Autodesk has signed a definitive agreement with Avid to acquire "substantially all of the assets" of Avid’s Softimage business unit for around US$35 million. This will mean that Autodesk will own three of the main 3D suites: 3ds Max, Maya and Softimage|XSI.

The company says that it intends to continue developing and selling Softimage’s core product line, while integrating certain Softimage technology into future versions of Autodesk solutions and products. Autodesk plans to acquire and continue developing the core Softimage|XSI suite, the Softimage|Face Robot facial animation software, the Softimage|Cat character animation plug-in for 3ds Max and the Softimage|Crosswalk 'interoperability solution' – which Autodesk says will be integrated with Autodesk's own sharing technology.

The Alienbrain asset management system will remain with Avid.

Autodesk has been swift to play down rumours that it might kill Softimage in favour of its own products.

"As we have demonstrated since the acquisition of Alias in 2006," said Marc Petit, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment, "we’re committed to giving our customers choice when it comes to their 3D tools. We plan to maintain and grow the Softimage product line, and through Autodesk FBX provide better interoperability between Softimage products, 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya. FBX also provides interoperability between Softimage products and our specialised applications such as Autodesk Mudbox, Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk ImageModeler and Autodesk Stitcher, as well as numerous third-party applications.”

Softimage was founded in 1986 by Daniel Langlois and is headquartered in Montreal, Canada. Softimage|XSI is used by leading VFX houses and games companies including Digital Domain, Ubisoft, SEGA Corporation, CAPCOM, Animal Logic and The Mill. Over the last few years, XSI has become more focussed on larger workgroups of animators and modellers, dropping the entry-level Foundation version when XSI 7 was released in August.