Softimage Announces SOFTIMAGE|3D Version 3.8

Softimage Announces SOFTIMAGE|3D Version 3.8

LAS VEGAS, April 6, 1998 — Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., today announced version 3.8 of its 3-D modeling, animation and rendering software package, SOFTIMAGE® |3D, at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB’98) conference and exhibition. SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 combines new features and capabilities for character animation, games development and texturing. In addition to providing greater control for current users of SOFTIMAGE|3D, these new tools introduce several technologies fundamental to “Sumatra,” the code name for the next-generation of SOFTIMAGE|3D. SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 is also designed to work in conjunction with “Twister,” the code name for the Softimage interactive rendering system, which will be integrated into “Sumatra.” “Twister” is scheduled to ship later this year.

“With version 3.8, we’re introducing character animation features that make production significantly faster,” said Dan Kraus, SOFTIMAGE|3D product manager. “Version 3.8 solidifies our recognized leadership in character animation and delivers the most robust end-to-end solution for 3-D production.”

New Feature Highlights

An industrywide need for tools that facilitate productivity and creativity is the starting point for the new features and capabilities available in SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8. Contact with customers in production environments has been invaluable in determining the direction of the latest version of the software. New animation features in SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 include the following:

  • Animation Sequencer. This tool provides a high-level interface to character animation. It allows users to work with groups of animation called “Actions,” which can be managed independently. Groups of Actions can be defined for any character in a scene, then sequenced together on a time line, making management of complex character animation much easier.

  • Enhanced Character Skinning tools. These tools facilitate character animation by allowing the user to quickly and easily copy envelope weights between multiple envelopes, including envelopes of different resolution, saving time during character creation. Additionally, significant optimizations of both Inverse Kinematics and envelope calculations now provide greatly increased performance.

  • Audio support. SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 incorporates dopesheet-level support for sound data, allowing users to manipulate sound and animation data independently for the purpose of synchronization.

New game development features in SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 help speed the game development process. A radically new interactive polygon reduction tool allows users to maintain surface attributes, such as materials, textures and weights, eliminating the need to reapply attributes once a model is reduced. The ASCII file export/import viewer allows users to convert data between Softimage and a new, easily customizable file format based on the Microsoft® DirectX® API. The export/import viewer provides a quick and easy way for game developers to integrate SOFTIMAGE|3D models, textures and animations into their existing workflow. An efficient new color reduction tool makes use of an improved palette-generation algorithm to display 256 palette entries at once, reduce all the textures of selected models simultaneously and resize source images, speeding the overall color reduction process. And, the new GameFilter tool allows game developers to perform both hierarchy filtering and animation compression on a current scene, lightening the overall scene as necessary for download to a target platform.

Integration With Next-Generation Tools

SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 is designed to work in conjunction with “Twister,” the interactive rendering product that combines the power of the next generation of the mental ray® renderer with the interface and architecture of “Sumatra.” “Twister” fits neatly into the version 3.8 workflow and provides a transition platform to the next generation of Softimage products. “Twister” is targeted for release in the third quarter of 1998, and “Sumatra” is expected to be released at the end of the year.

Pricing and Availability

Customers who acquire SOFTIMAGE|3D as of March 1, 1998, with an extended warranty, or those customers renewing their existing maintenance contract, will receive an automatic upgrade to the “Sumatra” product line. In addition, at “Twister” release time, users of the extreme or extreme effects versions of SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.8 under a valid maintenance contract will receive a free copy of “Twister” that will run with the extreme version license. SOFTIMAGE|3D base customers can obtain “Twister” for a 50 percent discount off the estimated retail price.

About Softimage

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 cel animation). The company was acquired in 1994 by Microsoft. Additional information about Softimage and Microsoft can be found on the Internet at ( and , 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 and DirectX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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