Switching from Poser agony

edited December 1969 in DAZ Studio Discussion

Hello dear Studio users :o)

I am a long time Poser user (since version 3) and I have spent the last 14 years cursing and loving this rare piece of software. As you know Poser is great and horrible at the same time, giving its users a constant headace. During the years some wonderful features has been added such as the firefly renderer and IDL, but the core software is still stuck at the same level as it was in 1999 when i first used it: Mesh only! Not a single nurbs or subdivided surface. Still the same rigging system, etc, etc...

I have eagerly followed the development of DAZ Studio hoping that Studio will evolve past these limitations and implement more up-to-date industry standards such as subD, nurbs, weight-mapping. What has happened with Studio is amazing in my opinion. There are still many things missing from my wish-list but unlike Poser there IS development going on here. The Poser core hasn't been updated for ages. I have come to a point where i realize that it's probably time to switch from Poser to Studio. Studio can without doubt do most of what i need just as good as Poser can. but i have a few questions that i hope you experienced Studio users can help me with:

Key frame editor:

I mostly do comic-like stories. In my work-flow in Poser i use animation key-frames to set up a series of stills to allow me to manipulate the story telling, adjust camera positions with respect to speech bubbles, copy poses, insert stills, etc. Note that i never do animations! I just use the key-frame tools. The key-frame editor in Poser is actually quite good. Is there a corresponding tool in Studio? I haven't found one in standard Studio installation that suits my needs. Working with different scene files for every still is not an option... :o/

Shaders:

Over the years I have built up a huge collection of shaders. I was told that there is no simple way to convert shaders from Poser to Studio but: How big are the differences? Can i convert my, say bagginsbill BBGlossy based shaders, to Studio format manually by translating brick by brick or are the differences to big? What can be found (preferably free or cheap) that can help me recreate a shader library for Studio.

NURBS:

I use Rhino as a modeler since it is so wonderfully intuitive and fast (at least for me ;o). A big dream is to be able to import objects directly in NURBS format into Poser or Studio. Are there any plans for NURBS support in Studio? At least for simple non-rigged objects.

Render times:

How fast is 3Dlight compared to Firefly? I have learned to optimize Firefly for my needs and i can get the visual style i want with decent render times. I use IDL with HDRI sky domes, SSS skin shaders, frequent use of displacement maps. I also often use shaders a bit more complicated than simple diffuse textures, eg fresnel based shaders such as BBGlossy.

Cloth simulation:

Poser cloth simulation is completely unable to simulate anything but very simple setups. How useful is Studios cloth simulation in practice?


Switching platform will be a huge step for me that will slow me down a lot for a time. I know that Studio is the future and that i have to switch sooner or later. What do you think? Should i switch now?

/Ohman

Comments

  • SickleYieldSickleYield Posts: 5,992
    edited December 1969

    ohman said:
    Hello dear Studio users :o)

    I am a long time Poser user (since version 3) and I have spent the last 14 years cursing and loving this rare piece of software. As you know Poser is great and horrible at the same time, giving its users a constant headace. During the years some wonderful features has been added such as the firefly renderer and IDL, but the core software is still stuck at the same level as it was in 1999 when i first used it: Mesh only! Not a single nurbs or subdivided surface. Still the same rigging system, etc, etc...

    I have eagerly followed the development of DAZ Studio hoping that Studio will evolve past these limitations and implement more up-to-date industry standards such as subD, nurbs, weight-mapping. What has happened with Studio is amazing in my opinion. There are still many things missing from my wish-list but unlike Poser there IS development going on here. The Poser core hasn't been updated for ages. I have come to a point where i realize that it's probably time to switch from Poser to Studio. Studio can without doubt do most of what i need just as good as Poser can. but i have a few questions that i hope you experienced Studio users can help me with:

    Key frame editor:

    I mostly do comic-like stories. In my work-flow in Poser i use animation key-frames to set up a series of stills to allow me to manipulate the story telling, adjust camera positions with respect to speech bubbles, copy poses, insert stills, etc. Note that i never do animations! I just use the key-frame tools. The key-frame editor in Poser is actually quite good. Is there a corresponding tool in Studio? I haven't found one in standard Studio installation that suits my needs. Working with different scene files for every still is not an option... :o/

    Shaders:

    Over the years I have built up a huge collection of shaders. I was told that there is no simple way to convert shaders from Poser to Studio but: How big are the differences? Can i convert my, say bagginsbill BBGlossy based shaders, to Studio format manually by translating brick by brick or are the differences to big? What can be found (preferably free or cheap) that can help me recreate a shader library for Studio.

    NURBS:

    I use Rhino as a modeler since it is so wonderfully intuitive and fast (at least for me ;o). A big dream is to be able to import objects directly in NURBS format into Poser or Studio. Are there any plans for NURBS support in Studio? At least for simple non-rigged objects.

    Render times:

    How fast is 3Dlight compared to Firefly? I have learned to optimize Firefly for my needs and i can get the visual style i want with decent render times. I use IDL with HDRI sky domes, SSS skin shaders, frequent use of displacement maps. I also often use shaders a bit more complicated than simple diffuse textures, eg fresnel based shaders such as BBGlossy.

    Cloth simulation:

    Poser cloth simulation is completely unable to simulate anything but very simple setups. How useful is Studios cloth simulation in practice?


    Switching platform will be a huge step for me that will slow me down a lot for a time. I know that Studio is the future and that i have to switch sooner or later. What do you think? Should i switch now?

    /Ohman

    1. I'm afraid I don't know. DS does have a keyframing system, but I'll leave answering that one to someone more familiar with it.

    2. There's really no comparison, and I'm afraid good shaders for DS tend not to be cheap (Marieah and AgeOfArmour have some fabulous ones when you're in the price range). You can browse ShareCG and Renderosity for some decent free starters, or learn to make your own using tutorials on Shader Mixer. Fuseling has a steampunk metal/glass freebie on Renderosity that can be repurposed to a lot of uses. I've learned to get results I'm pretty happy with just using UberSurface on most things. Until you can afford Garibaldi or LAMH I would have a good close look at Pendraia's fur shaders to learn how to use those blocks in Shader Mixer (she has allowed them for this use, and I've used them a lot). The biggest thing is to learn to use the block that controls fur direction so it doesn't have to stick straight out. http://www.pendraia.com/catfurpresets.html

    3. Not that I've heard. NURBs aren't a major modeling technique in Poser/DAZ most of the time (I've played around with them in Blender, but they have to be converted to mesh to be exported to obj, and that tends to produce messy results).

    4. Fast. DS4.5 Pro has native 64 bit support. On a computer with a duo to quad core it's extremely competitive even with all of the things you mention plus DOF. I can say this with confidence because I use these in my own promotional rendering for my products here, and I have never successfully gotten a timely render out of Poser Pro that had DOF in it and didn't look horrid. DAZ can handle that, and raytracing, and good shaders, much faster. Things slow way down with refractive glass and liquid, but that's true in anything right now.

    5. Not very. Whether the interface for that feature is easier or harder than Poser's is in the eye of the beholder. I do my cloth simulation in Blender and export it when I really need cloth sim.


    The sooner you switch, the sooner you can get up to speed. Don't feel that this is an inexorable thing, though - DS4.5 Pro is still free, so you can get it and play around with it, do some tutorials, and see if you can get results that please you before committing fully to using just this in your workflow. I absolutely love it and strongly prefer it, but which program one prefers is highly subjective (and I don't want to get moderated for starting another app war).


    Also bear in mind that you can continue to use Poser's cloth sim with DAZ Studio via obj export of simmed objects when you've got finalized poses - whether you're using V4 and M4 or Genesis via DSON.

  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited April 2013

    I'm experimenting with PWSurface 2 at the moment for skin... and there is something of an effort to re-create the firefly skin in 3Delight, but so far we've had limited success.

    One thing you need to know about shaders in 3Delight is that bump and displacement in 3Delight is quite different from Firefly. Firefly has black as the zero value whereas 3Delight has Gray 128 as zero (or 127...). That means black will push down in 3Delight but remain static in Firefly. The image below shows this.

    ShareCG has a tonne of shaders and stuff you can use.

    The Keyframe Editor in Poser is something I truly do miss! It's extraordinarily easy to use and figure out. There is a keyframe plugin for DS which I do not have, but I believe it pretty much mimics what Poser has natively: http://www.daz3d.com/keymate

    On NURBS: Nurbs do not render... at least not in a traditional render engine. I had Rhino up to V2, and even Rhino converted all its nurbs to polygons for the purpose of rendering in that version. Pretty sure it still does. There are tutorials out there on how to properly mesh Rhino nurbs in Rhino so you get the lowest density mesh. I cut my modelling teeth on Rhino, and I do miss it. Someday I hope to get another liscense...

    DS is in dire need of a good cloth editor. At present, we're dependent upon Optitex for all cloth... models and the pluggin...

    What you have now with D|S is Genesis. This is the most advanced figure ever made available to anyone at the consumer level. It's power is without compare, and I think you're going to be very, very happy with D|S.

    On rendering: I use 3Delight Stand alone for rendering, the freeware version of which is limited to two cores. For some amazing reason it works faster on my machine than does the one embedded in D|S with the same results. You command it via DOS, and it's quite simple to use. I wrote a tutorial on how which is around here somewhere... The other advantage for me is that, since I have a quad core machine and 3DLSA Freeware is limited to 2 cores, it frees up half my CPU to work on other stuff while 3DL is rendering. Results on speed vary with different people, but I love using it.

    Pay close attention to what Sickleyield wrote. What I'm telling you is secondary. SY has a tonne more experience than do I.

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    Post edited by wancow on
  • edited December 1969

    Thanks a lot!

    A few reflections:

    1:
    I was afraid so... :o/
    I am actually considering writing a better keyframe editor for my specific needs.


    2:
    Apart from skin and hair i make most textures myself. What i need is a good set of basic procedurals that i can modify for specific purposes. Both Firefly and 3DLight claims to be (semi-) Renderman compilant. That means they should share at least the same basic set of nodes/bricks right? Fresnel, reflection, refraction etc.

    Garibaldi or LAMH? Are there any major differences? What are the benefits/drawbacks of them respectively?


    3:
    This is only a question of definitions. The render engine render meshes but they actually don't render exactly what you put into them. Firefly for example: The inputs are meshes, displacement maps etc. Then it is all recursively subdivided until the faces are smaller than a pixel. As i see it, there is no reason why it shouldn't be possible to use NURBS or (most preferably) subdivision surfaces directly and use a subdivision process as Rhino, Maya and most other software do. The math is just as well defined as for mesh calculations and not really harder to implement. Meshes are good but limited and resource consuming. NURBS and SubD has been the industry standard for a decade in bigger apps. It is time that DAZ takes this into consideration.

  • SickleYieldSickleYield Posts: 5,992
    edited December 1969

    I'm not a coder except for the simplest of HTML on my own site, so I can't tell you about blocks and so forth other than that Firefly and 3delight do use many of these same features but they still don't translate directly without intermediate scripting. There was actually a pz2 to dsa file format converter back in version 2 or so of DAZ but it never handled advanced shaders (e.g., ones with fresnel and SSS, such as PWSurface2 and the Human Surface Shader).


    In a basic shader the biggest point of difference is that bump settings are not preserved and specularity settings won't come across correctly; in an advanced one wancow covered the displacement issues already very well, I think, but the other settings just will be ignored completely if you load the Poser shader in DAZ Studio. DSON doesn't handle advanced shader conversion either. One has to recreate from scratch in the engine. This is a reason why Marieah and I don't like to do DSON with our projects, because it would be so much more work for her than me having to redo all her shaders (since she does work with the advanced features and Shader Mixer).


    But hey, if you're looking to sell a product and you already want to write code, write us a shader converter and everyone will love you (and buy it). ;)


    I've been leaning toward LAMH because of the free player, which allows the customer to use hairs made with it without buying the expensive base program. This lowers entry bar so that we can use it in products without saying "to use this you have to go buy this $50 plugin." Garibaldi has a slightly different interface but equally good features. I own them both.

  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited December 1969

    Just a note: 3Delight IS RenderMan compliant. Firefly is not. 3Delight uses RSL (renderman shader language)... so any RIB exported directly from DAZ Studio can be rendered in RenderMan without any tweaking with good results... and maaaan... part of me wishes I had it so I could play with it :)

    Of note, I'm not sure if Poser has this, but DAZ Studio can bake shaders. What I use this for mostly is to turn a tiled texture into a UVMapped texture. I'll tile till it looks good, then bake it and use the resulting texture to do things like use transparency, which do not work usually with tiling.

  • edited December 1969

    Dang...
    As you know making a good looking shader is one thing, but getting it down to reasonable rendering speeds is something else. I can see months of shader tweaking ahead. :o(

    Shader baking will most certainly help in many cases.

    Anyway i will throw myself into the dark hole now. :-@

    Wish me luck! LOL

  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited December 1969

    I don't think luck is what you need, you obviously know what you're doing. I'll wish you patience instead :)

  • wowiewowie Posts: 908
    edited December 1969

    wancow said:

    One thing you need to know about shaders in 3Delight is that bump and displacement in 3Delight is quite different from Firefly. Firefly has black as the zero value whereas 3Delight has Gray 128 as zero (or 127...). That means black will push down in 3Delight but remain static in Firefly. The image below shows this.

    Hmm,
    Isn't that's because the default options for bump min/max have inverted values (-0.01 and 0.01)? If you want to use black as 0 value for bump, you merely have to use 0 for the min and 1 for the max.

  • Herald of FireHerald of Fire Posts: 3,366
    edited December 1969

    wancow said:
    One thing you need to know about shaders in 3Delight is that bump and displacement in 3Delight is quite different from Firefly. Firefly has black as the zero value whereas 3Delight has Gray 128 as zero (or 127...). That means black will push down in 3Delight but remain static in Firefly.

    The main reason for this is the displacement settings in the surface. By default it's set to have a minimum value in the minuses. If you set this to zero then black becomes flat and gray becomes mid-level. It's something worth considering if you're using displacement maps and want similar results from Poser materials.

  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited December 1969

    HoF, don't you have to do that in Shader Mixer? I don't see an option to do so in any of the Uber or PW surface options I have...

  • Herald of FireHerald of Fire Posts: 3,366
    edited December 1969

    wancow said:
    HoF, don't you have to do that in Shader Mixer? I don't see an option to do so in any of the Uber or PW surface options I have...

    Nope, it's right here...

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  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited April 2013

    But that doesn't alter where zero is, it just tells the render engine how much displacement per shade of gray. By default it's set at 1mm up or down. Setting it at -1 and 1 will put it to 1cm up or down. Black is still down, white is still up.

    Post edited by wancow on
  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited April 2013

    just tested it... :) my results show that Black is down no matter what.

    This render has displacement at 100%, minimum of +2 max of +3

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    Post edited by wancow on
  • RenpatsuRenpatsu Posts: 792
    edited April 2013

    wancow said:
    just tested it... :) my results show that Black is down no matter what.

    This render has displacement at 100%, minimum of +2 max of +3

    Black will be "down" compared to e.g. grey or white in that scenario, but if you set displacement minimum to 0, it should be 0 change to the actual surface as for displacement if you use black. Grey and white will still raise the surface (if you got a positive maximum value there) and thus black appears "down" by comparison, but it's not.

    Edit to add picture: The red plane got no displacement, while the checkered plane got +5 minimum and +10 maximum at 100% displacement strength, checkered black/white map. So if you put displacement minimum at 0 and maximum at some positive value, you got basically Poser behavior.

    Edit to add another picture: minimum displacement 10, maximum displacement 5, 100% displacement, thus black appears "up", which is the expected result.

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    Displacement.jpg
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    Post edited by Renpatsu on
  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited April 2013

    okay, I see... so all I have to do to get Poser based settings in DS would be to set minimum to 0 and max to 0.2, at least on the D|S scale based scale... just ran a side by side test on two surfaces... and I GET IT NOW! Took me long enough! So we CAN mimic Poser Displacement/Bump strength!

    Wonder what else we can mimic :)

    the two surfaces below are at the exact same level... one is set to min -5 max 5 the other to min 5 max 10

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    Post edited by wancow on
  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited April 2013

    and yes, they can be reversed... DOH...

    Is this even possible in Firefly????

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    Post edited by wancow on
  • cwichuracwichura Posts: 1,000
    edited April 2013

    ohman said:
    As i see it, there is no reason why it shouldn't be possible to use NURBS or (most preferably) subdivision surfaces directly and use a subdivision process as Rhino, Maya and most other software do. The math is just as well defined as for mesh calculations and not really harder to implement. Meshes are good but limited and resource consuming. NURBS and SubD has been the industry standard for a decade in bigger apps. It is time that DAZ takes this into consideration.

    The OBJ file format (which is ultimately how all geometry initially makes it into Studio) doesn't natively support NURBs. (There are, I believe, some vendor-specific extensions to do so.) Even with plymesh being an extensible format, I don't know that any tools read NURBs from it. LuxRender, for example, does not. The only way to specify NURBs in LuxRender is in-line in the scene file. And LuxRender internally generates a triangle mesh from the NURB in order to render it.

    Subdivision, however, IS natively supported by Studio. It uses the Catmull Clark algo for it. Any object can be converted to SubD. Select the object in the scene tab, click the corner menu and then Edit->Convert to SubD. Some stuff, such as Genesis, loads with subdivision already enabled. The one silly thing about SubD in Studio is the levels of subdivision has a default parameter lock of a max of two levels. Depending on your shape, that may not be enough. You can unlock the parameter (gear icon) and then specify higher levels. However, there is currently a bug where the unlocked state is not saved, so when you reload the scene, it goes back to a max of two and will reduce any objects that were higher than two back to two as well. (Bug entry 49068)

    Post edited by cwichura on
  • Richard HaseltineRichard Haseltine Posts: 19,352
    edited December 1969

    wancow said:
    and yes, they can be reversed... DOH...

    Is this even possible in Firefly????

    Yes, via Maths nodes.

  • edited December 1969

    When you say that 3DLight is renderman compliant, does that apply in both directions? I.e. is 3DLight compatible with renderman shaders?
    Is there a way to import RSL (Renderman Shading Language) shaders?

  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited December 1969

    There is a way, but I've never tried it. What I'd love is if someone could post a step-by-step on how to actually accomplish it with a simple shader.

    Go to where any of your tabs are in D|S, right click, and select RSL editor.

    Paste in a Shader, I used this one: http://www.renderman.org/RMR/Shaders/WWShaders/WWCinderBlock.sl

    And hit compile.

    Save it under DAZ Studio in Program Files, find the Shader Folder. Omnifreaker's shader folder will be there.

    But that's as far as I got...

  • edited December 1969

    Cool! That could be very helpful! :-)

    Another question: I guess 3DLight can calculate IDL. Can it? I cant find much regarding IDL in these forums. Most links result in a 404.

  • wancowwancow Posts: 2,708
    edited December 1969

    InDirect Lighting you mean? Isn't that a function of GI? (Global Illumination)... If this is the case, you get this using UberEnvironment with the GI shader applied... Please enlighten me if I'm getting this wrong...

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