Valve has officially announced the beta version of its Source Filmmaker, a free tool that allows users to create animated films using resources from Team Fortress 2. The company notes that all of its own short videos have been created with the tool, and the release allows others to create animations with “the rendering power of a modern gaming PC.”
The announcement is accompanied by a demo video that showcases some of SFM’s flexibility. Users can edit or modify pre-animated clips, or create their own animations using a separate tool to edit characters’ joints and limbs.
The voiceover points out that the tool allows animators to pause the videos they’re making, make changes to the 3D frame, and then restart the animation, without having to re-render the scene. Render time reduction has been cited as a major benefit of Unreal Engine 4, so using it in a consumer-level industry tool is very impressive. Of course, SFM has a much smaller toolset to draw from – most if not all of the characters in the demo video are of the square jaw TF2 variety. This isn’t the first time Valve has shared animation tools either; earlier in June, the company announced it was going to share its Source engine to power an upcoming 3D animated film, Deep.
The beta sign-up opens today and requires a Steam account. Once you hit the button on the SFM site, Steam will run a check on your system’s specs, so be sure to request it from your best rig.