Back in 2006, I was heading towards my final film project for Honours. I was really interested in trying my hand at animation, only I wasn’t interested in doing it with paper or 3D modelling software. I wanted to do a machinima using Valve’s Source Engine. Woah, hold up. A machinima? What the hell is that?

Machinima, according to Wikipedia, is “the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, video games are used to generate the computer animation.” At the time, people would “act out” a script using a video game, with someone else recording the footage using the spectator mode that is pretty common in shooter games. The spectator was basically the camera man. Voice and additional sound effects would later be added onto the footage.

Here’s a quick example of Red vs Blue, a machinima that was animated using Halo 1 in 2003:

As you can see, it’s quite crude, but still pretty damn funny. The cross hair is visible in the center of the screen, and the top and bottom of the video have been cropped out to remove any visible parts of the HUD.

So what made me decide to try this out? Well, mostly because I would then have complete control (no, I’m not a contro… don’t touch that!) of the project. I had been dropped twice at the last minute by people, and then had to run around trying to organise someone to replace them. It wasn’t fun.

I chose the Source Engine, because when it was released in 2004 it had lip syncing and pretty damn awesome facial animation.

Sadly, it was not meant to be. I spent a month trying to figure out how to get anywhere, and during that time I discovered I could handle the lip syncing and facial animation on my own, but there weren’t any tools for creating custom animation. I was bummed, but ended up shooting a live action short that actually went down pretty well.

Fast forward to 2012. Enter Source Filmmaker.

I could try and explain to you what it does, but someone has already done a very good job of it with the following video:

Thank you Valve! My dreams of making animated shorts, entertaining millions of people, and becoming famous are now within my reach!

There’s only one problem… I need to get an invite while it’s still in beta!

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