Nebula Media's Sarah Hampton & Benjamin Van Den Broeck were honored by Valve programmer Jon Lippincott, who created the replay system, to tour their facility and sit down with Bay Raitt, the facial system designer for LOTR's Golem & the voice of the Source Filmmaker tutorials. Ben wrote:
"It was amazing and this is what I can tell you.
We arrived around noon and sat in the lobby starring at the iconic red valve centerpiece and random Valve IP models on display from Portal's Atlas to a golden crowbar. For some reason, there was a Resistance Bow behind the front desk. Maybe to shoot out straggling gamers as they try their best to penetrate the glass wall & name tag scanner.
Jon came out, asking around for our name. We had never met, conversing numerous times over e-mail. Usually the topic being technical or related to in-game commands to achieve what's needed for the The Locals series.
After a short hello, we turned around & left the building. I had almost forgotten that we planned to eat first. Around the block, we sat and discussed our history. Jon was a 14 year old programmer when he e-mailed Gabe, who replied back encouraging him to keep going. Over a decade later (and an intense 6 stage interview process), he became part of the team.
After eating a delicious sandwich, we returned to a new floor and were rather quickly thrown into the DOTA 2 room. A lot of commotion, gameplay & people eagerly staring at their screens. As my least familiar Valve title, we moved on.
The break room was basically a grocery store where you don't have to pay for anything. Every drink you could imagine, along with small meals & snacks galore. As a result, everyone was wired; twirling their phones, tapping on desks, and running between stations. My workaholic nature felt very much at home with these people.
Turning through hallways like a labyrinth, we entered the Team Fortress 2 department. They were working on the Triad Pack, along with some stuff I cannot say a word about. All very exciting & new though.
We chatted with employee Wade, a 3D print enthusiast who showed me an engineer they had printed. As a 3D printer myself, we certainly lost track of time talking about print materials, resolution & implementation in both our industries. As a gift, we gave them low rez copies of Sarah's cat hat model on a pyro & headcrabs (in easter eggs.)
Andrew, who is a 3D modeler, also approached us about my previous work with Robot Chicken and the new Starburns Industries project Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa.
Afterward, Bay Raitt entered the room. We expect a short chat, frankly we would have been happy with just a hello. Yet, he invited us into the conference room. We sat down, for over an hour, discussing the power & future of Source Filmmaker. I left that meeting feeling as if we were on the verge of something amazing.
Although we had technically "missed" our tour, Jon showed us around once more & let us watch some unreleased video content. The day ended with a hug & a goodbye, but we didn't feel it was for good. Big things are on the horizon my friends, just you wait."
-- Benjamin Van Den Broeck