Friday Flashback #285




The birth and growth of 3-D animation industry thus far has been short and aggressive. In less than 12 years, the technology has transcended its “scientific” origins, overcoming numerous barriers of feasibility, affordability, cost-effectiveness, complexity of use, and productivity to become pervasive in all aspects of narrative and interactive media. The resulting computer-generated images have progressed so significantly, that they are not easily distinguished from reality. Softimage has been at the forefront in the development of this industry – taming the technology to provide tools suited for a growing fraternity of digital artists and animators.


Softimage was founded in 1986 by National Film Board of Canada filmmaker Daniel Langlois on the principle of creating 3-D animation systems designed for and by artists. The concept marked a fundamental shift in how the industry viewed visual effects creation and generated a new breed of visual effects artists and animators. Langlois wanted to create animated films but was dissatisfied with the existing technology, which was insufficient for his needs and designed to be used by computer scientists and technologists. Thus, he set out to create a tool that would suit the needs of filmmakers and artists.

From its beginning, Softimage has had a singular focus on its customers – the digital content creators – a vision that remains at the core of Softimage’s corporate culture and business objectives. A vision that drives the production of tools that enable more digital artists to realise their creative dreams; to express their talent; to free them of technological constraints, and to provide them full control over the three dimensions of our world.

This vision has successfully driven Softimage to yield milestones that have shaped and influenced an entire industry: the first integrated animation and effects system for the entertainment industries – a de-facto standard for over ten years; on-going development of ground-breaking tools that have become the cornerstone of modern computer animation; the first company to port animation tools to PC (NT) – dramatically increasing affordability and accessibility of the tools; a broadening of integration vision to include post-production – with the release of SOFTIMAGE|DS (now Avid|DS); and SOFTIMAGE|XSI (formerly codenamed Sumatra) – next generation animation technology that dramatically improves quality and productivity – and again expands tool accessibility to the mass-markets in games and web content industries.

While these milestones are complimentary, the true drive of Softimage has come from a partnership with its customers who have helped to shape the personality of the product and the company – a unique culture, brand equity and sought after leadership position at the high-end of the market.

Softimage customers, numbering over 12,000 worldwide, are the most inspired and creative artists in the world – large customers such as Industrial Light and Magic, Digital Domain, Sega, Nintendo, and Sony. Plus, small customers, such as the one seat boutique or even the student just starting to learn – all of who use the product to its fullest and drive its future direction.

The results of this partnership is an impressive portfolio of hundreds of major feature films (Jurassic Park, Titanic, The Matrix, Men in Black, Star Wars – the Phantom Menace, Gladiator), games (Super Mario 64, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Wave Race, NBA Live) and countless thousands of commercial, corporate and student projects. This high-profile content has certainly affected the film and games industries and stands to expand dramatically beyond its current realm.

The current Managing Director of this pioneering company is Michael Stojda, who after working for the past seven years at Softimage and Avid and managing a wide range of effects, editing, and finishing products at both companies, was promoted in April 2001. Reporting to David Krall, President and CEO of Avid Technology, Michael provides strategic business and operational leadership for Softimage, Avid’s animation and special effects division.


Softimage currently serves users in the film, games and television industries with products focused on 2-D and 3-D content creation.


  • SOFTIMAGE| Eddie
  • XSI Viewer
  • SOFTIMAGE|Toonz LineTest
  • Toonz plug-in for Avid|DS
  • Elastic Reality
  • Matador
  • Media Illusion



Softimage founded on the principle of creating 3-D animation systems designed for and by artists, with or without computer experience. The concept marks a fundamental shift in how the industry views visual effects creation and generates what will soon be a new breed of visual effects artists and animators. Founder Daniel Langlois establishes the fundamental principle and design layouts of the Softimage Creative Environment system. Creative workflow and process integration become synonymous with Softimage’s philosophy.


Softimage President Daniel Langlois and engineers Richard Mercille and Laurent Lauzon begin development of the company’s 3-D application software. Intuitive and productive workflow, and a truly interactive CG environment are about to become a reality.


Launch of Creative Environment 1.0 at SIGGRAPH. For the first time, all 3-D processes (modeling, animation, and rendering) are integrated, providing those familiar with computer graphics with a new way of working and those unfamiliar with the technology with an opening into new possibilities. Featuring advanced tools and the first production-speed ray tracer, the system changes the approach to creating 3-D animation for years to come and sets a new standard for an entire generation of artists. Creative Environment (eventually to be known as SOFTIMAGE®|3D), will become the standard animation solution in the industry with credits in hundreds of major films, games and commercial productions.


Creative Environment 1.65 with texture mapping released, adding realism and vitality to 3-D imagery.


Creative Environment 2.1 released.


Creative Environment 2.5 released, featuring the Actor Module with Inverse Kinematics, Enveloping, Constraints. Enables animators to combine conventional techniques (such as editing and keyframing) with advanced CG tools such as IK, flexible envelopes, and dynamics. The system heralds a revolution in creating realistic CG character motion, and would later win an award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.


• Creative Environment 2.52 released.

• Softimage goes public on NASDAQ.

• Softimage acquires the EDDIE® software and Painterly Effects, providing a complete effects generation toolkit with advanced image processing tools for color correction, filtering, rotoscoping, morphing and painting.

• Softimage opens software to third-party developers.

• Channels performance capture technology offer a new dimension to CG character animation. The technology is used to create a memorable spot featuring 3-D dancing cars and gas pumps for Shell Oil.


• Second public offering of Softimage stock.

• Softimage and mental images announce rendering technology agreement.

• Softimage Creative Environment 2.6 and 2.65 released, featuring: File Management, metaclay, clusters, flock animation, weighted envelopes, channels, open system policy.

• Creative Toonz debuts. The 2-D animation package automates the more tedious tasks involved in 2-D cel animation, such as inking-&-painting, while still maintaining the look of hand-drawn images and characters.

• With computers now able to handle video, Softimage begins development of Digital Studio, as a step towards integrating the 2D/3D production pipeline. The power of a post-production environment in a software-based solution is about to become a reality.

• mental ray® and particles introduced. mental ray, an advanced stand-alone rendering system and Particles, an interactive particle animation system used to create natural phenomena such as clouds, snow, fire, etc. offer new flexibility in visual effects creation.


• Softimage merges with Microsoft Corporation, offering a unique opportunity to explore and develop new solutions for the industry. Development of Digital Studio further supported.

• Creative Environment 2.65 released, featuring: Expressions, dopesheet, ghost mode, shape interpolation.

• IDEAS: Interactive Developer’s Entertainment Authoring Software with ProPlay and ProPlay Plus solutions, includes: Softimage Creative Environment, NURBS support, polygon and color reduction tools, dynamic simulations and inverse kinematics. Features: Eddie compositing, video-effects software, distributed ray tracer and 3-D particles kit. The system further supports Softimage’s commitment to games developers.


• Exploiting the power of the Pentium processor, Softimage leads the way developing the first high-end product on a platform of choice (Irix/Windows NT).

• SOFTIMAGE|3D version 3.0 released, featuring: NURBS modelling, relational modelling, trimming, Instantiation, polygon reduction, tangent-to-path, Constraint, Q-stretch, Expressions, Motion control, Actor, Particle, mental ray rendering, Metaclay.

• User-interface enhancements provide hot-key remapping.

• SOFTIMAGE|3D “extreme” version launched featuring: Osmose, Virtual Theatre, mental ray.

• SOFTIMAGE|Toonz version 3.5 and SOFTIMAGE|Eddie version 3.2 released.

• Softimage introduces its Virtual Theatre, featuring performance capture and real-time compositing.


• SOFTIMAGE|3Dv 3.5, 3.51 released on the Windows NT platform, delivering high-end animation tools to a wide-range of CG artists.

• SOFTIMAGE|SDK Trance CD released.

• “Sumatra”(code name) and RenderFarm unveiled.

• SOFTIMAGE|DS prototype on Windows NT platform unveiled.


•SOFTIMAGE|DS, one of the world’s most comprehensive nonlinear production systems (NLP™) for creating, editing and finishing videos, is launched. Over 10,000 people attended launch events in over 20 cities. Based on an advanced new software architecture, SOFTIMAGE|DS enables users to redefine the way they create content and improves the creative process by seamlessly integrating picture and audio editing, compositing, paint, image treatment, special effects, character generation and project management into one environment. Digital audio editing and non-compressed images meet painting, compositing, titling, image treatment and special effects as never before.

• SOFTIMAGE|3D Version 3.7 Service Pack 1 is designed to meet the creative needs of artists in the film, broadcast and games industries. 80% of the improvements are the direct result of contact with customers in production environments improving the trajectory between creative idea and realization.

• Softimage is the first to offer high-end comprehensive noncompressesd post-production system on the Windows NT platform (SOFTIMAGE|3D and SOFTIMAGE|DS).


• Avid Technology, Inc. acquires Softimage. The two companies join forces to develop the next generation tools for digital artists.

• SOFTIMAGE|3D v. 3.8 and SOFTIMAGE|DS v. 2.1 shipped.

• Animation Sequencer introduced.



• Animation Redefined™: “Sumatra” (code name), the world’s first nonlinear animation editing system introduced. Dubbed “the next generation animation production solution”. Based on the same architecture as SOFTIMAGE|DS, “Sumatra” merges all 3-D animation, editing, and composting tasks, taking digital technology to the next level.


•SOFTIMAGE|XSI begins shipping.

The Motion Factory, Inc., is acquired. The Fremont, CA-based company specialises in applications for the creation, delivery and playback of interactive rich 3-D media for character-driven games and the Web.


•Softimage enters in to Xbox tools and middleware agreement with Microsoft.

•Softimage announce support for Linux.

•SOFTIMAGE|XSI v1.5 begins shipping.

•Softimage and Electric Rain collaborate to bring Flash, EPS, AI and SVG exports to SOFTIMAGE|XSI customers.

•SOFTIMAGE|XSI v2.0 unveiled at Siggraph 2001 with release scheduled for October 2001.

•SOFTIMAGE|3D v4.0 unveiled at Siggraph 2001 with release scheduled for Autumn 2001.



101 Dalmatians / Industrial light & Magic (1996)

Saving Private Ryan / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)

12 Monkeys / Peerless Camera (1996)
Shadows / Mitch Levine, Director (2000)

A Simple Wish / Blue Sky (1997)
Small Soldiers / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)

Air Force One / Cinesite (1997)
Snake Eyes / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)

Alien Resurrection / Blue Sky | VIFX (1997)
Space Jam / Industrial Light & Magic (1996)

An American Werewolf in Paris / Santa Barbara Studios (1997)
Spawn / Industrial Light & Magic (1997)

Anastasia / Fox Animation Studio (1997)
Species II / Digital Magic & Transfer (1998)

Antz / Pacific Data Images & Dreamworks Pictures (1998)
Speed2 / Industrial Light & Magic (1997)

Babe: Pig in the City / Animal Logic (1998)
Sphere / Cinesite (1998)

Balto / Amblimation (1995)
Starship Troopers / Tippett (1997)

Batman and Robin / BUF Compagnie (1997)
Star Trek: First Contact / Industrial Light & Magic (1996)

Casper / Industrial Light & Magic (1995)
Stuart Little (1999) / Centropolis FX

Contact / Sony Pictures Imageworks / Weta Ltd. (1997)
Star trek: Generations / Industrial Light & Magic (1994)

Death Becomes Hers / Industrial Light & Magic (1993)
Star Wars Trilogy / Industrial Light & Magic (1997)

Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (2000)

Deep Impact / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)

Surviving Picasso / Peerless Camera (1996)

Deep Rising / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)

T2-3D / Digital Domain (1996)

Dragonheart / Industrial Light & Magic (1996)

The Adventures of Pinocchio / MediaLab (1996)

Eraser / Mass Illusion (1996)

The Borrowers / Framestore (1998)

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas / Peerless Camera (1998)

The Edge / Peerless Camera (1997)

Fight Club / Pixel Liberation Front / BUF (1999)

The Fifth Element / Digital Domain (1997)

Flubber / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)

The Flintstones / Industrial Light & Magic (1994)

Forces of Nature / Dreamworks Pictures (1999)

The Frighteners / Weta Ltd. (1996)

Galaxy Quest / ILM (1999)

Gladiator (2001)

The Island of Dr. Moreau / Digital Domain (1996)

Godzilla / Centropolis (1998)

The Lost World / Industrial Light & Magic (1997)

Jack Frost / ILM / Warner Bros (1998)

The Mask / Industrial Light & Magic (1994)

The Matrix

The Mummy and The Mummy Returns

Joe’s Apartment / Blue Sky (1996)

The Relic / VIFX (1997)

Judge Dredd / (1995)

The Shadow / R/Greenberg & Associates (1994)

Jumanji / Industrial Light & Magic (1995)

The Thin Red Line / Animal Logic (1998)

Jurassic Park / Industrial Light & Magic (1993)

Jurassic Park 2 / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)

Jurassic Park 3 / Industrial Light & Magic (2001)

Moulin Rouge (2001)

La Cite des Enfants Perdus / BUF Compagnie (1995)

Mission Impossible / Industrial Light & Magic (1996)

Lost in Space / Framestore (1998)

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation / The Digital Magic

Mars Attack! / Industrial light & Magic (1996)

My Favorite Martian / Tippett Studio (1998)

Matrix / Animal Logic (1998)
Prince of Egypt / Dreamworks Pictures


Men in Black / Industrial Light & Magic (1997)

Meet Joe Black / Industrial Light & Magic (1998)


20,000 leagues – The Adventure Continues / Southpeak Entertainment (2000) NHL Hockey / Electronic Arts ( 1996)

3D Movie Maker / Microsoft (1996)
NHL Hockey 2000 / Electronic Arts ( 2000)

9 – The Last Resort / Tribeca Interactive (1996)
Nanostorm / Dream Mechanics (Fall 2000)
Aero Dancing F / CRI (CSK) (1999) The Need for Speed / Electronic Arts

( 1996)

Apocrypha / Dream Mechanics (coming in 2000)
Nights / SEGA

Assault Rigs / Psygnosis (1996)
Obsidian / Rocket Science Games (1997)

Battlezone / Activision (1998)
Panzer Dragoon / SEGA (1998)

Battlezone II / Activision (1999)
Power Stone 2 / Capcom (1999)

Beowulf: Attack of Grendel / Terraglyph (1996)
ReBoot / Electronic Arts (1998)

BioHazard Code: Veronica / Capcom (1999)
Resident Evil / Capcom (1997)

BioHazard 3 Last Escape / Capcom (1999)
Riven / Cyan (1997)

Chaos Break / Taito Corporation (1999)
Rumplestiltskin / Terraglyph Interactive

City of Lost Children / Psygnosis (1997)
Rune / Human Head Studios (2000)

Colony Wars / Psygnosis (1998)
Shenmue / CRI SEGA (1999)

Dance Dance Revolution 3rd MIX / KONAMI (1999)
Ski Champ / SEGA (1997)

Dark Earth / Kalisto Entertainment (1996)
Solar Crusade / Infogrames

Daytona USA / SEGA (1996)
Soldier of Fortune / Raven Software (2000)

Dead or Alive 2 / Tecmo (2000)
Sonic Fighters / SEGA

Destruction Derby / Psygnosis (1996)
Soldier of Fortune / Raven Software (2000)

Drowned God / Inscape (1996)
Soul Blade / Namco

Dungeon Keeper 2 / Bullfrog (1999)
Soul Caliber / Namco (1999)

F1 World Grand Prix / Video System (1999)
Space Channel 5 / SEGA (2000)

FIFA Soccer 97 / Electronic Arts (1997)
Spoon / Capcom (1999)

FIFA 98 / Electronic Arts (1998)
S.P.Q.R. / Cybersite (1996)

FIFA 2000 / Electronic Arts (2000)
Starship Titanic / The Digital Village (1997)

Fighting Vipers / SEGA (1996)
Storm Sled / Electronic Arts (1999)

Final Fantasy VII / Square (1998)
Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force / Raven Software

Formula 1 / Psygnosis (1997)
Super GT / SEGA

Gadget / Synergy (1994/1997)
Super Mario64 / Nintendo (1996)

Gearheads / R/GA Interactive (1996)
NHRA Drag Racing / Tantrum Entertainment (1998)

Get Bass / SEGA (1997)
Ted Shredd / Digital Domain

Grim Fandango / LucasArts (1998)
Tenka / Psygnosis

Tekken1-2-3 / Namco (1996-1998)

Hansel & Gretel: The Enchanted Castle / Terraglyph Interactive (1996)
The 5th Element / Kalisto Entertainment (1998)

Harley-Davidson & L.A. Riders / SEGA (1997)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park / SEGA (1997)

Hexen II /Raven Software (1997)
Time Commando / Adeline Software

Heretic II / Raven Software (1998)
Tobal No. 1 / Square

Killer Loop / VCC Entertainment (1999)
Toy Commander / No Cliché (1999)

Kowloon’s Gate / Sony Music Entertainment (1996)
Triple Play / Electronic Arts (1997)

Kessen / KOEI (1999)
Triple Play 2000 / Electronic Arts (2000)

Kidsongs / Terraglyph Interactive (1996)
Virtua Fighter series / SEGA (1996 – 1997)

Krazy Ivan / Psygnosis (1997)
Virtua Striker2 / SEGA (1994/1997)

Last Bronx / SEGA (1997)
Wave race64 / Nintendo

Live J-League 1999 Perfect Striker / KONAMI (1999)
Wild Wild West – The Steel Assassin / Southpeak Entertainment (1999)

Mission Pack / Raven Software (1998)
Wipe Out / Psygnosis (1996)

Monster Truck Madness / Microsoft (1996)
Wipe Out XL / 2097 / Psygnosis (1997)

MUCK / KONAMI (1999)
Wipeout 3 / Psygnosis (1999)

NBA Live / Electronic Arts (1996)
Zelda64 / Nintendo (1998)

NBA Live 2000 / Electronic Arts (2000)

NBA Full Court Press / Microsoft

© 2001 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Softimage, Eddie and Avid are registered trademarks and Animation Redefined and NLP are trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. mental ray and mental images are registered trademarks of mental images GmbH & Co. KG in the USA and/or other countries. Academy Award and Oscar are trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Emmy is a registered trademark of ATAS/NATAS. Nintendo 64 is a trademark of Nintendo. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners. Product specifications are subject to change without notice.

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