Softimage 3D Version 3.5 for Windows NT to Ship This Month

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 5, 1996 — Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., announced today at SIGGRAPH ’96 that it will begin shipping Softimage® 3D and Softimage 3D Extreme version 3.5 for the Microsoft® Windows NT® operating system this month. Available for Intel® Pentium® Pro, Alpha and MIPS® RISC-based systems, these upgrades include many breakthrough 3-D modeling, animation and rendering features. These major upgrades also reaffirm Softimage’s commitment to delivering the industry’s most powerful, complete and integrated set of animation features to a broader audience.

Customers laud the new Windows NT-based versions of Softimage 3D, which have been available on Silicon Graphics® systems since May:

  • Activision Studios. Steve Stringer, a producer at Activision Studios in Los Angeles, said Softimage 3D version 3.5 offers the realism that interactive games require.
    “In my games, you need to interact with the characters, so they need to be believable. That’s why we switched to Softimage 3D. We started using Softimage 3D 3.5 about a month ago for our character animations because we found that it gives our artists the tools they need to make the characters come alive.”

  • Digital Domain. “In the games business, you need to generate a lot of animation very quickly,”
    said Josh Scherr, new-media digital artist for Digital Domain in Los Angeles.
    “The great thing about Softimage 3D 3.5 is that you can try a lot of different techniques and see the results right away. The color-reduction tools alone have saved us a tremendous amount of time. Softimage 3D 3.5 is a great solution that gives us a lot of versatility out of the box.”

  • Blue Sky Studios. “The great thing about Softimage 3D is that we can adapt it to our needs,”
    said Carlos Saldanha, animation director at Blue Sky Studios in Harrison, N.Y.
    “It’s very easy to create plug-ins with the new Softimage SDK to get just the effect you’re looking for. Among the plug-ins that Blue Sky has developed are Animate Connect, a means of smoothly connecting patches, and Pol-2-Patch, which converts a simple polygon model into a seamless skin.”

  • Sega Enterprises Ltd. “Last year, Sega selected Softimage 3D as the official 3-D design tool for Sega® Saturn game developers,”
    said Shoichiro Irimajiri, executive vice president and CEO of Sega of America.
    “With the release of Softimage 3D version 3.5, we have a more powerful tool for all Sega Saturn developers.”

“In particular, we think that Softimage’s polygon modeling features and the polygon and color-reduction tools in Softimage 3D 3.5 are excellent,”
said Yu Suzuki, director of amusement software research and development for Sega Enterprises Ltd.
“We have recently begun using mental ray and feel it has great potential for game designers, both out of the box and to program special effects.”

New Product Highlights

The new version of Softimage 3D enhances every key area of production. Its enhancements include the following:

  • Significant new modeling capabilities, including advanced polygon modeling and a powerful, fully relational nonuniform rational B-spline (NURBS) modeling system

  • Significant enhancements to the powerful mental ray rendering system – including distributed rendering across Windows NT-based and Silicon Graphics systems. With this new release, many customers consider mental ray to be the most powerful rendering system in the industry.

  • Special features for game developers, including advanced polygon and color reduction, a new texture editor and enhanced file export for Sega Saturn and PlayStation® game consoles, the Direct3D
    ™
    API and virtual reality modeling language (VRML)

  • An advanced, high-performance particle-animation system with an extremely flexible and easy-to-use user environment

  • New custom effects modules, such as ambulate and multiped, a footstep-driven animation system for creating two-, four-, six- and eight-legged characters

  • A new effects library that includes mental ray shaders and presets, particle options and more than 100 MB of motion-capture data. These effects include downloadable geometry for traditionally challenging visual effects such as hair, snow, rain, tree leaves, soda bubbles, fire and smoke.

  • A new Softimage software development kit (SDK) that is being embraced by hundreds of developers and customers and provides a robust environment for creating plug-in applications

Many of these advanced features, such as particles and mental ray, are available on the Windows NT platform for the first time.

Softimage 3D and Softimage 3D Extreme are available for both Windows NT and Silicon Graphics systems. Softimage 3D Extreme offers all of the modeling, animation and rendering features of Softimage 3D, with the addition of meta-clay modeling, particles, mental ray and Softimage Live. Software functionality across Windows NT-based and Silicon Graphics systems is identical.

Pricing and Availability

The approximate price for Softimage 3D is $7,995 (U.S.); Softimage 3D Extreme is $13,995 (U.S.). Upgrade pricing varies. Licensed users of Softimage 3D version 3.5 (both configurations) can license standalone mental ray rendering seats with prices starting at approximately $2,495 (U.S.) per seat. All products are available through Softimage’s network of authorized resellers.

Founded in 1986, Softimage develops software for graphics-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 on the Internet at (http://www.softimage.com/) and (http://microsoft.com/) respectively.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
“MSFT”
) 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 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; Internet: (http://www.softimage.com/)

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

Softimage 3D Version 3.5 Features and Innovations

  • Modeling The modeling capabilities of Softimage 3D version 3.5 have been significantly enhanced with fully relational, nonuniform rational B-splines (NURBS) support. The Meta-Clay modeler offers unprecedented flexibility in manipulating shapes and surfaces and providing an intuitive means of modeling that users have likened to sculpting with clay. Softimage 3D version 3.5 allows NURBS-based models to be converted downward to polygon-based models, and vice versa. A new feature called Scene Manager incorporates a spreadsheet-style editor that allows users to locate and edit specific elements in a complex scene quickly and easily.

  • Animation Softimage 3D’s breakthrough inverse kinematics have been further enhanced with generalized skeletons, in which any object can function as a skeleton, allowing users to create unique characters by skinning geometry onto the skeleton. Softimage 3D’s industry-leading advancements in the field of motion capture are also made accessible by the inclusion of more than 100 MB of motion-capture data. The collection contains complex and lifelike motion data for dancing, fighting, falling, jumping, sports moves and more. Softimage 3D version 3.5 supports nearly 30 motion-capture drivers, and it also incorporates custom effects features, including ambulate and multiped for animating two-, four-, six- and eight-legged creatures. Softimage 3D Extreme includes an advanced particle-animation system with an intuitive graphical user interface. It also incorporates Softimage Live for viewing interactive 3-D applications including virtual sets.

  • Rendering Softimage 3D 3.5 ships with a high-speed internal renderer with full ray-tracing capabilities. An enhanced version of mental ray is available with Softimage 3D Extreme, with an improved interface that includes a preview window and a shader ball. In addition, mental ray now supports distributed rendering, enabling the configuration of cost-effective renderfarms using a variety of hardware platforms simultaneously, including Intel Pentium Pro, Alpha, MIPS and Silicon Graphics. Networked and standalone licenses of mental ray are also available to licensed users of Softimage 3D version 3.5 and are affordably priced.

  • Custom effects libraries

Softimage 3D Extreme ships with a library of hundreds of particle effects, mental ray shaders and motion-capture files. A variety of effects are provided, including hair, smoke, fog, fire, rain, bubbles, tree leaves, environmental effects (such as sunrises, sunsets and cloud cover), water, lens flare and other effects that are normally difficult and time-consuming to create. This extensive library will be continually updated on the Softimage World Wide Web site ( (http://www.softimage.com/) ).

  • Special interactive and game development features

Softimage 3D 3.5 includes advanced polygon and color-reduction tools to improve
run-time performance of models while retaining image quality. In the new release of Softimage 3D, these tools automatically maintain the best ratio of complexity to quality and preserve texture and material boundaries. A new texture editor allows customers to paint on 2-D textures and see the results applied immediately to 3-D models. Also, customers can edit select textures interactively. Geometry, materials, textures and animations can be imported and exported in the most popular file formats, including Sega Saturn, PlayStation game consoles, Direct3D and VRML. Game developers for Softimage 3D can also view on target with Sega Saturn systems.

  • Softimage SDK

Softimage 3D 3.5 ships with an advanced 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.

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