I make movies for a living. I shoot, I edit, I transcode, I color correct. J, K and L are as intuitive to me as WASD is to you. I went to school for it. So when I saw that Valve was releasing Source Filmmaker, their internal video editor slash 3D modeler to the public, only one thing ran through my mind:
"This could change everything."
The Price is Right
Professional NLE (Non-linear Editing) systems are almost never free. The same goes for 3D modeling software (except Blender). You either get something that's awfully dumbed down, like iMovie or Windows Media Player, or you're shelling out hundred dollars or more for Final Cut, Premiere, Autodesk 3DS Max or Avid.
Source Filmmaker is not a replacement for any of those products, but if it really ends up being a professional tool then it's one of the most important evolutions in user-created content in years, because nobody gives something like that away for free.
Not unless they're crazy... or they're Valve.
The Test Ground
The "Meet The Team" series has been one of the most interesting experiments in marketing to date. Until yesterday, I'd just assumed that it existed as a way to generate goodwill towards Valve while at the same time allowing the Team Fortress team to flesh out their universe. So for them to end their last video in the series by stating that the whole thing has been one giant beta for a creative suite that they're giving away for free is a mind-blowing cherry on top.
"Hey, like all those movies we've made in the last five years? Here are the tools we used to make them. For free. Go nuts."
Also, according to Valve, as long as none of their assets are used in the final product, "there are no restrictions on what you do with your content and you can make money with it."
When the Going Gets Meme, the Memes Go Pro
For years, Valve games have shipped with the Source SDK. More than "just" a game engine, the SDK is a set of development tools, supported by Valve, that anyone can use to modify their games. Because of that and mods like Garry's Mod, we've seen an insane explosion of absurdist creativity on YouTube, from things as crude and simple as "This is What I see With My Eyes Closed" to complicated works like "Law Abiding Engineer". Valve already has a user base of richly creative fans, and now it's giving them the keys to the car.
Yesterday, I came into the office today looking forward to "Meet The Pyro." I left it thinking about Source Filmmaker. I look forward to giving it a spin.