Fan films of Valve’s various universes have been around for years, thanks to the easy availability of Garry’s Mod, and more recently, Source Film Maker. As SFM is the software Valve itself uses in-house, it’s led to some incredibly creative videos that are near-indistinguishable from professional work. The majority of these videos are Team Fortress 2-related, as the “violent Pixar film” theme makes for some brilliant comedy. Honestly, it was really difficult to distil this down to just four videos because there’s such a variety out there, from twenty-minute long sagas created by one dedicated guy over the course of months to six-second videos that are so surreal they make your brain itch a little bit, and from remakes of scenes from popular Youtubers such as Game Grumps to entries by Valve themselves such as the ‘Meet the Team’ series, there is a lot to choose from. Either way, here are four of my favourite Team Fortress 2 videos on Youtube!
Created by James McVinnie and his team with SFM and two Xbox Kinects for motion-capture, “Practical Problems” tells the tale of two Engineers trying to constantly outdo one another in an almost Spy vs Spy fashion. McVinnie ultimately got hired by Valve to work on the “End of the Line” update and its corresponding 15-minute long short film, but I prefer “Practical Problems” due to its simplicity, humour, brevity, and that catchy as all hell twangy country soundtrack.
‘Murica, Fuck Yeah!
Yeah, it’s a music video for “America” from the utterly brilliant Team America: World Police. The song showcases just how good Trey Parker and Matt Stone are at satire with its lyrics parodying the jingoistic and ignorant nature of right-wing America, and this fan video just piles on the jokes with visual humour and blink-and-you’ll miss it gags. It’s only right to have the insane GI Soldier as the vocalist, even if a certain amount of humour comes from the very German Medic singing backup vocals. Definitely not safe for work, but definitely funny and it’ll make you want to watch Team America again, which is no bad thing at all.
Li’l Guardian Pyro
Every year, Valve runs the Saxxy Awards, where filmmakers enter various categories with their SFM creations. The Best Overall winner for 2013 is one of my favourite SFM videos, with a really neat concept handled well, with two toy versions of the Pyro and the Spy fencing atop a live turret. It has the signature humour of the series, it’s well-animated and brings to mind Toy Story – just a much more violent, less child-friendly version of Toy Story with gun turrets and rocket launchers.
Finally, an entry by Valve themselves and you can immediately see the difference in production values here. Showcasing the numerous talents of Ashly Burch (of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playing?, Borderlands and Life Is Strange fame) both as a voice actress and writer for this short, she plays off fantastically against Nathan Vetterlein’s cocky asshole Scout. The script is bloody hilarious, with so many lines that are just gold and which never fail to make me laugh, and with a decent amount of action too against a dough-based abomination of science. Only in Team Fortress 2 would that sentence ever make any sense but trust me, it does and it’s goddamn funny about it.
There are so many more SFM videos out there, take the time to explore for yourself, take a look at the Saxxy nominees, watch all the “Meet The Team” videos (including “Meet The Sandwich” – seriously) and just enjoy the weird-ass world that is Team Fortress 2 fan videos.