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By George Maestri | Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Softimage fades away

Today is a sad day in the 3D community—Autodesk has stopped development on Softimage. They’ll continue to support the software for two years as the Softimage community transitions to Maya or 3ds Max.

The history of Softimage is interwoven with the history of 3D animation. The program goes back to the 1980s, when it became the first go-to software tool for character animation. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? Animated in Softimage 3D. In fact, many early CG milestones used Softimage. In the mid-1990s, Microsoft purchased Softimage Co. and ported Softimage 3D to Windows. The software was then purchased by Avid Technology a few years later, where it became Softimage XSI, then sold again to Autodesk. And with every one of those changes, the software lost momentum; it never fully recovered.

Of course, Softimage technology will be used by Autodesk in future Maya and 3ds Max releases, so it will live on in that respect. For those who now have to migrate from Softimage to another 3D package, Autodesk’s own Maya and 3ds Max are the most popular options—and migration incentives are being offered to existing Softimage users. 3D packages from other software vendors, such as MAXON’s CINEMA 4D, are also available. You can use the links below to browse our training library and get a sense of how these various products work.

I’ve used Softimage myself for a number of projects over the years. I also once spent a few cold weeks at Softimage headquarters in Montreal, where I got to work with the company directly. The software and people behind it are terrific, and I’m personally sorry to see this old friend go.

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