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I have been creating contents for Poser for about 10 years now, and last year I have decided to start supporting HiveWire 3D's Dawn figure for both Poser and DAZ Studio (DS4). By then I wrote a review of my experience with DS4, though I had just got started with it. Now a year has passed, and I think I can tell more about it, so I decided to write another article.
Basically, both Poser and DS were designed to do the same things. Though Poser has more features right out of the box, DS can have them added by purchasing 3rd party plugins. Even when part of these are useless, there are some gems to be found. This is where I draw the line for when I want to use Poser, and when to use DS. Hey, but didn't I just said that both do the same thing? Yes, but there are things that one does better than the other.
In a nutshell, I [personally] prefer DS4 for content creation, and then Poser for everything else. For once, Poser is now in version 10, and it still doesn't know how to save its own contents to the library. It cannot create its own runtime folder structure, and all products depend on that. Even if I manually create the runtime folder structure, it still doesn't know where to place geometry and texture files on its own, and here again, all products depend on that. Poser also tends to embed geometry into the CR2 files, which is typically unacceptable in commercial products. In other words, there is a lot of manual work and file hacking involved.
DS4 uses a metadata system to handle all files and folders on its own. It always knows where to place its files, it creates its own folders, so contents always end up at the right places without manual hacking of anything. In addition, DS4 handles morphs and manages memory in a completely different way than Poser. Poser requires manually injecting morphs into your base figures, and always loads all morphs into memory, even if you are not using them. This results in performance penalties and a sluggish viewport response.
As opposed to Poser, DS4 stores geometry, morphs and UVs into separate folders, organized by figure and author using metadata. Each morph is stored as a separate file, and these are only loaded when and if the user spins the respective dial. If no morph was used, nothing is loaded into memory. If you use only 1 morph, only that one is loaded. This is one of the reasons why DS4 performance and viewport feedback is so much faster and optimized. This is also why content creation is more efficient with DS than it is in Poser. You can instantly know which morphs are included by simply looking what files are in a folder.
In addition, DS4 offers [by far] many more tools for rigging with weight maps than Poser. In DS4 you can paint weights with individual polygon precision, with extra tools to expand/contract poly selection, locking parts you don't want to affect, weights smoothing tool by percentage selection (local selection or global), and much more. In Poser all we can do is use a brush to add, smooth or remove weights, and that's about it. The Poser brush suffers from performance penalties depending on the mesh density, and the weight transfer tools offer basically no options of how it is done. The options are either to transfer the weights or not, and the whole thing might still fail silently if you forget to make hidden morphs visible. Since we have no control, doing this in Poser can yield unpredictable results.
Conversely, DS4 offers a wide range of options to control how we want the weights to be transferred from figure to conforming clothing, all the way down to vertex level. We can choose to transfer weights, groupings, material zones, and everything else individually. We can even choose to transfer groups from different donors into the same conforming outfit in different passes. You can either create your own groups for your conforming outfit externally in your 3D modeling application, let DS create it automatically for you, or manually create them in DS afterwards. You can do this last part in Poser too, but I often have issues like not being able to select or deselect polys that are facing certain ways, making the work impossible.
Weights in Poser can also be difficult to see because they show as tiny colored dots, while in DS the geometry itself changes color, making it much clearer picture of what we are doing. With popular figures such as Vicky4, the mesh density tends to slow Poser down significantly when painting weights, making the brush sluggish. Sometimes we have to wait a moment until we can see the results, while in DS the update is immediate.
This is not to say that working in DS4 is all wine and roses. The frequent updates sometimes break things that were already working, which can become quite unproductive. Some DS updates change the way things work, to the point where we can't find the tools, or figure how it works, especially when they change the tool names and locations. Since DS is given away for free, we have no saying about the way they change things, or/and add new features. It is what it is, and we have to cope with it.
Finding information about how things work for content creation in DS4 can also be frustrating, since the local and online documentations are missing, incomplete, or just outdated. Most (if not all) available tutorials (commercial or free) no longer work with the current version at some point. Some tools have so many parameters that trying to figure them out by trial and error will end up taking hours of your life that you will never get back. Conversely, the Poser documentation is pretty much complete, updated, and ships with the program with examples that you can follow to learn how to get things done.
It's important to note that both programs have their pros and cons. I've got first introduced to content creation with DS4 in August 2013, when I decided to support HiveWire 3D's new Dawn figure, which is the only weight mapped figure to be released natively for both Poser and DS4. Being unfamiliar with DS4, my first product was created in Poser, and soon enough I realized there was no simple way to migrate it to DS4. I basically had to create it all over again for DS, and that was when I realized I must start the process from DS if I want to release something that also has a Poser version.
Poser offers no support for DS4, period. Perhaps this is not Smith Micro's fault. DS4 keeps changing so fast that any support offered in Poser would stop working after each DS update, and there were many. As an example, since DS 4.0 came out, DAZ3D has changed the file formats 3 times, completely changing how things work internally. It started with .DS files, which in DS 4.5 were replaced by .DSF files, which in DS 4.6 were again replaced by .DUF files. I see no way Poser could possibly support such an ever changing chameleon. Even commercial tools I had purchased to edit DSF files no longer work with the current version because file formats have been changed.
On the other hand, DS4 can export fully rigged weight mapped figures back to Poser native format, complete with morphs, rigging and materials. This is possible because Poser file formats haven't changed much for the last 10+ years, so it's easy for DS to export to that format. Therefore is an injustice to just claim that Poser "doesn't want" to support DS4, when DS4 files are incompatible even with older versions of itself. Poser has been priming for backwards compatibility for over a decade, while DS has been burning bridges in every version and update, which can make a content creator's life miserable. One can say that DS4 has evolved a lot in the past few years comparing to Poser, but that comes at a rather high cost when it comes to backwards compatibility, and our ability to learn the tools because they change so much without notice.
Having that said, I see DS4 as a much better tool for content creation comparing to Poser. It offers more options, better general performance, and a way to export contents back to Poser at the end of the pipeline. The exported Poser contents will sometimes not be perfect, but they are a much better starting point than redoing everything from scratch. Things that will typically need adjusting in Poser are the weight maps and definitely the materials. As of today, there is just no way to export a Poser weight map rig to DS4 TriAx format, so I see no other way than to start the process in DS4.
The fact that DS4 is mostly undocumented for content creation makes the information even rarer and valuable, which is probably the reason why many don't want to share it. To make things worse, the way things work in DS4 also keeps changing after each update, so we may find ourselves eventually not knowing how to get things done anymore at some point. So don't be surprised if some people may get mad if you ask them how this or that works in DS. This kind of information doesn't come easy, cheap, or at all.
Nonetheless, DS4 is still my tool of choice for content creation, and then Poser for everything else. There are still many things I still couldn't figure out how they work in DS4, but I am learning as I do them. Thanks to the utter lack of DS documentation, this environment can sometimes be uncooperative and even hostile, so I have learned not to ask too much. I have submitted many feature suggestions to SMS with hopes Poser could become the better tool for content creation, but SMS tech support has a tendency to automatically ignore any comments comparing Poser to DS functionalities, so it's no use.
If you want to create contents that will exist natively in both Poser and DS4, these are the kind of things you will be dealing with. Now you may understand why this content market is so divided, with products released only for one or the other platform, making a lot of people unhappy. Since HiveWire 3D's Dawn figure came out, I have committed to support her in both platforms, but I admit this has been done to great sacrifices from my part because of this market split, and also the fact that SMS and DAZ3D just hate each other's guts. The more time passes, the larger the gap between these two.
There is a chance that at some point in the future, Poser and DS may become completely incompatible with each other, but so far, in spite of the difficulties, it is still possible to support both with some level of reusability. The drawback for Poser users is that they will have to switch to DS4 to start development of new contents, where documentation on how to get started is generally unavailable. This can discourage people right away, but I think it was well worth the effort when DS4 is a much more powerful tool to create contents for both platforms.
That is still something Poser just can't do, unless you want to work in double - either because Poser content creation tools are over-simplistic, or because there is no existing process to convert Poser weight mapped contents to DS4 TriAx format. This is a major factor since the future of Poser/DS figures will obviously rely on weight map rigging, which at the moment has become the splitting factor between Poser and DS compatibility.
The bottom line is if you only sell to one side of the market, you will be reaching only half the profits. Conversely, supporting both sides has become a burden when DS4 is the recommended tool to start the process, but it's undocumented and therefore challenging to learn. On the positive side, DS4 is a much better tool for content creation than Poser, which can be an incentive to overcome the difficulties. As an added bonus, DS4 also ships with game content creation tools that are way superior to the newly released Poser "Game Dev" edition in almost every aspect of the pipeline.
But before one could jump to the conclusion that DS is better in everything, that is just not true. I still prefer Poser for everything else besides content creation, especially in the areas of animation, dynamic simulations of both cloth and hair, materials, lights and rendering. Even though these last 3 things have become less relevant after external renderers such as Lux and Octane have come out, I still find the Poser plugins much better in features and support. So here again, both programs have their pros and cons. None is better than the other in everything, and for Poser content creators, DS4 can be added to the pipeline for free. If you can manage to learn it, it can become quite an asset in your pipeline.