Paula Sanders Report - e frontier's Poser 6

deemarie · June 13, 2005 7:20 am

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.
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 photo-realistic 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 also called follicle set. 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 [what you see is what you get] and also is 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? There are new lights. 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 affects the preview rendering. It even works well with my laptop video card, which is an NVIDIA GeForce 2 Go. 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. 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. This room has had some minor improvements; for example, 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 sets 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 styling the hair and, no matter how much I populated the hair, the scalp showed through at the crown. Below is an examples of a basic hair style I created using the skull cap and the material room color setting.
Although not used in the above example, 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. Notice the check box above. 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 caricature of the face.
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 some conforming clothes and accessories and a few 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. 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 judgment, go to the different forums and search for information in areas that are important to you. The system requirements for Poser 6 are: Windows
  • Windows 2000 or XP
  • 500 MHz Pentium class or compatible (700 MHz or faster recommended)
  • 256 MB system RAM (512 MB or more recommended)
  • 500 MB free hard disk space (2 GB recommended)
  • 24-bit color display, 1024 x 768 resolution
  • OpenGL enabled graphics card or chipset recommended (recent NVIDIA GeForce or ATI Radeon preferred)
  • Internet connection required for Content Paradise
  • CD-ROM drive Macintosh
  • Mac OS X 10.2 or later
  • 500 MHz G3 processor (700 MHz G4 or faster recommended)
  • 256 MB system RAM (512 MB or more recommended)
  • 500 MB free hard disk space (2 GB recommended)
  • 24-bit color display, 1024 x 768 resolution
  • OpenGL enabled graphics card or chipset recommended (recent NVIDIA GeForce and ATI Radeon preferred)
  • Internet connection required for Content Paradise
  • CD-ROM Drive

  • Poser 6 Full Version: $249 [USD]
  • Upgrades vary, see Prices for complete listing.
  • For additional information on their many products I invite you to view the e frontier's website
  • As always I welcome readers to visit my website Perpetual Visions

  • The Paula Sander's Report Is a regular Renderosity Front Page featured column, where Sr. Staff Writer, Paula Sanders, investigates and comments on graphic software, techniques, and other relevant material through her reviews, tutorials, and general articles.
June 13, 2005

Article Comments

deemarie ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 13 June 2005

As a long time Poser user, with a recent upgrade to Poser 6, I found your review especially helpful with understanding what the new version of Poser can and cannot do :]

nemirc ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 13 June 2005

Thanks a lot for the review. I've been interested on what people would have to say about it since it came out :)

starmage ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 13 June 2005

Interesting Thanks for the review. I've only just started learning Poser so I started with version 6. I'd have to agree with the comment regarding the uneveness of the writing behind the tutorial manual. I've been following it through in an effort to get started and some of it is extremely helpful while other parts often leave you floundering. Apart from that though I think the OpenGL preview mode is excellent and it really gives you a good feel of what you are going to be rendering and the way it will appear.

shinyary2 ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 14 June 2005

Thank you very much, I've been curious about the upgrade. Now I see that, like Bryce5.5, I'm going to have to wait for the next version. Looks like the only thing really worth the money is the new figures, and DAZ's Michael and Victoria are (or were) free for a while. There are plenty of great textures for them. No reason to upgrade that I can see. Thank you for saving me my money! =)

Penguinisto ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 15 June 2005

Not to be picky, but there are some things that leave me with questions. If I may, I'd like to ask them:... The only 'problems' I see listed involve the user's manual... what were the technical problems you found, specifically? What makes the Cloth, Face and Hair Rooms better/worse in Poser 6, since they're also part and parcel of Poser 5's features (they're mentioned in the article for some reason... why?) May want to link to the list of changes made in SR-1... otherwise it leaves readers wondering what got fixed. Like I said - I'm not trying to be picky here, but I did want to know what and why on quite a bit of the article. Regd's, /P

Lucca ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 15 June 2005

Thanks for writng this. This review was fascinating. I wondered what Poser 6 could do!

Sixaxis ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 16 June 2005

This really looks like alot of fun. It was a very well written overview. I hope to be able to afford Poser one day very soon. This certainly piqued my interest in the softwares capabilities.

CarltonMartin ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 16 June 2005

Pretty much my experiences so far, too - particlarly the unevenness criticism. There are places that roughness brings me to a complete halt until I can decipher what the manual/program means. Still, what it does well, it does really well.

Paula Sanders ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 16 June 2005

Hi Penguinisto - I would be more than happy to answer your post. Firstly, any review anywhere can only be a certain length and so I have to make a choice on what I will discuss. That is what I did in the review. Otherwise it could have gone on for pages. As I stated in my opening, this is a review acquainting newbies to Poser and discussing the new points in Poser 6 as well as some of the problems. This is not a comparison of Poser 5 and Poser 6. I discuss all the rooms in Poser to different degrees starting with the Pose room in the beginning of the review. Some rooms I dwell on more than others since some I believe more people use and are not as specialized such as the setup room. You mentioned I only discussed the manual negatively. If you look closely, I have also discussed problems with the hair room, shown pictures of renders that did not come out properly, and described my problems with animation. I, also, mentioned a lot of what I really like such as the new lights. I hope this answers your questions about the contents of this review. Paula

Thomas2 ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 17 June 2005

I really enjoy P6 with the only gripe being how long it takes to render. With a P4P800 3 gig CPU, 2 gigs of RAM on a 7200 RPM 16 meg buffer HDD I wait around 5 minutes. This may not seem long but when watching P6 actually render it is done in sections or "blocks" P5 is smoother in this area. I am sending an email to e-frontier formerly "Curious Labs" to ask how to speed things up after reading tutorials here at Renderosity.

MAW3D ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 23 June 2005

I think the review is pretty good. If some of the features mentioned were already in P5 or are new in P6 is not relevant, since its a review on P6 and not only on the new features (I think :O). I do have bought myself P6 (now with the SR1 installed) and its running pretty stable. There are still some bugs in it, but only, as I have stated this one to e-frontier before, the one I have noticed with the sketch animation render (only 40 frames ... sigh). What I dont like is - from P4/PP to P5 some major features were released with it - like the face, cloth, hair room. With those features "we" were able to do random faces and other cool things. When Ive read about the release of P6, I thought "Yeah, I hope we can do bodies by random now!" ... :) Well, I was wrong and my opinion is, that the new features embedded in P6 are not "really" worth a full version jump. But thats only me ... ;O) Despite of that - I still like P6 and its more stable than P5 that crashed with a blue screen sometimes ... now, P6 doesnt do that anymore ;)

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