Executive Summary
      Since Softimage was acquired by Avid in mid-1998 the entire organization has been focused on streamlining the products now held by the combined companies. At Siggraph this past August, the company demonstrated their long-awaited Sumatra 3D animation system. As a result it has fueled excitement for the technology and Softimage as a collaborator with Avid.

1. Corporate Overview      2. Animation Products     3. Market Analysis    
4. Financial Overview     5. Other Products

Corporate Overview

Company Name



3510 Blvd. Saint-Laurent, Suite 400
Montreal, Quebec H2X-2V2 Canada

URL http://www.softimage.com





Year Founded


Senior Management (Softimage)

  • Patrick Dumas, Senior VP, WorldWide Product Marketing (Avid)
  • Hugues Leveille-Nizerolle - General Manager, Softimage
  • John McQueen - VP, Sales & Marketing, Softimage
  • Marc Petit - VP, Research & Development, 3D
  • Christian Schormann - VP, Research & development, DS
  • Claude Cajolet - VP, Technology Group, Softimage
  • David Morin - VP, Special Projects, Softimage


Softimage -300

Company Highlights

  • Softimage was founded in 1986 by Daniel Langlois, himself an animator.
  • Microsoft acquires Softimage in 1994 for $160 million
  • In August 1998, Avid acquired Softimage from Microsoft for $247.9 million ($78.4 million in cash) and Softimage became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avid Technology

Animation Products


Softimage 3D - Extreme version

Product Overview

Softimage set the standard for character animation ten years ago with the introduction of the first commercially-available inverse-kinematics system in Softimage 3D. This breakthrough led to rapid growth throughout the entertainment industry in films such as Jurassic Park and Godzilla and games like the VirtuaFighter series and Zelda 64.

Key Features

  • Complete suite of NURBS, polygonal, and patch modeling tools
  • Dozens of pre-defined material shaders
    • multiple texture projections
    • UV texture mapping and editing
    • 2D and 3D paint
  • Multiple light sources, including point, spot, sun, infinite, and selective lights
  • Built-in character animation capabilities, including:
    • industry-standard IK system
    • automatic flexible and rigid envelopes
    • constraints
    • expressions
    • fcurve editing
    • dopesheet
    • spreadsheet
    • and a full animation sequencer
  • Industry-leading ray-trace rendering with mental ray v2.1, including caustics and global illumination.


3D: $4,995 (US$ SRP)
3D "extreme": $11,995 (US$ SRP)


Interactive: NT (Intel, Alpha), Irix (MIPS).
Rendering: NT, Irix, Linux, Unix.

Product Strengths

Artist-oriented workflow. Powerful but easy-to-use character animation system. High-quality rendering with mental ray v2.1 ("extreme" version).
Since Softimage 3D initiated the character animation industry, there are thousands of trained operators available.


Sumatra (code name)

Product Overview

Sumatra is the first true non-linear animation (NLA) system, introducing new concepts like non-destructive animation mixing, finished-quality interactive rendering, and real-time surface continuity management.

Key Features

  • Real-time Continuous Surface Management:
    • Surface meshes
    • a new geometry comprised of multiple NURBS surfaces
    • provides the ability to create seamless
    • fully animatable
    • characters and objects.
  • Non-linear Animation and Mixing:
    • NLA is a flexible and highly intuitive method of working with animation data, making complex multi-character work transparent. It allows seamless interaction of different animation types such as keyframe data, expressions, and constraints.
  • Actions:
    • Mix, blend, scale, and cycle actions, independent of the timeline.
    • A high-level method of managing complicated animation without being encumbered by minute details.
  • General Attribute Painting (GAP):
    • Create and modulate object properties such as envelope weights or deforms using a simple straightforward painting metaphor.
  • Interactive Rendering:
    • Enables limitless changes to light
      • texture
      • material
      • and rendering attributes
      • with final-quality results appearing instantly.
        This is not interactive previewing, but full rendering made interactive.
  • Render Passes:
    • The bridge between 3-D production and post. Put objects into non-exclusive partitions for rendering highlight, shadow, caustic, matte, or any other pass. All data exists in a single scene, so changes are only made once.
  • Workflow (UI):
    • With an intuitive user interface and workflow-aids, Sumatra includes new selection methods like name and wildcard Selection, drag-and-drop support and multi-parameter editing.
  • Customizability:
    • Create custom screen layouts, shortcut keys, toolbars, and menus.
    • Custom object parameters provide an easy way to manipulate and animate complex models by connecting an infinite number of object properties to a user-defined parameter.
  • Scripting:
    • The ultimate flexibility for customization.
      • Easily automate repetitive tasks, build macros, customize the application, communicate with other script-enabled applications, and record and replay creation steps. Because Sumatra uses standard scripting languages (e.g. VBScript, JScript) there is no need to learn additional proprietary languages.
  • Simulation:
    • To appeal to the needs of visual effects producers, Sumatra offers a complete suite of simulation tools, including integrated particles, cloth, soft body dynamics, fur, and 3-D camera matching.


Pricing available 4Q99


Interactive: Windows NT (Intel), Irix (MIPS). Plans for Linux as market demand warrants.
Rendering: NT, Irix, Linux, and Unix.

Product Strengths

Softimage is proposing a major shift in the way that animation is created in the entertainment industry, in an effort to improve productivity and thereby client profitability. Re-use of animation data, seamless mixing of animation sources (e.g., keyframe and motion capture), and final-quality, full-resolution interactive rendering all support this goal.

Market Analysis

Company Positioning

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avid Technology, Softimage is working closely with Avid on the future direction of 3D within all of Avid's product line. Because it has been part of Microsoft's development team up until the acquisition last year, one key advantage Softimage has is that its technology is closely linked to Microsoft's initiatives. This may prove to be a key advantage for the company as they prepare to launch their lastest product, Sumatra.

Product Positioning

Softimage 3D

Softimage 3D is well used in the industry for creating 3D characters, scenes, and special effects in the film, commercial, and game development markets. With roots in the invention of commercial IK systems, the product focuses on stream-lined character animation tools. Softimage 3D is one of the dominant tools used for game development in Japan and Europe., as well as for digital characters in film in Hollywood and the U.K.

Product Positioning


"Sumatra" (code name) presents a paradigm shift for animation, primarily in the high-end film industry. In combating the ever-rising cost for a production facility to create a frame of animation, Sumatra introduces new concepts like nonlinear animation, animation mixing, and editing and re-use of animation assets. These concepts will allow production houses to produce higher-quality work in less time, and thereby return them to profitability.

Key Partnerships

In hardware, Softimage works closely with multiple vendors, including Intergraph, HP, Compaq, Dell, IBM, as well as 3D chip and card manufacturers such as nVidia, 3Dlabs, Diamond, Matrox, and ELSA.
Softimage also has a Software Partner program for developers who create high-quality extensions to Softimage 3D. Third-party vendors include Phoenix Tools, Konshus., Lambsoft, and RealViz.

Competitive Position

Competition in the high-end film and commercial industry comes primarily from Alias|Wavefront's Maya product line. Competition in game development comes primarily from Discreet's 3D Studio MAX and Newtek's Lightwave 3D.

Financial Overview - Avid Technology
  Dec 98 Dec 97 Dec 96


$482.4 $471.3 $429.0

Cost of Goods

$224.4 $221.6 $238.8

Gross Profit

$258.0 $249.7 $190.2
Gross Profit Margin
SG&A Expenses
Operating Income
Operating Margin
Total Net Income

Historical revenue performance

As of October 27, 1999

AVID - Nasdaq

Stock price


52 week high




P/E Ratio


Market valuation

$268.2 ($mil.)

Financial Partners

Microsoft owns 9% of Avid

Financial Overview - Softimage Division

Other Products
Look for product highlights in upcoming Digital Market Snapshots

DV Editing/Effects

Avid Symphony

DV Editing/Effects

Avid Xpress

DV Editing/Effects

Media Composer

DV Editing/Effects

Softimage Digital Studio

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