Below is a detailed description of the images, dialogue, soundtrack and events of the Halo 3 Announcement Trailer, shown first at E3 in May 2006.
00:00 Black screen.
00:01 White screen. A piano chord is struck that slowly fades.
00:05 From right to left, a scene "washes in" of an arid African plain. We hear wind and the sound of slowly beating bass drums.
[image:10181 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 00:15 The scene has now completely washed in, and the familiar choral sounds of the Halo soundtrack begin, but this is something more sad and melancholy than we are used to hearing. In the distance in the left and center are ring-shaped wreckage, widely speculated to be the remains of New Mombassa's space elevator. In the foreground stage right, a traffic sign with the silhouette of a grunt on it twists and squeaks in the wind. Dust blows across the plain from left to right. The camera beings to dolly back.
[image:10182 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0]00:21 A cloud of dust appears and fades out of view, revealing a figure walking towards the camera in the distance.
[image:10183 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0]00:25 Overlaid on top of the view of the plain, a series of primarily blue and purple images appear. Many are distorted, but even here some are already recognizeable as a female face: more specifically, Cortana's. The piano chord strikes again to signal this.
00:29 A voice echoing the single word "I" begins to play. The sound is a mix of several different voices, some low, some high. More of the distorted blue images cover the screen, almost completely obscuring the view of the plain.
At almost the same time, the camera's dolly back reveals wreckage on the ground stage left.
The voice says (dialogue confirmed by Bungie):
I have defied gods and demons.
[image:10129 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 00:37 The distorted images fade away again, revealing the plain again and more of the wreckage. The voice stops playing. A particularly thick and dark cloud of dust, or possibly smoke, obscures the plain where the figure was previously visible.
Violins begin playing, doubling the melody of the choral voices.
00:40 The dust cloud beings to clear, revealing the walking figure again. Despite the camera's continued slow pullout, the figure is much closer now. For the next nine seconds, the figure is visible only dimly through the dust.
[image:10184 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 00:49 The distorted blue images return for a second time. The images are similar, but distinct and different. The voice speaks again.
I am your shield; I am your sword.
The voice at this point is recognizably that of Cortana, but her voice is not the only component. Many speculate that the lower of the two voices is that of Gravemind.
Among the images that flash momentarily on the screen are an image that looks like a Halo.
00:56 The figure walks through the cloud of smoke. It is the Master Chief (confirmed by Bungie; the figure is not another Spartan). He has a rifle weapon in his right hand, with the barrel aimed skyward and leaning against his right shoulder.
[image:10127 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 01:00 The violins swell in volume as the Master Chief extends his left hand and brings the rifle down off his right shoulder to hold it in two hands. The weapon itself shares visual characteristics of both the MA-5B Assault Rifle from Halo 1, and the Battle Rifle from Halo 2.
The Master Chief's armor is more detailed than in either previous game. It appears somehow discolored, either as a result of damage, fire, wind, dust, or perhaps the application of camoflauge elements for use fighting in desert or desert-like environments.
The Master Chief's right glove reveals a design on the back of his hand with circular indentations, similar to the design used in the first game, but altered in the second.
[image:10142 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 01:02 For a third time the distorted blue images begin to appear on the screen, eventually obscuring the Master Chief. This time, it is Cortana's voice alone that speaks:
I know you;
your past, your future.
Among the images that flash upon the screen are what appears to be an outstretched palm, a closeup of Cortana's eye, and at last a very recognizable image of Cortana herself.
[image:10167 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 01:06 The distorted blue images begin to fade, once again revealing the Master Chief standing with the wreckage behind him. Cortana's face alone is left, superimposed upon the Master Chief's visor.
01:07 The image of Cortana's voice fades away a beat after she speaks the word "future" and the piano begins to play an uplifting-sounding sequence of notes.
01:11 Banshees begin to appear in the distance from behind the wreckage, to the Master Chief's left. A total of three pass by and the Master Chief turns as they fly by.
[image:10166 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0]01:13 The perspective changes. We are now looking at the Master Chief at a distance of several meters to his right and slightly behind him. He is standing near a cliff edge. In the distance above, from left to right, a series of Banshees are flying past. The frame is dominated, however, by a Covenant capital ship of some sort. Way off in the distance, similarly-shaped objects indicate another fifteen such ships.
The camera begins to slowly pan right and move upwards.
01:14 Trumpets begin to play, doubling the melody of the piano notes.
01:17 A Phantom flies into view from left to right. In the next few seconds, it becomes apparent that several of the Banshees are in fact escorting this Phantom.
01:18 The camera's pan right reveals a vast misty crater to the right of the Master Chief. Overhead, a vortex is spinning amongst the grey clouds. A distant bolt of lightning arcs from the grey clouds overhead, striking the surface. The outline of a vaguely circular object can be made out on the floor of the crater, which is crossed by a series of lines radiating from the center to the outer edge. Within the large circle is another, smaller circle in the center, which appears to be a hole. The vortex in the clouds above is directly above this smaller opening.
The full orchestra has kicked in now, with the addition of some wild, almost tribal drum rhythms.
01:21 The trumpets are now starting in on the now-familiar rising Halo main theme melody. Ever-more Covenant ships heave into view; Banshees and capital ships in the distance. Another capital ship is hovering above the edge of the artifact in the crater below, and another far in the distance, near the right edge of the frame. More Banshees scream overhead from behind the camera position, which is continuing to pan right, pull back, and move upwards to bring the entirety of the crater into view.
[image:10185 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0]01:22 A Banshee that flies directly over the camera position appears to be, at close inspection of individual frames, to be pilotless. It is speculated that Bungie perhaps did not want to reveal anything about the species composition of the Covenant force attacking Earth by showing who was piloting the Banshees. It may also simply be true that Bungie wished to save time in creating the trailer by not bothering to create and/or render assets for Banshee pilots that would only be visible for a few frames.
[image:10180 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] As the Banshee roars overhead, a flock of birds, apparently nesting in the cliff wall, are disturbed and also fly off over the crater floor, towards the center and out of view.
To the right of the swirling vortex, in the distance some buildings can be seen on the horizon. Bungie has indicated that this is New Mombassa.
01:30 The Camera has now taken up a position further from the Chief and far above him, centering on the artifact on the crater floor and the vortex above it. At the top left of the frame is the closest Covenant capital ship. At the bottom left of the frame is the Master Chief, standing near the cliff edge.
01:31 Dust begins to expel in a circular pattern from the opening in the artifact. The effect spreads outwards along the "seam" lines noted earlier until it reaches the edge. A shock wave propagates outward from the center, visibly disturbing the Covenant capital ship.
01:35 When the dust clears the floor of the crater, which before had appeared smooth until the lip of the small opening, is revealed to be a much larger cavity ringed by a series of teeth-like metal protuberances that jut inwards from the circumference of the artifact towards the center. The edge from which these protuberances extend can be seen, along the far edge of the artifact, to be illuminated.
[image:10186 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 01:36 The shock wave hits the cliff edge and dust rushes upwards. The camera changes position to below the cliff edge, looking upwards at the nearest Covenant capital ship, which now fills the upper right hand portion of the frame. Large chunks of rock separate from the cliff edge and fall into the chasm. The camera moves up and pans right, revealing the Chief stepping back from the crumbling cliff edge in the left half of the frame. The camera now begins to return to something close to its earlier position, above and behind the Chief, looking once again towards the center of the artifact.
For a moment when the cliff erodes the engines of the nearest Covenant capital ship can be seen, firing. The ship appears to be attempting to move off to its left, veering away from the artifact.
01:42 The center of the artifact is now in view again. The metal "teeth" can be seen to be moving into an upright position, aiming skyward now instead of towards the center of the artifact. The smaller circular opening in the center of the artifact is also now illuminated. The lights are becoming brighter.
01:48 The camera has now stopped its move. The Covenant ship that was hovering over the near edge of the artifact down in the crater his now powering up, away and to its left, moving from right to left across the frame, and away from the artifact. Other ships throughout the scene can be seen doing the same.
The Chief is now very small at the very bottom of the frame, dead center.
[image:10128 right hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 01:49 The camera changes to a medium shot of the chief. Behind him are white clouds against a blue sky. To his left, in the right hand of the frame, is what looks like snow-covered mountain peaks. Bungie has indicated that Mount Kilimanjaro is visible behind the Chief.
Reflected in the Chief's visor, we can now see an extremely bright light emanating from the central opening in the artifact, and the metal "teeth" continuing to move into vertical positions, as well as a Covenant capital ship continuing its evasive manuever away from the artifact.
01:51 The camera moves back to its position behind and above the Chief. The light from the center of the artifact now is blinding. Covenant ships everywhere are moving away from the artifact.
[image:10131 left hspace=5 vspace=5 border=0] 01:55 A ray of white light extends from the center of the artifact upwards, and a sound of some electrical or mechanical device beginning to operate is heard; many have said that the sound is similar to, or perhaps even identical to, the sound effect used for the Scarab gun in Halo 2. This may be due to Bungie's attempt to limit the amount of effort necessary to create the trailer and to use only assets that have already been created, or perhaps an indication of a connection between the technologies used; that is, that the Covenant adapted Forerunner technology when making the Scarab gun, or some similar connection.
01:57 As the music reaches a peak, the ray of light expands to fill the entire screen, washing everything out to white as happened in the beginning of the trailer. The sound of an explosion of some sort can be heard.
01:59 The screen blacks out, and the piano chord plays again. As it fades, violins sustain the note as it fades.
02:01 Cortana's voice over the black frame says:
This is the way the world ends.
02:04 Over the black frame, distorted blue images very similar to those used earlier to display Cortana's face appear on the screen. The trumpet fanfare returns as the image resolves into the "3" icon within the now-familiar Halo curve. The fanfare redoubles, backed by the orchestra, as the distorted images re-form themselves into the Bungie logo, and then a third and final time into the slogan:
FINISH THE FIGHT
02:20 The blue slogan image evaporates as the music fades, and the screen fades to black.