Softimage Announces Softimage 3D 3.7 Service Pack

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 5, 1997 — At SIGGRAPH ’97 today, Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., announced the fall arrival of the first Service Pack (SP1) for Softimage® 3D 3.7. With improvements in production workflow, interactive tools and mental ray
rendering, SP1 provides a significant feature upgrade to Softimage 3D 3.7. This Service Pack is also the first link to the new Softimage standalone rendering product, currently code-named “TWISTER.” Due for release early next year, “TWISTER” is considered a major milestone on the road to the next generation of Softimage 3D, currently code-named “SUMATRA.”

“This is another innovative step for Softimage,” said Dan Kraus, product manager for Softimage 3D. “With SP1, we’re introducing many features that will make production faster, while continuing to provide cutting-edge tools for the film, broadcast and game industries. SP1 is an important step forward toward our long-term vision for ‘SUMATRA.'”

Leading facilities such as those of Digital Domain, Electronic Arts Inc., Fox Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, R/Greenberg Associates Inc. (RGA) and Sega Entertainment Inc. provide regular product feedback to Softimage and are excited to see the many customer-driven features that will be added with the new Service Pack.

John Rix, technical director of advanced graphics at Electronic Arts (Canada) Inc. and a current Service Pack beta tester, commented, “Although this is just called a service pack, there are major enhancements to the workflow and the new features are charting the path toward ‘SUMATRA.’ Softimage is once again raising the bar for digital animation tools and leading the drive to the next generation of professional character animation.”

Softimage 3D 3.7 SP1 Features

Softimage 3D 3.7 SP1 extends Softimage 3D animation tools – an industry standard for professional animation – offering even greater flexibility and more production convenience for animators. Improvements to Inverse Kinematics and Shader animation, as well as new selection and viewing tools, combine to provide unparalleled character-animation control.

The mental ray workflow has also been updated to provide quick and intuitive access to key rendering tools, such as volumetric lights, halos and other optical effects. A revolutionary new tool called RenderMap allows the prerendering of textures using all scene-rendering parameters, including mental ray shaders. Prerendering increases interactivity by precalculating all shading information and applying it to each object.

Softimage 3D 3.7 SP1 introduces full support for the Nintendo 64 games platform, providing the next set of tools necessary for professional game developers to create premier titles. Improvements to the integrated 2-D and 3-D paint, including texture manipulation and conversion tools, significantly speed the UV editing process. A detailed list of features can be found on the Softimage Web site, .

“TWISTER” – The Next Step

“TWISTER” is a fully interactive, standalone rendering solution that combines the speed and power of the Softimage mental ray 2.0 renderer with the next-generation interface and architecture of “SUMATRA.” Based on this new architecture, “TWISTER” is designed to work in conjunction with Softimage 30 3.7 SP1. The goal of the product is to provide a finishing and rendering solution that features next-generation rendering functionality while providing a transition platform for current Softimage customers to move to the new generation of Softimage products. “TWISTER” fits neatly into the Softimage 3D 3.7 SP1 workflow, providing an interactive tool set that complements and extends existing functionality. “TWISTER” is targeted for release in early 1998.

Pricing and Availability

Delivered every quarter, Service Packs are designed to provide Softimage customers with maintenance agreements, quick and regular access to new features, performance optimizations, and new content such as textures, particle presets and motion capture data. The new Softimage 3D 3.7 Service Pack will be delivered at no additional cost to current Softimage customers with maintenance agreements. New customers will automatically receive both version 3.7 of Softimage 3D or the Softimage 3D extreme version and the Service Pack upgrade.

Available on both SGI and Windows NT® operating system platforms, version 3.7 is at the leading edge of hardware developments, fully optimizing SGI IRIX platforms and Microsoft Windows NT 4.0-based Intel Pentium Pro and Alpha RISC-based systems. The approximate price for Softimage 3D is $7,995 (U.S.); the approximate price for the Softimage 3D extreme version is $13,995 (U.S.). Upgrade pricing varies. Licensed users of Softimage 3D version 3.7 (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 the Softimage network of authorized resellers.

A complete list of Softimage 3D features, as well as additional information, can be found on the Web at or obtained by calling Softimage at (800) 576-3846.

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 Toonz (2-D cel animation). 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 and mental ray are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

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New Features Provided in the Softimage 3D 3.7 SP1

Production Tools

  • Selectability. Make objects selectable or unselectable.

  • Transparent Ghosting (Shade View). View ghosted objects that are shaded with points, lines, highlights, etc. visible on the back faces of the object.

  • Hidden Line Viewing Options (Shade View). View all shaded objects in a pseudo-hidden wireframe mode.

  • Grid Lock in the Schematic View. Lock element icons in position in schematic view.

  • Enhanced Rotoscopy View Mode. Choose between .pic files and SGI movie files for rotoscopy.

  • Editing Shader Fcurves. Access function curves for shaders (e.g., camera lens and output, light, material, volume, shadow, 2-D texture, 3-D texture, volume shader [atmosphere]).

  • New update options when manipulating Fcurves. Have an object update in another window while manipulating or editing its function curve.

  • Chain Behavior tool. Determine the behavior of a chain by specifying the general orientation of its resolution plane depending on a specific position of its end effector.

Mental Ray Workflow Tools

  • FXDirector. Quickly and easily create special optical and lighting effects, such as lens flares, volumetric lighting, star filters and slide projectors, using mental ray shaders.

  • ToonAssistant. Create inking and painting special effects that simulate cel animation.

  • Preview in a window. View a mental ray preview in a separate window.

  • Enhanced conversion from cylindrical/spherical textures to UV textures. Convert a cylindrical or a spherical texture map into UV coordinates without having to save a duplicated image on disk.

  • New supported shaders. Bionic_Volume, Bionic_Light, Bionic_Lens, Cptn Nemo, Cylindric, Dense, Dusty, EZ_Env_atmosphere, Frosty, Hot Stuff, Shadow Matte, Sprite, Static Cling, Strauss, Toon Wire, Toon Soft, Toon, TriSpec, XmasBall

  • New shader presets. EZ_Environment Atmosphere, Environment Horizon Night, Environment Horizon Day, Lens Flare

Games and Interactive Features

  • Nintendo 64 support

  • Polygon Attribute Editor. Specify Nintendo-specific rendering attributes on a per-polygon basis.

  • On-Target Viewer. View the animation of a Nintendo 64 exported scene (standalone viewer only).

  • Full support for Geometry, polygon attributes, Hierarchy Filtering, SRT and Animation, including Camera/Light Export. Exports the current Softimage scene in a format usable with the Nintendo 64 Development Libraries.

  • Nintendo 64 Development Kit. Includes all the files needed to compile the N64Export and on-target viewer tools and add custom functionality

  • DirectX
    3.0 API support. Export/Import/Viewer support for DirectX 3.0 file format.

  • H1500 support. Use this Ethernet-based device over a network.

  • Vertex color alpha painting. Define the alpha value for all vertices of each polygon.

  • RGB blending control. Control the brush alpha blending.

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