Smith Micro Poser 8 for PC, Mac Reviews

Smith Micro Poser 8 for PC, Mac

3 ratings (1 Epinions review)
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3D Models Posing Naked

Apr 2, 2010 (Updated Jun 8, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Naked female models, making models pose and move is easy, realistic rendering, powerful, many tools.

Cons:Clunky interface, buggy out of the box, tutorial from hell.

The Bottom Line:

For its price ($200) Poser 8.0 is a relatively powerful animation application that is sold to hobbyists as well as artists. However, I still cannot recommend it to hobbyists.


I got Poser 8.0 for free via the Amazon Vine program and I tried it out mostly for fun. I am not an animator, I don't make movies, and I did not use previous versions of Poser. However, I have significant experience from 3D graphics tools in other contexts both as a user and a developer. I've used applications for simulating conveyor belts and transportation systems (AutoMod), robot systems (LabView, RoboView), etc. I've also created 3D graphics applications using Open Inventor (OpenGL). Therefore I have some understanding of rendering, lighting, camera views, perspectives and textures, and I think I have an idea of how the GUI for a 3D tool should work to be intuitive and easy to use. I found Poser 8.0 to be buggy, unnecessarily difficult to use, and the tutorials were a disaster.


About Poser 8.0

Poser is a 3D character animation application. You typically use it in conjunction with other software to create the figures/models and create back grounds and scenes (Vue, Lightwave, Maya, Cinema 4D, etc). Then you create the animations using Poser. Poser comes with a set of pre created human and animal figures, 3D scene objects, textures, expressions, and pre created scenes/backgrounds so you can create animations using only Poser. You can also download or buy more 3D models on-line.

You use Poser to move your figures around and move their body parts into various poses. You also put clothes on them, add hair, morph objects and figures, add objects to the scene, you control textures and colors, and you can use photographs to make their faces more realistic or familiar. There are tools for changing facial expressions and adding scars, bumps, scales, and veins. You also control the scene, lighting, and various cameras. Poser includes tools like the Face Room, Walk Designer, Talk Designer, and the Wardrobe Wizard. Basically, from the characters and perhaps a scene you can make an animated movie or cool images.

Poser 8.0 includes new very realistic looking figures, allegedly a better interface, more realistic rendering, morph brushes, and a "Dependent Parameter Tool" to allow body part interaction. These new tools allow you to modify body parts and more realistically deform body parts when joints are bent.


The tutorials

For someone like me who is not an experienced Poser user and who have not taken any classes on how to use this software, the tutorials are very important. The first thing I did was to go through the tutorials. Unfortunately the included tutorials were horrible.

First of all the tutorials did not follow a logical structure and seemed to be a mesh of disjointed tutorials put together. Many of the tutorials were for older versions of the product and some of the instructions were nearly impossible to carry out because they involved non-existing controls. There were what seemed to be errors in the tutorials. For example, one tutorial asks you to open the Walk Designer by pressing ctrl-shift-S. However, that will not launch the Walk Designer. To launch the Walk Designer you have to press ctrl-shift-W. Instead of spending 5 seconds on that instruction I spent 10 minutes figuring that out. In chapter 11 of the tutorial after using the Wardrobe Wizard you are asked to click OK in a dialog box that does not exist. If you chose the incorrect alternative action you lose your work. At another point you are asked to press "Delete" when you should press "Delete Key Frame". If you press "Delete" you loose all your work. Let me add that the tutorials are more than 300 pages long so it is difficult to have patience with a lot of that stuff.

Another cardinal sin when writing tutorials is to introduce concepts and controls without explaining them or not stating where in the interface you can find them and launch them. This mistake was repeated quite often. The tutorials are often referring to the "Translate Tool" when there are two different Translate Tools. The tutorials are referring to non-existing icons and you have to guess what you can use instead. What the tutorials call "Primitives" are really called "Props" in Poser 8.0. There are pictures of the user interface that does not look like the actual Poser 8.0 interface. At one point you cannot continue with the tutorial unless you roll back to a previous point in the tutorial and this is never explained. Curve balls like this makes going through the tutorials frustrating and to a large extent a waste of time.


Opinions and Thoughts

The target customers for Poser 8.0 are artists, comic book creators, and hobbyists like me. Poser is rarely used in the movie industry because there are other similar but more able software applications that include features that can simulate effects from gravity and wind which Poser does not have. The Poser figures are stiff like mannequins. However, this also makes Poser more affordable (around 200 dollars).

One both neat and problematic feature of Poser 8.0 is the naked female (and male) models with breasts and genitals that you can load and manipulate. For the price range, the rendering is also fairly realistic with high quality shading, lightning, speed, and polygon smoothing, and it comes with a lot of tools. The separation of figures, poses, textures, clothing, faces, and facial expressions into different objects that you can apply and mix makes it a fairly useful too. It is also neat that you can build your animations using both the included library as well as objects you import from third parties (or make your own using other software). Creating poses and making figures move is relatively easy.

One feature that is not so neat is the clunky interface. I understand that a complex and unintuitive interface is acceptable and perhaps unavoidable in a really advanced application that you use to create, for example, real movies. However, Poser 8.0 is offered to hobbyists and the general public for their personal entertainment. As such, the interface needs to be standardized, easy to figure out and intuitive, in my humble opinion.

In other 3D graphics applications that I've used you control the scene by dragging it or using self explanatory thumb wheels for zoom, pan, yaw, etc. It only takes one look at the user interface and you know what to do. There are a variety of ways of controlling the scene/cameras/objects in Poser but they are more complex and unintuitive. Using them sometimes have unexpected consequences. Being used to other 3D graphics applications I like to click and drag in the scene graph to change the view. Doing that in Poser changes the selected object instead. As far as I can tell there is no easy way to rotate the entire scene when working with an object. You have to select a camera and then change the perspective.

Many of the tools are also difficult to use and requires you to manipulate controls that are odd and difficult to remember how to manipulate. There is a red/white circle (at first invisible) that you use to select bodies and body parts. This red/white circle is difficult to find and click. I searched extensively but I could not find where the current parent of a selected object was indicated. This is something that is important and should be obvious but if such an indicator even exists at all I never found it. It is also easy to accidentally undock windows, move them around, or accidentally make figures vanish. The library contains a lot of figures, poses, expressions, clothing, etc, and once you find them it is easy to apply them (drag and drop). However, I found that the library was strangely organized and difficult to navigate and search and it also did not work as it should.

Another complaint of mine is that the software as it comes out of the box is buggy. You can fix most of this by down loading service packs. Out of the box there was no help menu, the manual and the tutorial was inaccessible from the menus, and down loading and launching the on-line site could not be done either. When I created new libraries I got a run time error and the application crashed every now and then.

One special thing to take note of is that unless you upgrade to Poser Pro the company, Smith Micro, owns all your creations.


Final Conclusion

For the price this is powerful animation tool. However, since it is offered to the public and hobbyists the interface must be intuitive and easy to use and it is not. The learning curve is unnecessarily high. The application is also buggy out of the box. However, what make me not recommend this software to hobbyists are the included tutorials. In my opinion this type of application needs tutorials and they need to be proofread and well done. The tutorials are a disaster which might force a hobbyist to buy books or take classes.




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