Is Half-Life 2 the future for indie movie makers?

Escape from City 17
Escape from City 17 has been viewed over a million times on YouTube

Escape from City 17 has already become an enormous hit - not bad for a mashup of live action and footage from

Half-Life 2

, filmed on a budget of $500. We've seen machinima such as

Red Vs Blue

and we've seen live-action footage inspired by games such as


, but the combination of the two is enormously exciting.

The potential is mind-boggling, but let's be honest: we're not quite there yet. The constant fast-cutting in Escape from City 17 can't disguise the fact that some of the in-game footage doesn't quite gel with the real footage, the Combine Citadel looks like it's been glued into the background with Pritt Stick and we're pretty sure that none of the $500 budget was spent on the script.

Overall, though, it works - and to our eyes it's no worse than the CGI in the most recent Hulk movie, which cost $150 million to make and still looked like it had been thrown together on a ZX Spectrum by an angry toddler. When you consider what current engines such as CryTek's CryEngine 2 or the PS3 can do, it's clear that things are just going to get better.

It looks like indie cinema is approaching a tipping point. HD camcorders have gone from rich people's playthings to affordable objects, HD video editing software comes free with new computers, the latest game engines are good enough for decent CGI and believable backdrops and the relentless march of technology means we're getting ever closer to photo-realistic video on home computers.

You wouldn't try to make The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on a Mac or attempt to take on Pixar with a single PC, but as Escape from City 17 shows, DIY movie-making needn't be restricted to shots of people sitting around talking, either.

Fancy yourself as the next George Lucas, David Fincher or Steven Spielberg? Forget about film school. Get yourself some games and get creating. Planet of the Apes remade in LittleBigPlanet, anyone?

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.