Sticky: Changes and Additions

This article contains numerous corrections and additions to existing posts. Those are mentioned here, in a separate place, simply because they are not included (yet) in the PDF downloads and because I like to keep my main posts and the PDF in sync.

Poser the Program – 6. Library

Dockable Library

The manual states that the Library Window, in a 64-bit Poser Pro, cannot be docked. This is indeed the case with Poser Pro 2010, where the General preferences, Library tab, Lauch behavior is greyed out.

However, in Poser Pro the “embedded’ option can be checked when one has the 64-bit version of Flash installed as well. This might be still in beta, but nevertheless.

(thanks to Wim van de Bospoort)

Library File Types

I have stated incorrectly that when you’re in say Characters, you only can see Characters (cr2/crz) items in the Library. Not correct, you can see and use all types of items. This means that you can put dress, accessoires, materials, poses and the like all in one folder, and subfolders. This prevents the scattering around of all sorts of files which you wan to stick together.

(retest as suggested by GeneralNutt and BagginsBill).

But…

  • when you’re in say the Characters environment, you only can add Character items to Favorites. Not the Poses. So from Props, you can add the dress but not the mats. It’s inconvenient, in my opinion.
  • when the dress has say 20 mats in one folder, you have to add those mat items individually to Favorites, you cannot add a shortcut to the folder itself. It’s cumbersome, in my opinion.
  • and the only way to save say Hair is selecting the Hair option in the Library. Add to Library then enforces saving in the main Hair folder. No way to save the mats then in a Mats subfolder in the Hair environment (thanks to ElZagna).
    Of course the files can be moved afterwards using Explorer or so, but nevertheless.

For me, P3dO is the content manager of choice.

Poser the Program – 8. Strategies

People using Poser, or Poser Pro in a 32-bit environment, cannot profit from rendering in Queue. Especially for them, but probably for other users (and other uses) as well, the Scripts menu, in Partners, Dimension3D offers the Render Scenes and Render Content (in a standard scene) scripts.
Plus the Render Firefly script with all options in one pane, and the possiblity to go beyond the Poser max settings. So one can set max Raytrace Bounce to 100, if needed.

Poser Render Passes

In the preliminary versin of the tutorial, I have not discussed working with the Ambient pass. In those cases where the Ambient of materials is used to present glowing elements of clothes or buildings or alike, those layers can be used to create an additional glow to the image.

However, when Ambient is used to correct for lighting issues in the scenes, or for emulating surface scattering as might be done with human skin, the Ambient layer is hardly worthwhile to process separately. Your image, your call.

Which Vue version?

Except from Vue Frontier which is a cheap and fun way to become somewhat familiar with Digital Landscape Creation, the Vue arena is divided in an Artist and a Pro section.

What’s in the Artist line?

The Artist line consists of the main (and free) Vue Pioneer, plus 12 add-on modules which can be purchased separately or in bundles. With the RenderUP module, Vue uses 2-core (4 threads) on 32-bit systems, and 4-core (8-threads) on 64-bit systems. Which means that some modern CPU’s are not fully utilized. Not too bad, you can do the rendering in the queue manager, and probably work on a second scene (including test renders) or on another program (like Poser) at the same time.

Esprit (+$200) adds to Pioneer:

  • Vue Content
  • $ 70 RenderUP – no more limits to the render size or restrictions to the output
  • $130 3DImport – use OBJ, 3DS and other formats as well

Studio (+$200) adds to Esprit:

  • $ 70 HyperVue – enabling multi-CPU / network rendering
  • $ 40 DeepAccess – for improved management of full scenes
  • $ 40 LightTune – arrange light effects per object
  • $ 40 Botanica plant editor – make your own plants
  • $100 Ecosystem – make your own Eco materials

Complete (+$200) adds to Studio:

  • $150 Exporter – export scenes in 3D format to other software
  • $ 40 KronosFX – add high-end animation to your scenes
  • $ 40 AdvancedGraph – create advanced materials and object interactions
  • $ 40 Zephyr – add wind effects t forests and other vegetation
  • $100 Ecopainter – distribute your Eco material using your mouse or stylus

Conclusions: Esprit is simply the next step up from Pioneer. When you consider the step from Esprit to Studio or from Studio to Complete, you might find yourself In the situation where two modules are attractive, one is / two are just nice and two are / one is not necessary. So this extra bundle price is just, or just not, attractive compared to purchasing separate modules. Well, clever pricing from e-onsoftware.

From Vue 9 to Vue 10?

Upgrading brings us:

  • Improved GI lighting
  • Improved handling of cloud layers and cloud portions
  • Custom star maps
  • Improved EcoSystem distribution and animation
  • Massively improved terrain creation tools, including Road Construction
  • Improved Rock functions in Library and Ecosystem
  • Improved render speed and quality
  • Improved Water and Underwater scene handling
  • Improved texture mapping en interactive (Viewport) handling
  • Render Stack for result comparison, difference calculation and better post-processing
  • Importing and Using splines for terrain creation and ecosystem distribution
  • Multiple UV layouts
  • Guarding against OpenGL failure issues

Upgrading costs $200 ($150 for Studio, $100 for Esprit), or 150% of that when you leapfrog (from 8 to 10). I generally recommend leapfrogging versions to those who are learning the software and don’t work at the edge of the product’s possibilities yet.

However, taking a “subscription” (paying a monthly amount) is cheaper than leapfrogging on the longer term and gives you the most recent version every time. So that would be my recommended strategy for this product.

From the Artist line to the Pro line?

Vue Infinite costs about $1000 but you can hand in your recent Complete for a $400 buy-back. Since it’s a physically different product, there is no such thing as a simple upgrade path. He maintenance contract ($200/year) is cheaper than regularly upgrading and equality expensive as leapfrogging versions, but gives access to intermediate (.5) versions and various forms of support. Recommended when considering the Pro product.

The other Pro product is Vue xStream, which actually is similar to Infinite but completely integrates into the other high-end 3D software like 3DS MAX.

What are the main extras of Infinite 10 over Complete 10?

  • Baking illumination into textures, great for game development
  • Planetary clouds
  • Advanced object mesh subdivision
  • Extensive multi-pass rendering for optimal post processing results
  • Unlimited network rendering (Complete: 5)
  • Higher quality, more realistic camera options
  • Network and render management functions (logging, diagnosis, …)
  • Full gamma control (input, output, display)
  • Advanced handling of mattes and real world footage
  • Camera / light synchronization with Max, Maya, Cinema4D, …
  • Export to After Effects
  • Motion blur on mesh deformations
  • More flexibility in user Interface (to line up with other software), more control over OpenGL viewport handling
  • Python scripting, macro recording, embedded backup tools
  • Object decimation (reduce level of detail)
  • Texture map search
  • Better handling of HDRI and EXE images
  • No limits to threads and CPUs

Personally, I would love the multipass rendering. Vue gamma correction has some flaws (see my article on that) and I don’t have such a current use for the other features to justify this price-doubling. So I stick with Vue Complete, but your considerations might be quite different of course.

Which Poser version?

Although the full details are revealed at the Smith Micro website, I’ll summarize the main differences between the various Poser versions. This might be of help for those who consider an upgrade, or might be of help in the “to Pro or not to Pro” quest. Hence:

  • Upgrading to Poser 9?
  • Upgrading to Poser Pro 2012?
  • Poser or Poser Pro?

Roughly, my advice reads as follows.

  • When you’re relatively new to this software or to this kind of imaging, it’s better to concentrate on learning the main features and on developing the artistic side: camera, light, rendering, post-processing, materials, posing. And hence to leapfrog versions. From Poser 8 to 10 to …, from Pro 2010 to Pro 2014 to … .
    I see no need to rush.
  • When you’re a seasoned user on the edge of the features Poser / Poser Pro offers, then following versions makes sense. From Poser 8 to 9, from Pro 2010 to 2012.
  • When you’re suffering scene-size or render-speed issues, when you’re on 64-bit, when you really want more grip on scene handling, posing detail and render quality, then taking the step from Poser to Poser Pro might be just for you.
  • When upgrading, the preliminary, initial offer from Smith Micro is by far the cheapest. From the moment the new releases are out, prices won’t drop to that level anymore.

Upgrading to Poser 9?

The main features you’ll get when upgrading from Poser 8 to Poser 9 are:

Various former Pro features:

  • The Recent Render palette, so you can easily compare two recent render results
  • Indicator for parameter change, indicator for Joint Strength
  • Full Body Morph import

Plus:

  • Support for scripts in Python 2.7
  • Expanded Context menus
  • Morph brushes are pressure sensitive (handy for Wacom / tablet users)
  • Object grouping and Hierarchical Scene Inventory
  • Camera’s for Frame Object and Rotate Object
  • Full Body Morph deletion
  • Single mesh characters (as derived from Daz Genesis)
  • Using Weight Maps for rigging (making WM’s is a PPro2012 feature)
  • New Subsurface Scattering and Skin materials
  • Improvements on: focal / motion blur, reflection and indirect lighting
  • Realtime (=Viewport) support for soft shadows, ambient occlusion etcetera
  • Some performance improvements
  • More content with the package, and a somewhat improved Library
  • More constraints in Animation

Upgrading to Poser Pro 2012?

The main features you’ll get when upgrading from Poser Pro 2010 to Poser Pro 2012 are:

  • Everything you’ll get from upgrading Poser 8 to 9, except for those features which were already available in Pro 2010

Plus:

  • 64-bit application for the Mac (was: Win only)
  • Weight Map creation tools (as Poser can only use created weight maps)

Poser or Poser Pro?

The main features you’ll get when upgrading from Poser 9 to Poser Pro 2012 are:

  • Interfacing with other software (Photoshop, 3DS MAX), via COLLADA or PoserFusion
  • 64 bit application, 64-bit Firefly rendering, Render queue and network rendering, and background rendering
  • HDRI import/export, PSD export with layers for post-processing
  • Gamma Correction for shadow/highlight strength management,
  • Weight Map creation tools (as Poser can only use created weight maps)

What about Vue?

In 1992 the French student Nicholas Phelps started the creation of Vue d’Esprit, an outdoor scenery generator. Version 1 saw the light in 1994, and after an intermediate version 1.2 (1995) version 2 was released in 1997.

At those days it had a very strong competitor: Bryce, which

  • was based on the fractal algorithms by Ken Musgrave – who was a student of Benoît Mandelbrot, and later founded mojoWorld,
  • was extended by geologist Eric Wrenger – who wanted to create believable rock textures in software, and
  • got its user interface from Kai Krause – who made numerous contributions to the appearance and behaviour of nowadays software like Mac OSX, Windows, Linux, Photoshop and Poser.

Bryce released version 1 in 1994 (Mac only), got available for PC with version 2 (1996) which included lights, atmospherics and Boolean object combination, and introduced animation in version 3 (1997). Vue lagged far behind all that.

While Bryce suffered from departing experts and developers, commercially driven company takeovers and reduced priorities in development programs, Nicholas Phelps moved to the US, founded e-onsoftware and continued the development of his product.

So Vue migrated towards photo-realism, towards the ability to create advanced plant structures, got the ability to cover complete landscapes with eventually complex vegetation patterns (and to handle those in high end rendering results) , started real integration with high end tools (the xStream versions) and finally established a solid position in the big screen industry.
This ranges from animations like Kung Fu Panda to life action scenes in Indiana Jones (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Dead Man’s Chest), and the user base addresses about all major studios around.

In the meantime, the enthusiast’s and hobbyist’s / artist’s user base is far from forgotten. Next to a basic (and free!) Vue Pioneer version, Vue is presented in a modular way: Vue Esprit brings 2 modules, Vue Studio brings 5 while Vue Complete brings all 12 of them to the Vue Pioneer base version, while each module can be purchased separately as well.

As can be expected, the professional versions (xStream and Infinite) add functions that are of main interest to the collaboration and workflows in larger studios while also adding some functions that make the extra mile to the big screen. In addition to that, e-onsoftware has issued some products which makes specific Vue technologies available to other software, like Ozone (atmospherics), Carbon Scatter (Eco-systems) and LumenRT (mixing static rendering with camera animation for Arch-viz works).

The whole range make up a great toolset for Virtual Landscape Photography.

What about Poser?

Poser dates from 1995, when Larry Weinberg created this software replacement for life models and artists mannequins.
The basic purpose was, and to some extent still is, to enable pose and light studies. In an individual and inexpensive way, in order to help the artist establishing the drawing or painting at hand. The real stuff I mean, not the digital variety of media creation.

Version 2 (1996) increased resolution, and added props and animation so one could have a synthetic model throwing and catching a ball, or getting seated. Version 3 (1998) added facials expressions and hand / fingers posing while version 4 (1999) added conforming clothes, transparency in materials and figure sculpting using deformers (morphs and magnets).

After those first 5 years of gradual development a second period of 5 years took off, which included a major overhaul of the program.
It introduced Python scripting, custom rigging (the Setup room), interfacing with other software like 3DS Max, Lightwave, Cinema4D and other using Collada export (Maya, Photoshop) and mainly included some major software pieces from Reyes Infographica: the sketch and toon rendering, the FireFly rendering with raytracing (reflections and refraction) capabilities, dynamic cloth and hair, and some collision detection functions.
This roller coaster ride which included the Poser Pro Pack and a series of ‘version 5.x’ releases ended with version 6 (2005) which included OpenGL, Image Based Lighting and Ambient Occlusion, and showing genitals.

From then on, Poser 7 (2006), 8 (2009) and 9 (2011) show a shift from artist support to a creation tool by itself, ready to generate digital images for presentation directly. Focus on content delivery and content management, lip-sync speech, motion capture posing, better hardware usage (improved OpenGL, multi-thread rendering), HDRI output, inclusion of PhilC’s Wardrobe Wizard, Global illumination, Tone mapping (better output) and Normal mapping (handling game-figure input), and the recent addition of Weight Map deformation (usage only) as seen in high end systems like Maya, and more photoreal material handling.

At the same time, a Pro line of the software got launched, starting with Poser Pro (2008) with just some added software interfacing, followed by Poser Pro 2010 with loads of content, some new functions, 64-bit rendering, gamma correction and output to Photoshop PSD layers for better post processing. Of course some of the new functions can be found later in Poser 9 as well, while Poser Pro 2012 (released at the same moment) leapfrogs to Weight Map creation and more.

Simultaneously, the galleries and forums (the ultimate end user channels) show a serious development too. Of course, beginners questions and people showing either their rendering abilities or their merchandise will always be around. People still use Poser as the foundation for further image development, although the use of real oils and crayons made place for digital illustrations. Some examples:

But I also see an increasing demand for photorealism, and other ways to produce the final image right from the package. Some examples:

And I see an increased competition, as Daz Studio evolves to a serious toolkit on its own (as Callad is demonstrating so well). Both make great tools for Virtual Portrait Photography nowadays. I do hope all users can benefit from these developments.