Microsoft Introduces Major Upgrade to Softimage 3D

LOS ANGELES, May 16, 1996 — Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., today announced a major upgrade to Softimage® 3D. This new release, which raises the benchmark for high-end 3-D graphics capabilities, includes significant enhancements to its already powerful modeling, animation and rendering capabilities; important new interactive game development features; and a new environment for creating plug-in applications. All major Softimage 3D features are now available on Intel® Pentium® Pro, Alpha and MIPS® RISC 4400-based systems for the Microsoft® Windows NT® operating system and the Silicon Graphics® platform.

Softimage 3D version 3.5 enhances every key area of production, including full nonuniform rational B-spline (NURBS) modeling capabilities, significant enhancements to the powerful mental ray rendering system (including distributed rendering across Windows NT-based and Silicon Graphics systems), an advanced particle animation system, and an extensive library of presets for creating hundreds of traditionally challenging visual effects such as hair, snow, rain, tree leaves, soda bubbles, fire and smoke. A new Softimage software development kit (SDK) provides kit developers with a robust environment for creating plug-in applications. Many of these advanced features, such as particles and mental ray, will be available on the Windows NT platform for the first time.

Specifically for game developers, Softimage 3D version 3.5 offers even more powerful tools for producing high-quality content quickly. In addition to particles, mental ray rendering, full NURBS-based modeling and the Softimage SDK, Softimage 3D 3.5 includes advanced polygon and color reduction, more than 100 MB of motion-capture information, and the ability to directly import and export geometry, textures, materials and animation sequences to Sega® Saturn, PlayStation® game consoles, the Direct3D

“This new release clearly establishes Softimage 3D as the world’s best and most complete modeling, animation and rendering software on any platform at any price,”
said Daniel Langlois, founder of Softimage and senior director at Microsoft.
“Professionals can now achieve the highest-quality character animations, interactive games, scenes and other computer-generated imagery more easily and quickly.”

Softimage 3D integrates all essential modeling, animation and rendering controls into the core software. Advanced features are found in Softimage 3D Extreme for Windows NT-based and Silicon Graphics systems. Highlights of the new release include the following:

  • Modeling. With the introduction of full NURBS support, Softimage 3D version 3.5 provides the most complete set of modeling capabilities on the market. With NURBS, virtually any shape can be modeled, regardless of complexity. A new spreadsheet-style editor, called scene manager, allows customers to search for elements easily and to change specific elements of a complex scene quickly. Softimage 3D version 3.5 allows customers to automatically convert downward from NURBS-based models to polygon-based models and upward from polygon-based models to NURBS-based models. Softimage 3D Extreme includes meta-clay model sculpting features.

  • Animation. Inverse kinematics in Softimage 3D have reached a new level by allowing generalized skeletons, whereby any object can act as a skeleton and have geometry skinned onto it. Softimage 3D 3.5 also includes more than 100 MB of motion-capture data, including a wide range of dancing, fighting, falling, jumping and sports moves. Nearly 30 motion-capture drivers are supported in the new release. Softimage 3D version 3.5 also includes more custom effects features, including ambulate and multiped for animating two-, four-, six- and eight-legged creatures. Softimage 3D Extreme includes an enhanced particle animation system with an intuitive graphical user interface that makes simulations quicker and easier. For viewing interactive 3-D applications, including virtual sets, Softimage Live technology is incorporated into Softimage 3D Extreme.

  • Rendering. In addition to an internal renderer that features full ray tracing capabilities and extremely fast performance, Softimage 3D Extreme includes an enhanced version of mental ray that makes it easier to produce detailed, photorealistic images. In addition to interface enhancements, including a preview window and shader ball, mental ray now supports distributed rendering on Intel Pentium Pro, Alpha and MIPS R4400-based workstations and servers for Windows NT-based and Silicon Graphics systems, allowing customers to take full advantage of low-cost renderfarms. Customers can also develop their own shaders quickly through the Softimage SDK. Softimage is offering attractively priced networked and standalone licenses of mental ray to licensed users of Softimage 3D version 3.5.

  • Effects libraries. Softimage 3D Extreme also ships with an extensive library containing hundreds of particle effects, mental ray shaders and motion-capture files. Effects include hair, smoke, fog, fire, rain, soda bubbles, tree leaves, environmental effects (such as sunrises, sunsets and cloud cover), water, lens flare and many other traditionally challenging visual effects. These libraries will be updated continually at no charge on Softimage’s World Wide Web site at Using an Internet browser, customers can view an effect in action, read notes on how the effect was created, and insert geometry directly to use in their animations.

Special Games Development Features

Softimage 3D version 3.5 has special features for game developers, including advanced polygon and color reduction for improving the run-time performance of models without sacrificing image quality. A new texture editor allows users to paint on a 2-D texture and see it applied immediately to 3-D models and to edit select textures interactively. Geometry, material, texture and animation data can be imported or exported directly to Sega Saturn, PlayStation game consoles, Direct3D and VRML. In addition, Softimage supports the full range of image and object formats including AliasWavefront, 3D Studio, Targa, TIFF, PIC, JPEG and GIF. Softimage 3D version 3.5 also supports viewing on target on Sega Saturn systems.

New Plug-in Development Environment

Softimage 3D version 3.5 ships with an advanced, C-based, cross-platform programming environment to create custom effects, shaders and other plug-in applications. With the Softimage SDK, developers and customers have direct access to Softimage 3D modeling, animation and rendering controls. Applications can appear directly within the Softimage environment or operate as standalone programs.

To help bolster a community of plug-in applications, Softimage introduced the Softimage Developers Connection program in February. Through this program, qualified developers and customers receive extensive technical support and development software, as well as support in marketing their applications.

Pricing, Availability and System Requirements

The new version of Softimage is offered in two packages: Softimage 3D and
Softimage 3D Extreme. Softimage 3D includes all modeling, animation and rendering features, except meta-clay modeling, particles, mental ray and Softimage Live, which are available in Softimage 3D Extreme. Softimage 3D and Softimage 3D Extreme for the Silicon Graphics platform are available today; versions for Intel Pentium Pro, Alpha and MIPS R4400-based workstations and servers for Windows NT are scheduled to be available in August.

System requirements include 64 MB of RAM, 1 GB of hard disk space and a three-button mouse. Windows NT-based workstations require an OpenGL
graphics-accelerator card. A full list of supported hardware platforms is available on Softimage’s World Wide Web site.

The approximate price for Softimage 3D is $7,995 (U.S.); Softimage 3D Extreme is $13,995 (U.S.). Customers licensing Softimage 3D version 3.0 for Windows NT after May 16 will receive a no-charge upgrade to Softimage 3D version 3.5 when it becomes available. Pricing is per concurrent user, and licenses can be used on either Windows NT-based or Silicon Graphics systems. Other upgrade prices vary. Licensed users of Softimage 3D version 3.5 (both configurations) can purchase standalone mental ray rendering seats with prices starting at approximately $2,495 (U.S.) per seat. Registered developers for PlayStation game consoles and Sega Saturn can license import and export kits for approximately $995 (U.S.) each. All products are available through Softimage’s network of 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 modeling, animation and rendering), 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.

Softimage is a registered trademark of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.
Microsoft, Windows NT and Direct3D are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Intel and Pentium are registered trademarks of Intel Corp.
MIPS is a registered trademark of MIPS Technologies Inc. MIPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silicon Graphics Inc.
Silicon Graphics is a registered trademark and OpenGL is a trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc.
Sega is a registered trademark of Sega Of America.
PlayStation is a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

Reader contact:

Softimage general information, (800) 576-3846;

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