The live-action Halo web series that may or may not herald a paradigm shift in the way online video entertainment is created and perceived is set to make its debut on Machinima’s shiny new YouTube channel Machinima Prime (which is part of that $100 Million Originals initiative) on October 5, 2012. In the meantime, the world’s largest YouTube network and one of its biggest distributors of online video programming (to the tune of 9+ billion global views) is making production and distribution deals and partnerships with at least one traditional and new media studio with a fantastic pedigree that’s not named Microsoft.

Machinima is teaming up with the Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg-founded and Anthony Batt-helmed Katalyst to distribute the production co’s Punk’d redux for the YouTube generation, Prank Lab.

The premise of the program is exactly what you’d expect (except with a healthier serving of potty humor because, after all, there are no censors on the internet). Dudes get into a white van with whited out windows that looks as if it would normally be used for kidnappings if it wasn’t decked out with thousands of dollars worth of camera and communications equipment. Dudes set up an individual as a target, play a variety of characters while interacting with that target, and do things the target probably isn’t expecting in order to elicit a powerful emotional response.

Here’s the first episode, which features a fantastic-but-I-wish-it-lasted-longer display of stunt driving:

“Machinima is leading the way in bringing amazing content to the web and we are ready to take Machinima’s dedicated and passionate fan base on a crazy fun adventure,” said Batt. “We decided to do what we did for MTV, which was make a really interesting show on pranks. But here we can really engage the audience, which is something that’s extremely difficult to do on television.”

Prank Lab is the first original web series to be produced by Katalyst and distributed by Machinima, but it doesn’t look like it will be the last. Batt says there’s a potential for spin-off series from episodes that resonate particularly well with audiences, as well as room for more original productions in the future.

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