Pragma Filmmaker Tutorial

Pragma Filmmaker Guide tutorial for SFM

Do you love SFM but wish it had more features? Then look no further!

Pragma is a companion application for SFM. You can do all of your work in SFM and then simply open the scene from SFM and have it rendered through Pragma.

The goal of Pragma Filmmaker is to eventually branch off and to be able to edit animations and scenes in realtime, but for now it will solely be used to render images and animations.

Here’s an example of SFM to PFM conversion:

Raytracing PBR Subsurfacescattering Sourcefilmmaker Pragma SFM PFM
Doesn’t this look great?!

Here’s a video of Meet the Soldier rendered in PFM straight from SFM 2007.

Pragma features:
– Porting materials and converting to PBR automatically from SFM
– SFM/S2FM model support
– Reading SFM scenes
– Raytracing
– Subsurface Scattering
– SFM Particles
– Physical Based Rendering for SFM
– Different camera modes that are not supported by SFM (Panorama, 180 …)
– Conversion of SFM lights to Cycle lights.
– Automatic sampling of skin for SSS
– Image Based Lighting (environmental light, HDRi)
– 32-bit color renders for Adobe Photoshop …
– Tonemapping inside Pragma if you don’t want to use Photoshop or any color correcting Program
– Background rendering without using the software

Planned features:
– Filmic Log color system (Instead of sRGB)
– Real-time post processing (See how your render will look while you adjust the scene camera and effects!)

How to download Pragma:
You can get a Steam key periodically through the Pragma discord

Pledge 10$ for a Steam Key + Preview Builds DLC immediately.
This Guide is written for PREVIEW BUILDS.

Pragma receives several updates a week.

Once you’ve downloaded Pragma follow this guide to master it!

Before you select your model you’ll be working with remember that Pragma has only 1 limitation:
No FAKE PBR materials.
Pragma will strip your model’s texture and convert them to PBR automatically.
What Fake PBR models do by default is strip them before Pragma can get to them which means instead of converting .vmt it will have to deal with 3 separate .vmt files with wrong texture paths.

How to spot fake PBR models:
Go to the model’s texture folder and see if it has any files that end with _ch _m.
If it does, find another model.
StealthClobber’s base models such as Tracer and Mercy have regular textures but clothing is FAKE PBR.
You can still use the base models for your shots but not the clothes.

What happens if I use fake PBR models?
The models will have black spots all over them.
There’s workarounds but the material will still look worse because of missing textures.

Setting up your shot for Pragma:
Build your scene and create a camera in SFM.
Delete anything you don’t need. You can also tick on the eye icon and Pragma will ignore it for you.

Unloading rigs and transforms to prevent glitched models:
Right click any model that has a lock next to it and then select Unlock Transforms.
Right click any model that has a rig and unload the rig.

Pragma has no support for rigs and transforms yet. It’s a feature that’s being implemented right now.

Lighting in Pragma:
Pragma will interpret your lights exactly the way they look in SFM:

The difference is that Pragma has raytracing, SSS and PBR.
How many times will my light bounce?
4 times by default. (Might be changed in the future to support custom input)

Short video tutorial on how to use Pragma:

Watch this short tutorial to get a better grasp on the instructions below!

Using Pragma:

Save your SFM project in your usermod/elements/sessions folder.

Start Pragma through Steam or Standalone

If this if your first time launching Pragma, it will freeze while it scans for all maps available in your Steam folder.

Select the map you will be using.
Click on Filmmaker.

If the map has any models inside it, Pragma will spend a couple of seconds converting them to PBR.

Previewing render:
If you have a model with skin material, skip this section and come back after you’ve learned to setup Subsurface scattering.
Scroll down for the SSS tutorial!

1. Your primary viewport should show you the same scene you saw in SFM.

If you experienced a crash or the scene is empty please restart Pragma and try again.
If you can see your scene but something is in the way then that’s most likely the default playermodel.
Click on camera1 to get work camera and them move away from the scene the same way you would in SFM by clicking the window and holding movement keys.
2. Click on Cycles render and then render preview.

Too dark?
You can unload the map by clicking unchecking “Render World” to get more environmental light seeping in.

Increase SFM light strength, especially if inside a room:

Too bright surroundings?
Reduce the environmental strength here:

You can change HDRi texture here:

This is your environmental light!

You can download HDR textures here:
Please consider supporting them here:
Ganonmaster is very dedicated in helping everyone get access to 3D resources.

You can rotate the panoramic texture and light here:

Once you’re satisfied with the look of your render set Samples Per Pixel to 300+
You can render panoramic or 180 degree shots here (It’s in German until Silverlan changes it):

Ortographic is by default your normal shot.

Press Render image and you should let Cycles work on your scene

If you fear of Pragma crashing or want to render something in the background, press Create render job instead.
You will get a .rt file in your Pragma folder.
Go to SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\Pragma\bin and drag the .rt file onto the file render_raytracing.exe
This will render your image without having to open Pragma. Can be useful when rendering animations too!

You can find your render in:


Pragma exports in .hdr which gives it a 32-bit color system to work with. Great for Photoshop or any other color processing tool.
If you don’t want to deal with 32-bit colors, you can right click your render inside in Pragma and save as .png or change the output to .png here:

Subsurface scattering in Pragma:
Silverlan implemented a more streamlined solution to Pragma that fixes quite a lot of issues:
1. No candlewax skin
2. Automatically picks the correct color by sampling the texture
3. Has preset for all kinds of materials and creatures in case you want to experiment.
4. Realistic option set by default

It’s much easier to use than any other 3D program and gives better results due to no user error.

How to setup:
1. Click on Model Catalog tab

2. The directory by default is set to SFM’s which means you can find the model you’re using by going to its directory.
If you don’t know where your model resides go back to SFM, spawn your model, right-click the model in Animation Set Editor and click “Show Game Model in Explorer”.

3. Paste the directory path:
In my case it’s in:
therefore I should only type “overwatch“.

Right click the model and then “Edit Material”.
Click on your skin material. In my case it’s “Skin front” and “Skin back”.
Some models instead use “Legs, Head, Torso”.

You’ll have to do this step for every Skin material your model has.
If it’s a regular ported model straight from Blender then it will usually only have 1 body material.

Optional: Right-click Emission Map and click Clear even if it’s blank.

There’s a bug where it will default to a Yellow texture and break SSS if you ever click on the Emission Factor setting.

AVOID CLICKING IT. Otherwise you’ll have to reset it through the materials .wmi and deleting $emission line completely.

4. Right-click on Preset to get flesh reflection settings.
This changes Roughness to 0.65 and disables Metalness.

5. Click on Subsurface Scattering method until you get Principled random walking.

This is the most realistic SSS option out there. If you use anything else you’ll get candlewax skin on your model and that looks bad.

Subsurface Scattering Factor:
“Principled random walking”, if you have this enabled then setting it to higher will give your character brighter skin.
If you don’t use Principled random walking and instead use Cubix or Gaussian then your model will glow red instead.

Do not confuse “Principled random walking” with “Principled” or “Random walking” options. Those are separate.

Scatter Color:
Changes the color of the SSS. Has no real use unless you know what you are doing or are messing with creatures.

Roughness and Metallic:
Experiment with these if you want your character to look wet or oily!

A selection of colors you can swap between. Sampled from:

Material preview:

This shows you what your model will look like and that the materials are working correctly.
You can move the camera with right click and left click.
Zoom in with scroll wheel.

1. Click here until you get Raytracing
2. Set Light Intensity to 0
3. Set IBL Strength to 4.0
This should give you a smoother light.
Click Render preview.


Vote on your favorite characters and get access to daily renders before anyone else.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here