Avid has announced a free update to Softimage|XSI. Version 4.2 features include compositing and crowd simulation, Alienbrain Studio integration, and support for post and broadcast file formats.

Softimage|XSI is a 3D animation, modelling and rendering tool used for CG work in gaming, film, broadcast, and post-production projects. Three versions are available: Foundation, Essentials and Advanced.

XSI Essentials now comes with the resolution-independent professional compositing and paint features, previously only included in the XSI Advanced package.

XSI Advanced is now bundled with Softimage|Behaviour 2.0 crowd simulation software. Avid claims it offers tight integration with XSI software and mental ray rendering as well as an IDE with debugging functionalities.

Enhancements to XSI Foundation include a new Linux version and increased rendering capabilities.

Version 4.2 also includes robust normal map generation, which Avid claims simplifies the process for creating effects in real time. New file formats supported include 10-bit and HD MXF, which facilitate metadata and media exchange between products, and OpenEXR for extended dynamic range images.

Version 4.2 is available as a free download to registered users of version 4.0 – either Foundation, Essentials or Advanced. Retail prices are £299 plus VAT for Foundation, £1,249 plus VAT for Essentials and £4,356 for Advanced.