Monday, October 28, 2013

Get Techy with Emi Debos: Poser 2014 Reviewed

And now for something completely nerdy. We welcome Emi Debos to the fold as she tackles the occasional high tech gadget, killer software pack or techy event.

Poser 2014 is the latest software release of the infamous 3D modeling and animation program most elusive to freelance designers. Everyone in animation has revered Poser as one of the top animation programs for its great ability to create the best computer generated looking people, and yet barely any of us have the finances to use it (I did say “freelance”, right?). Now that I’ve used the program, I can see why. Its layout is similar to most other open source animation platforms with a customizable main screen, but with tools that are different than most programs I am familiar with. Given its ability to manipulate the Z-Axis, they create more options for altering different spaces. As opposed to memorizing a lot of key shortcuts (and there are a lot), they have it as part of their tools on the left hand side. They’ve put a lot of attention and care into creating very recognizable shapes for each tool, making it incredibly easy to pick up.

Their keyframe animation is literally the easiest I have ever used. All you need to do is move the time line to what frame you want the object to move, and then move it. It’s the most logical movement ever. The maths behind the movement must be incredible to have it work so flawlessly. The basis of all seamless movements is heavily dependent on a skeletal framework that Poser 2014 graciously provides to its users. A lot of the difficulty of great animation is getting the body to a skeleton as it takes a lot of time and patience to get the alignments and joints together. Poser 2014 removes a lot of the difficulties of animating people. With ease of use, the designer can focus on the aesthetics of styling the animation and getting the looks right versus sacrificing time to work on their movements.

The program starts like any standard 3D modeling program; with a base model in the center. However, since Poser 2014 is most ideal for 3D animating people, it starts with a skeleton nicknamed “Andy” front and center. I was pleased to see the skeleton framework, but the next step made me quite sad. To make it an animated person, they give you examples in the libraries of existing models to implement, and then you can modify the characters from these examples. Sounds beautiful, right? The prices aren’t. The libraries are nearly bare when you first install Poser 2014. After that you need to add in more items to your library so you can have the resources to make additions to the characters. Poser has over a thousand individual pieces you can add to your models, which includes hair, clothes, scenery, lights, and animals. You name it; you need to buy it separately. It is like buying Barbie’s dream house and then finding out the furniture is not included. It is tough, but trying to recreate the effects will get you nowhere but a migraine. Not every item is expensive, but cumulative, it can get pricey.

This program is extremely smooth. Poser 2014 loads fairly quickly in the realm of 3D modeling programs, but I believe that largely has to do with the amount of items you include in your library after installation. It still only requires a small amount of hard drive space and takes mere moments to have the program ready for your usage. Poser 2014 comes with great sub surface scattering for realistic skins and other surfaces, which is always a huge plus for animating. The more sub surface scattering you can add to an object, the smoother (or more manipulative) you can make the object. Lastly, Poser 2014 has astounding rendering capabilities that will blow your mind. One of the most cumbersome details of 3D animation is the rendering time, and Poser 2014 has been able to not only give you quick options to select smaller areas to process renderings, but overall frame by frame goes out extremely quickly. Obviously the more detailed the scenes are, the longer it will take to render out. In the overall time frame, this is a great program for rendering animation scenes using people. I have yet to use a program that integrates human animations as well as this for its cost.

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