While long-awaited game announcements have been as sparse as usual from the quiet Bellevue-based studio, Valve has instead been announcing new tools in the last few weeks that empower users in creative ways. At the recent Games For Change conference, they revealed an educational initiative called Teach with Portals. Yesterday, they released details about the Source Filmmaker, which will allow everyone to direct and record movies on par with Valve's own trailers and shorts:
The Source Filmmaker (SFM) is the movie-making tool built and used by us here at Valve to make movies inside the Source game engine. Because the SFM uses the same assets as the game, anything that exists in the game can be used in the movie, and vice versa. By utilizing the hardware rendering power of a modern gaming PC, the SFM allows storytellers to work in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get environment so they can iterate in the context of what it will feel like for the final audience.
The program is currently in beta but will be released for free later this year. While we don't expect everyone's gaming rig to replace Pixar just yet, the SFM represents a promising cross-pollination between videogames and film—hopefully beyond your average machinima. We look forward to seeing what innovative content and tools the community continues to develop.