But I Digress...
Cycles Rendering is crippled in Poser
One of the things I like about having my own blog is that at least once a month, it really allows me to go on a rant about something I take issue with. This month, that issue just so happens to be the use of the Cycles rendering engine in Poser. Don't get me wrong, I was and still am happy that Poser has included Blender's rendering engine, Cycles, into Poser 11. Except, well, it's not really Cycles now, is it? It's Superfly.
Now all in all, Superfly has been a boon for Poser, bringing physically based rendering to the application was long overdue. And yes, Firefly, with a modicum of effort, is able to come close to something that looks like PBR, but for the most part Poser (and Studio) users had to go outside of the applications to render their images using physically based renderers like Luxrender and Octane. The main problem with Superfly is that it is like a diet version of Cycles, less filling, tastes great. Now that isn't really the rendering engine's fault or Poser's for that matter. Remember, that Cycles was written to take full advantage of the Blender work environment. Subsequently, that means that some of the things Cycles can do in Blender, can't be replicated in Poser because Poser simply doesn't have those features. For instance, Poser is missing at least five Cycles nodes, which makes it somewhat difficult to rebuild shaders built for Cycles in Blender for use in Poser. The good news, at least in some instances is that work arounds or substitutions are available. For instance, Poser is missing the Cycles RGB to BW color node. I was fretting over this, when I found out that the node basically only does one thing, converts a color image to a black and white one. Bagginsbill (name drop) pointed out to me that you can do the same thing with an HSV node and turn Saturation down to zero.
Now given that the full blown Cycles render engine is built for Blender and has to support features that Poser simply does not have at this time and maybe never will then it is quite understandable why Superfly does not have or use those particular nodes that support those features. Even so, Poser should implement alternatives or at least point out work arounds and substitutes that users could employ to achieve the same or similar goals. I have found many shaders developed by Cycles users and developers that use those few nodes, and even though we can't import them directly into Poser, we should have some alternative method of rebuilding those shaders for our own use. Or better yet,SM, hopefully will see fit to build an import-export bridge into the next version of Poser or let Poser read Blender's .blend format files.
As long as I'm mentioning Firefly and PBR in the same blog, if you're still using an older version of Poser and want to give realism a try inside of Poser, ByteFactory3D has a PBR emulator which can be used with the Firefly render engine.
It's Our One-Month Anniversary!
The Poser 3D Content Directory.com has officially been online for a full month now and we are really excited to see what comes next. When I first created this directory, one of the things I realized right away was the dynamic nature of the Poserverse market. To that end, I've vowed to try and keep the directory updated as best I can, and to keep adding to it or deleting from it as needed. In the past month I've since made two significant additions to the directory. one being that I've added a contact page with an email address so anyone who needs to reach will be able to do so now. And the other is a little more exciting than that. I've also added a new Animation Category to the directory for users who want to make Poser animations.
As I recounted in my last blog, I originally started using Poser with the idea that I would create storyboards to show to any potential producers who might want turn the screenplays I was writing at the time into a movie. However, I ran into two major obstacles back then, a lack of content I could use for scenery and settings and I wasn't very good at posing at the time. I've since overcome both those obstacles, as Poser has plenty of content around, as witnessed by this directory's existence. And I've also become very good at posing figures over the past years. However, I'm not good enough to try posing frame by frame for a smooth animated storyboard, and fortunately I don't have to. In our new Animation category, we have three sections, so far, of animation files that have been broken into Animals, Humans, and Motion Capture files. The animal and human sections contain files that have been save in Poser's native .pz3 format.
And so, for me, this is a reawakening of my passions, which is what led me to Poser in the first place. I've already started delving back into animation. Hopefully, I'm asking the questions that I should be asking. A couple of the tools that are present today, like the Walk Designer and the Graph weren't present back in version 2 of Poser, the version I started with but overall, Poser's basic animation operation is the same. I've already created a basic walk cycle for the Hivewire figure, Dusk, so now to see what else I can come up with. Happy animating everyone.
What Do You Use Poser For?
There's a thread over in the Smith Micro Forum that asks a rather interesting question ... Is Poser a Toy, a Hobby, or a Professional Tool? When I relate the story of how I first started using Poser, I tell people that I used to write screenplays. The fact that you've never heard of any screenplay that I've ever written should tell you how successful I was at it.
Still, when I was first trying to get my foot in the door, I had the idea of using Poser to create storyboards to show to potential producers who might want to turn my screenplay into a movie. So I bought Poser version 2. I never did actually create the storyboard for the screenplay, but it did give me the idea of writing a novel based on my screenplay. What's more is that since then, I've also used Poser to create web comics,clark.freehostia.com, again based on screenplays I wrote, but never sold. I have also used Poser to help me design the looks of the characters in my screenplays and novels.
In fact, as a creative tool, Poser is quite versatile in it's application. Chances are, you have seen the results of Poser being used in various ways like comics, advertising, medical and book illustrations. And in it's Wikipedia entry, Poser is credited as being used by artisits for medical and industrial design illustrations, editorial illustrations, informational graphics, comics and graphic novels and even some early animations in computer games. It's use is also said to be regularly used by broadcast professionals on shows such as, Bones, the Colbert Report, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. And the next time you're checking out in the automated lines at Walmart or your local supermarket, check out the animations on the computer screens. There's a good chance they were made with Poser. So to answer the question of "is Poser a toy, a hobby or a professional tool?" I've certainly used it as all three, so I'd have to say the answer is ... yes.