On The Menu

Series V - by Andrew Ellard

3 September, 2004

Oh, I love this bit. The DVD menus are such an utter delight. We relish working on them... mostly because the majority of the work is done by the geniuses at Deluxe Digital!

We always work on two series at a time, but the brief for this year has differed slightly from the last two. While Series I and Series II's menus were built to be, basically, located on the same virtual 'set' (as were Series III and Series IV), Series V and VI couldn't be done that way. Series V is located on the Dwarf and Starbug, but for VI Red Dwarf is missing.

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The decision was taken to once again revamp the Series III and IV menus for V. But don't be expecting just the same old smeg. Once again the lighting, detailing and animation has been altered to suit the series... but with one almighty difference.

Taking our cue from the episode Demons & Angels, the 'Drive Room' set - home of the main DVD menu - has been culled from the 'Low' Dwarf. A layer of filth coats every surface, junk is piled up everywhere, and fizzing cables dangle from the ceiling.

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In contrast, the bunkroom which houses the bonus menu has been decked out in the style of the 'High' Dwarf - clean, tidy and brightly lit. Just as Mel Bibby brilliantly adapted his original set for the series, so Deluxe have revamped our digital set. Only the episode selection menu, located in a locker room overlooking a Starbug hangar, remains mostly unchanged.

In addition, the bonus menu has been bisected. Fans may recall a few teething troubles with the Series III and IV menus, the result of a navigation system that had actually been created to enable us to cram so many extras onto one screen. Rather than go that route again, the Series V bunkroom now comes in two halves - on arrival a handy skutter offers an arrow to move on to 'page two', at which point the camera pans to the right.

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This means there will be more than enough space to fit the extras (and their labels, though again you only see one at a time) on-screen - more in the style of the Series I and II version, but with the volume of extras we've since come to expect from latter releases.

All in all it's an amazing piece of work. There's a malfunctioning skutter who leads you from Starbug to the ultra-grotty drive room before falling apart; Mr Flibble blasts the room with his hex vision; and arachnophobes should be warned that both the caged tarantula and Kryten's rogue hand are scuttling around.

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So what comes next? Well, development has begun on the Series VI menus, which will be located, unsurprisingly, on Starbug. The chances are that this menu will also be adapted for the similarly-themed Series VII, with VIII getting a brand new design all of its own...

But that's a job for another year. For now, take in the nerd-like details that have been ploughed into Series V's menus. From penguin glove puppets and 'most gross danger' signs to viral injectors and the Inquisitor's time gauntlet - this is hog's heaven for the devoted fan.

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More DVD Details will follow soon...

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