Software review: Poser Pro 2012
Smith Micro provides new tools to increase the realism of work and the speed at which it can be created. Power animators, illustrators, content creators and dabblers should be pleased, says Mat Broomfield
$500 / Upgrade from $200
Windows / Mac
- Character posing tools
- 3GB free content
- Built-in lighting and rendering
- Hosting plug-ins for major 3D apps
Poser Pro has always been aimed at serious users who perhaps wanted to host their scenes in other programs, such as 3ds Max or Maya. With network rendering and a full 64-bit engine for both Mac and Windows users (there’s a 32-bit version too), the program is designed to make it quicker to use and faster to render.
Poser Pro 2012 has all of the features found in Poser 9, but it also includes additional functionality aimed at content creators.
The big feature is vertex weight mapping, which creates far more realistic figure joint movement. Poser 9 merely supports the use of weight-mapped figures, but Poser Pro enables you to create your own weight maps.
The recommended workflow is to set up a joint using the more traditional sphere and capsule zones first, which gives you a relatively quick general starting position. You can then either convert the zones into a weight map, or add a weight map that will be used in addition to the traditional zones: a hybrid map.
The latter leaves you with greater editability, but more importantly, it offers an easy workaround for the greatest limitation with weight maps – backwards compatibility. With earlier versions of Poser, Hybrid Rigged figures default back solely to sphere and capsule rigging.
Both Poser and Daz Studio Pro offer the ability to paint your own weight maps, a process much like sculpting in ZBrush. Poser additionally offers graphics tablet support for map painting.
However, beyond that, its tools for creating maps are relatively basic, and I prefer Daz’s extended toolset, such as its Gradient and Soften modes, which simplify creating weight maps from scratch.
Both programs offer a decent solution for transferring rigging from a figure to the clothes created for it, but only Poser, via its integrated Wardrobe Wizard technology, provides the means to retain or reinject all the morphs. This is a significant feature, especially for those who need to repurpose legacy clothing.
Poser Pro has two welcome new camera options: Frame Object, where the camera frames the selected object or body part, and Orbit, where the camera will continue to face the selected actor as you move around it. The existing Posing camera is similar, but Orbit will work with any part of a figure, or even a prop.
Poser Pro uses Fusion, a series of plug‑ins (which weren’t available in time for this review) that enable you to host your scenes directly within 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D or LightWave. But even if you don’t own one of those programs, so long as your application of choice supports Collada, you can still import fully rigged Poser characters.
Smith Micro has continued to refine its implementation of the Collada standard (which is itself constantly evolving), so you can now export fully rigged, single skin, weight-mapped figures – which is a boon for any animator who’s using Poser merely as a starting point.
Poser’s 2.7 Python engine is more accessible than Daz’s plug-in architecture – and there’s even a manual
Unlike Daz Studio Pro (which at the time of writing, a month after release, has no manual at all), Poser Pro comes with an excellent and very comprehensive PDF manual. Both companies make extensive use of YouTube video tutorials.
Poser Pro is a compelling and user‑friendly program. It represents a much better prospect than Poser 9, with many features that will improve render speed and convenience.
- Faster rendering
- Supports hybrid vertex weight maps
- Improved Collada and Python support
- Interface leaves room for improvement
- Not enough substantive advancements
It would have been nice to see more general scene-building improvements in this latest version of Poser Pro, but power animators, illustrators, content creators and dabblers will all find a few new features to please each of them
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mat Broomfield is a 3D all-rounder and Photoshop trainer. He has used Poser since version 1. His company, Ace Pyx, provides services to the architectural industry
on Monday, January 16th, 2012 at 4:47 pm under Applications, Reviews.
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Tags: added realism, Indirect lighting, Poser, Poser 9, Poser Pro 2012, Smith Micro