DAZ 3D Human Figures - A History
IN THE BEGINNING, there was Poser. First launched in 1995, Poser was (and is) an innovative 3D software package aimed more at artists and hobbyists rather than graphics professionals. Poser was designed for use with poseable humanoid figures, and before long, other companies began to produce and sell figures built for use in Poser, as well as clothing, hair, props, and other Poser content.
DAZ 3D started out as a vendor of Poser content, and to this day most content sold by DAZ 3D is usable in Poser, either natively or via the DSON Importer. Once a division of the Zygote Media Group, DAZ 3D became an independent corporation in 2000.
The Millennium People - Generations 1 and 2
The Millennium Woman (later named Victoria) was first released in 1999. She was derived from the female figure known as Posette that was included in Poser 4 (the first version of the software that supported conforming clothing and transmapped hair). Victoria was widely used, and in 2001 an updated version was released, called Victoria 2. V2 allowed for a greater range of morphs and expressions, but used the same mesh as V1 and could wear V1’s hair and clothing.
Because of Victoria’s popularity, DAZ 3D created some additional human figures, including Michael 1 (and then Michael 2), Stephanie, the Millennium Girls (preteen and preschool-aged girls), and the Millennium Boys (preteen and preschool-aged boys). Aiko also made her debut in this era, but as a character for the Stephanie figure, rather than a stand-alone figure like the others.
Interestingly, the original Stephanie figure was based on Michael’s mesh and could share textures with him, while Victoria could share textures with the kids. Each figure had their own conforming clothing.
Generation 3 - The Unimesh
For the next generation of their humanoid figures, DAZ introduced a technology they called the “Unimesh.” Rather than building each figure on a distinct mesh of polygons, they started with a single, androgynous mesh and crafted all their people from it. The advantages of the unimesh included increased compatibility (particularly with regards to textures and morphs) and a streamlined development process. In that sense, it can be considered a precursor of Genesis technology.
The third-generation figures included Victoria 3, Michael 3, Stephanie Petite 3, Luke and Laura (preteens), Matt and Madison (preschoolers), Aiko 3, Hiro 3, David (3), The Freak (3), She Freak (3), and the Millennium Baby 3. Each of these was a stand-alone “base” figure. Victoria 3, the first third-generation person, was released in 2002, and the last of the generation came out in 2005. Another popular figure known as The Girl dates from this era as well; she is not based on the Unimesh, but she is compatible with textures made for Victoria 3.
Also in 2005, DAZ 3D launched the first version of their own 3D software, DAZ Studio. Since then, there has usually been a free version of this application available, presumably in order to create a larger pool of consumers for DAZ 3D’s content. Most Poser content created by DAZ 3D and other vendors is usable in DAZ Studio (exceptions include dynamic clothing and hair as well as shaders).
The 4th Generation Figures
For the fourth generation, DAZ 3D opted for separate meshes for male, female, and child characters. There were three base figures: Victoria 4 (first introduced in 2006), Michael 4 (2008), and The Kids 4 (2010). Aiko 4, The Girl 4, Stephanie 4, and She Freak 4 all require the base Victoria figure. Similarly, Hiro 4 and The Freak 4 require Michael 4.
The current version of the Victoria 4 figure is numbered “Victoria 4.2.” This figure replaced Victoria 4.1, which in turn replaced Victoria 4.0. Each time the figure was updated, some additional features were added. Victoria 4.2 is often called “V4” for short, and is compatible with all Victoria 4.0 and Victoria 4.1 products. Like her predecessors, Victoria 4 quickly became the most popular 3D model, and arguably maintains that title to this day, at least among Poser users.
Genesis (Generation 5)
In 2011, DAZ Studio 4.0 was released. It included a new base figure called Genesis. Genesis can be morphed into a man, woman, child, or creature, and is compatible with all skin textures made for Victoria 4, Michael 4, and The Kids 4 through a new feature that enables the UV map to be switched. Genesis can also wear clothing made for V4, M4, and K4 through the “AutoFit” function. The figure boasts superior bending capabilities compared to previous figures, and benefits like the fact that all Genesis morphs, clothing, poses etc. can be used by any Genesis character.
With the purchase of various add-on products, the versatility of Genesis increases: it can be morphed into clones of many third-generation and fourth-generation figures and a remarkable variety of different creatures and characters. And all of these shapes can be blended together and mixed with other morphs to create an infinite assortment of unique creations.
Fifth-Generation versions of the Victoria, Michael, Stephanie, Hiro, Freak, Aiko and David characters are Genesis products. Each came with a unique UV set, meaning that (in most cases) a user must own Victoria 5 to apply the skin texture of a character designed for Victoria 5 to the Genesis figure, for instance. Other popular Genesis characters include the Young Teens 5 (Justin and Julie), toon characters like Jasmine and Jason, Hitomi, Troll, and the Monstrosities, to name a few.
Genesis was designed for DAZ Studio 4, and originally was not very compatible with Poser. In 2012, several things happened that improved this situation: updates to the Poser software incorporated some new features that are important for making full use of Genesis, Cliff Bowman released the Genesis To Poser product, containing a tutorial and various scripts that made using Genesis in Poser easier, and DAZ released the DSON Importer, a superior method of getting a more fully-functional Genesis into Poser.
Genesis 2 - Generation 6
With the latest release, DAZ has again gone to separate male and female meshes. While this means that the new Genesis 2 Female and Genesis 2 Male figures probably won’t be as versatile as the original Genesis, it does allow for more lifelike human forms and better fitting clothing. The Genesis 2 advances include a more detailed mesh and significantly improved bends and facial expressions. Victoria 6 was the first of the new Genesis 2 characters to be released. Other releases for Genesis 2 Female include Gia 6, The Girl 6, Teen Josie 6, Olympia 6, and Stephanie 6. The first Genesis 2 Male character to be released was Michael 6, followed by Teen Jayden 6. Genesis 2 is compatible with DS4.6+, and (via the DSON Importer) Poser 9+.
Genesis 2 can Auto-Fit content made for Genesis 1, and with the Victoria 4 for Genesis 2 add-on, can Auto-Fit Victoria 4 content also. Similarly, with the Michael 4 for Genesis 2 Male product, G2M can Auto-Fit M4 content. However, at least at the present time, morphs made for Genesis 1 or other figures are not supported. Aside from morphs, most content for Genesis 2 Female can be used on Genesis 2 Male, and vice-versa.
The Digital Artist’s Complete History of V5- 3DArtDirect.com
Base Figures - History and Compatibility (posts by Lyrra on the old DAZ3D forum)
What Is the Unimesh? - DAZ3D.com