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Softimage Expands Free Software Offerings with SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2

New version of professional software allows gamers to modifycharacters, props, and scenery for Valve’s highly anticipated sequel toHalf-Life

Montreal, Québec – Softimage Co., a subsidiary of AvidTechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVID), today announced SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP forHalf-Life 2 – a free version of its award-winning 3-D nonlinearproduction environment designed to work exclusively with Half-Life 2,the upcoming action game created by Valve. The software, which will bedemonstrated in the Softimage booth (# 1528) at the Game DevelopersConference (GDC) in San Jose, Calif. March 24 – 26, allows gamingcustomers to create and modify characters, props, and scenery forHalf-Life 2 MODs and other Valve Source engine-powered titles, and thenoutput their creations directly into the games.

On Wednesday, March 24, Softimage will provide special, limitededition, pre-release CDs to attendees of SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP forHalf-Life 2 seminars at GDC (www.softimage.com/community/xsi/events/gdc_2004/).The complete software package is also expected to be available fordownload from the Softimage website (www.softimage.com/HL2) byWednesday, March 24.

“We’re thrilled to be involved with Half-Life 2, and for theopportunity to give gamers an easy, fun, and powerful way to alter thegame and customize their entertainment experiences,” said GarethMorgan, senior product manager for Softimage. “Half-Life 2 issignificantly raising the bar for the gaming community, deliveringhigher quality graphics and presentation values than many other gameson the market. This free version of our software will enable ageneration of young artists to introduce new characters and otherimaginative elements into Half-Life 2 using Valve’s Source engine. It’sa great way for creative gamers to experiment with the same animationtools used by their favorite professional game developers.”

Since introducing the Half-Life game franchise in 1998 and sellingmore than 10 million copies, Valve has received rapid acclaim for itsinnovative approach to interactive gaming. In addition to its realisticgraphics and storylines, Half-Life was designed to permit customizationvia a free software development kit (SDK). As a result, Half-Lifeplayers developed their own rules, characters, and environments toalter the game – and then shared their not-for-profit MODs(modifications) with other players. Today, a multitude of onlinecommunities exist around the world, made up of thousands of interactivegame development enthusiasts – known as “MODders” – who regularly useSDKs to customize the games they play.

Valve is currently targeting this summer for the completion ofHalf-Life 2, and the company plans to pre-release a collection ofdevelopment libraries. This will allow MODders to use the powerfultoolsets found in the free SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 softwareand begin experimenting with their own creativity even before the gameis released to the general public.

“As game sales continue to outpace box office revenues and onlinegame play usage is capturing more consumer time than the top televisionshows, the goals for our products have changed,” said Gabe Newell,managing director and co-founder of Valve. “Success in this changingenvironment requires the strongest developers, artists, and tools.During the development of Half-Life 2, we’ve recruited animators fromHollywood studios and switched to SOFTIMAGE|XSI in order to maximizethe game’s potential. Now, with the release of SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP forHalf-Life 2, we are putting the same powerful animation toolsets we usein the hands of MOD authors, who represent the next generation ofcontent developers.”

The free SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 software is based on thesame architecture as Softimage’s professional SOFTIMAGE|XSI software,and includes toolsets for creating characters and hair, mixing andblending animations via the Animation Mixer, applying real-timeshaders, and rendering elements interactively. Customers who downloadthe software will also receive specialized tools and functions forcreating and outputting complex graphics into Half-Life 2, several keytutorials and scene files, and access to over 100 additional tutorialsvia the Softimage.com Half-Life 2 Community Center (accessible fromwithin the SOFTIMAGE|XSI EXP for Half-Life 2 software).

“We anticipate over half a million MODders will share customizedversions of Half-Life 2,” added Morgan. “This presents a tremendousopportunity for us to get our software in the hands of these gamers,and introduce them to the industry-standard tools used to create theworld’s most popular CG-animated games.”
About Softimage Co.

Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc., is an industryleader in 3-D animation, 2-D cel animation, compositing and specialeffects software, designed to address the demands of the film andcommercial/broadcast and games/interactive industries. SOFTIMAGE|XSIsoftware, an integral player in Avid’s Make, Manage and Move Media(tm)strategy, is the flagship product offering from Softimage. It is theindustry’s first 3-D nonlinear production environment providinganimators and digital artists the freedom to make professionalanimation, visual effects and games – from major motion pictures, tocartoons and commercials, to animated content for video games and Websites.

Softimage is proud to count amongst its customers: Ubi Soft, Capcom,Konami, SONY, Valve, Pandemic Taito, Sega and Atari. The Softimageproduct family is designed to help users innovate, create andcollaborate throughout the production process. For more informationabout Softimage visit www.softimage.com. For moreinformation about Avid, visit www.avid.com.

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