Review of e frontier's Poser 6
I wrote this review before the Service Release 1 was available, but I decided to wait to publish it until SR1 was released. I will discuss how this relates to Poser 6 toward the end of the review.
The best feature of Poser 6 for me are the lights. They are wonderful especially the Image Based Lights or (IBL) that can surround a scene in various moods of lighting. The Spot lights are easier to move now since they can either rotate or revolve.
Poser 5 revolutionized Poser and Poser 6 follows with some new features. But first, what is Poser? Poser is a 3D figure designing program. While the majority of people use the models in Poser or use those from 3rd party sources, in the Setup Room, one can construct new or structurally remodel figures or other props. Poser 6 has six other rooms.
When the program opens, it defaults to the main interface which is the Pose Room. This room is self explanatory. Here one changes the poses of the figures, creates the scenes, adds backdrops, other props and other figures, and constructs the lighting and arranges the camera settings. It is also where one can change the face of a model. This differs from what can be done in the Face Room. The Pose Room could be called the heart of Poser because everything winds up in that room.
The Face Room is where one can construct a photorealistic face from photographs as well as shape faces from random faces and change them with the Face Shaping tool.
In the Hair Room, one can create dynamic hair from a skullcap or a follicle surface. This hair can be animated and is able to "blow" in the wind.
All of the textures, including the lights, end up in the Material Room where their properties are changed by the use of nodes. This area is more technical than wysiwyg and also very very powerful.
The Cloth Room is used to create dynamic cloth which reacts in a similar manner to dynamic hair. It is sensitive to physical moving forces including collisions, gravity, etc.
The Content Room brings you to Content Paradise where you can setup an account and purchase 3rd party products from various vendors.
What is new or improved in Poser 6? As I mentioned earlier, there are new light in Poser 6. The Image Based Lights (IBL), especially, can add realism to a scene. Depending on the type of light source image (light probe) you use, even the same arrangement of lights will cause the object to light differently.
In conjunction with IBL, one can set up a scene making use of Ambient Occlusion. The term describes to what degree the target object is blocked from the light source by intermediary objects. For this to work, rendering needs to be done using Raytracing.
Along the lines of lighting and rendering are two more new additions to Poser 6. One is the new Shadow Catcher which allows a shadow to be moved regardless of where it actually falls. It becomes independent of the object. The last to be mentioned in this category is a new node called the FastScatter node. Its purpose is to add subsurface scatterings of light to translucent materials to add a richness.
OpenGL is a new improvement to Poser 6. If your video card cannot handle it, it will defer to SreeD software contained within Poser 6. With OpenGL the figures have color and thus, transmit more information. The OpenGL effects the preview rendering. It even works well with my laptop video card which is an NVIDIA GeForce 2 Go.
The new stage is a tremendous help. Here one can toggle between the last render of a scene and a preview.
One does not have to render a whole scene to see how it will look. One can render an area through Area Rendering. Also, one can compare recent renders through RenderWipe. You also can choose another two new options: keep textures loaded and reuse shadow map options. Below are two examples of rendering. On the right, only the head was rendered using the Area Render command. Notice how outside of the red marquee the area is in preview mode.
Of course, Poser 6 comes with new figures, two adults and two children, and other goodies which I will discuss as I take a figure and move her through the different rooms. These are pictures of the original generic Jessi as she comes with Poser 6. I will review Poser 6 by moving her through most of the main rooms.
The first place Jessi went was to get a new hair style. She went into the Hair Room. I really liked the Hair Room in Poser 5 and wrote a number of tutorials on creating hair. The select hair strand has been fixed in Poser 6 and one can select hair strands in all poses and the selections will show.
Poser 6 has some new additions to the Hair Room. There are both skullcaps (for James and Jessi only) and follicle surfaces for all four characters. I only used both for Jessi. With the follicle surfaces, I found that there were not enough guide hairs on the crown of the head for accurate styling as well as populating. Both create dynamic hair.
Another new addition is Opaque_in_Shadow which adds a feeling of fullness at the root of the hair and can lower the number of hair strands necessary. It is accessed in the Material Room. Below are screen captures of the Material Room and hair settings
In the material room you can change the Specular Hair setting and it will be as if you are adding a hair light to the scene. Notice above in the Hair Menu, the Specular_Color is black. This means that it does not reflect light and, thus, the hair will look dull. When I changed her to a blond, I also used black as the specular image for one, and a light gray for the other. The light gray allows some light to reflect off of her hair. I am using extremes to demonstrate the differences
Below is an examples of a basic hair style I created and the material room color setting.
Below are some variations of the same hair style.
Jessi does not have to keep the same expression. There are a number of ways that her facial expressions can be changed. It can be done using the morphing parameters for the head in the Pose room.
Or one could go into the Face Room and utilize the controls. The face there is the basic face so one is not bringing the specific "file" face in. In other words, one would not be working with Jessi's face per se. You could also choose any number of random faces. In addition, one can bring in actual photographs and compile a face of someone you know. You can even make a caracature of the face.
One can manipulate the face through the dials or the green pins which produce a putty-like morphing.
Once the work in the Face Room is completed, it can be applied in many ways to the figure. It was very easy to use this room and change Jessi.
As I mentioned in new features, the Material Room has expanded its capabilities with different nodes as well as other options. It is there where one chooses images for the IBL's.
Poser 6 has conforming clothes and accessories and a few pieces of dynamic clothes. The Cloth Room is necessary if Jessi is going to wear dynamic clothing to go with her dynamic hair. Thus, the clothing has to be brought into the room to Clothify it and make it fit. One does not have to do this with conforming clothing. After selecting the conforming clothing and clicking once to add it to the figure, one just goes to Figure>Conform to>"name of character."
I also used the conforming clothing with an intricate pose from the Pose collection in Poser 6. The Bikini top was the purple one in the clothing collection that I changed to black.
Poser 6 comes with a variety of rendering capabilities. There is Firefly Render with presets as well as User Determined settings and Poser 4 Render.
There are also a variety of specialized renders available. Toon Render is one and is accessed initially from the Material Room. The following is a setup for a Toon render.
Also, there are Sketching Renders with both presets available and many modifications as well.
Notice above how the Preview Render with texture shading looks almost as good as a regular render. OpenGL is a very nice addition to Poser 6. The following are examples of the FireFly render set at Auto and Final and the Poser 4 Render.
Poser figures can be animated. Both cloth and hair can be animated if they are dynamic by choosing appropriate settings so that when in motion both will react to the movement. They can be set on walk paths and their hair and clothes will follow their movements. How they interact with individual parts of the body can be set, also.
While I don't do many animations, I do them occasionally and I certainly have never had trouble setting one up before even in earlier editions of Poser. I found the directions inadequate in Poser 6 especially when I had a problem and tried to research it through the tutorial manual or the reference manual.
The reference and tutorial manuals are unevenly written. Some parts are very clear and make learning for a novice very easy. Other parts are murky and not clear. Along with the printed manual is a quick reference card. Also, there is a tutorial and reference manual in pdf form on the CD.
As I stated, I returned to the review after the release of SR1 to see if any of the problems I personally had found had been fixed. The review remained as it had been written. As I browsed through different Poser forums, I found that some of the problems people experienced had been fixed by SR1, which listed over four typewritten pages of fixes, while, unfortunately, other problems occurred. One such affects me and concerns the skullcap which now turns completely red regardless of how the polygons are selected to create hair groups.
When the choice came of whether to upgrade from Poser (4) Pro Pack to Poser 5, I felt that there was no choice. Poser 5 had so much more to offer than did Poser (4) Pro Pack. This upgrade from version 5 to 6 is not as great a giant step. The decisions should be made on what features one wants that are new since there are quite a few and in different areas, how version 6 will integrate with other programs, and how well it runs in the areas that you consider important. To make this judgement, go to the different forums and search for information in areas that are important to you.
The system requirements for Poser 6 are: