|My FIRST submission to dA (2005)! ^______^|
DAZ3D has just released update version 4.6 that introduces a few new features, but most importantly, ships with the choice to select a new interface. Since its first release, DS4 has been plagued with a gigantic interface that has annoyed a number of users because it wasted too much precious screen space with oversized controls. This update has that resolved!
Once you install the update, nothing will change in the interface. You have to go to the main menu and select Window -> Style -> Select Style -> Darkside, and this will replace the annoying giant interface with a space savvy version. You now have way more real estate to work with, and will have way less scrolling to find the options you are looking for. Frankly, this should have been in version 4.5 when we look at the massive complaints from DS users, but now it is finally here. ^__^
Some of version 4.6 new features are:
* New icon, now black instead of orange! OMG! (just kidding).
* New rendering engine: 3Delight has been updated to support more options (see below).
* Subsurface Scattering Shader (SSS): Already in Poser since version 6, now finally available in DS.
* Pixar Subdivision Surfaces: Same that will be shipping with Poser 10 next week.
* Hierarchical selections for groups: Probably the same as Poser selection groups?
* Simultaneous figure posing.
* Support for geometry shells.
* New CMS client.
* Overdriven weights.
I have searched the DAZ site for clues on the new features, and guess what, the manual is under construction, and will probably remain as such forever - the usual with DAZ3D.
You will be happy to see that rendering configuration has some new panels to access some of the new features. And I was happy that the installer has preserved all of my plugins installed and registered, as opposed to asking me to register them all over again as it used to be in the past. There is no update for DSON, so it will probably remain a hit and miss for the time being.
I was a little disappointed that there were no lighting improvements in this version. Although it is possible to create specular lights, you still cannot control the specific values of specular and diffuse components. It can either be entirely diffuse or entirely specular, but nothing in between - and you still cannot control shadow intensity, which can be frustrating if you are coming from Poser. After all, the advantage of using biased illumination is exactly the fact that you can cheat light behavior for artistic purposes.
On the pro developer tools, I was pleased to see that the decimator plugin (sold separately) has finally been updated. It now offers more control over decimation, where groups are now split by material zones instead of body parts. It is now possible to assign more polys at critical parts such as the face, eyes and lips individually, for as long as those parts have specific MAT zones. This alone makes the plugin much more usable, though it still uses generic triangulation, which doesn't take topology into consideration. Therefore it will not preserve edge flow, and that can cause animation issues and poor use of poly count. Nonetheless I did some tests and the results were great comparing to how it was before.
All in all this is a great release, where the major thing was the option to use the new smaller user interface, which allows for much improved use of screen space for all existing layouts. The updated 3Delight engine now supports SSS, which makes me wonder why it took them so long. We no longer have to create complex shaders to produce realistic SSS on skin, but be aware that SSS tends to hit performance quite a bit, and that it cannot be used with external renderers such as Lux and Octane. Those have their own SSS shaders.
I am happy I have upgraded and perhaps this is the version DS users who didn't like the previously gigantic interface were waiting for. Many have claimed they refused to upgrade from DS3 because of it. I found it funny that the DAZ3D ads were asking why should people pay for 3D software when they can have it for free? Well, the new DS 4.6 is nice, but not nice enough to make me drop Poser anytime soon. Poser 10 is being released next week, packed with awesome new features that are not tied up to a single figure sold by DAZ3D.
As a matter of fact, Poser 10 will allow much greater reuse of my legacy contents with any other figure I already have, instead of having to cope with Genesis, which requires buying again much of that same content all over again. I am not about to throw all of my existing contents, so Poser 10 will save me money and give me more reuse value to what I already have in the long run.
I have to give it to SMS the credits for blowing me away beyond my [always skeptical] expectations with every Poser release. After over a decade of mediocre releases from other companies, SMS has been evolving Poser consistently since Poser 8. The new "Fitting Room" may not be as easy as DS's "Auto-fit", but it will allow accomplishing much more with my existing contents than funneling everything towards a single Genesis figure. You may ask why is this important? Let me explain.
If you look into my gallery you will see that I rely on different figures, or combinations of different ones to achieve different character styles. I cannot rely on only Genesis to cover all of those styles, so perhaps that alone is more than enough reason for me to choose Poser instead. It is almost certain that there will never be an AnimeDoll or Terai Yuki for Genesis. Major features such as Auto-fit only work with Genesis, so all other figures won't benefit from it. Conversely, the upcoming Fitting Room will work with any figure, and that has more value for my money in the long run.
So for the time being I am keeping Poser as my primary tool, and DS4 as my secondary one depending on what I want to create. I have to admit I have purchased some content for Genesis, but it is tied up with DS4, so I am forced to keep it installed. DSON remains slow and has questionable support and reliability, so it is not quite as a solution as DAZ3D wants Poser users to believe. Lack of documentation also plagues DAZ Studio, where figuring things out become such a challenge that it removes the fun factor from it. So much that both DS4 and the accompanying Content Creator Toolkit are still pretty much undocumented to this date.
Perhaps it is exactly *because* those things are free that DAZ3D feels no obligation to have them properly documented, or even fully functioning as advertised in some cases. Maybe that explains why I prefer to pay for software than to have my 3D pipeline depending on things that cannot be accounted for. And what's most, people don't complain *exactly* because those things are given away for free, so in the end that becomes a liability.