Softimage has announced version 6 of its Softimage|XSI 3D animation software, which adds improvements to areas such as character animation, collaborative working and interoperation, and scripting.

Headlining the new character tools is MOTOR (below), which is a streamlined way to move animation and motion capture information between rigs, according to Softimage. It works across different rigs in XSI, and with other 3D applications. Animators can use the system to build reusable libraries of animations by importing and retargeting motion capture data onto arbitrary XSI character rigs.

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Animation layers provides a non-destructive way to add keyframes to existing animations, and work with motion capture data without having to work with large FCurve sets. Keyframes can also be set using predefined parameters with a single keypress using keyboard shortcuts.
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The new Delta Referencing workflow technology allows modellers, animators and other artists to work on shared assets in a non-destructive way. 3D assets such as characters, props and environments sit in a central store, with versions kept when they are modified by artists - so the latest versions are available to all with older versions kept in case teams need to return to them. Crosswalk is designed to offer seamless transfer of assets between Softimage|XSI and other 3D applications such as Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max.
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The QuickShade preview rendering engine offers step-by-step previews of materials, with a new material manager and integration with mental ray 3.5.6 - plus an SDK to allow it work with other rendering engines. Softimage|XSI

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XSI 6

Softimage|XSI will be released at the end of December. US pricing is $495 (around £260) for the Foundation version, $1,995 (£1,060) for the Essentials version, and $6,995 (£3,700) for the Advanced version. Upgrades cost $395 (£210) for Foundation and $1,495 (£790) for Essentials, until December 20. UK pricing has yet to be announced.