I can still remember my first encounter with Poser. What I can't remember is how long ago it was because it is such a pioneer in its field. I remember an interface not exactly like anything I'd seen before. Add that to the fact that I couldn't sculpt my way out of a trash can back then much less create a rigged and working character Poser was... I'd say a miracle... but that's not strong enough to measure the relief and power it put into the hands of 3D artists at the time. Unless you had a buddy that worked for a studio 3D character models were hard to come by.
I remember doing a lot of advertising work with Photoshop type tricks (which was an endeavor in itself back then) to composite people into images before finding Poser. Poser became my go to people application and it stayed in my toolbox long after I was forced to adopt other measures by my employers due to their workflow. Sooner or later I always circled back to Poser to do jobs no other application could do. As I write this I have Poser Pro 2012 installed on my latest workstation next to proprietary 3D applications because it still finds a place in my toolbox so I was very happy to get Poser 11 Pro and dig into it.
Let's take a quick look at what's new in Poser Pro v11 as it seems Smith Micro has really loaded this update with lots of new features. In fact, there are so many new additions that we won't be able to cover them all so let's get started with a few of the most interesting additions.
â€¢ Superfly PBR - Physically Based Rendering. Built on Blender's Cycles Render Engine. It's all about PBR these days and Poser is in the game too. Enjoy all the benefits of PBR based rendering combined with the Superfly material system. But don't worry as nothing is being forced on us. We get to choose between the existing FireFly or Superfly with PBR so those of us happy with former can tinker with the latter.
â€¢ Improved Realtime Comic Book Preview - Another big time improvement to something that is near and dear to many Rendo-ites. A good comic book render has proven to be elusive to many but with this update, Poser is making strides in the right direction.
â€¢ Animated Orientations - If you are an animator it doesn't get much bigger than this. To have control over or match the orientation of any object is paramount to good final results. Bringing control to an out of control situation is a plus.
â€¢ Area Lights, Caustics & Volumetrics - One can't say enough about the importance of these features and Poser 11 gives us these goodies that make our renders look better. Anyone of these is a great feature but to have them all bumps the Poser render up many notches from what it was before.
â€¢ Measurements - Yes... you read it right. Measurements. Real world measurements for practical applications. If you are not sure what this means then you probably don't need it but for those that model things for the real world... it's a must have feature.
â€¢ Revamped Direct Manipulation Tool - Perhaps one of the best features is the reworked manipulation tools that allow for quick easy movement of the 3D object in the workspace. I have always been a fan of these manipulation gizmos and really like the wider ribbon "handle" to work with on the new version.
On first glimpse, I see an interface similar to the 2012 version but improved. On a wide screen (2560) format, the UI looks good and puts a lot of bells and whistles in front of you. It passes the first test of being able to comprehend the layout and get started without having to... gasp... read the manual. I mean...who wants to do that? An app you can just dive into is usually a good sign. There is still the familiar Andy (Andy2) default character in the workspace. Tabs for Pose, Material, Face, Hair, Cloth, Fitting and Setup are available across the top of the workspace. Each of these tabs is loaded with too features to go into but you don't have to use them all so don't let it all those options bother you.
For those not familiar with Poser loading a character is as simple as selecting and clicking on it in the right side menu or drag and dropping it into the workspace. The character is then loaded for posing, clothing and other manipulations. You can also import model meshes and many other items since Poser hasn't been just a character program for some time. You can import background images, footage, lip sync audio and sound along with the usual FBX, Collada, Wavefront OBJ, 3D Studio, Lightwave, zBrush and BVH motion clips. You can build out an entire scene with lighting for your characters or you can prep and pose your character for use in other applications with the ability to export those aforementioned file types.
The familiar transform rollers are available on the right side menu for those that don't like the direct manipulator or want to work with the morphs. These parameter controllers have long been a part of the poser interface and are the only way some users interact with the workspace objects and characters.
As mentioned earlier the Firefly renderer is still available so scenes made with those materials should still render out just fine. The new supercharged Superfly render does have a lot more horsepower for a different look as the lighting seems much more balanced with shadows being much less harsh. The old Sketch render is still there too so I put it through a few renders for good measure.
Now let's talk about a feature that is really cool... measurements. A lot of high-end (i.e. expensive) applications and few midrange apps have measurement systems of some kind and Poser is part of that group. There is a Create Measurement Menu - (Line, Angle, Circle, Polyline) that allows you to measure with any one of those tools. Scene creation can be more exacting than ever. No more guessing.
As far as animation goes I'm not really that well versed with Poser as it has been years since I've used it for that purpose but for the review I gave it go and was not surprised to find that key frame animation is just as simple and straight forward as it is in other 3D packages. The process is one of striking your beginning pose then moving the time scrubber down the timeline the desired length and creating the next pose or movement in the sequence. Very straightforward with immediate scrubber or player controlled playback. The Animation Palette is a dope-sheet of sorts to tweak those key frames and curves.
In summary, this reviewer was quite pleased with all the tweaks and new additions. There was a lot of work put into this update and so far it seems to have gone smoothly as of this writing. It's still very early in the release period but time will soon tell if early impressions hold up. This company is no stranger to updates and so far it seems they've they covered all the bases for their loyal users and should go a long way to picking up a lot of new users.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. You can learn more about MD at his website.