There’s no simple way to explain what this is, so you’re just going to have to watch it, absorb it and come back here to find out more about it: "I want Master Chief"
There. See? You understand why there was no simple explanation? Now there are a few notable things about this musical machinima. First, it’s musical, and second, it’s the work of two ladies, which is a demographic anomaly (though hardly impossibility) in the world of Machinima. The two talented ladies who built it, are “Linnea” and Lauren. Their real and full names are withheld to protect the innocent.
We chatted with both ladies to get some information about the process, the humor and the philosophy behind the sexiest ever homemade romantic Chiefy chamber music video.
Tell us a little about yourselves, and why you decided to make a sexy song about the Chief.
Lauren: I'm a 30 year old professional classical oboist living in the Buffalo, NY area. Yes, that makes me a music geek and proud of it! In between attempting to find and play gigs I am a dedicated gamer, a budding quilter, and an all round sci-fi nerd. I usually split my weekend time between going out with friends, dancing at clubs where live music is playing, performing at some orchestral concert, or playing video games on my 360. Sometimes I even manage to do all four in one night! My parents encouraged me to be involved in anything I wanted, including science fiction, computers, and video games. I'm guessing at this point they wish they'd encouraged the medical profession a bit more.
Linnea actually created the original song; I just provided musical feedback as well as some instrumental playing and the video. But once I heard the first version I knew it was ripe for machinima! How could anyone resist bringing a line like "I wanna kiss you with my eight lizardy lips" to life?
Linnea: I'm a Midwestern mom, trained eye surgeon, sci-fi fan, pharmacology professor and video gamer. Before you ask, I was brought into the Halo fold by my son Tony AKA "Spyton" who, many years ago, took me through Halo in co-op mode and thus created a monster. My hobbies include all sorts of arts and crafts, music (I play piano and guitar) and music composition, all of which allow me to channel my Halo-fangirl energies into projects to post on the internet. I've always had a passion for science fiction (my father fed me a steady diet of Robert Heinlein books during my childhood) and am frankly in love with the internet. But I do log off occasionally, and spend time singing with my community choir, sewing costumes or writing fiction. I also bake cookies.
One of the things that drew me to Halo originally was the musical score, so combining music and Halo-fandom seems like a natural thing to do. I've actually written a fair amount of Halo-related fan music. As for this song in particular, the idea came after the release of the second high definition Halo 3 trailer. Some of the comments people made over the internet about the trailer were rather... intense. I think people were just searching for ways to express their enthusiasm about the video, but it got me to wondering whether in the Halo universe Master Chief would have "groupies." Then I wondered if he'd have any on the Covenant side... and it all went downhill from there into double entendre-land.
"Linnea" (pictured to the right)
Using our elite video gaming ears, we were able to detect a piano – but what other instruments and techniques did you use?
Lauren: Many of our previous collaborations involved me playing my primary instruments: oboe and English horn. But the big band required some sexy sax, and Linnea requested I pull out my doubling chops and wail for the Chief. I spent many nights attempting to sound like a hip, swinging jazz lead when in reality my classical training means I can't swing if you put me on a swing set. I'm pretty proud of the end result, even if most people are too busy listening to the brilliant lyrics than my growling.
Linnea: I composed and recorded the music using Logic Pro software. The instruments were for the most part virtual (sampling) instruments, with two important exceptions: Lauren, AKA OboeCrazy, played the saxophone solo for me. In addition to being a professional classical oboist, she is also trained on the English horn, and a variety of other wind instruments including the alto sax. My son Spyton played the trombone for me. He's in jazz band in school so it was natural to have him help. It is so tough to find good synthetic brass sounds; I'm really lucky to have my own horn section to work with!
Are you at all disturbed to learn that all the Elites in your video are male?
Lauren: I'm more disturbed wondering how a male Elite got his voice up that high. Do they have castrati in the Covenant?
Linnea: Yes, my son and I'd talked about that, but male characters are all we get to use in multiplayer (hint, hint). ;-) Anyway, the whole video is sort of disturbing, so no, it's okay – it just amps up the weirdness factor.
Folks probably don’t tend to think of the Master Chief as sexy, but what is it about the character that appeals to you?
Lauren: The Master Chief is that hero we all dream about being. It's that can do, never say die, kick ass attitude in the face of overwhelming odds. The first person perspective for most of the game simply helps reinforce the fantasy of becoming that hero, even if the character is male and I'm not. Confidence is sexy, and the Master Chief has plenty!
And he has a really...really big...massive...rocket launcher.
Lauren hails to the Chief
Linnea: I think the game keeps the Master Chief character "behind the scenes" enough that everyone playing can feel that they are the hero of the game, regardless of the player's age or gender. We don't see his face and he doesn't talk that much, so we all can imagine ourselves behind the faceplate.
That being said, I fear I am something of a "fan girl," and have read the books, etc. I find the idea of a soldier trained from childhood and physically enhanced to be very interesting just on a science fiction level. Ethically troubling, but intriguing. The backstory of the Spartan program really enhances the gameplay for me.
What other stuff (Machinima and other art) do you guys have out there on the intarwebs?
Lauren: Most of our stuff can be found TaiChiKnees.com or on my YouTube site under LaurenOboe. We made trailers for movies that will never exist just to have fun mixing machinima formats, River Styx 1 and 2, and a music video to a Barenaked Ladies song called "Bank Job" using Halo 2. There's also a ton of original music on TaiChiKnees that I've had the joy of playing. Linnea has marvelous musical composition talent, and I'm really fortunate to have such amazing music written for me to perform.
Some of my personal stuff can be found at my profile on the Rooster Teeth site under OboeCrazy, or on my professional website. There's probably a lot more but I can't bring myself to Google my name. I'm scared of what I might find.
Linnea: I've got a Halo-related art gallery over at halo.bungie.org (for which I am very grateful). I've got a lot of other Halo fan music as well as other music I've been writing posted over at TaiChiKnees.com. I'm lucky to have Lauren to work with. She's been an invaluable critic and wonderful performer on most of the orchestral music I've composed. Actually, the first Halo song I did was a parody of the Breaking Benjamin "Blow me Away" song called "Blow Boys Away" about the perils of being a girl gamer, which was just me singing with my guitar into my Gateway laptop. We've evolved from there. Then I've done some soundtracking for projects as well as some voicework for machinima like Silver Stars/Purple Hearts, SvF and most recently Halo Unyielding 2. Lauren and I did our own comedic hybrid machinima shorts combining Halo with other video games called River Styx 1 & 2, and I've tried my hand at simple animation as well. I've also got a Halo Action Figure Theater comic series that is on its 49th installment for which I recently had to sculpt a custom Spartan Barbie. Like I said, I have a lot of hobbies. Right now I'm working on a machinima short with my cat. I'd explain that more, but it would just be confusing.
How much Halo do you typically play, and have you tried the beta?
Lauren: I play too much. :-) I usually get to play an hour or so of Halo each night. It's how I unwind after making reeds and practicing. There's something very cathartic about blasting someone with a shotgun after spending a few hours swearing at little pieces of wood because they won't vibrate correctly. Without it who knows what I'd do...Halo is my anti-drug!
I have not only tried the Beta, but completely ignored just about everything else beyond oboe to play it! I was actually in Knoxville last week for a worldwide creative problem solving competition I volunteer for and couldn't play the Beta at all while there. When I finally got home I found myself playing the Beta before I'd even unpacked or made dinner.
Wait...did that sound devoted or pathetic?
Linnea: My son is great at multiplayer, but I don't have the chops that he and Lauren have (she is a menace with the shotgun). I actually play a fair amount, but generally I play in the campaign mode. I could probably run "Assault on the Control Room" from Halo and "Outskirts" from Halo 2 with my eyes shut. (I love driving the tank!) What I most enjoy still is playing in co-op mode with my son. It is quality mother/son time and it doesn't get old. Every now and then we hear a marine yell something we haven't heard before and we just high five. Amazing. As for Halo 3, yes I've tried it. I especially like the mom cannon... I mean, Mancannon. I just can't get enough of that. On the Mongoose with the Mancannon. Wee!
What are you most looking forward to in Halo 3?
Lauren: I'm looking forward to two things. One is the new maps. I LOVE wandering around in campaign, or in the multiplayer maps, just exploring nooks and crannies and finding all kinds of fun and hidden bits of joy. It was almost insanely frustrating when the Beta came out that we didn't have custom games, because I just wanted to play in the snow, or watch the trees, or try and jump in one of those chairs inside big ball under either tower on Snowbound. It's very hard to admire water when people are trying to kill you.
The other thing I'm hoping to see is smarter spawns. I'm not just talking about being spawn camped, but actually spawning in the worst place possible. I once spawned in front of a moving, shooting tank that had a live sticky planted on the front of it about to explode. I had a good second or two to see this mountain of hot lead covered in glowing blue death bearing down on me before I was watching my dead body again. Just let me spawn somewhere moderately safe...I'll manage to go get myself killed, trust me.
Linnea: In campaign mode I really want to find out what happens. That is the fangirl in me, I guess. In multiplayer I am really hopeful about the new ranking system. I don't do a lot of multiplayer because I'll admit it, even after years of playing, I am not great at Slayer. Which means I really don't get much practice as I spend most rounds staring at my dead corpse as other players (such as Spyton and OboeCrazy) yell "Haha!" when they beat me down. The new ranking system seems like a way for me to match up with people who really are at the same level of playing as I am, which would make non-custom multiplayer games more fun for me. Oh, also, I am looking forward to flying off the Mancannon on warthogs with two passengers while shooting with the rocket launcher and gauss cannon. Over and over again. Now that would be extreme demolition derby to the max! Woo hoo!