Avid has unveiled Softimage|XSI v.5.0, which includes a set of 'Maya migration' tools designed to tempt 3D artists over from Alias's application. The upgrade also includes native 64-bit support, a new map generation tool, a property transfer system. improved hair and cloth tools and better rigid body dynamics, according to Avid. The company has also shown off a new facial animation technology called Softimage|Face Robot.

Tools aimed at Maya users include a customizable user interface with menu, keyboard and mouse set-ups that will be familiar to users of Alias's 3D suite.

Softimage|XSI v.5.0 includes a new architecture, according to Avid, that's designed to take full advantage of dual-core 64-bit CPUs (under 64-bit operating systems such as Windows XP Professional x64). 64-bit processing allows larger pieces of a scene to be rendered in a single pass, speeding up rendering.

Avid says that the new Ultimapper tool can generate cinema-quality maps in a few clicks. The Gator property transfer system allows the merging of fully textured and animated 3D models.

Hair today

XSI Hair gains a grooming tool that allows 3D artists to create and style strand-based objects such as hair, fur, grass and trees with a brush-style pointer - plus an instancing system for replicating the results throughout a region. The cloth system has been updated with the Syflex 3 plug-in. Both new hair and cloth tools are only available in the Advanced version of XSI.

Rigid body dynamics have been bolstered with the integration of the Ageiatm Physxt physics simulation engine, which includes precise actual-shape collision handling. The dotXSI file format has also been upgraded to include support for shape morphing, subdivision approximation and blind user-data.

Softimage|XSI v.5.0 costs £299 for the Foundation version, £1,189 for the Essentials version, and £4,159 for the Advanced version. All prices exclude VAT. Upgrade pricing has yet to be announced.

Face off

 align=right border=0 /> </div>Avid has previewed a technology it calls Softimage|Face Robot at the Siggraph show in Los Angeles. The company won