Deal will wed CG software

In a major consolidation deal that transforms the landscape for CG animation software, Autodesk announced Thursday that it is acquiring Avid Technologies’ Softimage business unit for about $35 million.

The deal puts the two most popular CG animation software packages, Maya and Softimage, under the same ownership for the first time.

Autodesk will keep the two product lines separate and continue development of the Softimage products but build tighter integration of the two product lines, since many companies use both.

Autodesk execs cited Softimage’s popularity in the vidgame sector as a reason for the acquisition. Softimage has one product with no counterpart in Autodesk’s line: the free XSI Mod tool that lets the videogame “modder” community customize their games. “It gets them familiar with our tools at a very early stage,” said Marc Stevens, general manager of Montreal-based Softimage.

Stevens said Avid decided to part with Softimage after Avid’s new management team reviewed the company’s strategic plans.

Avid has been under pressure in its core business as Apple’s Final Cut Pro has been cutting into its editing-system market share, especially among student and low-budget filmmakers.

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