Back in July we covered the release of Source Filmmaker, a powerful animation program that Valve uses internally to create movies and cutscenes for games like Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike, and Left 4 Dead 2. Originally released as a closed beta, the software has since been opened to the public and has been in the hands of digital filmmakers for a little over a month. To continue growing the user base of the tool, Valve has announced that Source Filmmaker videos will be able to compete in the 2nd Annual Saxxy Awards -- a program run by Valve that is their own version of the Academy Awards (if Oscar wore a cowboy hat). If you're wondering what Source Filmmaker is capable of, check out the video embedded below.

[youtube! expand=1 site_id=26256498]

I'm impressed with the camera techniques on that video, especially the stabilized-yet-handheld angles. It really makes me want to give the tool a try.

When you scroll through the Saxxy's submission rules list you see a lot of the run-of-the-mill things like "no longer than five minutes" and "must be at least 720p", but there were two rules I found particularly interesting:

  • You are free to use any Valve IP.
  • If you use any non-Valve IP, you must be the copyright owner or have explicit permission from the owner.

I suppose it shouldn't be shocking in this age of remixing, but I can't help but smile at the idea of a company enhancing its customer's creative abilities as much as Valve has. They've given us their full movie maker -- that they've used religiously to create cutscenes in their own games -- for free.  Now they've taken their Saxxy Awards (which used to only involve in-game playback videos from Team Fortress) and made it an even larger event than it was in the first year. There was a time when it was questioned whether companies would post a takedown notice or sick their lawyers on users for infringing upon their IP, but after the machinima movement, they started going with the flow (I'm reminded of Bungie being supportive of the production of Red vs Blue).

Granted, the Saxxy's stakes aren't incredibly high (the grand prize is a trip to Valve to meet with their filmmakers, though, which is nice), but it's a great opportunity to flex your storytelling muscles and possibly even get your work aired on GTTV's VGA preshow in December.

You've got a bit of time to enter, as the submission period is Nov. 1st through Nov. 15th, with Steam community voting starting the day after submissions close. Of the categories that will be awarded, there's a good chance that Comedy will take the "Best Overall" award -- we are talking about internet videos, after all.

Which category do you think will win?  Also, do we have any Source Filmmaker readers out there with examples of work in the software?

Link: 2nd Annual Valve Saxxy Awards