Avid pays $285 mil to buy Softimage

Company spokesmen say move will bolster TV biz

Avid Technology, maker of computer-based video, film, and audio editing and compositing tools, on Monday agreed to a $285 million acquisition of Softimage.

The latter is a subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. best known for software tools used in 3D animation, video production and compositing.

Calling the acquisition one of the most significant moves in the company’s history, Avid spokesmen said the Softimage product line will strengthen its presence in the TV market as Avid will be able to offer more comprehensive solutions for television finishing, and to add high-quality 3D animation technology.

Softimage software is used by developers of 3D animation, video production, 2D cel animation and compositing professionals. The Montreal-based company, employing approximately 300 people worldwide, was founded in 1986 and purchased by Microsoft in 1994.

Avid’s digital nonlinear solutions from Avid and Softimage complement each other’s goal of serving entertainment industry editors and artists, said William Miller, Avid chairman and CEO.

For example, the Softimage/DS video production solution for finishing short-form television projects such as special effects-intensive commercials and musicvideos will complement Avid’s recently announced Symphony solution, which is designed to edit and finish longform television programs such as sitcoms and vidpics.

In addition, Softimage/DS and Avid Symphony offer links to the Avid Media Composer off-line/on-line editing solution, with greater levels of interoperability to come, Avid promised.

Avid will pay Microsoft $79 million in cash, a subordinated note in the amount of $5 million, Avid common stock valued at $93 million, and a warrant valued at $32 million. Upon completion of this transaction, Microsoft will own approximately 9.1% of Avid outstanding common stock, making the computer software giant a strategic partner of Avid.