Poser Pro review

£381
Price when reviewed

Using a 3D modeller it’s relatively straightforward to create a believable scene but to bring it to life you need to populate it with figures, which is easier said than done. In fact, creating a believable human model, especially one that moves, is the most challenging and time-consuming 3D task around. Unless you use Poser.

The beauty of Poser is that it comes with male and female models ready to go. Using the program’s Material, Face, Hair and Cloth “rooms” you can then quickly customise these presets, use the Content room to download new low-cost figures or the Setup room to add the necessary rigging to your own models.

To bring your characters to life you then quickly apply bone-based poses and morph-based expressions and animate these manually or by using Poser’s Walk and Talk Designers.

That’s a lot of advanced 3D power, but up until now Poser’s audience has always been the enthusiastic hobbyist rather than the full-time professional. With this latest release, however, Smith Micro, Poser’s new developer has made what looks to be the obvious next step and moved upmarket.

The first key to this repositioning is a new focus on high-end output quality. As such, Poser Pro introduces support for normal mapping which allows the surface of models to be displaced based on imported texture maps.

You can also now manage gamma correction for textures – control which is particularly important in the context of displacement. And when it comes to output, you can now export high dynamic range images to enable maximum control over exposure during post production.

Poser Pro also sees a complete overhaul of rendering starting with the new ability to render in the background without interrupting your work. In addition, Poser Pro offers a new 64-bit background rendering engine offering better memory management. And, using the new Network Render Queue, users can tee up multiple files for processing and use spare capacity across the network.

The new background rendering is a major advance but few existing Poser users are likely to be working on 64-bit systems or have their own render farms. More importantly, the whole focus on Poser Pro’s own output is largely misplaced.

The reason is simple: Poser offers virtually no scene creation capabilities and a character without context is generally less use than a scene without figures. What’s really needed is a way to access Poser’s dedicated figure handling from within a dedicated modeller.

This is exactly what Poser Pro attempts to deliver through its PoserFusion hosting plug-ins for 3ds max, Maya and Cinema 4D. Clearly trying to work hand-in-hand with third-party applications raises questions over compatibility. For example, the provided Cinema 4D plug-in simply wasn’t recognised until we installed the latest Poser Pro service pack.

Having said that, once upgraded, the plug-in worked very smoothly both with the officially supported Cinema 4D version 10 release and with the more recent version 11.

Once up and running, you simply add a Poser object to your scene and then in the Attribute panel you load your saved PZ3 file. When the mesh has opened, you can click on the Create Materials button to import the model’s materials and, unique to Cinema 4D, you can choose whether to import strand-based hair and set its root and tip scale. If you’re working with an animation you can then set which frame to start with, whether it should loop, the speed it should run and so on.

Our first reaction was that this approach was too simple. In particular it’s important to realise that all customisation of your figure must be done in Poser Pro and then re-imported by clicking on the Reload icon. Reloading is rapid but clearly being able to pose figures directly within your hosting package would be less awkward and more powerful.

Details

Software subcategoryGraphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

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