REDMOND, Wash., April 15, 1996 — Softimage Inc., the world’s leading high-end 3-D animation software company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., today announced that several companies, including Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp. and DreamWorks Interactive, will use the recently introduced Softimage®
Software Development Kit (SDK) to develop real-time 3-D applications, including virtual sets ( * see glossary at the end of this release). Softimage also announced plans to include its own real-time 3-D viewer technology, called Softimage-Live, in the next version of Softimage 3D for the Microsoft® Windows NT® operating system and Silicon Graphics® IRIS®
. Many of these applications are being demonstrated this week at the National Association of Broadcasters conference (NAB ’96) in Las Vegas, Nev.
This announcement marks the first milestone in establishing the Softimage SDK as a standard development platform for high-end 3-D animation tools. During the next year, Softimage expects many more software developers, systems integrators and hardware companies to begin incorporating its Softimage-Live real-time 3-D technology and using the Softimage SDK. Softimage first publicly demonstrated real-time 3-D animation technology in its Virtual Theater presentation last year at NAB ’95.
“By providing components of our real-time 3-D viewing technology and incorporating Softimage-Live into the next version of Softimage 3D, we’ll help enable both users and systems integrators to develop real-time applications and content for a wide array of new markets, including virtual sets,”
said David Morin, director of special projects for Softimage.
The following companies are demonstrating or announcing applications based on Softimage technology:
Brainstorm Estudio (Madrid, Spain) will use the Softimage SDK to develop a turnkey virtual set implementation that is capable of displaying up to 60 video frames per second with an unlimited number of cameras. This product is expected to be completed in mid-1996 and will be marketed and distributed by Digimedia (Madrid, Spain).
DreamWorks Interactive (Universal City, Calif.) will use the Softimage SDK to develop Directors’ Chair, an in-house product that allows creative professionals with little or no computer-animation experience to control feature-film-quality virtual scenes in much the same way they control live action scenes. With joysticks, tablets and an easy-to-use graphical user interface, creative professionals can immerse themselves in the digital scene and in real time control lighting effects, camera angles, zooms, focus and other scene elements.
Evans & Sutherland
Computer Corp. (E & S, Salt Lake City, Utah) is developing an interface that allows Softimage 3D-generated models and animation sequences to be used with E & S’ real-time image-generation products and databases. The move supports E & S’ stated plan to move its products to an open environment and expand into new markets. The collaboration will also broaden Softimage’s customer base to include real-time broadcast media and video production applications. Evans & Sutherland manufactures hardware and software that produce realistic, interactive 3-D graphics and synthetic environments.
Division (Tokyo) will use Softimage technology to develop its own turnkey virtual set implementation, including an enhanced version of its Perspective Match camera-tracking technology. Founded in 1935, IMAGICA is the oldest and largest film lab, video post-production and computer graphics production company in Japan.
Lightscape Technologies Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) will be demonstrating the integration of the Lightscape Radiosity Server and Softimage 3D using the Softimage SDK. A viewer linked to the server will provide real-time display and navigation of the radiosity solution from within Softimage. Lightscape Technologies develops visual reality software products for the design and entertainment markets.
Orad Hi-Tec Systems (Kfar Saba, Israel) will incorporate Softimage-Live real-time 3-D technology and use the Softimage SDK in its CyberSet virtual studio. Unlike most virtual sets that require special cameras and stationary mounts, CyberSet is the only virtual set environment that allows for the free motion of cameras, including shoulder mounts. Producers can also use any type of studio camera rather than more expensive, specially made virtual set cameras. Orad Hi-Tec Systems provides a range of video processing products aimed at the broadcasting, sports and advertising markets.
Play Inc. (Rancho Cordova, Calif.) is using the Softimage SDK to develop synthetic set tools, which allow live actors to be placed into and interact with virtual environments in real time. These efforts merge Softimage’s real-time 3-D technology with Trinity’s real-time video processing abilities to create computer-generated sets for video production.
RT-SET (Herzelia, Israel) is using the Softimage SDK to develop a Softimage scene loader to RT-SET’s Virtual Studio System (VSS) that requires no intermediate conversions or preparations. This allows designers, animators and directors to build almost the entire virtual studio show on Softimage and then load it directly into RT-SET’s VSS. RT-SET (Real Time Synthesized Entertainment Technology) Ltd., a developer and marketer of fully integrated 3-D computerized broadcasting systems, was established in early 1994 by BVR Technologies, a world leader in the development of highly sophisticated simulation and training systems.
Next Version of Softimage 3D to Include Real-Time 3-D Capabilities Softimage also plans to incorporate real-time 3-D viewing technology in the next version of Softimage 3D, which is scheduled for delivery in mid-1996. Called Softimage-Live, this technology will allow customers to generate real-time 3-D animations on their desktops using a variety of motion-capture and control devices. Softimage plans to include this technology in both Softimage 3D for Windows NT and for Silicon Graphics IRIS.
Founded in 1986, Softimage develops software for media-rich applications including video, film, interactive games and CD-ROM applications. Products include Softimage 3D (high-end animation), 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 http://www.softimage.com/ and http://www.microsoft.com/ 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.
Softimage is a registered trademark of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.
Microsoft and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Silicon Graphics and IRIS are registered trademarks of Silicon Graphics Inc.
Softimage general information, (800) 576-3846; Internet: http://www.softimage.com/
* What is a virtual set? A virtual set allows producers to blend live action with computer-generated images and animations in real time. Animations can include background scenes (such as a tropical island or New York City subway tunnel), objects (e.g., clouds, trains) and real-time animated characters generated through motion-capture devices on a person or object. The key to a true virtual set is that live action and animation can be combined in real time to produce extraordinary interactions between real and imaginary objects. One of the most basic virtual set applications is live television-news weather reports, which integrate a weather person with computer-generated maps.