Valve Source engine to power upcoming animated film

Valve’s Source engine will make its big screen debut in a movie called Deep, Variety reported on Saturday. The small-budget animated movie will use Valve’s engine as a low-cost solution for real-time rendering and editing, an unusual approach that may grow in popularity for smaller studios. The partnership between the developer and the film production team may also result in the release of the movie on Steam.
The Source engine debuted in 2004, and has powered games including Counter Strike: Source, Half Life 2, and the Portal series. Valve has a working relationship with production studio Brown Bag Films, according to Kotaku, and agreed to license the engine for Deep. The animated film is set in the post-apocalyptic landscape of World War III, where the remainder of mankind huddles in abandoned ship hulls and struggles to survive.
Deep has a budget of €15 million ($18.7 million)—sizeable by European standards, but small by American ones. Companies like Pixar spend well into the hundreds of millions on their 3D animated films. By using Source, Deep may well be one of the first feature film instances of beginning-to-end machinima, a type of animation that involves using game engines to animate (usually short) movies. Red vs. Blue is the canonical of machinima, and the style was used throughout the World of Warcraft-themed South Park episode, "Make Love Not Warcraft."
The Variety article contains one more interesting tidbit: while speaking to Brown Bag Film’s Darragh O’Connell, Variety paraphrased O’Connell as stating that "Valve’s online game distribution network, Steam, offers an alternative way of distributing a movie." It’s too early to tell how that will work out (Deep is still in pre-production). O’Connell goes on to tell Variety that the production company is already in talks with distributors and sales agents. We know more than a few fans that are anxious for Steam to begin offering movies, and this relationship with Deep is a step in the right direction.