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In the not too distant future, young cadets are put through their paces in Federal boot camps, so they can prove their metal before they are allowed to become Citizens and members of the Mobile Infantry.

As a part of that training, cadets take part in a team vs team capture the flag scenario..but with a difference: this game is Lazertag.



The addition of a lazerbeam based training game was a last minute idea just before the production actually started shooting.  The idea was based on the simple age-old military "Capture the flag" scenario, but adapted to meet the futuristic time in which the events were occurring.  The writers wanted a chance at this early stage in the movie to show the potential of the hero Rico, as well as to give an example of the harsh and perhaps shocking military training being conducted in the futuristic Federation.


The participants in 'Lazertag' wore full Mobile Infantry combat uniforms, as they would wear into a combat situation.  Over the top of their infantry armor the recruits would wear Lazertag vests, which consisted of a system of straps holding in place several receiver sensors on the chest, back and shoulders.  These packs would acknowledge when the recruit had been 'hit' (presumably shot or wounded) and would administer a strong electric charge that would incapacitate the wearer until the end of the training scenario.


The recruits would carry their combat issue Morita rifles, except the Lazertag Morita rifles would be fitted with a lazerbeam emitter tip, and would fire lazerlight beams, rather than lethal live fire.  When these lazerbeams hit another participant's vest it would register the hit and incapacitate the 'hit' victim, removing that person from the remainder of the game.


The participating recruits in Lazertag would be split into two teams: team RED and team BLUE.  This proved to be the simplest and most effective way of determining which team a recruit belonged to.  The recruits would wear an armband on each arm, coloured respectively for their team, as well as a special Lazertag helmet.  The helmets worn were standard-issue Infantry helmets, but they had their helmet dome painted the colour for their team, e.g either RED or BLUE. As well as this, the teams' weaponry would fire coloured lazerbeams (RED or BLUE) so friendly fire, direction of fire etc could be determined.


In the movie, our young recruit hero Johnny Rico takes part in Lazertag, along with all the introduced recruits.  Rico is on team BLUE, along with Dizzy and a few other of the introduced characters.  In an early ambush, much of team BLUE is incapacitated after a counterattack by team RED, lead by Ace Levy.  Rico incorporates a move from his Jump ball skills from back in High school, and catches his opponents off guard.  After incapacitating Ace, Rico takes his own team RED Morita and proceeds to blast his way to the flag with both guns.


So what is Lazertag...and how was it done?


Lazertag was simply the combination of clever prop work and great acting!


The scene was shot at the Camp Currie set on location at Mile Square Park.  Only the principle buildings in the foreground were real during these scenes - the Camp Currie parade grounds and boot camp were mostly digital enhancements on the small set that was actually built.


Lazertag took place in a long rectangular field, littered with barricade walls, ramps and platforms.  At each end of the arena was a ramp to a raised platform with a coloured team flag mounted on it.


The weapons were all ordinary fiberglass Morita rifle casings (with no firearms), that did not fire lazerbeams.  These were fitted with a Lazertag tip, which slipped over the barrels of the Morita and made it look like a futuristic lazergun.


The vests were battery powered and had hidden switches, so when required, the packs' sensors and lights would flash on and off, to give the impression that it was 'shocking' the wearer.  Then, the actor would fall to the floor and wriggle and spasm, pretending to be incapacitated and unable to move.


Finally, the digital artists would add during post production some sparks and flashes omitting  from the packs, so it looked more convincing that the vests were electrocuting their wearers.  The digital artists also added in the blue and red team lazerbeams that occurred when the recruits shot at each other during the game.  These artists were also responsible for the lazerfire in the Star Wars Trilogy (mainly by the Storm Troopers etc).


For some scenes, like Rico's heroic "Flip-6-3 hole" maneuver, the actors ran around with rubber Morita rifles to reduce the risk when they fell over, bumped into each other, or "went down" when 'shot'.


Following the wrap of the Lazertag scene, the "A" grade helmets all had their respective coloured domes repainted the normal MI grey colour for use in other scenes.  You can tell if a helmet was used for Lazertag as you can see the original red or blue coat if and where the grey dome has chipped or scratched.  It is believed that only one helmet escaped repainting.


The addition of Lazertag at the last minute was a great positive for the movie.  It gave a brief introduction to the leadership qualities and battle abilities of the young Johnny Rico, as well as showing the harsh training exercises of the futuristic Federation, where trainees are incapacitated through electrocution when shot.  It also, on a more subtle note, is used to show just how un-combat ready the young recruits are, and serves as a foresight for their disastrous first engagement with the enemy on Klendathu.



David Rosen





 Troopers NET




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