Police on the Caribbean island of Dominica are investigating the deaths of Daniel Langlois, founder of pioneering VFX software company Softimage, and his partner Dominique Merchant, following the discovery of charred remains in a burnt-out vehicle on December 1.
While circumstances surrounding the couple’s death are unclear, media outlet Dominica News Online (DNO) has reported that local police have taken three individuals into custody for questioning.
Born in Quebec, Canada, in 1957, Daniel Langlois was the founder of SOFTIMAGE, the Daniel Langlois Foundation, and Coulibri Ridge.
Daniel Langlois founded SOFTIMAGE in 1986 and served as its President and Chief Technology Officer from its inception until July 1998. SOFTIMAGE software was used to create 3D effects in many blockbuster movies such as Jurassic Park, Titanic, Men in Black, The Matrix, The Fifth Element, Moulin Rouge, Happy Feet, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as many 3D video games.
In 1992, SOFTIMAGE went public on the American stock market NASDAQ, before merging with Microsoft two years later. SOFTIMAGE was later acquired by Avid in 1998, which then sold the SOFTIMAGE 3D software division to Autodesk in 2008.
Before founding SOFTIMAGE, Langlois worked as an Animation Director for private companies and the National Film Board of Canada. He also co-directed pionnering computer-animated film Tony de Peltrie (1985), and helped produce the first stereoscopic 3D computer animation in IMAX format. In 1997, he received a Scientific and Technical Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In 1997, he created The Daniel Langlois Foundation, launched to “… nurture a critical awareness of technology’s implications for human beings and their natural and cultural environment, as well as to explore the characteristic aesthetics of new human environments.”
The activities of the foundation include an ongoing program focusing on establishing long-term resilience and self-sustainability for small communities in emerging countries that are directly affected by the devastating impacts of natural disasters and global warming.
As owners of the Coulibri Ridge self-sufficient luxury hotel in Dominica, Daniel Langlois and Dominique Merchant were also involved in sustainable development and research projects in the hospitality sector. During Dominica’s November Independence celebrations, the country’s government honoured Langlois with a Meritorious Service Award for his contributions to sustainable development and research projects.