Valve Software has publicly released Source Filmmaker, the tool used to create its own promotional animations.
Based on Valve’s Source engine, the software provides a complete machinima toolkit, enabling budding directors to create movies within popular team-based shooter Team Fortress 2.
It can be used for commercial work, too, if you don’t use any of Valve’s own in-game assets – which also means, presumably, that you aren’t limited to Team Fortress 2′s cartoon-y visual style.
Judging from the demo video above, Source Filmmaker has a fairly standard range of animation-editing tools and, interestingly, a “GPU-powered facial animation system”.
The software also includes the other things you’d expect in a machinima system, including tools for recording and editing in-game footage, and adjusting lighting and sound.
Apply for a beta key now
At the minute, the system is still in closed beta – according to the FAQs, contributing an item to the Team Fortress Workshop, TF2′s internal marketplace for fan-made items, raises your chance of getting a licence key.
To get the tool, you’ll need Windows Vista or 7, and have an account on Steam, Valve’s online gaming service.
Updated 11 July: Source Filmmaker is now out of closed beta and available to all. Get it here.
Visit the Source Filmmaker website
(Includes more tutorial videos and link to apply for a beta licence key)