I admit to being a bit perplexed about just what 3D Stager does. It seemed like a dumbed-down version of a 3D app that did a lot of the work for you. To me, this means a limited application, so I wasn’t expecting much and was already leaning towards not liking it. No valid reason but this 2021… valid reasons are no longer required for not liking something.
Let’s get to the application itself. You can work in real-time or turn on ray tracing, but the ray tracing slows things down as you would expect. I generally place items and did the layout and tweaks in real-time while turning on the ray-tracing occasionally to see what was going on.
I followed the only tutorial that came up in the interface… involving skates… and I was in the groove of things in no time as the interface is well laid out and self-explanatory if you are at all familiar with 3D. If not, the layout places a lot of info and tools in front of you. The tutorial held just enough information to get a good start and I used a provided project for my first taste of 3D Stager.
3D Stager is just what it says it is. A way to take your 3D assets and present them in a great render without a lot of fuss. Lighting is much simpler; navigation is easy, and the render process is anything but complicated. In fact, the entire application is anything but complicated. This may be because of decades of 3D experience but I was able to get some decent renders set up in just a few minutes.
A simple scene with Character Creator 3 Avatars added as figurines. Other props included in the application.
A few more minutes of drag and drop materials, tweaking this and that, and I had my first render started… which took a while to complete. In this regard, I felt like I was going back in time and using Vue 2014 or earlier that used to take forever and a day to render a scene. It wasn’t that bad, but it did take over half an hour to get the render posted in this article.
It appears to be a progressive renderer, so you can choose to terminate the render at any given point you are satisfied with the result. 3D Stager is indeed good at showcasing 3D props and characters without spending a long time in Photoshop.
I was puzzled by the marketing of 3D Stager. Was this a Substance3D application or an Adobe CC application? More importantly, was it covered by an existing subscription as all I could find was Try It or Buy It options. Didn’t take long to find out those answers and it wasn’t pleasant either.
The short answer… no. It’s not covered by either your Substance3D or your Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions surprising absolutely no one. That’s right. It’s an extra fee… monthly along with some other things that may or may not be of use. 3D Stager is not an Adobe Creative Cloud application. It is a Substance3D application but not included in your existing subscription plan.
Close-up of characters created with Character Creator 3. Substance 3D Stager makes it easy to showcase your work in nice, professional-looking renders.
If you are on the $19.95 per month plan then you will need to upgrade if you wish to use 3D Stager after its evaluation period. You’ll have to move up to the Substance 3D Collection at $49.99 per month ($39.99 per month for the first year).
It just depends on what you use your 3D render for. If you are casual posting renders of your work then it might be a bit hard to justify the increase in cost. On the other hand, if you are using your renders to promote your work then it shouldn’t be difficult to justify the increased monthly or annual expense as better renders should sell more work.
This is another toss-up in the end. The program does as advertised in that it allows you to stage your assets in the best light possible if rendering is a mystery to you. It removes the barriers to getting a good, consistent render that you can be proud of.
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. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.