuelch, and Matt Hullum — was recorded over the phone. Afterwards, a second recording studio was set up in Hullum's Los Angeles home. As Hullum moved back to Texas in season 3, Heyman and Zuelch now record their own dialogue. Jason Saldaña and Gus Sorola also recorded audio by phone while temporarily residing in New York State and Puerto Rico respectively.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2012)|
Initially, the first several episodes of the series did not include any music. In May 2003, Nico Audy-Rowland, the bandleader of Trocadero, was introduced to Red vs. Blue and enjoyed the series enough to submit a song about it to Burns, who liked the piece and promptly requested more music for Red vs. Blue. Episode 8, "Don't Ph34r The Reaper", was the first to include music. However, for the release of the season 1 DVD, music was retrofitted into earlier episodes, often during transitions. Trocadero's "Blood Gulch Blues", whose last few measures are now heard during each episode's title sequence, is used as background music for the character introductions on the Red vs. Blue season DVDs. According to Trocadero's website, the song's lyrics are intended to highlight episode 2's joke about the Warthog and the notion that there is as much bickering and fighting within each team as there is conflict between the two sides. In fact, "Blood Gulch Blues" never mentions Red vs. Blue. The song is from the band's debut full-length album Roses are Red, Violets are Blue which was released in 2004. The band's style is alternative rock, taking influence from elements of blues, alternative rock, and western types of music. Trocadero continued to provide music for the show from their second and third albums, Ghosts That Linger and Flying By Wire.
Beginning with Red vs. Blue: Revelation, the main score for each season has been crafted by Jeff Williams, the former keyboardist of Trocadero, in addition to many of Trocadero's songs being reused. Williams's soundtracks have genres containing mixed elements of score music, hard rock, and sometimes electronic and rap. Williams often features others on vocals including Lamar Hall, Red Rapper, Barbara La Ronga, Nicole D'andrea, Casey Lee Williams, Sandy Lee Casey, and some members of the cast, and collaborates with Steve Goldshein on some tracks. The soundtracks also feature several parody songs, and some songs included are heard in PSAs and Rooster Teeth shorts. With the release of season eleven, Williams moved away from providing music for Red vs. Blue to work on Rooster Teeth's new series, RWBY. Trocadero returned as the sole-provider of Red vs. Blue's score for the first time since season seven, also providing a new theme song "Contact" effectively replacing "Blood Gulch Blues".
Aside from a few scenes created using Marathon, Marathon 2: Durandal, and Halo: Custom Edition for the PC, Red vs. Blue is filmed using a number of networked Xbox consoles. Within a multiplayer game session, the people controlling the avatars "puppet" their characters, moving them around, firing weapons, and performing other actions as dictated by the script, and in synchronization with the prerecorded dialogue. The camera is simply another player, whose first-person perspective is recorded raw to a computer.
In the interview on The Screen Savers, Burns described the use of machinima techniques to film the show thus: "It's like normal animation but instead of, y'know, sitting down, drawing everything by hand, we just use controllers."33
In scenes using the original Halo, a bug was exploited that made it so that by holding a pistol and looking down, the character would appear to be holding the pistol down but looking up, as if more relaxed. The glitch also either made vertical movement limited or returned the character's appearance to normal, so characters would have to estimate movements, since they were always looking down.citation needed
Bungie Studios eliminated the bug in Halo 2, so that the on-screen characters appear to look up or down correctly. Bungie also implemented a new feature that made it possible for Rooster Teeth and others to achieve the same effect as the original bug. In Halo 2, pressing down on the D-Pad of the Xbox controller makes the player character appear to hold his or her weapon in a neutral position, without aiming it at anyone, while looking straight ahead. This also allowed them to move the heads up and down to achieve a more dynamic appearance for some scenes.citation needed
In footage made using Halo, a weapon aiming reticle appears in the center of the screen. This reticle appears because, as with most machinima, the camera's view is from the perspective of a weapon-wielding player. The exception to this is footage recorded by killing the camera player's avatar. Footage made using Halo: Custom Edition allowed for a player to act as a free roaming camera, and thus contained no reticule. In Halo 2, a bug in the Oddball multiplayer mode allows the player to drop all weapons, causing the weapon reticle to disappear. This bug has been used in all Halo 2 footage from episode 46 onwards.citation needed
To gain unique angles in the series, Rooster Teeth first used a tank in the game to emulate crane shots by standing the cameraman on the turret while it was raised. Later, they found it more practical to stand the cameraman on other characters in the game. This trick has also been used for other purposes, such as standing Donut on two characters to create the illusion that he could jump higher than is possible in the game.34
For scenes which include the flag (CTF), only two colours could be used (Sarge's and early Donut's red, and Caboose's blue) as CTF is a team game and only red and blue colours could be used. When the flag used amongst different coloured characters, it is only shown with a standard red or blue character, mixed with scenes with other characters behaving as if it is present.
During filming, there was an issue with the Blue Team's deceased leader, Church. Church appears as a ghost for portions of the show, and he needed to appear transparent to the viewer. To achieve this, all scenes with ghost-Church had to be filmed twice, once with Church in them and once without him.
Another difficulty when filming in Halo 2 was the enormous shadow over Red Base in the map Coagulation. This shadow had a detrimental effect on the appearance of the characters. To avoid this, late in Season 4 a glitch was discovered that allowed a character to appear lit even in a dark area. Burnie Burns stated in the Season 4 audio commentary that the glitch was something they kept noticing a lot while filming the episodes, and when they discovered how to replicate it they utilised it extensively.
The videos are mostly filmed on the Halo map Blood Gulch (and its Halo 2 counterpart, Coagulation), although later episodes have increasingly been filmed on other maps. The Apple Macintosh games Marathon and Marathon 2: Durandal have also been used for a few scenes. Halo 2 is typically used for events that occur chronologically in the distant future, and the Marathon series for those that occur in the distant past; this has the effect of making the graphical quality of the series an indication of time's progression throughout the story.
Episodes that have been made with Halo 3 have used the theater mode camera. Starting in season 8, action sequences have been made with fully scripted fight scenes that involve stunts not possible with the previous game engine.citation needed
Adobe Premiere Pro is used to edit the audio and video together, add the titles, and create some of the special effects not normally possible on the console or in the games used. Adobe After Effects is also used, typically by Hullum, to create animated props not found in the regular game engine. Examples of these extra props include tombstones in episode 20 and ornaments, presents, and lights in the Christmas 2004 video.
As the camera player's view has a heads-up display (HUD), black bars are added in post-production to hide the top and bottom portions containing irrelevant in-game information, creating a letterbox effect. Most machinima is made with computer games, which often have HUDs that can be easily disabled in one way or another. Console games such as Halo and Halo 2 are often more limited in this respect. In 2010, Rooster Teeth Productions released a remastered edition of The Blood Gulch Chronicles that removed the black bars and aiming reticule existent in previous versions of the series, which was done by re-shooting the first four seasons in the PC versions of Halo and Halo 2.
Red vs. Blue attracted interest immediately; the first episode had 20,000 downloads within a day.35 Shortly after episode 2, Bungie Studios contacted Rooster Teeth. Although the crew had feared that any contact would be to force an end to the project, Bungie enjoyed the videos and was supportive;36 one staff member called the production "kind of brilliant".37 A deal was arranged to ensure that the series could continue to use Bungie's game properties5 without license fees.37 Red vs. Blue continued to attract more attention, and, by April 2004, Kevin J. Delaney of The Wall Street Journal estimated that weekly viewership was between 650,000 and 1,000,000.5 In a 2006 interview, Strange Company founder Hugh Hancock called the series probably "the most successful machinima productions sic" and estimated that it was generating almost US$200,000 annually.38 Red vs. Blue content was also included with a premium "Legendary" edition of Halo 3.39
Red vs. Blue was widely acclaimed within the machinima industry. The first season won awards for Best Picture, Best Independent Machinima Film, and Best Writing at the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences' 2003 Machinima Film Festival.40 Two years later, at the 2005 festival, the third season won an award for Best Independent Machinima and was nominated for five others.41 At the 2006 Machinima Festival, the series was nominated for awards in voice acting and writing, but won neither.42
Among film critics, the response was generally positive. Darren Waters of BBC News Online called Red vs. Blue "riotously funny" and "reminiscent of the anarchic energy of South Park".23 Reviewing the three season DVDs for Cinema Strikes Back, Charlie Prince wrote, "Red vs. Blue is hysterical in large part because all the characters are morons, and so the seemingly intense conflict with the opposing base doesn't exactly work the way you'd think it would."43 Leggat described the series as "[p]art locker-room humor, part Beckett-like absurdist tragicomedy, part wicked vivisection of game culture and sci-fi action films and games".44 Ed Halter of The Village Voice dismissed the humor as shallow and described the first season as "Clerks-meets-Star Wars".45 Leggat defended the humor, arguing, "The literary analog is absurdist drama."5
Another common criticism of Red vs. Blue was that its season 3 plot was too far-fetched and out-of-character. Charlie Prince wrote, "By the third season, however, the Red vs. Blue idea seems to be running out of steam.... It's not funny so much as just odd."43 Writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wilma Jandoc agreed that the first part of "season 3... throws the teams into a ridiculous situation and has limited member interactions, leading to a lack of witty dialogue".7 In an about.com review of the season 4 DVD, writer Eric Qualls thought that season 3 was "a little too long, and too complicated, and the jokes were a bit too far apart".46 Nevertheless, both Prince and Jandoc were optimistic that the series would improve, and Qualls stated that the fourth season had "returned to the series' roots" as "some of the funniest stuff you’ll ever see".46
Rooster Teeth Productions has created special Red vs. Blue videos for various events. For example, Microsoft has commissioned Red vs. Blue videos for Xbox demo kiosks found in game stores and for a developer conference.47 Barenaked Ladies has also commissioned videos for their concerts.5 Other videos have been specifically created for gaming magazines, including Electronic Gaming Monthly and Computer Gaming World; gaming conventions, including E3 and the Penny Arcade Expo; and the Sundance Film Festival.
Red vs. Blue has also received praise from soldiers stationed in the Middle East. An August 2005 blog entry by Kimi Matsuzaki of 1UP.com displays photographs of soldiers holding various weapons, as well as copies of the first and second season Red vs. Blue DVDs.48 Geoff Ramsey later stated in an interview, "We get a lot of merchandise and DVDs out to Iraq and get a lot of great e-mails back."20
Red vs. Blue has been acknowledged by Xbox Live through Grifball, a game variant which is featured on the Halo 3 multiplayer; Grifball being a reference to Grif. The notability and impact of Red vs. Blue extends to video games outside the Halo series as well. The developers of the Xbox 360 video game Gears of War, Epic Games, made a reference to a Red vs. Blue gag through an in-game achievement called, "Is it a spider?"; the award is earned for tagging opponents with grenades. Another reference to the series appears on Bungie's website. On a player’s Halo 3 profile screen the description of a kill or death with a flag is "Right next to the headlight fluid".49 In Halo 3 itself, the second campaign scenario features a Red vs. Blue skit, wherein two cast members voice over a soldier attempting to bypass a locked door. Different skits are seen on each difficulty level. In Halo: Reach, Dr. Halsey's office contains a data-file detailing the UNSC's "reaction" to the films. In the expansion pack for Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, there is an achievement called "Chupathingy," when killing a Chupacabra.
Red vs. Blue is widely credited with attracting public attention to machinima and web-series. Although examples had existed since the 1990s, Clive Thompson credited Red vs. Blue as "the first to break out of the underground".50 Tavares, Gil, and Roque called it machinima's "first big success",51 and Paul Marino noted that "the series proved so popular that it not only transcended the typical gamer, it also claimed fans outside the gaming world".52 In 2005, Thompson wrote that "Microsoft has been so strangely solicitous that when it was developing the sequel to Halo last year, the designers actually inserted a special command—a joystick button that makes a soldier lower his weapon—designed solely to make it easier for Rooster Teeth to do dialogue".37 The series has inspired other machinima productions, including The Codex.53
In machinima, Red vs. Blue has been mentioned as the most successful example of the trend toward serial distribution. According to Hugh Hancock, this format allows for gradual improvement as a result of viewer feedback, and gives viewers a reason to return for future videos. Hancock argues that this model was necessary for Red vs. Blue's success: "Sunday night is Red vs. Blue night, just as (in the UK) Thursday used to be Buffy. Had RvB released their films as single downloads of an hour and a half, they'd have had nowhere near the success they currently enjoy."54
|Out of Mind-Season 5|
|Season 9 and after|
Red vs. Blue episode were originally available in QuickTime (QT) and Windows Media Video (WMV) formats, with the then most recent season available in full and episodes from the previous seasons available in a rolling archive, cycling on a weekly basis. This original setup was intended to help to control bandwidth costs;55 as of September 2005, the official Rooster Teeth website was serving 400 terabytes of data monthly.56 Video content has now moved to streaming, with initial releases occurring through Blip (Rooster Teeth's main video host), followed by YouTube later on. All freely released episodes are currently available and the rolling archive has been retired. Out of Mind is available as a free download on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and some Red vs. Blue episodes can be purchased.57 Episodes are also available to be streamed via Halo Waypoint.
Members of the official website can gain sponsor status for a fee of US$10 every six months. Sponsors can access videos a few hours before the general public release, download higher-resolution versions of the episodes, and access special content released only to sponsors. For example, during season 5, Rooster Teeth began to release directors' commentary to sponsors for download.
Episodes are released in different resolutions; higher resolutions are reserved for sponsors. Beginning with the Red vs. Blue: Out of Mind mini-series, Rooster Teeth began to film and edit video in 720p high-definition,58 and to release episodes in widescreen format, instead of hiding the game HUD through the letterboxing seen in full-screen releases. On the January 8, 2007, release of episode 87, Matt Hullum announced that videos would be viewable in Macromedia Flash format. He stated that the change allowed Rooster Teeth to release public videos in a higher resolution "while keeping the file size low", and that the entire video archive would be updated. Code to embed the Flash video on other websites was also distributed.59 In a site journal entry, Burns clarified that downloadable versions would continue to be released, but after their Flash counterparts.
Although it is distributed serially over the Internet, Red vs. Blue is also one of the first commercially released products made using machinima, as opposed to a product merely containing machinima. DVDs of the ten completed seasons are sold through Rooster Teeth's official website, as well as at most EB Games, GameStop and Hot Topic stores in the United States.60 Episodes of the main storyline are edited together in the DVD releases to play continuously as a full-length film. Because the episodes as individually released often contain dialogue that continues into or past the episode credits, Rooster Teeth either removes that dialogue entirely or films extra footage to replace the original fade to black.61 On April 1, 2008, Rooster Teeth released a box set of all five seasons, including a DVD of new bonus content. In 2010, a remastered box set of the first five seasons was released, with the seasons 1 - 4 completely reshot, featuring a proper 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the highly letterboxed look of the original episodes, and a much higher resolution. On November 6, 2012, to celebrate ten years, Rooster Teeth released a DVD and Blu-ray box set comprising the first ten seasons and five discs worth of bonus content, two of which are almost entirely newly released material.
Theatrical presentations of Red vs. Blue seasons at the Lincoln Center and at other film festivals are cut (sometimes extensively) for time. In a 2005 interview, Burns noted that the first season, normally 75 minutes in length, was cut to 55 minutes for these venues, with an entire episode omitted.62 Burns stated in a website news post that the 135-minute season 3 DVD version had to be shortened to "a watchable-in-a-theater runtime of 100 minutes".63
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