Microsoft Introduces New Architecture For Developing Plug-in Applications for Softimage 3D

REDMOND, Wash., March 19, 1996 — Softimage Inc., the world’s leading high-end
3-D animation software company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., today announced a new developers program called the Softimage Software Developers Connection. The program features extensive technical and marketing support and a new Softimage Software Developers Kit (SI-SDK), based on Softimage®
3D version 3.5, for independent software vendors (ISVs) and customers to create custom plug-in applications for the next version of Softimage 3D. The Softimage Developers Connection was introduced at a workshop on the Microsoft campus in February.

Ultimately, the company expects to market custom plug-in effects, productivity applications, signature image libraries and other tools that are available for Softimage. Because the SI-SDK provides access to virtually every aspect of Softimage 3D, ISVs can create the kinds of powerful plug-in applications that will enable Softimage customers to continue pushing the leading edge of 3-D animation and imagery.

“For many years, customers have been choosing Softimage because it is consistently the industry’s most advanced and productive 3-D animation system,”
said Daniel Langlois, founder of Softimage and senior director for Microsoft.
“But with the content-creation industry evolving very rapidly, it’s clear that Softimage now must provide a superior, easy-to-use programming environment. Now developers and customers can tap into the already-rich feature set of Softimage to create their own sophisticated, unique, fully integrated custom applications.”

The SI-SDK, which supports both the Microsoft® Windows NT® and Silicon Graphics® platforms, provides developers with direct access to animation and modeling (SAAPHIRE toolkit), rendering (mental ray toolkit) and motion-capture controls (Channels toolkit) in Softimage 3D. Applications can run as standalone programs or be fully integrated into Softimage 3D for Windows NT and Silicon Graphics IRIS®

The SI-SDK, which replaces the D-Kit programming interface for Softimage 3D, enhances the application-development process in several ways:

  • Direct access to Softimage 3D modeling, animation and rendering controls. The SI-SDK allows application developers to create advanced plug-in applications that utilize virtually every aspect of Softimage 3D, including the following:

– SAAPHIRE development kit (modeling and animation): One of the most advanced 3-D APIs on the market, Softimage Advanced API for Relations and Elements (SAAPHIRE) sets a new standard for 3-D application development by providing direct access to Softimage modeling, animation and rendering pipelines. Through dynamically shared objects (DSOs) on Silicon Graphics and dynamic- link libraries (DLL) on Windows NT, developers can create powerful, cross-platform applications quickly with the native Softimage tool set.

– Mental ray development kit (rendering): The mental ray development kit allows creation of shaders and render-time custom effects that range from simple material and texture mapping to advanced effects such as displacement mapping and volumetric lights. This, combined with mental ray’s best-in-class rendering ability, allows developers to set a new standard for high-quality visual effects.

– Channels development kit (motion capture and control): Channels allows developers to create hardware and motion-control interfaces quickly and easily for Softimage 3D, including real-time motion devices that are at the heart of the Softimage Live virtual set.

  • Support standalone or fully integrated applications. Developers can create fully integrated or standalone applications for Softimage 3D. Fully integrated applications will appear within the Softimage graphical user interface (i.e., as a menu choice or dialog box). Standalone applications can use either the Softimage graphical user interface or any interface that supports Win32®
    or Motif APIs.

  • Access to Softimage technical and marketing support . Through the Softimage Developers Connection, ISVs and customers will have access to a comprehensive program of online technical support and co-marketing and distribution programs for Softimage 3D-compatible products. In addition, the Softimage Developers Connection will offer certification for applications that meet performance and integration criteria. Certified applications will be identified through a special Softimage Developers Connection logo.

The SI-SDK is currently in beta testing and is available today to qualified developers and customers. The final SI-SDK release version is expected to be available at the same time Softimage 3D version 3.5 ships in mid-1996. For more information on the Softimage Developers Connection, please call Microsoft at (206) 936-6739.

Customers and Developers Support New Program

At a February launch workshop, ISVs and resellers applauded the new Softimage Developers Connection program:

“Softimage and Microsoft are definitely doing this one right,”
said Jim Dudman, product development manager for MetaTools.
“The SAAPHIRE plug-in architecture for Softimage is one of the most extensible and open our engineers have seen – on any platform. With such an inviting and open architecture, it is a foregone conclusion that ISVs will rapidly be producing amazing filters and extensions to an already world-class environment. Congratulations.” MetaTools, the visual computing software company, designs, develops, publishes, markets and supports software tools for the creation, editing and manipulation of computer graphic images, digital art, and Internet and online content for the Windows® , Macintosh®
and other operating systems.

“The Softimage Developers Connection is a very comprehensive program,”
said Bill Hite, vice president of Marshall Graphics Systems.
“The software developers kit allows us to concentrate our efforts on creating features rather than grappling with the mechanics of getting information in and out of Softimage.”
Marshall Graphics Systems, based in Nashville, Tenn., is a longtime developer and reseller of 3-D animation and imaging software and hardware.

Company Information

Founded in 1986, Softimage develops software for media-rich applications including film, video, interactive TV, games and education. Products include Softimage 3D, Softimage Eddie (compositing) and Softimage Toonz (2-D cel animation). The company was acquired in 1994 by Microsoft Corp. Additional information about Softimage and Microsoft can be found via the Internet at and, respectively.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows NT, Win32 and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Softimage is a registered trademark of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

Silicon Graphics and IRIS are registered trademarks of Silicon Graphics Inc.

Macintosh is a registered trademark of Apple Computer Inc.

Reader Contact:

Developer information only, (206) 936-6739

Softimage general information, (800) 576-3846; Internet:

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