Advertisement
Current Issue
October 2014
Issue: April 1, 2007

REVIEW: E-FRONTIER'S POSER 7

By: Susie Jang
PRODUCT: E-Frontier's Poser 7

WEBSITE: www.e-frontier.com

PRICE: $249.99

- Easy-to-user interface
- Allows user to work in 3D app of choice
- Users can easily export stylized non-photorealistic renders right out of Poser

If you are a 3D artist, you've probably had the experience of making a human character in the 3D application of your choice. This means you will have already learned how to build a complete 3D character, which involves tasks such as polygon modeling, UV unwrapping, texture painting, texturing, applying a hair simulation, rigging, weighting, facial set-up and more. And you know this can be costly and extremely time consuming if you are to start from scratch, especially in a production situation. For this reason, E-Frontier's Poser 7 will make many hobbyists and 3D artists happy, because it provides fully rigged and textured lifelike 3D human character sets, with customizable parameters for different body shapes and facial expressions. This will save you great deal of time, whether you are in production or working on a personal project.

ARTIST-FRIENDLY

What best distinguishes Poser from other 3D packages is that it is built for the artist and is easy to use. Poser has such a unique and simple user-friendly interface that it makes perfect sense for character set-up and because it is easy to use, artists don't have to worry about the technology - they can just focus on their creative decisions. This is ideal not only for 3D designers but for hobbyists and illustrators as well. For instance, creating realistic lighting using an image-based map as well as applying a sub-surface scattering shader for realistic translucent skin is very easy to set up in Poser. With minimal touching up and tweaking, you are able to obtain a beautiful light set-up with believable characters ready to be animated. 

In a 3D world, making a character walk is a simple, straightforward task and yet getting it to look realistic is not easy. Poser has default animation sets available that can be applied to any Poser figures with a click of a button. The animation can then be exported out as motion capture data and used in other 3D applications. Poser can then save you valuable time in understanding the initial timings.

One of the features that impressed me the most in Poser 7 was the great amount of detail in our newly created Poser character — it featured high-resolution texturing. In fact, we were able to use this on a test animation for one of our in-house projects. Because the Poser character was highly detailed and anatomically correct to begin with, only a minimal amount of touch-up was needed and we were soon able to test animate the imported 3D Poser character in our 3D pipeline. Most of all, Poser's flawless import and export abilities enable you to work not only in Poser, but also with a combination of other 3D applications of your choice.

The Sketch Designer is another cool feature that will turn your 3D render into an image with a hand-made appearance. Without a third-party compositing package, you can easily export stylized non-photorealistic renders right out of Poser. Such built-in features can give a hand-drawn, traditional animation feel to your 3D animation.

I find Poser to be very helpful not only as a 3D character set-up package, but also as an illustration tool, given the fact that I have an illustration background. Often times when making descriptive illustrations, I find myself desperately in need of a human reference. Poser can quickly fulfill this need by providing pre-rigged sets of characters. You can then use these characters to set up countless reference poses for your illustration. On top of that, Poser lets you light your 3D characters, easily setting the mood for your scene.

From the perspective of a 3D animator who is accustomed to other third-party 3D applications, Poser 7 uses a different approach than those programs. And just as other 3D applications have their pros and cons, Poser 7 has its own pros and cons, which I feel it could improve over time.

PROS

1) Improved character detail and geometry topology. 2) Ambient Occlusion shader that can be easily applied to your scene, which can quickly improve the quality of your renders. 3) Twelve sets of Document Display styles that you can easily switch from one mode to another to suit your needs.

CONS

1) Lack of free navigation: Poser uses a trackball icon as its main navigation tool within a camera viewport. This took very little time for me to get accustomed to. However, adding an option of free camera navigation that uses a single hot key and mouse button is ideal, for it can dramatically increase the speed of your workflow.

2) Realtime polygon smoothing display: Poser lets you adjust the polygon smoothing level under your render options tab, but, the polygon smoothing is only visible in your render. This is a minor matter and may not bother some users at all, however being able to see the appearance of how your geometries react with the props is important and one should be able to look at it without waiting for each render to finish.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In conclusion, E-Frontier Poser 7 has great potential for being used in production situations, as well as in personal projects. You might feel it's cheating because everything's already built in Poser and ready for you, but in my opinion, Poser 7 opens up the possibilities for your creativity because the interface is so user-friendly and almost anyone can quickly learn and apply it to their own project.

Susie Jang is a Designer/Animator at New York City's UVPhactory (www.uvph.com). She can be reached at: susie@uvph.com.