- Listening to: Vitor Ramil
- Reading: Human Materials
- Watching: Torchwood
- Playing: Black Mirror III
- Eating: Dinner
- Drinking: Water
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People have been urging me to write this review, and it took me a while because I had to use it for a while before I can have an opinion about it. By now I still couldn't have possibly used all the available features (Poser has a lot of them), but I have at least used what most people will use. So let's talk about them. Keep in mind I haven't used Poser 9, so here I am only referring to the Pro edition.
First of all, the opening splash screen CREEPS ME OUT. Is it just me? I was invited to vote for 4 different images at the pre-release forums at RuntimeDNA, but I didn't like any of them. But like they say, not choosing is a choice, and now I have to live with looking away whenever I start Poser. I don't know about you, but this woman with blue eyes and the hat gives me heebie-jeebies every time... >____<
The new content browser (CB) now displays folder thumbnails. This is something that really speeds up locating contents, because now you can see what's in the folders without having to open them first, like it used to be until now. It also benefits from the new 64-bits AIR runtime (Flash Player 11), which not only speeds up browsing large runtimes such as mine, but also has access to more memory and still makes full use of multi-core processors to boost performance. And it now makes use of Windows Indexing service, greatly improving content search speeds in the search tab.
Still in the CB subject, we can now select multiple objects and drag them all at once to apply them to a figure, pretty much like it is in DAZ Studio. I find this useful, but there are some cases where it will not work. For example, if you select a body material and a makeup, we don't know in what order things will be applied. So if the makeup is applied first, it will be overridden by the body material, and you will have to apply it again. The same will happen if you apply a morph that depends on another morph that needs to be applied first. There is an order in which things need to be done, and multi-selection doesn't seem to be aware of it, so don't be surprised if things don't work sometimes.
The OpenGL previews are now much better than before, and I no longer envy DAZ Studio for it. As a matter of fact, I think the Poser previews are now much superior to DAZ Studio, because now we can preview soft shadows and ambient occlusion in real time. In some cases the previews are almost as good as the rendered version when it comes to lighting and materials.
You can preview the direct results of up to 8 lights in real time, and you can select which ones will be included in the previews, so that you can exclude IBL and specular lights since they will not be visible until rendered anyway. Being able to visualize shadows in real time saves me a whole lot of time when setting up a scene.
Some shader nodes can be visualized in the previews, while others can mess them up completely. For example, some skin materials include a complex array of shader nodes, and the OpenGL previews tend to turn those materials into some mushy black or brown. This already happened in Poser Pro 2010 and it's rather annoying, since even the SreeD software previews can display them properly. I also noticed that SreeD can (though slow) visualize material highlights much better than hardware-assisted OpenGL. Ironic?
There is one particular preview glitch that already existed in PP2010 that still persists on the new 2012 edition. When zooming over the character's head with materials and hair applied, the preview can slow down to a crawl, and the entire application stops responding. This happens more commonly when switching to the head camera. I can see no additional CPU activity when this happens, but Poser simply becomes unresponsive, and sometimes the only way out is to kill the task and restart. That's why I am usually cautious when getting the camera close to the head, for sometimes there is no way back. Strangely enough, this happens with the head camera but not so often with any other cameras.
The preview configuration menu offers options to enable or disable real time features such as AO and hardware shadows. I noticed that if I enable improving transparencies, it brings the whole preview down into slow motion mode. With it disabled, materials with transparency (such as hair) will sometimes display incorrectly, as if inside out. The options are there, but in some cases the performance impact can be significant.
There is a new right-click popup menu over the preview window. It is meant to provide quick access to some of the most used functions, such as parenting, object duplication, conforming, and switching IK on/off. What I like about this menu when parenting an object is that the figure body parts now show organized by hierarchical structure, which speeds up and simplifies the process.
Poser now starts up faster than ever before. I find this very important, because there is no bigger turn down than having to wait minutes before you can start using the software. Other major companies like Microsoft and Corel have also capitalized on having their flagship programs to also start faster. Performance-wise, Poser is now a little more responsive than previous versions.
This is more noticeable in the Cloth Room, where simulations could not be stopped before, and also in the Pose Room, where stopping a render could crash older Poser versions. Rendering raytraced shadows over transparency used to drastically increase rendering times in the past, but now I could notice some performance improvements on that.
The interface is still pretty much unchanged since Poser 8, which most will consider a good thing. There are a couple of new features at the top icons in the preview panel, where now you can select an object in the scene to either orbit around with the camera, or zoom into it. This is similar to what we already had with the head and hands cameras, now expanded to any body part of your choice.
The drop down menu over the preview panel has been changed, having additional features added to it. I find it kind of annoying that the order of things was changed, because I was used to picking the 3rd option to save render to disk for years, and now it has become the 4th. Among the new items in this menu is an option to render the scene in a background process, which I think is new in this version.
Poser now supports real subsurface scattering (SSS) directly in the shader nodes. There a 3 new shaders that provide SSS in different ways. The first automates the task by providing ready-made but customizable presets for a number of materials that would typically benefit from SSS. The 2nd automates SSS specifically for human skin. The 3rd opens all of the SSS parameters in low level, exposing all of the SSS power for you to edit manually.
With true SSS now being available to the user, this makes obsolete all of those skin shader plugins that tried to fake SSS until now. Conversely, true SSS is very heavy on the system, and can take much longer to render. It's important to notice that SSS can only be visible under special lighting conditions, and also at specific parts of the body or materials. I still fake SSS in my renders depending on the quality of the results I can get versus how long it takes to render.
The Python version has changed, which is the first time since Poser 6. This means most of your compiled Python scripts (PYC) will stop working. Many of them have already been updated, while others (that fake SSS) may have to be redesigned. Python script creators have been kind enough to notify their clients when updated versions were released. The new Python version exposes new features that will empower developers to create whole new kinds of functionality in the next batch of Poser plugins.
In the rendering department, I haven't seen much change in Firefly. Rendering options now offer a checkbox for subsurface scattering, but everything else is basically the same. I was VERY disappointed that SMSI didn't fix the PSD layers, which is something I have been requesting since PP2010 was released.
Poser Pro 2012 offers the very same 3 layers for diffuse, specular and shadows to be rendered separately, but the diffuse layer always comes with embedded shadows, which defeats the purpose of having shadows available as a separate layer. I have requested this to be fixed during the pre-release forums at RuntimeDNA, but this time they said everybody was out for the SIGGRAF 2011 convention (how convenient!), so in the end nothing was fixed. Am I the only one reporting those bugs to SMSI? T____T
Another persistent issue that has not been fixed in PP2012 are the shadow cameras. Whenever you switch to any of them to adjust their field of view (FOV), your objects start flying all over the scene, and this cannot be undone. Actually, trying to fix their position and rotation will most likely just crash Poser, so don't even bother. The only way is to close and reload your entire scene, loosing whatever wasn't saved before it happened.
The Setup Room now includes tools to paint vertex weight maps (VWM) using your Wacom tablet, as well as to rig figures using traditional Poser rigging with split body parts. The good news is that you can also rig figures using a combination of both methods, which has been called "hybrid" rigging. You can simply convert traditional Poser rig into VWM, but that will not change anything in the figure's posing quality because the weight maps will still be exactly the same as they were before.
The real VWM advantages will show after we refine the existing weight maps for better joint bending. I assume that soon enough we will see multiple versions of V4 weight maps that you can import and take advantage of the better posing in both the figure and the clothings as well. At that point, there should be no visible differences in posing quality when compared to Genesis.
The advantage of WVM is that you can now apply weight maps that do not depend on the shape of a sphere or capsule as it used to be in the past. Weight maps can now be painted in any shape you like, and can also cross over other body parts that are not directly adjacent to the joint you are adjusting. This is the traditional character rigging method used in all other 3D applications, so now Poser is finally adopting industry standards for character setup. Mind you, it took 15 years for Poser to get there.
This is the same method used to rig DAZ3D's new Genesis figure, which means there might be ways to import her into Poser if the weight maps can be preserved. Automatic morph adapting will obviously not work in Poser, since those things were only meant to work in DAZ Studio. If you want to do those things, you can simply do them in DS, and then export the whole scene to Poser, where you can edit materials, lights, and render, but cannot change the figure's morphs.
A new feature in Poser is the texture pre-caching. Poser will now pre-process your scene textures so that it doesn't have to repeat the task over and over again every time you render, saving time and speeding up the process. Nonetheless, textures will be reloaded every time you change them (duh!), and that's something I do a lot in my scenes. Animations will benefit the most from this, because Poser used to reload all textures before rendering every frame, so that's an improvement.
There are no new features on the lighting department, but now we do have light emitting objects (LEO). Those already existed since Poser 7, but now you can create invisible LEO that will still illuminate your scene even if the camera will not render them. I can see a number of applications for this, to include IBL sky domes, and the creation of area lights. A lot of people have already created Star Wars lightsaber effects using this (huge cliché!!).
You also have the option to decide which objects in your scene will emit light and which won't. This is important because a lot of people add ambient to materials to control their visibility under shadows, and until now they would glow and emit light if rendered with radiosity (IDL). Now you can tell Poser which objects will glow, avoiding undesired glowing objects in your scenes.
I haven't noticed anything new in the Face and Hair Rooms, though the latter is claimed to have performance optimizations. The Material Room is also the same, but I already think it's great as it is. I didn't realize how great the shader nodes architecture was until I tried to build materials in DAZ Studio. One can get spoiled with the visual drag and drop interface used to build some very complex skin shaders you see in my later renders.
One new feature that I find useful is the ability to add multiple objects or entire folders into your collections (favorites). In the past we had to add objects one by one, and it was rather painful. So much that I usually did it in Windows Explorer instead, but no need for that anymore. Don't know if this is a new feature, or just a consequence of being able to select multiple objects at the content library.
One thing that I would really like would be to select multiple objects in the scene - not just from the library. I would also love to be able to select multiple dials at once as well, even if only to help reorganizing them into groups. Multi-selection of library contents is welcome, but somehow not enough for many practical matters. A classic example would be to manipulate multiple body parts at once, like we can do with DAZ Studio. Maybe in the next version? Only if enough people make the request!! (hint, hint)
A couple of things came up when I was testing PP2012, and those are related to external binary files (PMD) and the Queue Manager. Those issues already existed in PP2010 and were not fixed. First, saving with external binary files enabled (default setting) is considerably faster than without it - but there is a catch: SMSI claims that PMD files are not compatible with DAZ figures (A3, V3, V4, M4, etc), and have never been since Poser 5.
This means that if you save a scene where Vicky4 has 3rd party morphs applied (character faces, etc), they will NOT be saved in the PMD file, and that will become noticeable next time you load the scene. The dials will be there and the values still display the proper values, but they simply have no effect on the figure. That's because the actual morphs were lost when the scene was saved. PMD will *not* store 3rd party DAZ figure morphs. SMSI has confirmed this when I asked. Check this support.smithmicro.com/cs/smkb… page at SMSI and scroll to the last line. It tells you to disable binary morphs if you are using DAZ figures. But hey, nearly EVERYBODY is using DAZ figures... O___O
As a consequence, Queue Manager will not render your scenes correctly in the same computer, and even less in networked computers. That's because Queue Manager will only render saved contents, not the contents in your scene. Since scenes with DAZ figures will not save correctly with PMD files, Queue Manager cannot render the scenes correctly - 3rd party morphs will be missing.
The easiest way to fix this is to disable external binary morphs, which will cause the saving operations to take *much* longer, and your saved PZ3 files to bloat in file size. The best would be to enable PMD while you are actively working on the scene, and then disable it when you finished editing, just to save the scene properly. Somehow I don't feel comfortable having to change the Poser configuration that often. I usually leave PMD enabled and fix the saved scenes by re-applying the morphs that got lost. Strangely, props attached to V4 also get their morphs lost when I save the scene. I found no explanation for that.
All in all I think the new improvements are welcome, and perhaps one thing that used to cause me considerable waste of time was finding contents in the library. With library folders now displaying content thumbnail previews, things have become much easier. You can also drag library folders into other folders, making it easier to reorganize your runtime, though it is still not possible to delete folders, even if they are empty.
For the while I was waiting for my Python plugins to be updated to the current Poser version, I was occasionally going back to PP2010, and that's when I realized how I already got used to the new features, and how awkward it was not to have them. That said, I am already hooked into the new version and cannot go back anymore. This should say something about my general impression of it. The changes were meant to improve general workflow, and I think they did.
Clubs I joined:
Chances are that nearly everybody likes collecting things during their life. My mom collects dolls from different countries, my friend collects stamps, another one collects buttons and so on. I collect Anime videos and have been doing so for over a decade now.
But the funny thing is that those collections only have a meaning to us. You might have a grandparent who passed away and left their own collections of something behind, and your family doesn't have a clue on what to do with it. If it's valuable maybe it can be sold. If not, it will either be dumped somewhere or donated to whoever might want it.
My wife and I went to some antique shops the past weekend and I couldn't help noticing how many meticulously preserved collections we found there. We found things of all sorts, like Coca Cola collectables from the 1950's and classic car miniatures from the 1960's. I remembered some of those things from my childhood (I was born in the late 60's) but never imagined someon
ShadoGal Mai Chronicles IShadoGal Mai Chronicles I: Living Forever
There are many vampire stories based on the fact that life loses its meaning if you cannot die. Those stories tend to emphasize that life itself can become a burden in such cases, because after a few centuries there is nothing much of new to be seen or learned, especially because history tends to repeat itself over and over.
That's how I defined the personality of ShadoGal Mai, my wacky half-vampire (damphyr) character. One can become quite bored after living for 500 years, and many books and movies have covered aspects of it, such as "Interview with a Vampire" and "Highlander". But in those stories the characters were nearly all male, and I here I wanted to show a female side of the story.
Human nature dictates that we will value the most what we don't have, or things that are rare and thus, precious. But immortality makes life itself worthless. In a vampire perspective life has advantages, although they have to live without a good deal of the
ShadoGal Mai Chronicles II====================================
ShadoGal Mai Chronicles II: Fay and the Scroll of Dhakr
One thing to keep in mind is that Mai us a supernatural being. She inherited a vampire hypnotic gaze that can paralyze humans with ease. After a "love bite", they become addicted to her highly arousing ways and will tend to come back for more at regular periods, which is very convenient for both sides. It's like the next step in the vampire symbiotic evolution, which is described in the "Unification Prophecy".
Mai doesn't like fighting and in most cases she never has to. That's the nature of vampires. She can paralyze any human just by looking at them in the eyes, no matter their physical strength - the gaze paralyzes a human (or even animals) by freezing their souls right at the core. Besides that, Mai has the strength of 10 men, which means trying to defeat her by brute force is unlikely to work by all means. It's not physical strength, but rather a
ShadoGal Mai Chronicles IIIEpisode III: Dawn of the Ancients
Fay was sitting comfortably on a sofa in this magnificent mansion. She was used to be at different places every once in a while, because her job forces her to move from place to place every few decades. There were five men around her, looking very suspicious of the new location. The older one, Vance, was particularly uncomfortable with the place because it has too many windows. He was not concerned about his privacy or anything, but instead about his own safety, since sunlight can be quite inconvenient to most vampires – especially the older ones.
They spent the following hours painting all of the windows black, and only then Vance could finally sit and rest on the large and decorated sofa where Fay had already fell asleep. How long has it been since the five of them have been faithfully following this woman? It becomes hard to keep track of time in terms of human years, since numbers in that system can quickly grow large. Vance thinks to himsel
-A bird? A plane? No, it's...-
~A bird? A plane? No, it's...~
One of the advantages of being 500 years old is that you have probably already seen it all. ShadoGal Mai was in a trip to the Big Apple when she spotted an interesting male figure flying in cape & tights over the city - but without any wings. Well, Mai has many superhuman powers, but flying without wings is certainly not one of them. Even less at speed! Very curious, She followed the man in tights until he landed somewhere in the streets. He apparently found somebody in distress and went down to help. Mai was very impressed by him: how can he have so much strength? Dad said I can't go out with human pets, but what about him? He can't be human!
Mai followed the guy in tights until he went back home. As she hid inside his house, she sneaked around until she found the perfect opportunity to give him a little surprise 'love' bite from behind. Mai used her inherited vampire powers to keep the guy still while taking a sip. She immediately notic
MY ORIGINAL MUSIC:
I think DAZ has my award, even there free version beats out Poser, ok minus a few things you can do.
So if I am really going to try getting serious about 3d, I'll just hit the learning curve and spend the big bucks on 3D Studio Max.
As for 3DSMAX, I use it together with Poser. I think both work together wonderfully, because Poser uses open-source file formats, as opposed to DS that prefers closed, proprietary file formats. For example, I can use the very same dynamic cloth in both Poser, 3DSMAX and Maya, but DS cloth simulation only works with itself. I can share 3DSMAX character animations with Poser and Maya, but DS animations can only be used with itself.
But again, you should use what you like the best.
Complex issues such as how memory leaks can cause random glitches cannot be reproduced mechanically. SMSI requires that bug reports include step by step instructions that detail the process of reproducing the bug, but if it involves random issues (like memory leaks), then they will NOT be able to catch it on the first try, and then the bug report fails - and it will never be fixed.
Other issues also cause reports to get lost. For example, over a year ago I have submitted a long list of Poser 8 and PP2010 bug reports to SMSI, but now they told me each bug must be reported *separately*, and now they claim NOTHING I have reported has ever gone through. O_____O
This can only mean that I must be the only person on Earth reporting Poser bugs to SMSI...
i have one small question....do you happen to know any python script that applies the basic SSS (new) node to the whole skin? and perhaps with an option to change sss quality ? (from 0,5 to 1,0?)
is it hard to make one?
As for your question, many Poser plugin creators have their own tools to handle the Material Room. At the moment nobody has a tool that can automate true SSS in Poser 9/PP2012, but if you follow the RuntimeDNA forum discussions, there are people working on having that done. Vicky4 has basically only 4 major mat zones: torso, arms, legs and face. I simply applied SSS to 1 body part, and the copied over all others that share the same materials. You only have to do this 4 times, for the rest is just copying it to other parts.
That's how I have been doing this so far, but it seems like ShaderWorks has a plugin that can automatically update all other MAT zones that share the same material once you change it. This means you only have to change 4 materials and the rest will automatically update accordingly. That's next in my shopping list, but it seems like it is only available at Rosity, where I don't have (and don't want to have) an account... T______T
There are many other DS features not supported in Poser, and it's hard for me to think of them as "bugs". As it comes out, Poser doesn't fully support ANY DAZ figure since version 5, because external binary morphs won't store DAZ figures correctly. I suspect Poser never solved those things for the simple reason that them and DAZ were fierce competitors over the same market. So much that to this date, no version of DS supports saving contents back to Poser formats. In the same way, DS has never supported Poser materials, and we can't say that is a bug either. It just never will because the Poser shader nodes architecture is a closed and proprietary system. So much that even Smith Micro's own Fusion plugins will NOT export their own Poser materials to any program whatsoever. They could, but they won't.
It's unfortunate for us end users that SMSI and DAZ3D are fighting each other, and making their products more incompatible with each other in every version, where probably DS4 has finally broken Poser compatibility for good - they just don't care anymore.
Is Phantom3D going to give or sell the rig? It can't be just a PZ2 pose, because the vertex map needs to be transferred into V4. PZ2 poses can only set values, they cannot create anything in the figure. For that to work, it will have to be done as an injection script that uses a PZ2 pose to be applied.
I still need to learn Poser, things made in Poser9 are by default compatible with both, stuff made in DAZ4, for the time being, need to be converted to work in Poser9.
I personally think the painting of weight maps is too hard, the tools are too slow and the amount values needed to add and subtract are way off. I find myself using values like 0.002 to add and subtract and a value of 1.0 to smooth.... but, maybe it's just my pc?? (2.2ghz dual core, 4gb ram, hd3200 integrated ati gpu).... I'm sure you guys with the i7, 8gb ram could let me know if this is the case with you!!?
This computer is an older [link] Intel Core2 X9650 3GHz 4GB RAM with a nVidia GTX 275. But on the desk at the opposite wall I have the [link] almighty i7 production system with 12GB triple-channel RAM, with nVidia GTX470 video card, which can crunch any Poser render at max settings with little effort. The video card is more powerful than the i7 processor, capable of crunching a 2h DVD into h.264 MPEG-4 in 4 minutes without using the CPU. The i7 alone would take more than 30 mins.
Since Poser can only use OpenGL for previews and nothing else, your video card can only help with faster previews, and nothing else. In this computer I have a general slow down when painting morphs using the Morph Tool in any version of Poser, even the latest 64-bit version. I haven't tried that in the i7, and I wonder if it will make any difference?