Poser - Evolution In Progress

November 20, 2007 12:33 am

Tags: Kathy Poche

It was nothing more then a spare time hobby back in 1989 when Larry Weinberg began developing Poser as a means to replace the traditional wooden mannequins used by figure artists. The next goal, which was unheard of in those days when 3D art was done solely by professionals in studios, was to make it simple to use. In 1994, Fractal Design released the first version of Poser along with its flagship program Painter. The simple artist program was just that - simple. In 1996, its second release boasted the ability to add props, produce animations and had higher resolution models. Content maker Zygote began producing items for use in the infant program.

By the time Poser 3.0 was released, a lot had changed. The program had changed hands, now bearing the MetaCreations name. The user interface, like the models themselves, had been updated, a trend that continues today. The male and female models, then called Posette and the Dork, had poseable facial features and finally jointed fingers. Sites devoted to content as well as Poser art, began to spring up across the web. Renderosity, then known as PoserForum, was launched in 1998, bringing content to the now die hard artists. 1999 was a short year for Poser. Version 4 was released by MetaCreations, and by September of that same year, update 4.0.3 was released by Curious Labs.

The figures released with versions 4 and 4.0.3 could now be customized even more, thanks to the development of deformers and conforming clothes. Materials now could be set to transparent, which lead to TransHair that increased the overall bulk of hair. Poser's popularity was skyrocketing, so much so that in 2000, the Poser content division of Zygote branched off. Now called DAZ, they would release the Millenium Woman, Victoria, and Milenium Man, Michael, which would change how future figures would be made.

By the time the Pro Pack was released in February of 2000, Poser scenes could now be hosted in a handful of other 3D applications, such as 3ds Max and Lightwave. Content creators now had a new tool, figure rigging, which allowed for models created in outside applications to be "Poserized". The implementation of Python scripting further aided users and content creators alike.

For the first time since its release, Poser became stagnant, with three years passing before Curious Labs would release the fifth installment. To the relief of users everywhere, version 5 had new rendering capabilities. The Firefly, ray traced renders now allowed for higher quality images. Systems everywhere began to feel the resource strain the new technology would pose. Users everywhere began pulling out their hair over new features like dynamic cloth and hair, which to some still provide for hours of frustraition.

Poser continued to evolve, even as it changed hands from Curious Labs, to e-Frontier in 2005. OpenGL hardware acceleration helped to optimize render times, while image based lighting and ambient occlusion changed how users illuminated their scenes. With a multitude of different options, users were now able to get closer to reality then ever before. In December of 2006, version 7 would dramatically change the future of Poser forever.

While each previous version of Poser, had its own issues, Poser 7's problems quickly became a sore spot with users everywhere. Compatibility, or the lack thereof, became a real hindrance. Not capable of using greater amounts of memory, and even issues with Microsoft's latest OS, has continued to hurt Poser 7. While content has evolved, Poser is now struggling to follow suit.

This month it was announced that Smith Micro Software will purchase Poser from e-Frontier. Unlike others that have distributed Poser, Smith Micro Software is not known for being in the field of 3D art, rather wireless communications tools. Now users of the 10 year old program will have to play the waiting game. It's anybody's guess as to what will happen next with the program that started out as simply a hobby.

*Be sure to visit the Renderosity Poser Forum, and Renderosity Poser Gallery!

All supporting images are copyright, and cannot be
copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission of Calum Andrews.

Kathy Poche [kathym], a married twenty-seven year old mother of one, has been fascinated by the 3D realm ever since 1995. An artistically minded individual, her hobbies include everything from acrylic paints on canvas and short story writing to images generated in Poser, Bryce and Photoshop. Her goal before turning the big 3 0 is to gain some formal education in the field of 3D animation. For six years and counting, she has been an outspoken member of the Renderosity community. Currently she is a stay-at-home mom, which allows her greater time to work on her writings which she hopes to have published in the not so distant future.

November 19, 2007

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Article Comments

myaleigh ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 22 November 2007

Excellent article. I didn't realize Poser's history. Nothing against Smith Micro and as you say it is anybody's guess what will happen but I hope Poser doesn't follow Bryce's fate. Now we wait... Mya

indianlight ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 November 2007

????? How much will this change Poser ? ,will this kill Poser ?,what about the bugs in Poser7 , updates ,will Poser 7 be inproved ?,i want to know how many peoples have Poser 7 , now so uncertion on the future of Poser ,wait and see , ya ,sure,@$%$$%$^&&%^ !!

indianlight ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 November 2007

Here is more :http://www.e-frontier.com/go/news?sbss=302 http://www.smithmicro.com/default.tpl?group=news_full&id1=414&id2=13 go to these link to read more.

Kyoushi ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 November 2007

I am now 21 years old and have played with Poser since I was 14 and in High School. I was lucky enough to have a creative edge in my Digital Design class, due to my video game expierence and understanding of basic textures. I discovered Poser a few months into my freshman year at St. Augustine High, and was fascinated. I love how easy it was to learn this program. Poser was never taught to students, only Photoshop and Illustrator from Adobe. After projects were finished early, Poser was all that I did. Well into my highschooling, I was skipping other classes to learn more about Poser, knowing that with it, I had a chance of breaking into the Digital Creation enterprise. I know that I have come a long way since I was drawing on any paper I could find when I was 6 years old. I owe all of my digital evolution to Poser's simple nature and setup. All that I wish for the new company to do, please follow where E-frontier and all the other's left off. Give us new capabilities, give us new figure creation tecnique, give us better ways import, export, and share our creations. Give us what E-frontier has given us, Sacrifice nothing for Simplicity. The map is already there. I know your team of designers can give us what we need.

3dvitality ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 November 2007

No good news. And the price of the whole bundle is cheap in my eyes, very cheap: 6 million dollars are peanuts in that business. And that leads me to see a dark future for Poser. All that company hopping ends in the most cases in a disaster. I pray for Poser that it will be spared of from this destiny. And I hope that SmithMicro spreads their ears wide open to listen to the users and the community. Good luck to all of us.

genefleeman ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 November 2007

Actually, being from Scotts Valley and the Santa Cruz Area in California, I must say that all of the names of all of those companies are just the folks that were the money backing this program. The People have always been the same people from Fractal Design all the way to E-Frontier the same folks were the ones actually in charge of Poser. The money folks have just had different names. If you look at the cover of Poser 1 all the way to Poser 7 you see the same basic people. The Santa Cruz Digital Arts Festival are mostly people from that company of folks. Having saaid that I'm just wondering if this isn't more of the same.. The people that own Poser are not the Core group that works on it. Hopefully the creative team sticks with it as they always have and this is just a new "money" group that has bought the ownership.. And hey, what is wrong with where Bryce ended up?? Daz is a great bunch to own it even with it's poor history..if you look you see that these same names (FractalDesigns and Metacreations) are responsible for most of the Poser-Bryce-Painter Apps. originally. I am hopeful that these folks plan to dump some money into developement to improve a great product in Poser. They will reap great benefits if they improve it and not just shelve it like Corel did Bryce. Even then, we are a powerful base that has the buying powwer to get what we want usually as is the case with Bryce.. Where there was a need there was a waay (thanks to Daz). I feel that Poser, even if they fall onto hard times with this new company, will eventually pop it's gorgeous head back up. Too bad Daz didn't get this as well. Let's all pray it all turns out to be a positive change...genefleeman

lemonade8 ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 November 2007

It says in their release that they were already partners with this company and that it already has a hand in distributing Poser. They also seem to hint that they will be attempting to partner that company's photo editing programs with Poser. I could be wrong, but that's how I read it. Doesn't seem bad to me, and it doesn't seem bad for others as long as it doesn't hinder the people using photoshop.

Sivana ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 23 November 2007

I think the probleme is, that nearly all computer users are in the need of an office-programme but only a few need Poser. That means, if all Poser users have done an upgrade to the next version, it´s certainly hard to sell this software.Maybe the management of e-frontier thought Smith and Micro can make it more popular and sell it better. But I´m afraid that the Poser artists not will be much more in the near future. I really wonder why the e-frontier leader has been here for one week to answer questions when this company had allready the plan to give up. I don´t think that Smith and Micro came out of the woods to yell:"Surprise, surprise we want to buy Poser for 6 Millions! Isn´t it great?? Cash to your hands." I think that e-frontier was looking for a new owner....

Khushrenada ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 25 November 2007

I bought poser 1 many years ago and had real problems with the interface,I also bought bryce3d which I thought was a fantastic program even with its limitations,but it could dismantle models to their various parts,something I wish daz could do. I have poser5 but don't use it as I still find the controls to be hard to use,I use Daz about 90% of the time and use maya ple to make simple models. I stand in complete awe of what I have seen some people do with Poser,it is an incredible program.

sammyt ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 25 November 2007

indianlight's information http://www.smithmicro.com/default.tpl?group=news_full&id1=414&id2=13 The 3rd paragraph says it all 'As part of this transaction... Looks pretty bleak to me.

Mec4D ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 25 November 2007

1998.. was for me the year I discovered Poser.. next year it would be for me 10 YEARS use of poser and I hope for more great years hahahah Thanks for the article!! Cath

pixelwks ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 26 November 2007

I'm also a Poser user since 1.0. This program keeps getting passed from one company to the next with very little improvements other than a higher version number. I'm sad to hear this news but not surprised. Someday the industry will realize the potential of this marvelous program and do it some justice.

Fumanshoo ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 26 November 2007

From Smith Micro's statement, it looks as if it wants to use the influence of the ever growing Poser community to piggyback it's own Aquazone program which only focuses on underwater rendering. So, the Poser line SHOULD continue. If anything, they'll combine e-frontier's Anime/Manga Studio with Aquazone. Hopefull, SmithMicro will work with the designers of Poser and use a better rendering engine. One that uses less system resources and can yiled results like those seen in Cararra, C4D, or Vue. For most of us Poser users, in order to get more realism, we often create a model/object in Poser,( textures, shaders, posing), and export them to a better rendering program like the ones mentioned above. Also, I hope the new version of Poser (with a better/more efficient render engine) will have the ability to create easier to set-up volumetric lighting, ambient occlusion, and atmospheric characteristics.

WindchimePhotography ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 27 November 2007

If they've never been involved in 3d before, I doubt their standard customer service technician would be very helpful. Given that information and the fact that they have a $20 per phonecall charge for any "resolved" issue with their definition of "resolved" including "Escalation by Customer Support of the incident to Quality Control and Development for review." I have a very bad feeling about the future of Poser... I don't see how they can charge $20 for a "resolution" that doesn't provide any kind of resolution, but I fear that may happen often if they lack the expertise to support Poser! See their "Support Policy" webpage to read this information for yourself.

mastercraft ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 29 November 2007

poser is difficult to use . I hope the new company will help.

EXISTO ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 30 November 2007

i installed poser 6 over 6 months ago and im still learning from it ,, i think poser 7 would be too much for me and i heard it has many bugs and lots of new features that poser doesnt really need . with my experience in many 2d and 3d softwares i know what a "overloaded" software means installed in ur system,, i hope this new company would take poser back to what it is,, (or used to be) A WONDERFUL HUMAN CHARACTER 3D DESIGN SOFTWARE

regaltwo ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 30 November 2007

The real problem with Poser renders right now (and always has been) is the hair!!! Until the Poser gods can solve that one, the rendered image will always look dorky. Now, if you are doing a single image and have some skill w PS, this isn't nesscerily a problem, but for animation, no way. A lot of resources ( money, Smithmicro, money) need to be devoted to coming up with dynamic hair that really works and is easy to use. And some magor imporvements to the dynamic cloth sim would be very nice too.

calum5 ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 02 December 2007

I hope they take poser onwards and upwards!It has potential to be amongst the best if perhaps Mray or Vray are implemented into the programme.Lets wait and see:-)cal

Klutz ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 03 December 2007

I think Posr has such a large & worldwide user base that even if the current 'new' owners get bored with it and sell it on, some outfit will pick up on it and do it justice. I think we all deserve that! ;0)

mcv ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 03 December 2007

This is a very nice, well written, and informative timeline of Poser versions, capabilities, and ownership. Thanks!

already_taken ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 03 December 2007

Its clear that the Smith Micro anouncement wasn't directed at the user or content creator "community". However, there are some good signs. A big one (pointed out by others here) is that the development team is apparently part of the deal. I think its also significant that Content Paradise was part of the deal. CP provides a revenue stream that will depend on continuing to cater to the "community".

infinity10 ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 16 December 2007

Thanks for the thrid-party histrical overview. I remember the names Fractal Design and Metacreations. I had no idea that when I finally bought Poser Artist as recently as 2004 (?), it was already a 5-6 year-old program. My lack of skills in using any 3D software, coupled with an old computer, made me go for the cheapest solution at that time. Before that, I had been playing around with friends' versions of Poser 3 just to find out how things got done. Today, I have Poser 7. Frustrating as it has been at times, I have found Poser 6SR3 and Poser 7SR2.1 to serve my 3D art objectives well. With so much money and time invested in acquiring and using content for Poser, I would be very annoyed it Poser's future were drastically changed in time to come.

JOEANOMALY ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 17 December 2007

If Smith Micro actually intends to keep and make Poser profitable, the have to attract more users. Perhaps by increasing it's ability to play well with other 3d and 2d apps. I also agree with Infinity10, with all the time and money invested in Poser many users wil be annoyed if S-M treats Poser like tax writeoff.