Softimage, Co. was a company located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that produced 3D animation software. A subsidiary of Microsoft in the 1990s, it was sold to Avid Technology, who would eventually sell the name and assets of Softimage's 3D-animation business to Autodesk.
Its first product, Softimage 3D, was used in the creation of special effects for movies such as Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Titanic and The Fifth Element. Its successor, Softimage XSI, was used in the production of the Academy Award-winning feature film Happy Feet, 300 and Charlotte's Web (2006) and the production of games such as Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
In 1997, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Softimage a Scientific and Engineering Award for the development of the 'Actor' component of Softimage|3D.
During the Microsoft years, Softimage also developed a non-linear video-editing and compositing suite named Softimage|DS, which was available from Avid Technology under the name Avid DS, until its EOL on September 30, 2013.
Softimage was founded in 1986  by National Film Board of Canada filmmaker Daniel Langlois and with founding director, Char Davies. At the time, there were only three employees. Its first product was called the Softimage Creative Environment, later renamed to Softimage 3D. It was the first commercial package to feature Inverse kinematics for character animation. The software was eventually replaced by SoftimageXSI, originally codenamed "Sumatra".
The company became public in 1992 and was acquired by Microsoft in 1994. In 1998, after helping to port the products to Windows and financing the development of Softimage|XSI and Softimage|DS, Microsoft sold the Softimage unit to Avid Technology, Inc. which was looking to expand its visual effect capabilities.
Avid initially grouped many of its visual effects products, such as Elastic Reality and Avid Media Illusion, under the Softimage brand, but in 2001 discontinued most of these products. Until 2008, Avid's AlienBrain product was also branded with the name Softimage, even though it was developed by a separate company.
On October 23, 2008, Autodesk signed an agreement with Avid Technology to acquire the brand and the 3D animation assets of Softimage for approximately $35 million, thereby ending Softimage Co. as a distinct entity. The video-related assets of Softimage, including Softimage|DS (now Avid|DS) continue to be owned by Avid.
This section is in list format, but may read better as prose. You can help by converting this section, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (July 2012)
- Softimage President Daniel Langlois and engineers Richard Mercille and Laurent Lauzon begin development of the company’s 3-D application software. The user interface begins to take shape and would remain largely unchanged for the next 16 years of the product's life.
- Virtual Reality artist Char Davies joins the company as Vice-President of Virtual Research.
- Introduction of Creative Environment 1.0 at SIGGRAPH. A first for the industry, the software would offer modeling, animation and rendering in a single integrated environment.
- Release of Creative Environment v0.8, closely followed by the 1.0 release.
- Creative Environment 1.65 adds texture mapping.
- Creative Environment V2.0
- new animation tools
- introduction of the new concept of object constraints
- new Dopesheet editor
- adds spline modeling
1991 - Actor Module
- Creative Environment 2.5 with Actor Module
- The Actor Module introduces Inverse Kinematics, a concept coming from robotics, to the animation market
- Inverse Kinematics
- Flexible Skin (Envelopes)
- Rigid-Articulated Body Dynamics
- The Actor Module was awarded a Technological and Scientific Academy Award for its innovation
- Films: Terminator 2- Judgment Day (Academy Award for Best Visual FX)
- Director of sales Richard Szalwinski leaves to found Discreet and re-distribute Animal Logic's image compositor Eddie
1992 - Eddie
- Creative Environment 2.52
- Motion Capture (Channels)
- SDK (DKit)
- Paint and Compositing package introduced with Softimage|Eddie
- Softimage goes public on NASDAQ 
- Acquisition of the compositing product Softimage|Eddie product from Discreet, co-owned and developed with Animal Logic
- Acquisition of Painterly Effects image processing library from ImageWare Research
- Creative Environment 2.6
- Metaclay ("Metaballs")
- Motion Control
- Shape Animation
- mental ray rendering
- Wave Deforms
- Flock Animation (macro particles)
- Standalone Particle System
- 3D Booleans
- Ghost display/Onion skinning
- mental ray introduced.
- Softimage and mental images announce rendering technology agreement
- 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
- Beginning of Softimage Digital Studio on the Silicon Graphics IRIX operating system
- Jurassic Park (Academy Award for Best Visual FX)
1994 - Microsoft Softimage
- Microsoft acquires Softimage for $130 million 
- Creative Environment 2.65
- Complete new File and Database Management
- New Topological scene graph update
- Structure Keys
- Extended Constraints
- Ghost display/Onion skinning
- Animation par Shapes
- Toon rendering
- IDEAS: Interactive Developer's Entertainment Authoring Software with ProPlay and ProPlay Plus solutions, includes: Softimage Creative Environment, Eddie compositing, video-effects software, distributed ray tracer and 3-D particles kit.
- Star trek: Generations / Industrial Light & Magic (1994)
- The Flintstones/ Industrial Light & Magic (1994)
- The Mask / Industrial Light & Magic (1994)
- Softimage|3D 3.0
- NURBS Surfaces and Modeling
- Relational modeling
- Qstretch deform (squash and stretch)
- Custom hotkey remapping (swift keys)
- Polygon Reduction (1st generation)
- Games Features
- Advanced polygonal modeling tools
- 2D/3D Paint + UV Texturing + Painterly Effects, Color Reduction
- Game Export / filtering / on target viewing (SEGA Saturn)
- SI Live Virtual Theater (NAB 95)
- Introduction of Softimage|3D Extreme
- includes Osmose, Virtual Theater (real time capture and virtual set compositing) and mental ray.
- Softimage Toonz 3.5 and SOFTIMAGE|Eddie 3.2
- Babe (Academy Award for Best Visual FX)
- Balto / Amblimation (1995)
- Casper / Industrial Light & Magic (1995)
- Judge Dredd / (1995)
- Jumanji / Industrial Light & Magic (1995)
- La cité des enfants perdus / BUF Compagnie (1995)
- Softimage|3D 3.5
- Windows NT platform support
- User Data
- Image Library
- Saaphire SDK 
- Ambulate, Stepmaler
- First prototype of Softimage|DS on Windows NT 
- "Sumatra"(code name), the product that would become Softimage|XSI, and RenderFarm unveiled (a Sumatra module never released).
- Films and Games
- Virtua Fighter(game), Dragonheart, Independence Day (Academy Award for Best Visual FX), 101 Dalmatians / Industrial light & Magic (1996),12 Monkeys / Peerless Camera (1996), Basket spatial / Industrial Light & Magic (1996), Star Trek - First Contact / Industrial Light & Magic (1996), Pinocchio / MediaLab (1996), Malgré Picasso / Peerless Camera (1996), Draco : la légende du dernier dragon/ Industrial Light & Magic (1996), Eraser / Mass Illusion (1996), Joe’s Apartment / Blue Sky (1996), Island of Docteur Moreau / Digital Domain (1996), Chasseurs de fantômes / Weta Ltd. (1996), Mission : Impossible / Industrial Light & Magic (1996), Mars Attacks! / Industrial light & Magic (1996), T2-3D / Digital Domain (1996)
- Dominique Boisvert, Réjean Gagné, Daniel Langlois, and Richard Laperrière won a Scientific and Engineering Award for the development of the 'Actor' component of the Softimage computer animation system 
- SOFTIMAGE|DS 1.0 
- SOFTIMAGE|3D 3.7
- Sony PlayStation Export / Import / Viewer + Attribute Editors
- Colors at Vertices (painting, OpenGL, Softimage + mr rendering, Saaphire)
- Direct3D Export / Import
- RenderMap (baking light maps)
- Films and Games 
- Riven, Titanic (Academy Award for Best Visual FX), Alien : Resurrection / Blue Sky, Spawn / Industrial Light & Magic (1997), Anastasia / Fox Animation Studio (1997), Batman & Robin / BUF Compagnie (1997), Contact / Sony Pictures Imageworks / Weta Ltd. (1997), Men In Black / Industrial Light & Magic (1997), Jurassic Park / Industrial Light & Magic (1997), Fifth Element / Digital Domain (1997), Resident Evil 1.5 (2 Beta) (1997)
- First mention of Twister, a rendering module of Sumatra that would never be released 
1998 - Avid Softimage
- Avid Technology acquires Softimage, begins to re-brand many of its visual effects products under the name "Softimage"
- SOFTIMAGE|DS 2.1 
- SOFTIMAGE|3D 3.8 
- GDK (Game Development Kit / high-level AP)
- dotXSI file format, import/export pipeline (Direct 3D, VRML, 3D Studio)
- Polygon Reduction
- Neural Quantizer (color reduction)
- Animation Sequencer (precursor to animation mixing)
- Audio Track for lip synch
- Announcement of an interactive rendering application called "Twister", the first module of the future Sumatra product. The company later canceled this separate product to focus on Sumatra.
- "Animation R3defined" (TM) campaign : First presentation of "Sumatra" (code name) as the first "Non-Linear 3D animation" system The Animation Mixer, which allows manipulation of animation as clips on tracks, similar to video non-linear editing system like Avid Media Composer.
- Softimage|3D v3.8 Service Pack 2 
- Advanced Rendering - Caustics support, Global Illumination
- Nintendo NIFF toolkit
- Sony PlayStation HMD toolkit
- Bézier curves support
- Surface Continuity Manager (SCM)
- Drop & Slide Points
- GoWithThe Flow qui contraint les objets aux particules
- Films : Movie - The Mummy, The Matrix (Academy Award for Best Visual FX), Stuart Little / Centropolis FX, Fight Club / Pixel Liberation Front / BUF
2000 - Softimage|XSI 1.0
- Softimage|XSI 1.0 is released 
- New generation architecture, user interface, workflow, etc.…
- Interactive Rendering (Render Region)
- Rendering Passes
- Render Tree
- GAP (Generic Attribute Painting)
- Surface meshes (Nurbs networks)
- Non-linear animation - Animation Mixer
- Integrated Particles
- Acquisition of The Motion Factory, Inc
- Softimage|3D v3.9 
- Softimage|XSI 1.5 
- Adds Polygonal modeling, Subdivision Surfaces, and texturing tools
- Animation Clip Effects/Offsets, Equalizer, Bridge Transitions
- Scripted Operators (scripted plugins)
- Cloth, Fluids (from Phoenix Tools)
- SDK Object Model (COM)
- Softimage|XSI v1.5 begins shipping.
- SOFTIMAGE|XSI v2.0 unveiled at Siggraph 2001 and later ships
- XSI v2.0 
- Introduces fully integrated compositor, based on Avid Media Illusion
- Introduces a Hair and Fur module, based on Joe Alter's Shave 
- Support for Linux (previously, supported unix was SGI IRIX)
- Electric Rain collaborate to bring Flash, EPS, AI and SVG exports to SOFTIMAGE|XSI customers.
- SOFTIMAGE|3D v4.0 unveiled at Siggraph 2001
- Softimage releases the "SOFTIMAGE|XSI Experience" for version 2.0, a free educational software and training kit. Alias had previously released a Personal Learning Edition of Maya 
- Softimage|3D v4.0 released
- Softimage|XSI v3.0 User Feature Review
- An evolutionary update 
- Introduces Softimage|Behavior, a procedural animation system, marketed as a new Crowd Simulation engine. It is a re-branded version of The Motion Factory's product called Motivate
- Softimage|XSI v3.5  with Softimage|Behavior 1.1
- Brings back the Schematic View from Softimage|3D 
- Softimage|XSI v4.0  User Feature Review
- New Rigid Body Dynamics  based on ODE
- Character SDK, Custom Display Host, XML-based UI definition, new XGS real time shader pipeline 
- New Vector and Raster Paint tool in the compositing module 
- Now ships with Syflex
- Softimage|XSI v4.2 
- Softimage|XSI v5.0  User Feature Overview Official Change List
- First Windows 64-bit version
- New user interface elements to appeal to Autodesk Maya users
- Integrated Cloth with Syflex 3
- Updated Rigid Body Dynamics with physX
- New view: Shape Manager, for morph shape animation
- dotXSI 5.0
- Softimage|XSI 6.5 Official Change List
- Mostly a release to adjust price and re-shuffle features between XSI Essential and XSI Advanced.
2008 - ICE, and sale of company assets to Autodesk
- Softimage|XSI 7.0  Official Change List
- introduces ICE ("Interactive Creative Environment") 
- October 23, 2008, Autodesk announces intent to acquire all of Softimage 3D business assets from Avid Technology 
- November 18, 2008, Autodesk Completes Acquisition of Softimage
- Company ceases to exist as an entity
- Autodesk Media and Entertainment continues to develop Softimage|XSI product, re-branded as "Softimage". FaceRobot rebranded Autodesk FaceRobot 
Softimage products were made in Quebec. Softimage is mentioned in the song "Fabriqué au Québec" written by the Québécois humorists Pat Groulx and Louis-José Houde.