Escape From City 17: Part One

By John Walker on February 13th, 2009 at 11:20 pm.

I want the authentic beanie.

The Purchase Brothers (their website is currently squished by traffic), independent filmmakers and commercial directors, have released the first part of their Half-Life-inspired short film series. And it’s pretty good. It’s a mixture of live action and game footage, and makes smart use of in-game sound effects, and some really fantastic location hunting. Originally developed to test post-production techniques for their work, as well as to create a ‘spec’ commercial to demonstrate their talents, it eventually became a series of shorts telling a story within the Half-Life universe. And it’s below.

The Purchase Bros describe the production as “guerilla style with no money, no time, no crew, no script, the first two episodes were made from beginning to end on a budget of $500.” The project has been made with the full support of Valve, who gave the project a plug on the instantly-disappearing Steam Update News. Make sure to select to watch it in HD (the option appears bottom right after you’ve clicked play).

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145 Comments »

  1. Erlam says:

    “I caught this in the Valve tweets earlier, quite impressive, if a little short on story.”

    My thoughts exactly; about Half-Life 2.

  2. Thargoid Killer says:

    Thanks Hybrid!

    If they put a Paypal link up, i’d contribute to their budget – I love fanfilms and this very good.

    come on Gabe, what’s a few bucks after the Valve sales figures were anounced in PC gamer not long ago….

  3. Kevin Cardinale says:

    I thought the acting was fine, just didn’t like the preview with the girl.

  4. Muzman says:

    She’s dead anyway, or severely injured. Everyone knows only brunettes make truly effective combatants.

  5. Ian says:

    If we’re going to get a Half-Life universe TV show/movie I’d rather it was something like this appears to be where it’s not following the main story of the game. I imagine it’d be impossible to properly capture the feel of Freeman as the protagonist so I’d rather he was merely a mentioned character (or occasionally glimpsed from afar) than trying to build things around him.

    But yeah, this was good fun. =)

  6. Not Bernard says:

    Can somebody please buy these guys acting lessons? Luckily they barely said anything this time, which saved it, but I don’t think I could watch a more plot-heavy episode…

  7. Juror #9 says:

    Well said Muzman. Im not sure how many times ive seen this but everytime i look at it, i want it to keep going.

  8. charlie coughman says:

    this was amazing for what it was. the poor acting (which was not even that bad, get real) didn’t detract from it. not something i’d watch over and over again, but i was impressed.

  9. Bobsy says:

    There is a guy physically grappling with a Source-engine-rendered CP cop… who the hell cares about the acting?

  10. Muzman says:

    uh, where?

  11. SusanC says:

    Visually, it was fantastic.

    The main things that let it down are the sound mix and how the actors say their lines. (I thought the acting was fine when it was just combat and movement).

    If they write a script that mostly tells the story through action rather than dialogue (and do more more work on the sound editing), it’ll be great.

    And all done on a tiny budget. Movie studios could spend millions of dollars and do worse than that.

  12. Vanderdecken says:

    More than a little BSG in style. LOVE IT! The integration with CG is fab – the shot that pans up from the rubble and broken concrete to Kleiner on the screen from the Ep1 underground station exit (finding that sodding orange crank wheel) is incredible, as is the tracking shot through the bent rebar showing the gunships as they shoot in the roof of that collapsed building.

    The shot of the CPs shooting the rebels crouched on the floor could use a bit better acting (i.e. act dead) but the blood spats are very realistic… download the 720p version, then use Media Player Classic to go frame-by-frame (shift+right arrow is default) when the second one gets shot through the head. Watch the shape of the blood spray. I love the integration of the HL2 sound effects too.

    And @Bobsy: The entire CP isn’t rendered, only the head.

  13. theMill says:

    @Bobsy: That was an actor in a costume, not a Source cop…

  14. Dan says:

    You could have used the official headcrab hats for the zombies.

    The acting left a lot to be desired, but the props, costumes and setting are absolutely perfect.

  15. Xerxos says:

    I hate it when film producer use the “shaky hand camera” to make scenes look more “action packed”

  16. AMSmith42 says:

    I’ve seen worse on the Sci-fi channel. It is always inspiring to see someone make such a great presentation on a microbudget. Could it have been better? Yes. Could it have been better for the money? Doubtful.

  17. save says:

    jeeeez!!!! $500 budget???? damn, can’t imagine what you can do with a few more bucks…. that’s really awesome!

  18. Jason says:

    wow. WOW!! This is freaking awesome. Can’t wait to watch this project progress!!!

  19. l386 says:

    I can’t believe that within the first 30s I not only knew in which city it was filmed, but in fact precisely WHERE in the city it was filmed.

    Guess thats what I get for wandering around Toronto’s trainyards.

  20. Ian says:

    I thought the cop he wrestles with was some variety of computer imagery too but decided that didn’t make any sense.

    Just something about the head/mask didn’t (doesn’t? I dunno whether it doesn’t or if I’ve just talked myself out of it) look right, somehow.

  21. DiskKilla Dizzy says:

    I was practically drooling at the screen. I have fallen in love. This is amazing! This was almost as real as the dreams that I have had. This Game….Story, meant a lot to me. I feel as I must bow down to the team that made this in greatness.
    |0| (bowing)

    <3
    DiskKilla Dizzy.

  22. ratbag62 says:

    To everyone who said that the acting wasnt great: have you SEEN Starship Troopers 3? With the crap that gets made with bigger budgets it is fantastic to see an imaginative and brilliantly molded short film like this. Love it to death, cant wait for more! And if these guys have a fan club, I’m joining.

  23. Erlam says:

    Am I the only one who was incredibly unimpressed with Half-Life 2′s story?

    I mean this in the least aggressive way possible.

  24. Oak says:

    It’s not the originality of the story, it’s how it’s told. You’ve heard this every single time you’ve asked that question, I imagine.

  25. Chokehold says:

    I would watch it. :o

  26. Matt says:

    The cityscape has an uncanny resemblance to New Jersey..

  27. Eric says:

    This legit blows away the Halo live action shorts.
    and kudos to “To everyone who said that the acting wasnt great: have you SEEN Starship Troopers 3?”
    On the critical side though there was a lack of bullet holes in the train in the scene just before the guy fires the grenade launcher. ;)

  28. Oak says:

    @Choke:

    It’s “Penultimatum” from the Episode One soundtrack.

  29. MV|Kinetic says:

    Write in a part for Alyx, and give her some superhuman psy powers that only grow when the biatch gets shot, pitch it to Joss Whedon, o wait
    Joss probably thought of this already.

    Nice Shot

  30. ButtercupSaiyan says:

    Looks like they’re using some top-end software, wouldn’t be surprised if it was something like Combustion4 or the like … really great location and effects, simply INCREDIBLE given that this is fan-made. I’m eagerly hoping for more.

  31. Chris says:

    Crap!

    Hand held style is junk. Acting horrible. Script worse. Visuals look good.

    All of you saying acting does not matter need to reassess why it is you watch films. Imagine these idiots make a sfeature version with the same level of acting? Imagine Iron Man or The Dark Knight with terrible acting…??

    I hope Valve does not make a feature with these guys.

    James Cameron would make a good film version.

  32. Sam says:

    Crap!

    Hand held style is junk. Acting horrible. Script worse. Visuals look good.

    All of you saying acting does not matter need to reassess why it is you watch films. Imagine these idiots make a feature version with the same level of acting? Imagine Iron Man or The Dark Knight with terrible acting…??

    I hope Valve does not make a feature with these guys.

    James Cameron would make a good film version.

  33. John says:

    Crap!

    Hand held style is junk. Acting horrible. Script worse. Visuals look good.

    All of you saying acting does not matter need to reassess why it is you watch films. Imagine these idiots make a feature version with the same level of acting? Imagine Iron Man or The Dark Knight with terrible acting…??

    I hope Valve does not make a feature with these guys.

    James Cameron would make a good film version.

  34. Alistair says:

    I hate walking ok? gah!

  35. Mr.Retail says:

    really nice!!! the purchase brothers do good work..there coca cola ad is funny.

  36. Yasir says:

    Wow. Really impressive. I was looking for some half life 2 content as there hasn’t really been any update on the 3rd episode and stumbled upon this little movie.

  37. teddy says:

    very awsome! acting and zombies cold have benn better but nice jod though.good grafics and combine stuff.

  38. david says:

    WTF was that

  39. david says:

    WTF was that!!?

  40. Ragnarok says:

    This was awesome.

  41. Logix says:

    are they still working on this? or did it die :( i loved the short and hope theyd make it into a full length movie (2 – 2.5 hrs long or more)!!!!

  42. ronis says:

    Its pritty cool but they cloud make the combines a little better what i hate they wrecked my hometown Riga

  43. TS says:

    This was unexpectedly great, and the original longer version has more going for it than the later heavily edited one. Can’t wait to see more; hope the project hasn’t died, and hope we get to see more of the girl in part 2!

  44. asdhaf says:

    it sucks. doesnt make any sense like gobi.