NEW YORK, Nov. 6, 1997 — Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., today announced SOFTIMAGE ÒxDS (formerly code-named “Digital Studio”) at a U.S. customer and press event. For the first time on the Microsoft® Windows NT® operating system platform, SOFTIMAGE|DS brings together a comprehensive nonlinear production system for creating, editing and finishing videos – all in a unified integrated environment with a common interface. SOFTIMAGE|DS combines the functionality of a full online post-production company into one product at a fraction of the cost. SOFTIMAGE|DS is scheduled to ship to customers in December as a turnkey system with Intergraph Corp.’s StudioZ for SOFTIMAGE|DS.
Based on an advanced new software architecture, SOFTIMAGE|DS enables users to redefine the way they create content and improve its quality because it seamlessly integrates picture and audio editing, image treatment, special effects, compositing and project management. It is the first and only system to enable multiple tool sets to be applied to work in progress from a single system, enhancing the creativity and the productivity of the user.
“The production of video material has been hindered by problems associated with standalone disparate products with multiple user interfaces,” said Daniel Langlois, founder of Softimage. “Our vision has been to provide a single system environment that would shatter existing barriers to creativity – such as offline vs. online and editing vs. compositing. SOFTIMAGE|DS unifies all the tools and empowers the user to produce top-quality video imagery.”
Beta Testers Applaud New Innovation
SOFTIMAGE|DS has been tested extensively through a beta site customer program with over 30 top companies in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Testing of SOFTIMAGE|DS has included many types of projects, such as commercials, music videos, games and TV programs. Feedback from beta testers – such as 89 Greene, Big Bang, Electronic Arts Inc., First Edition Editorial, Happy Fish, Rainbow Studios, Rumble Fish, Stable Films, Super Suite and White Iron Digital – has given SOFTIMAGE|DS high marks for its breadth and depth of features, speed, efficiency and its potential to redefine video content creation.
“Softimage has delivered a broad range of useful and flexible tools that closely anticipates our needs in a comprehensive finishing package,” said Joe Beirne, vice president of systems for Stable Films. “The customizable interface, paint and compositing tools, and sophisticated audio and video editorial environment give us a superb value today as well as a great platform for future nonlinear 3-D and motion-imagery integration.”
The Turnkey Hardware Solution
With support for real-time noncompressed D1 resolution video (ITU-R-601), the first release of SOFTIMAGE|DS will be sold as a turnkey solution with Intergraph Corp.’s new StudioZ for SOFTIMAGE|DS-based workstation.
“Open computer architectures have begun to dominate in many sectors of digital media, and the launch of SOFTIMAGE|DS on Intergraph’s new StudioZ solution will now make open architecture computing a reality for video content creation,” said Jeff Edson, vice president, digital media division at Intergraph. “The price/performance benefits made possible by the open Windows NT architecture will make high-end video creation capabilities accessible to more professionals and bring major benefits to the video industry. It is Intergraph’s intention to be a leader in providing these solutions from the launch today into the future.”
The Future of Video Content Creation
SoftimagexDS is resolution-independent and was designed from the start to handle the full process of video production, from media management and audio and video editing to 2-D and 3-D effects, paint, image treatment, character generation and compositing. Tools can be applied interchangeably: for example, offering the possibility of editing a paint effect in compositing or easily switching from video to audio editing.
“SOFTIMAGExDS is a fundamental new approach to video production that will redefine the way videos are created and finished,” said Mike Stojda, product manager, SOFTIMAGExDS. “The underlying architecture provides incredible flexibility and extensibility by abstracting media type, resolution and hardware, and the depth of functionality within DS allows entire videos to be created and finished on a single system. TV and post-production companies benefit by being able to deploy a system to meet current needs that can also be reconfigured and scaled to meet ever-changing requirements. Clients can achieve optimal results and have a wealth of easily accessible tools with which to create and explore.”
SOFTIMAGE|DS features an open API that enables third-party vendors and customers to develop feature plug-ins and entire tool sets to extend the functionality of the system. Plug-ins and tool sets will be available for SOFTIMAGE|DS from vendors including 5D, Digital Video s.r.l., The Foundry, Merging Technologies, P.E. PHOTRON Ltd. and Ultimatte Corp.
The range and integration of the diverse tool set is made possible through the new object-oriented software architecture behind SOFTIMAGE|DS. Developed over four years by a dedicated team of programmers at Softimage’s Montreal headquarters, the new architecture enables multiple tools to be applied to images and audio from one application system.
SOFTIMAGExDS Pricing and Availability
Initial pricing for a complete hardware and software turnkey system will be approximately $100,000 (U.S.), which includes software, an Intergraph StudioZ dual-Pentium II 300 MHz system for SOFTIMAGE|DS with 30 minutes of noncompressed storage, dual monitors, and, in initial configurations and for a limited time, training, maintenance and support. Training for SOFTIMAGExDS is available through a worldwide network of authorized training centers whose instructors have been certified by Softimage following an exhaustive series of exams and simulated classroom scenarios. The first training centers to offer SOFTIMAGE|DS training are Future Media Concepts (New York), Video Symphony (Los Angeles), the University of Valenciennes (France) and Digital Scape (Japan).
Founded in 1986, Softimage develops software for media-rich applications including video, film, interactive games and CD-ROM applications. Products include SOFTIMAGE|DS (video production), SOFTIMAGE|3D (high-end animation), SOFTIMAGE|EDDIE (compositing) and Toonz (2-D cell animation). The company was acquired in 1994 by Microsoft. Additional information about Softimage and Microsoft can be found via the Internet at (http://www.softimage.com/) and http://www.microsoft.com/ , respectively.
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