PS...Brilliant videos, Andrew Wonser! In what medium were they made? I love those kind of causality sequences. :idea:
I've never messed with Gary's mod so if I'm wrong someone please correct me. But I'm guessing the person creates the level using Gary, loads it through HL2, and records it with something like FRAPS.
Here's the cool thing about Gmod: You can use ANY map that works for HL2 or any mod(like Empires) made for HL2. At most you'd need manually place the necessary asset(such as custom textures) in the right folder, otherwise just drag and drop the map file into the Gmod/maps folder and off you go.
So, yes you can create your own level, or use any of the hundreds that are out there.
You can also spawn ANY model made for HL2 or its mods. For example, you could load up the Dust map and spawn Alyx. You have complete control over the ragdolls and any props(like weapons) that you spawn.
In terms of contraptions, you can control the physics. You can weld items together, tied them together, etc. So you can engineer some pretty cool things.
For making movies, the built-in HL2 movie controls are completely functional in Gmod. You can record demos, do the 'startmovie' thing to render your frames, and use a program like Virtual Dub to create your video- all free. Or you can record using Fraps, if that's your thing.
Yes, I'm gonna pay for it, it's more than worth it to me. :oops: I wish it had remained free though, it seems truer to the spirit of modding if mods remain free.
Here's a pic I made, using a custom map and the Alyx and Raptor ragdolls, to give you an idea of how it works. I spawned Alyx and each Raptor, then posed them individually. Then I spawned the two Deagles and put them in Alyx's hands. Then I spawned the 'prop' camera and positioned it to frame my shot. Finally, I used the suitzoom and took the screenshot. I'm making an action scene and this is the first frame: