Softimage Spins Magic Roundabout Movie

In creating animation for the upcoming CG feature version of the 1960s cult European TV series The Magic Roundabout, French animation studio Action Synthèse has chosen to use Softimage’s 3D software, SOFTIMAGE|XSI.

Scheduled for release in France and the U.K. in 2004, Action France and Pathé U.K.’s The Magic Roundabout will feature all original characters and two all-new additions. Australian pop star Kylie Minogue will lend her voice to cartoon character Florence. Fellow singer Robbie Williams will provide the voice for Dougal, the world-weary, shaggy dog and Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley will be Ermintrude, the whimsical cow.

Two years into the project, Action Synthèse decided to switch from Discreet’s 3ds max to SOFTIMAGE|XSI, using the 3ds max to XSI converter tool to bring existing content into the restructured 3D pipeline.

The production, underway at Action Synthèse’s recently expanded facilities in Marseilles, in the South of France, is employing more than 50 HP workstations running the SOFTIMAGE|XSI and 40 licenses of SOFTIMAGE|XSI Batch, Softimage’s batch processing & rendering solution.

According to the studio, the hair and fur tools of SOFTIMAGE|XSI have been instrumental in creating Dougal the dog’s signature long-haired coat.

A significant portion of the movie takes place in a winter land, featuring snow, glaciers, and even an ice castle. To re-create the unique feel of winter light and ice reflections while keeping rendering times under control, the team at Action Synthèse is relying on the interactive renderer within SOFTIMAGE|XSI. The new image-based lighting pass in version 3.0 allows the digital artists to generate entire lighting environments based on images or sequences.