Softimage Announces Additional Hardware-Vendor Support for Digital Studio

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 5, 1996 — Softimage, a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., announced at SIGGRAPH ’96 today that
“Digital Studio” (its code name) continues to gain broad hardware-industry support and development commitments. Scheduled for release this winter, Digital Studio redefines the way digital content is conceptualized, created, produced and disseminated by providing an integrated, seamless toolset for completing digital production projects from start to finish. A new hardware platform, announced today, that supports Digital Studio software centers on the Matrox® high-performance DigiSuite hardware and includes components from Ciprico Inc., Merging Technologies, Miranda Technologies, NeTpower Inc. and Pinnacle Systems Inc. This hardware platform suite for Digital Studio is in addition to Play Inc.’s Trinity hardware platform, which was announced at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in April.

Softimage underscored the technical and marketing strengths of these developers as an indication of the industry momentum and platform independence of Digital Studio.
“We’re seeing a broad, very high-caliber cross-section of the hardware community coming on board for the Digital Studio phenomenon,”
said Daniel Langlois, founder of Softimage and senior director at Microsoft.
“The enthusiasm and buy-in of these innovative, highly regarded players are clear confirmation of the excitement in the industry about Digital Studio.”

Digital Studio is built from the ground up as a fully multithreaded software application based on the Microsoft® Windows NT® 4.0 operating system. Product highlights and innovations include the following:

  • Digital Studio is aimed at redefining the production process by providing an integrated toolset for completing digital production projects from start to finish within a single application. Key components include professional nonlinear video editing and compositing, painting, digital audio editing, titling, special effects and project media management.

  • Digital Studio’s revolutionary environment and real-time performance enable real collaboration between technical and nontechnical artists to explore creative options easily and to dramatically improve the quality of the final production.

  • Digital Studio is expected to set new price/performance standards by delivering real-time ITU-R BT.601 video editing, effects and compositing comparable to that of systems costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • Unique to the industry, Digital Studio is an open system and the only production system designed to operate on a variety of hardware solutions. Digital Studio APIs will be published in a software development kit. Because of the highly extensible architecture of Digital Studio, developers and customers can create added functionality using the software development kit.

  • Digital Studio is resolution-independent, allowing content to be scaled from feature-film resolution to that of emerging high-end Internet-based applications.

Softimage has enlisted a select group of beta sites to begin testing Digital Studio in early fall. The company also expects to announce additional hardware platforms for Digital Studio in the coming months.

Additional Hardware Platform Details

At SIGGRAPH ’96, Softimage is demonstrating Digital Studio software on a hardware suite based on Matrox’s DigiSuite technology. The elegant, compact design of Matrox DigiSuite, on two PCI-bus boards, features two real-time video channels with user-selectable quality levels from preview mode to mathematically lossless mode. DigiSuite’s unique lossless mode is identical to uncompressed video while also increasing storage capacity. In addition, DigiSuite provides five DVE processors with sub-pixel motion; an ultra-high speed 32-bit RGB-alpha graphics frame buffer; one alpha channel keyer and two luminance keyers plus two wipe/tile generators, all with anti-aliased edges; two chroma keyers with chroma suppression and shadow preservation; seven background generators for dynamic color ramps; and advanced analog and digital filters to ensure ultra-high-quality 601 component digital video. DigiSuite offers this unparalleled production power and superior broadcast quality at a desktop multimedia price.

NeTpower’s Sparta workstation, running Windows NT 4.0, has been certified to be the host system for this Digital Studio hardware platform. Softimage also plans to certify systems from Digital Equipment Corp. and Intergraph Corp. over the next few months. Following is information about each participating company:

  • Ciprico (Plymouth, Minn.). With a well-established reputation for delivering high-performance storage solutions to the film and video industry, Ciprico brings its own credibility and key storage capability to the Digital Studio environment. Through Ciprico’s new entry-level, ATA-based 6500 Series of Disk Arrays, Digital Studio users can achieve real-time transfer speeds for compressed or uncompressed 601 component digital video streams, at an economical price. The ATA-based 6500 Series of Disk Arrays will be demonstrated in Ciprico’s booth at SIGGRAPH ’96.

  • Matrox Electronic Systems Inc. (Dorval, Quebec, Canada). For more than 20 years, Matrox has been a technology leader in computer-based digital video hardware and software tools. Matrox continues to raise the bar on technology with products such as DigiSuite, a full broadcast multimedia platform. In the past two years alone, Matrox has been recognized with more than 100 prestigious industry awards and has equipped more than 1 million people with leading-edge technology. DigiSuite will be used to preview Digital Studio in the Softimage booth and will be demonstrated in the Matrox booth at SIGGRAPH ’96.

  • Merging Technologies (San Diego). Merging Technologies specializes in digital workstation products for the professional audio market. Through Merging Technologies’ DSP-based hardware audio technology and Virtual Studio Software Development Kit, powerful audio capabilities can be integrated into Digital Studio, including multichannel real-time audio mixing, real-time effects processing (EQ, dynamics processing, digital delay processing), and nonlinear audio recording and editing. Merging Technologies was an early Digital Studio development supporter, and its audio cards are installed in all Digital Studio beta systems. Merging Technologies’ specialized audio technologies will be demonstrated with Digital Studio in the Softimage booth.

  • Miranda Technologies (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). Miranda has earned an international reputation as a leader in video digital signal processing (VDSP), specializing in the development of products that facilitate the interconnection and visualization of digital video production equipment. Digital Studio users will be able to take advantage of Miranda’s serial digital 4:2:2 I/O card, Digilinx, which is fully compatible with the Movie-2 Bus. Digilinx supports up to three inputs and two outputs of digital video and alpha key signals to be processed in real time within the workstation. Miranda guarantees full compliance with SMPTE 259M component digital video signal standards, both on input and output. Miranda will be exhibiting its I/O products in booth 1756.

  • NeTpower Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.). NeTpower, founded in 1993, is the only computer systems company exclusively focused on offering, supporting and optimizing the Microsoft Windows NT environment as a cost-effective, high-performance alternative to the UNIX® operating system. The company’s Pentium® Pro processor-based workstations and servers – designed for video, mechanical CAD, database/infoserver and Internet applications – offer the power of UNIX machines at a fraction of the price while providing the ease-of-use capabilities of Microsoft Windows NT. NeTpower’s management team consists of some of the foremost experts in the systems industry. The company has offices worldwide. NeTpower solutions can be viewed at the company’s SIGGRAPH booth.

  • Pinnacle Systems (Sunnyvale, Calif.). Pinnacle Systems’ GenieFusion is the first
    3-D DVE product compatible with Windows NT and the ActiveMovie
    API, Microsoft’s high-performance digital video architecture. GenieFusion provides specialized graphics acceleration that will enable Digital Studio to create and output customizable effects in real time – page turns with highlights and shadows, water ripples, spheres, slats and waves. A PCI-based product, GenieFusion delivers 16 billion pixel operations per second on a single PCI card and supports the high-speed Movie 2 Bus standard for compatibility with open-systems dual-stream compression/decompression (codec) solutions such as Matrox DigiSuite.

Play’s Trinity Platform

Product development continues to optimize Play’s Trinity platform for Digital Studio. Trinity is a real-time digital video and audio production system for Windows® -based PCs. Trinity’s hardware performs unique real-time digital video effects, such as warping video onto 3-D shapes, with virtual light sources, shadows and reflections. It also provides a chroma keyer, video switcher, graphics engine, audio mixer, audio effects and an uncompressed video disk storage system.

Softimage Information

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

Matrox is a registered trademark of Matrox Electronic Systems Inc.

UNIX is a registered trademark in the United States and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company Ltd.

Pentium is a registered trademark of Intel Corp.

Reader contact:

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

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

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