"Content developers can now create a single Poser scene. Every element, including
dependencies, is connected as one."
-Steve Cooper on the new Poser 9/Poser Pro 2012
SmithMicro has recently released an impressive upgrade to their Poser product line-up. Poser 9, Poser Pro 2012, and even the entry-level Poser Debut have received major improvements to all aspects of the popular application. Several of these improvements should be particularly welcome to Renderosity developers and artists (see quote above). Renderosity began as the largest Poser community on the net way back in 1998 when the original internet address was poserforum.com. And although Renderosity has grown into a site with a much broader range of 2D and 3D interests, Poser has still remained an extremely strong focus for the site. In fact, Renderosity's Poser Forum is probably the largest and most active on the net.
Before I note the improvements in Poser Pro 2012, I'd like to point out the differences between the Standard Poser 9 and Poser Pro versions of the application. Poser has always been an application that has appealed to the hobbyist who wants to use Poser to create interesting images and scenes. The Poser Pro series is designed for the professional market and for the serious prosumer who will be using the application to create content they wish to resell. Poser Pro is used in the advertising industry, promotion, illustration and game design and more.
And while Poser 9 has excellent updates, including "8 brand new 3D humans, a new search-enabled library, new lighting features including ambient occlusion, faster rendering, subsurface scattering for more human skin tones, weight map rigs," I'll be focusing on Poser Pro 2012 for this review. For a full list of what Poser 9 (Standard) brings to the table, check the application webpage. Suffice it to say, Poser 9 is an equally impressive upgrade, and the price point ($249, upgrade $129) is just right for the amateur/casual user.
With that being said, let's look at what's new in Poser Pro 2012:
For a complete list of improvements, and for a comparison of the three Poser versions, go to the SmithMicro product web page here.
Much of what makes Poser such an interesting and popular program is that it's so easy to use. It's also very easy to install. Poser Pro 2012 installed on my Intel/Windows 7 64-bit system in less than 20 minutes and I was able to point my rather large collection of Poser content to a separate hard-drive I use specifically for 3D storage. Once installed, the user interface is easy to figure out as everything is labeled clearly. You have various "rooms" you work in to adjust lighting, animation, clothing, hair, rendering and more. And the content system (a very important part of the program) has gotten better and better to use with each Poser upgrade.
Both Poser 9 and Poser Pro 2012 have expanded context menus: you can multi-select library items for drag and drop into a scene, plus you now have a new scene category where you can add all the elements from a scene (lights, figures, props, cameras, etc.) into once scene and place into the library. The scene exists with all dependencies and can be dropped into the workspace, or exported as an entire scene file. This is particularly good news for Renderosity vendors, as they can now offer "fully constructed scenes with dependencies and optimal render settings" for their buyers.
The new real-time Open GL preview is a very welcome addition as it makes adjustments to your scene go much faster, now that you can see your adjustments in (mostly) real-time. Amazing to see the the sub-surface scattering effect on skin in Poser models. You have to pay closer attention to lighting for this effect to look right, but it's a very important addition and removes a lot of the "uncanny valley" effect that some Poser figures can have.
Hard to pick out a favorite feature of Poser Pro 2012 as there are so many great additions to this upgrade, but I think the suite of Weight Map editing tools is the real standout. From pressure sensitive painting of weight maps, to the ability to create new weight mapped figures from an existing rig, this suite of tools is one of the most exciting additions to the Poser platform in years. Content creators are going to have a field day with these tools.
I was fortunate to get a full demo of Poser Pro 2012 from Steve Cooper, Poser Product Manager, at SIGGRAPH this last August. We had plenty of time and Steve went through practically every aspect of the new Poser series. His enthusiasm and passion for the program really got me psyched to work with it. Believe me, Steve was right when he told me that this was a "very important release of Poser." Poser Pro 2012 and Poser 9 have significant benefits over previous Poser upgrades. I found myself forgetting that I was reviewing the application many times, because it was just so much fun following my imagination with Poser characters and scenes. The point I'm trying to make is that Poser Pro gets out of the way of your creative ideas, and it gives you more powerful tools to make your characters and scenes look great.
Documentation for Poser Pro 2012 is improved from previous versions and I found it easy to use the help system to find answers to any questions that came up. Both Poser Pro 2012 and Poser 9 ship with 3 gigs of content, so you are starting with a lot of excellent material to work with. SmithMicro hasn't quite decided on how they want Poser to handle DAZ 3D characters, so there's no easy method to bring these increasingly popular characters into Poser Pro 2012 or Poser 9, but the Collada export/import works like a charm with 3ds Max and CINEMA 4D (and others). Full 64-bit support for both Windows and Mac is a very welcome upgrade for Poser Pro 2012. Adding in faster rendering, plus the ability to render in the background makes this version of Poser Pro really rock.
Top marks for Poser Pro 2012: it's fast, easier to use, and includes powerful new additions to the application which allows the user to work more efficiently and create more complex and beautiful figures and scenes. There's no software that combines ease-of-use with depth-of-tools better than Poser Pro 2012. If you are new to Poser, try the free, 30-day demo and you'll see what I mean.
My congratulations to Steve Cooper and SmithMicro for creating a superb new version of an already excellent 3D application.
Poser Pro 2012 is priced at $499 (USD). Upgrading from Poser Pro or Poser Pro 2010 is $199 (USD). Owners of Poser 6, 7 and 8 can sidegrade to Poser Pro 2012 for $249 (USD). Full price list and system requirements for Poser products are here.
I'd like to thank Steve Cooper and SmithMicro for providing a copy of Poser Pro 2012 for review. And special thanks to Renderosity member mgtcs for her permission to use her "Vintage Vamp" image created in Poser Pro 2012 for this review. You can visit her gallery here.
Editor's Note: Be sure to check out the following
Ricky Grove [gToon], 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.
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