An Interview with Steve Cooper, Poser Product Manager

Ricky Grove [gToon] - Staff Columnist

An Interview with Steve Cooper, Poser Product Manager


Steve Cooper at Siggraph 2009

I met Steve Cooper, the Poser Product Manager for SmithMicro, at the 2008 SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles and immediately liked his down-to-earth manner and endless enthusiasm for all things Poser. He didn't have that polished but disinterested presentation style that so many of the SIGGRAPH booth presenters seemed to have perfected. Don't get me wrong, it's not easy spending all day saying the same things and answering the same questions over and over. But if you really love your product (and Steve certainly loves everything about Poser) you talk to people straight from the heart. And this was what I liked about Steve and has kept me following Poser's developments closely. Because, in the end, it's the people who make and promote the software that define it.

I interviewed Steve in New Orleans for the 2009 SIGGRAPH conference and enjoyed it immensely. You can catch that audio interview and article here (Steve covers the release of Poser 8).

During the course of researching my review of the new Poser Debut (a low-cost version of Poser for beginners), I had a chance to chat with Steve about some of the challenges in developing an introductory version of such a long-established program like Poser. We also talked about what training is available for Poser Debut, the upgrade paths available and what SmithMicro hopes to do with Poser Debut in the future.

For more information on Poser Debut (and other Poser versions), you can check the main Poser Debut page at the SmithMicro website. Steve's Poser blog has an excellent entry on Poser Debut. Renderosity has a large Poser Community and an active Poser Forum. Plus, plenty of free Poser content available in the Renderosity FreeStuff section.

What follows is my interview with Steve Cooper on the new Poser Debut:

Ricky Grove: Who is the target audience for Poser Debut and what do you hope they'll get out of the program?

Steve Cooper: In Poser Debut, we wanted to deliver an introductory 3D product that would be attractive to students, budget conscious consumers, and the creative curious, drawing on their desire to learn more about 3D in general, play with 3D characters and ultimately create an entry point to Poser that would bring new users into the ecosystem. That's why we've focused heavily on the training materials that are included with Debut, and the simplified options that are presented to new Debut users.

Ricky Grove: What were some of the difficulties in deciding what to keep and what to include in creating Poser Debut?

Steve Cooper: We've been watching the progression of users of Poser for many years now, and have paid close attention to a transition that occurs from a new user evolving into an advanced user; learning the basics on how to build a scene and master features like posing and content usage precedes tweaking materials, cloth, hair and render settings. It takes time for that transition to occur. The feature set in Poser Debut is a good representation of the parts of Poser that we've seen most users find useful in that first year. And by starting with the interface of Poser's full version, the experiences those Debut users accumulate will directly apply to the full versions.

Ricky Grove: How long was the development process for Poser Debut and what were some of the challenges for the dev team?

Steve Cooper: From initial concept to final product delivery, Poser Debut has been in the works for well over a year. It's development occurred in parallel to other versions of Poser, and allowed us to capitalize on the existing Poser 8 base, permitting Debut to be more of an execution exercise.

Ricky Grove: How friendly is Poser Debut to other 2D/3D programs?

Steve Cooper: The basics of 3D learned within Debut are applicable in almost any other 3D program. Same for the animation tools in Debut. Because Debut only exports 3D elements as OBJ it's not as robust a compliment to third party 3D tools as Poser 8 or Poser Pro 2010 are. However, for those looking to bring rendered elements into 2D applications, Poser Debut is a very useful program.

Ricky Grove: What sort of training comes with Poser Debut?

Steve Copper: Poser Debut includes the Quick Start Project Guide which includes over 50 videos, along with well written copy and plenty of detailed screen captures to teach the Basics of 3D, how to use the Library, working with Lights and Cameras, full Scene Creation and detailed finishing Tweaks to get the best rendering results.

Ricky Grove: Are discounts being offered for those who want to upgrade from Poser Debut to other Poser versions?

Steve Cooper: We offer an upgrade path to Poser 8 and Poser Pro 2010 from Debut, discounting the purchase of those versions by the purchase price of Debut.

Ricky Grove: Since Poser Debut is such a core/basic application, do you see much development for Poser Debut in the future?

Steve Cooper: As the entry point for many new users into the world of Poser, Debut is an important product. We see it having a long future, paralleling the development of the full versions as we move forward in the future.

My Thanks to Steve Cooper for taking the time to answer questions and for his continuing good will.

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Ricky Grove [Ricky Grove], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.
April 25, 2011

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