Friday Flashback #345


Softimage “Twister” Enters Beta at SIGGRAPH

ORLANDO, Fla., July 20, 1998 — Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., announced today at SIGGRAPH 98 that its next-generation rendering system, code-named Twister™, is entering the beta test cycle with delivery to customers scheduled for the fourth quarter of 1998.

Twister is the first module of the soon-to-be-released 3-D animation platform, code-named “Sumatra,” which provides a revolutionary new approach to character animation and introduces the concept of nonlinear animation (NLA).

Twister is well-suited for use in combination with SOFTIMAGE® |3D version 3.8, now shipping to customers, which allows users to perform interactive rendering in a next-generation environment. Combining the power of mental ray® version 2.0 with the architecture and interface of the “Sumatra” next-generation 3-D platform, Twister fits neatly into the SOFTIMAGE|3D 3.8 workflow with an interactive tool set that complements and extends the functionality of the current-generation software.

Twister takes advantage of the forthcoming “Sumatra” user interface, which provides much smoother workflow and data access while maintaining the familiar and intuitive Softimage user environment that has become integral to much of the animation industry.

Twister will revolutionize the way people handle production-level rendering,” said Dan Kraus, product manager for Softimage. “Not only does Twister provide the next generation of mental ray, but it also makes tuning and editing scene-rendering parameters a completely interactive process. We fully expect Twister to set a new benchmark in the industry as the first truly interactive renderer.”

“As a beta test site for mental ray 2.0, we’ve been extremely pleased with the truly interactive nature of the tool set and we eagerly await the opportunity to put ‘Twister’ to use in our facility,” said Dave Throssell, head of 3-D animation at London-based The Mill FX.

“Twister seamlessly integrates mental ray 2.0 into the rendering environment, thereby taking full advantage of new functionality for both interactive and batch rendering.”

 

Interactive Renderer Delivers Improved Creativity and Workflow

Twister allows users to render directly in the 3-D view, with instant feedback that shows how parameter changes affect the final rendering quality. Whereas rendering was once a time-intensive process, it will now become essentially another viewing mode. This interactive view evaluates the entire scene-rendering tree, and it allows users to view and modify all rendering effects, including motion blur and shadow mapping.

Twister also integrates many production conveniences, such as scene-level renderpass definition, allowing users to predetermine all of the computer graphics passes to be used in a production.

Next-Generation Photorealism Sets New Standard for Quality and Workflow

Twister is based on mental ray version 2.0, a next-generation renderer that will set new standards for quality and workflow. In addition to significantly improved performance, mental ray version 2.0 offers a host of new features, such as depth-map shadows, scanline motion blur and polygon displacement, as well as support for caustics, which allows the renderer to accurately calculate and render the light diffusion around a scene.

Twister allows users to distribute jobs quickly and easily across multiple CPUs, both locally and remotely, using new techniques such as distributed tesselation and local texture caching for significantly improved distributed performance.

Pricing and Availability

Twister is scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of 1998. Licensed users of the extreme version of SOFTIMAGE|3D under a valid maintenance contract will receive
Twister at no charge. Customers with the base version of SOFTIMAGE|3D will receive an approximately 50 percent discount on Twister.

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 via the Internet at http://www.softimage.com/ and http://www.microsoft.com/ , 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 and Twister is a trademark of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Mental ray is a registered trademark of mental images Geselleshaft fur Computer Film und Maschinenintelligenz mbH & Co. KG, Berlin, Germany. All rights reserved.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Softimage general information:

United States and Canada: (800) 576-3846

International: (818) 365-1359

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

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