Daniel Langlois

2015 Canadian Digital Media Pioneer Award Recipient

Daniel Langlois is an artist-filmmaker-animator, an entrepreneur-philanthropist, and a Canadian Digital Media Pioneer. A native of the Province of Québec, he was inspired by the work of René Jodoin and embarked on a career in computer-assisted animation and computer graphics in the 1970s. He was a film director and animator for eight years, working both for private companies and the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada. While at the NFB he was part of the team that produced the film “Transitions” ‐ the world’s first Imax-format stereoscopic 3-D computer animation ‐ which debuted at Expo 86 in Vancouver. In parallel with his work at the NFB, he and co-director Philippe Bergeron produced the independent animated short film “Tony de Peltrie” with Pierre Lachapelle and Pierre Robidoux in 1985. The film earned several international awards and was noted for its highly realistic character animation.

Building on these successes, Langlois and Char Davies co-founded the animation software company Softimage in 1986 to market the Softimage Creative Environment, which later became Softimage 3D, the first commercial software with inverse kinematics character animation. He led Montréal-based Softimage for over a decade, serving as its first president and chief technology officer. Softimage was one of a handful of highly successful Canadian companies that helped launch the digital revolution in animation and special effects. Softimage software has been used in many top films, including “Jurassic Park,” “The Mask,” “The Matrix,” “Men in Black,” “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” and “Titanic.” The Softimage was especially noted for the level of support it provided for character animation, which set it apart from many of its competitors.

In 1994, Langlois negotiated the sale of Softimage to Microsoft Corporation, the first step in an industry-wide change that saw high-end workstations with custom graphics systems replaced by more affordable personal computers that eventually utilized off-the-shelf commodity graphics processors. This change revolutionized the field of animation and special effects software that in turn triggered major consolidation within the industry. Avid purchased Softimage from Microsoft in 1998 and later sold the 3D animation assets to Autodesk in 2008, which incorporated many of the features into their products.

After Softimage was acquired by Microsoft, Langlois actively pursued his interest in the nexus of art and technology by supporting a variety of causes. He founded a private philanthropic organization, the Daniel Langlois Foundation, with the goal of fostering critical awareness of technology in art and science. He later founded Ex-Centris, a state-of-the-art, avant-garde complex in Montréal dedicated to the support of independent creators and producers experimenting with the new generation of cinematographic tools, and Media Principia / Studio Ex-Centris, a digital film production company focused on evolving digital production technologies. He also founded 357c, a private, non-profit establishment located in a landmark nineteenth century building that originally housed the Port of Montréal Commissary head office. 357c promotes interaction between the business and cultural communities, and hosts the Salons de la Commune and other cultural events.


Mr. Langlois was born and raised in Québec. He earned a bachelor of design degree from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Ernst & Young identified him as Canada’s national entrepreneur of the year in 1994. He was awarded a Scientific and Technical Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts in 1997. He was named a Knight of the National Order of Québec in 1999 and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000. In 2003, he was awarded the Octas Prize as a Great Pioneer in Information and Communications Technologies (ITC) for the integration of advanced digital technologies in film and media creation. The City of Montréal recognized him as a Personnalité Arts-Affaires in 2000 and the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montréal subsequently celebrated him as a “Great Montrealer.” He has received honorary doctoral degrees from a number of universities, including Concordia University, McGill University, Université d’Ottawa, Université du Québec à Montréal, and Université de Sherbrooke. His many artistic, entrepreneurial, and philanthropic activities have made lasting contributions to Montréal and to Canada.