Valve has produced some pretty slick promotional videos for its games, most notably Team Fortress 2. Now, anyone can try their hand at making videos using the Source Engine. After a short closed beta, the Source Filmmaker is available to all. The movie-making tool is still in beta, but it can now be downloaded by anyone with a Steam account and 15GB of storage.
Why the hefty install? The Source Fimmaker, or SFM for short, includes all the tools required to create a movie from scratch. It also has all the assets from the initial release of Team Fortress 2. SFM is limited to creating creating videos in the TF2 world for now, although Valve notes that modders will be able to tweak the build to "create new worlds." It's also possible to make custom TF2 items and import them into SFM. No movie would be complete without hats, of course.
There are a couple of limitations. SFM doesn't work on Macs, and Valve's assets can't be used in commercial products. Otherwise, users can do what they like as long as the resulting movies are released free of charge. Valve has already posted a series of tutorial videos to help folks get started.
Machinima, the use of game engines to make standalone videos, has been around for quite some time. Looks like Valve has made the process much easier, which should encourage more aspiring filmmakers to try their hand at directing Team Fortress 2's lovable cast of characters. Already, there are a number of user-created videos on The Source Filmmaker's Community Spotlight YouTube playlist.