Valve’s Source engine powers the studio’s hit video game titles like the Half-Life, Portal, and Left 4 Dead series, but the platform’s low cost and flexibility are starting to draw in moviemakers as well. Shane Acker, the writer / director behind the 2009 animated feature 9 is working with Brown Bag Films on a €15 million (about $18.7 million) animated film called Deep that uses new tools built on the Source engine. The tools will be used to provide real-time rendering, editing, simplified character animation, and economical lighting, reports Variety. A sci-fi film, Deep is set in a post-World-War-III Earth, where what's left of the population hides out in sunken ships under the sea.

On top of the decreased time and cost benefits, using a game engine for movie production allows the characters and environments to be re-used in video game spinoffs. According to Animation Magazine, the Deep team is already working on a playable level to be distributed on Valve’s Steam service. Also, since Steam is branching out into motion pictures with the June 12th release of Indie Game: The Movie, we wouldn't be surprised to see Deep with a similar distribution deal.