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Valve turns gamers into filmmakers

Source Filmmaker
Valve

Valve, the company behind hit games like "Portal," "Left 4 Dead" and "Team Fortress," has announced it is going to give away a powerful tool that lets gamers make their own movies on their home computers.

On Wednesday, the company revealed the Source Filmmaker — a movie-making tool that uses Valve's Source game engine to create high-end, animated films.

The folks at Valve have been working on and using the Source Filmmaker to create their own game-related short films and marketing videos, but will release it to the public — for free — via Valve's online Steam service later this year.

"For a while now it's been clear gamers like to do more than just play games," said Bay Raitt, a designer at Valve, in a video announcing the tool. "We all like to watch movies and we all like to participate in the worlds we spend so much time in."

He said the goal of the Source Filmmaker was to develop "a story-telling tool that allowed us to create computer-animated movies more efficiently, and with greater creative freedom." 

When it launches, the Source Filmmaker will allow gamers to create their own movies within Valve's popular games. According to the official website "anything that exists in the game can be used in the movie."

Valve outlined the power of Source Filmmaker in the following video. It's some pretty cool stuff:

This news comes on the heels of the announcement that film director Shane Acker is using tools based on the Source Engine to make the animated underwater western "Deep."

Meanwhile, to show off what can be done with Source Filmmaker, Valve has released "Meet the Pyro," the last in a series of short animated films the company has used to introduce the different character classes found in "Team Fortress 2," Valve’s multiplayer first-person shooter game. 

Winda Benedetti writes about video games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.