Autodesk has announced Softimage 7.5, the first upgrade of the 3D animation software previously known as Softimage|XSI since Autodesk bought the product from Avid in November.

The 7.5 version offers new features over Softimage|XSI 7.0 that focus on timesaving: including UV unfolding technology, a multithreaded Syflex cloth simulator and an integrated mental ray 3.7+ renderer.

Softimage now features UV unfolding technology (below) that Autodesk says enables artists to unwrap polygon models with just a few clicks. The company also says that this technology works well on complex organic models, which would be difficult to unwrap manually. Softimage 7.5 also provides UV editing tools that help artists create and edit UV maps.

Version 3.7+ of the mental ray renderer has been integrated into Softimage 7.5. New features include improvements to binary space partitioning for faster render times, multiple final gathering refinement passes and new motion-based displacement. Autodesk says that these enhancements help users create high-fidelity images faster than ever before.

The Syflex cloth simulator in Softimage is now multi-threaded, enabling artists to use the cores on their machine to create and animate materials faster.

Version 7.5 of Softimage (formerly Softimage|XSI Essentials) is available now and costs $2,995 (around £2,055) in the US. UK pricing will be announced soon, says Autodesk. Softimage Advanced 7.5 (formerly Softimage|XSI Advanced) is also shipping now for $4,695 (£3,220). Autodesk notes that scenes saved in Softimage 7.5 will load into Softimage 7.0.

Softimage|XSI 7.0 customers with active Softimage maintenance contracts will be migrated to the Autodesk Softimage 7.5 with Autodesk Subscription contract. This costs $795 (£545) for Softimage and $1,235 (£845) for Softimage Advanced in the US.