Microsoft PressPass – Softimage Announces Breakthrough Integrated Video and Audio Editing, Compositing, Paint and Project Management Environment
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 previewed a revolutionary new integrated digital-media creation, editing and management environment, code-named
This new platform, which handles digital media ranging from compressed video streams to full-resolution film images, is a technology breakthrough because it provides a single consistent application for professional nonlinear video editing and compositing, 2-D and 3-D painting, audio editing, titling, special effects and project management. By integrating all major production elements into a single, seamless application, Digital Studio significantly streamlines and speeds the process of creating videos, films and interactive games.
Built from the ground up as an integrated set of tools, Digital Studio is scheduled for release by the end of 1996 on the Microsoft® Windows NT®
operating system version 4.0. Digital Studio is a fully multithreaded application based on an open architecture extensible through both hardware and software.
Softimage is also teaming with Play Inc. of Rancho Cordova, Calif., to offer Digital Studio with Play’s high-performance Trinity
video and audio production hardware. This software and hardware combination, which enables customers to create and edit media in real time on multiple compressed or uncompressed D1 video streams, provides performance and functionality found in systems costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Digital Studio redefines production by synthesizing complete tool sets for video and audio into a single creative environment,”
said Daniel Langlois, founder of Softimage and senior director at Microsoft.
“The integration of all these digital-media production tools under a common user interface provides content creators with an environment that significantly increases their level of creative freedom and productivity. By taking advantage of Play’s Trinity system, customers can have extremely high performance at a fraction of the price.”
Integrated Features, Cutting-Edge Interface Design
Digital Studio features are accessed through an elegant, customizable graphical user interface that transforms automatically depending on the task being performed. The power of Digital Studio is in the integration of these production components:
Nonlinear editing (NLE). Digital Studio offers best-of-breed nonlinear editing tools. It provides all of the high-end features needed to complete complex professional editing projects. Digital Studio enables editing from an unlimited number of audio and video tracks. Time-line markers synchronize audio and video events, as well as providing looping capabilities. Video and audio clips can be dragged-and-dropped anywhere on the time line.
of video tracks allows media to be viewed on the time line even when it does not contribute to the final edit. Digital Studio supports multiple resolutions of media within a single project so customers can work at real time in D1 resolution and output at a specified project resolution. Nested transitions allow customers to go beyond standard wipes and transitions by making dynamic combinations possible. The D1 trim window allows customers to trim, slip and roll media in full D1 resolution in real time.
Compositing. Digital Studio delivers compositing of unlimited audio and video layers using various Boolean and compositing operators, in addition to traditional compositing. Layers are modified in place or painted on layers at any time during the editing process. Layers are composited through existing alpha channels, via chroma, luma or difference keying. Multiple alpha channels can be applied to each video layer. Digital Studio can stabilize and motion track video with one-point tracking or four-point corner pinning to compensate for incorrect camera movements, as well as realistically merging physical and synthetic elements.
2-D and 3-D painting. Digital Studio includes an extensive vector-based, resolution-independent 2-D and 3-D paint package. Because paint functions are vector-based rather than pixel-based, they can be animated. Paint effects are nondestructive and resolution-independent, which allows retouching without loss of original content. Paint functions are extensible with developer-created custom effects.
Audio. Digital Studio includes a highly integrated eight-channel audio editing environment. All eight uncompressed digital audio streams can be played back at once, with real-time audio effects and mixing. Real-time audio effects can be applied directly to the audio mixer or on the time line. A fully automated virtual audio mixer can animate any audio attribute during playback. Nondestructive waveform editing permits the highest level of creative control without the concern of losing original data. The digital audio tool set allows sample-accurate editing, as well as construction of audio effects such as equalization, reverb, delay and chorus.
Special effects. Digital Studio provides a professional special-effects library for video production, including the full range of sweeps, wipes and fades. Developers can also take advantage of an open architecture to create custom special effects.
Integration with Softimage 3D. Digital Studio will provide seamless integration with Softimage®
3D, the world’s most powerful high-end 3-D animation system. This includes all models, animation sequences and rendering output.
Titling. Digital Studio provides free-form, anti-aliased titling capabilities. Text is generated as a character, so it can be animated, painted or edited. Any Windows® operating system-based TrueType®
font may be used for titles. Free-form text placement tools allow desktop publishing-style freedom in titling layout.
Output. Digital Studio is resolution-independent, so it can be used in projects from feature films to interactive games to live broadcast. All effects, including video, audio, paint and titling, will automatically adapt to the desired output resolution.
Content management system (CMS). Digital Studio includes its own revision management and archive system. This is particularly important for large projects and for reusing existing content. Multiple resolutions of digitized video clips can be treated as one item, allowing for easy reassembly of the time line at various resolutions. A search engine allows customers to locate material quickly based on any number of attributes.
Open architecture. Digital Studio is extensible through both hardware and software. Over time, third parties will be able to create plug-in tools for video, audio, special effects, painting and other major components of Digital Studio.
Bringing Creative Groups Together
By providing a single, seamless production environment, Digital Studio helps bring together traditionally separate disciplines. For example, a director, video editor and audio engineer can sit down at the nearest computer console to review part of an elaborate video production they are currently working on. From any PC on the network, they can work together to view, edit or add any type of image or audio effects, 3-D animation, wipes, fades, live feed composites, 2-D or 3-D paint, or other effects. Even though they have different responsibilities on this project and each is an expert in his or her field, they can all communicate and share ideas more easily because they are all working with the same consistent production environment. Using the same software application gives them much more flexibility and helps them achieve better integration between the different media usually involved in their productions.
Relationship With Play Inc.
Softimage has teamed with Play to offer Digital Studio on Play’s award-winning Trinity video and audio production hardware and storage systems.
“The Trinity System is state-of-the-art when it comes to PC-based media creation and editing,”
said Moshe Lichtman, general manager of Softimage.
Digital Studio Part of Long-Term Strategy
Softimage sees Digital Studio as the cornerstone of an evolving Softimage solution.
“Digital Studio is a creative platform, not just an application,”
“Additional software components – 3-D modeling and animation, 2-D cel animation and asset management – will be available both from Softimage and third parties. Our objective is to make Digital Studio the best possible digital production environment today, and to make sure it can evolve with the future demands of digital media producers and technological advances we haven’t even begun to imagine.”
Pricing, Availability, Distribution and System Requirements
The first release of Digital Studio is expected to ship before the end of 1996. In its first release, Digital Studio will require a fast Pentium® system running the Windows NT operating system and Play’s Trinity platform. Future versions of Digital Studio will be available for other Windows NT-based platforms, including MIPS®
and Alpha systems. Pricing for Digital Studio will be announced later in 1996. It will be distributed through a network of joint Softimage and Play authorized resellers.
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 (2D 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, Windows NT and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Trinity is a trademark of Play Inc.
TrueType is a registered trademark of Apple Computer Inc.
Pentium is a registered trademark of Intel Corp.
MIPS is a registered trademarks of MIPS Computer Systems Inc.
Softimage general information, (800) 576-3846; Internet: http://www.softimage.com/