Tick-Tock Michael Bay
Michael Bay, the infamous director/producer responsible for such instant classics as Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; plain ole’ Transformers and my favorite work in his oeuvre; The Lionel Richie Collection, is going to get some competition from your neighbor’s kids.
Oh, and how I’ll enjoy his fall.
See, Michael Bay really only does one thing well: blockbuster computer-generated action flicks. One of the reasons he’s king of that particular hill is because of his track record from previous flicks, causing studios to not even think about investing hundreds of millions of dollars to animate his next project.
But what if everyone could start producing CG movies using nothing else but their PC? Then perhaps the creativity of a million basement film makers will be unleashed, giving the clichéd work that Mr. Bay produces a good run for its money.
The tool that they will use is called Source Filmmaker, or SFM, by Valve, an online gaming company based in Bellevue, Wash. Working with Bay Raitt, one of the artists who brought The Lord of the Rings’ Golem to life, they are democratizing the tools used to create games such as Portal and HalfLife2 so that anyone can use them to create their own CG feature. And the results are surprisingly good, from little clips that remind one of Warner Bros cartoons, to recreations of key scenes in The Matrix, to absurd musical numbers. It’s not just small-time experiments either: filmmakers who have worked with artists such as Tim Burton are getting into the act, with budgets up to $18.7 million.
In the creative sphere, whenever a breakthrough occurs in the toolset, a huge amount of innovation is let loose into the wild. Just look at the proliferation of well-produced videos on YouTube created with meager video gears. Before the era of YouTube videos, Unboxing or Haul videos with hundreds of thousands of subscribers just weren’t practical, let alone more creative exercises. SFM will provide a similar kind of propulsion to the CG genre, not because its quality is high, but because it shortens the distance between ideas and results. This reasoning is expressed by Raitt in a recent Buzzfeed interview:
“Iterating in context, when you can actually see the problem right in front of you and you can come up with an immediate solution that’s when you make the best quality decisions.”
The tool has only been out for a couple of months and there’s no official documentation for it, but already people are adopting SFM to meet their needs. We can hardly wait for the incredible creativity that will be spawned from it!