First off, Ian gave the following technical warning on the Clear Skies Facebook page:
"OK bit of an update, I found at the last minute there was a problem with listening to it in stereo. The mix was too loud and distorted. I've fixed it, but it's gonna take another 5 hours or so to re-render the whole project :(That said, I had no issues with the sound quality. Of course, I went ahead and plugged my laptop into my 61" television, something that I have trouble doing for movies produced by Hollywood. Yes, I really wanted to enjoy this. And I wasn't disappointed.
"Speaking of surround-to-stereo issues, it varies between media players, sound hardware, and video codecs if the downmix works properly. Either it does or you get mostly everything in the left channel. There is nothing I can do about this as it's a playback hardware/software issue (one of my PCs plays it fine through USB headphones and cocks it up through analogue speakers, go figure). I hope you won't have this problem, and if you do you can work around it somehow. If it becomes a big issue though, I'll release a stereo specific version at a later date. "
Clear Skies 3 was the first of the series produced after the recent series of graphics updates, including to planets, and it showed. The space scenes in CS3 are beautiful. Yes, Eve Online actually looks that good if you turn the graphics up and Ian took full advantage of the new graphics. But the Eve player will also probably enjoy picking out the new pieces of the interface inserted into the movie also.
I don't want to ruin the story for anyone, but I will say that Ian draws upon some of the character development and story from the first two parts of the series, so watching those if you have never seen them is advisable to get the greatest pleasure from watching the third installment of the series. We also get to see some of the additional background of two characters, Mr. Smith and Charlie Fodder.
The story created by Ian and Ritchie Powles pushed the use of the Half Life 2 avatars to their technical limits, and for the most part Ian made it work. I will say that CS3 has set the bar high for what CCP needs to accomplish for Incarna and for when avatars can freely roam the interiors of stations in New Eden.
As usual for a Clear Skies movie, the soundtrack was first rate, featuring music by U2, Coldplay, Paul Van Dyk and Mike Oldfield as well as the in-game music composed by Jon Hallur. I am sure that over the next few weeks the soundtrack will receive heavy air-play on Eve Radio.
All in all a very enjoyable movie experience. I expect that Ian will add some additional awards to his collection for all the hard work he put into the project. I know that I've contributed to the tip jar Ian posted on the web site. He and the entire crew deserve it.
Update: I didn't notice yesterday because I was already in game, but CCP announced the release of Clear Skies 3 on the character select screen. Nice!
Update2: Chribba posted on Twitter that as of approximately 14:00 UTC that Eve Files had seen close to 6,000 downloads of CS3.