The SFM software – create your own game animations
Washington based video game development company Valve Corporation recently announced “The Source Filmmaker” (or SFM for short) – movie-making tool built inside Valve Source game engine. SFM which is currently in BETA and offered free of charge, can enable anybody to create breathtaking video game style animations with Hollywood quality with a simple and easy to use interface.
Valve has been founded in the mid 1990s by former Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington and since then was responsible for many online hits including the Half-Life game series, counter strike, team fortress, portal and many others.
The company has created many short trailers for its existing and upcoming games over the years and for that purpose it developed a some very powerful tools which relay on same assets as the games it developed. Now Valve decided to make these tools available for the general community – free of charge (all you need is the Steam engine installed on your machine).
So what can you do with the Source Filmmaker? Basically, anything that exists in the game can be used to create a movie, and vice versa. This gives users some unbelievable freedom in creating complex scenes including changing lighting, generating effects, and developing characters down to the tiniest facial expression. By utilizing the hardware rendering power of a current PCs, SFM allows you to work in a kind of what-you-see-is-what-you-get environment so you will know exactly how the scene will look when it’s done.
Valve was also kind enough to publish a full series of detailed video guides which explain in a step-by-step way how to create a movie from the basics including camera use, recording, editing, sound, manipulating objects to more complex aspects such as lip-sync and lighting. All these tutorials are designed to be seen sequentially and pick up where the last one left off and can be found on the SFM website.
In the following video Valve introduces The Source Filmmaker and some of its capabilities:
This final video is called "Meet the Pyro" and it was created by Valve using SFM to demonstrate some of the capabilities of the software:
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.