If you are a gamer, you have probably come into contact with Valve games like Half-life, Counterstrike or Team Fortress before. And even if you are no gamer, you may have seen the promotional video that the company likes to release to promote one of their games.
All of those promotional videos were created with an internal tool that Valve has now released as a beta to the general public. Source Filmmaker basically lets you create animated movies using Source maps, characters, items and everything else the engine ships with.
Before we take a look at the new program in detail, I'd like to show you at least some of the movies that Valve has created with this tool.
To get the program you need to visit the official website and click on the sign up link there. This triggers a window in the Steam client that you need to have installed on your system. By signing up for the beta, you agree to a survey that gathers hardware information about the system Steam is running on. This is unfortunately the only way right now to get access to the program.
The gathered information are displayed in the window, and it is up to you to submit them or click on the cancel button to exit the survey so that the information are not submitted to Valve. The displayed information are purely hardware and operating system related. This includes processor, video card or the amount of memory of the computer. Please note that it may take a while before you receive a beta key and can start using the program.
Up until now I have not really talked about what you can do with the program once you get access to it. Check out this introductory video for an overview:
Source Filmmaker basically is an all-in-one tool to create animated movies using maps, characters and items that the source engine provides. This is obviously excellent for gamers who play one of Valve's games actively, and those who always wished they could create a movie that is similar to the Meet The series that Valve has created to promote the Team Fortress 2 game.
As with every new tool, getting to know it is usually the hardest thing of the process. I'd recommend you check out the How to make a movie tutorial over at the official website, a video tutorial series in 13 parts that is walking you through the creation of your first own movie. Included here are information about sound and lighting, lip synchronization, facial animations and more that you can follow to get a first taste of the program. Tutorials are well explained and last about five minutes each.