Deep Ones

The current free CG Arena magazine (Feb-Mar 2012) has a lead ZBrush tutorial, on sculpting a 3D Deep One from the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. It’s not a “for beginners” tutorial, but if you’ve put some time into playing with ZBrush or watching the excellent Lynda.com intro tutorial to it, then this might be useful…

TheHunter for screenshots – how to get the digital camera

The wonderful free ‘landscape free-roaming’ / wildlife photography / animal hunting videogame The Hunter has just added a nice wooden bow (paid version only) and new animal AI.

Here’s how to get the clearest view of the game world, for taking screenshots with FRAPS, to use in machinima. The main thing you need is to get the digital camera in your hand, although it’s difficult for a newbie to figure out how to get this on the screen. This is how you do it. First load the game. Then in the equipment inventory options do this…

Now you can press “3” when in the game-world, to get the digital camera. Then you can capture video backgrounds and stills with FRAPS without having a massive rifle or the huge GPS unit in the way. Remove the digital camera with the Photoshop clone brush, or by cropping the video.

TheHunter‘s digital camera in action (seen lower right).

LumenRT2

LumenRT2, a new genuinely real-time render-engine addon for SketchUp. $295…

It’s from e-on, the same people who make Vue. Can’t help thinking that the “coming soon for other platforms” bit at the end might be about plugging a real-time LumenRT2 viewport into Vue?

Moebius Redux

The fabulous intro animation for a documentary on seminal science-fiction artist Moebius, apparently shown on TV in English last year. Moebius Redux: a life in pictures (2007)…

The English version was apparently broadcast in the UK as In Search of Moebius in 2009, and again at the end of last year. According to Amazon UK and USA, it doesn’t appear to have ever made it to a DVD, although there is a DVD listed on the German Amazon (perhaps only in German?).

More Poser Pro 2012 OpenGL tests

Update: I now have a dedicated Poser Pro blog!

More tests of the OpenGL rendering in Poser Pro 2012

1. Real-time preview. Takes about 20 to 30 seconds to “boot” from shaded wireframe into this. Wireframe becomes visible when a mouse passes over an object or character, as you can see here…

2. Real-time OpenGL preview rendered to a file (20-30 seconds). You wouldn’t want to animate characters this way (one minute of footage @ 30FPS = 15 hours of rendering), but making 2D stills this way is perfectly acceptable quickie method for making iClone backdrops…

3. Rendered the old-school way, using the Firefly renderer in about three minutes. Nice lighting, but a long way from iClone’s artist-friendly “what you see is what you get”…

Vanishing Point

Added to the “Free 3D models” category on the MyClone sidebar, Vanishing Point, with lots of sci-fi TV and movie models.

But also some other stuff, such as this MIDI-powered Victorian street organ (for Poser)… yes, it actually animates correctly in time to the MIDI music file that you feed it! Find it in the Python Script section…

How to configure the content library display, in Poser 9 / Poser 2012

Update: I now have a dedicated Poser Pro blog!

Missing thumbnail previews pictures on your older content in new copy of Poser 9 / Poser Pro 2012? There’s a handly little free utility that chugs through your runtime folders and outputs a PNG graphic for each item in your Content Library. This means 99% of your content will then have a preview thumbnail in the new Content Library.

To then change the display options in the Poser content library, and to get bigger thumbnail previews, click on the little “spike bar” at the foot of the Library…

This opens up the display settings for the Library, including the thumbnail size. I found a setting of “91” to be about right and most free of jaggies…

The result…

What Poser is lacking here is the ability for a user to capture their own thumbnail, and apply it to a top-level folder, as you can in iClone.

Poser OpenGL real-time render test

Update: I now have a dedicated Poser Pro blog!

A quick real-time OpenGL test with Poser Pro 2012:

Subject ~ DAZ Enchanted Forest scene, with its Dappled Light preset and one character added. No shadow under the character, as he was just hastily plonked into the scene.

Size ~ All done at a viewport size of 1171 x 938px.

Graphics card ~ an old Nvidia GeForce 9600.

1. Instant, genuine real-time. Below is a screenshot of the OpenGL preview in the Poser Pro 2012 Viewport, with all Preview settings at max. The Viewport was a little sluggish (probably due to the size of the scene…), but was acceptable to work with for scene composition. Note that there are “jaggies” on certain small parts of the picture. “Jaggies” seem to especially affect characters and clothing. But, despite this, one could certainly use such a screenshot of the real-time viewport as a 2D iClone backdrop…

If you were using Poser’s OpenGL real-time view to make a quick 2D backdrop for iClone, without characters in the scene, then jaggies would likely not be a problem once your film hits the video compression stage.

2. 26 seconds. OpenGL preview as before… but this time rendered out to a file. Again, with all preview settings at max. This is essentially the same as the real-time preview, but slightly darker and it gets rid of the jaggies and does so consistently and smoothly. Adding this anti-aliasing is presumably what adds 25 seconds to the render time…

3. Six minutes. Rendered ‘properly’ in Poser’s Firefly renderer, which was set three steps up from the most basic Auto settings, and with displacement maps deselected. The picture now has lovely shadows and play of light, although the ferns have lost all leaf-detail and become rather muddy…

By comparison, here’s the same scene + lighting preset, seen in DAZ Studio 3’s OpenGL real-time preview render…

This would seem to confirm the review quoted in my previous post, saying that Poser 9 / Poser Pro 2012’s OpenGL real-time renderer is clearly of a better quality than that of DAZ Studio. However, the rider to that is that DAZ is able to display in genuine real-time with the jaggies beautifully smoothed out (although you wouldn’t know it from the above picture), but Poser can’t yet do this. But… if you can stand to wait 30 seconds or so for a render, then Poser will now give you a superior OpenGL picture than you would get from DAZ. I also made some character renders that confirmed this point.


New! I now have a dedicated Poser and DAZ blog!

Review of the OpenGL real-time previews in Poser 2012

Update: I now have a dedicated Poser Pro blog!

An interesting in-depth review of the new Poser 2012, by a genuine long-time user who writes clearly. Most interestingly for us real-time 3D people, the review starts off by detailing the real-time capabilities (and glitches) of the software…

“The OpenGL [real-time] previews are now much better than before, and I no longer envy DAZ Studio for it[s OpenGL previews]. As a matter of fact, I think the Poser previews are now much superior to [those of] DAZ Studio, because now we can preview soft shadows and ambient occlusion in real time. In some cases the previews are almost as good as the rendered version when it comes to lighting and materials.

You can preview the direct results of up to eight lights in real time, and you can select which ones will be included in the previews, so that you can exclude IBL and specular lights since they will not be visible until rendered anyway. Being able to visualize shadows in real time saves me a whole lot of time when setting up a scene.

[…] some [complex] skin materials […] tend to turn […] into some mushy black or brown. This already happened in Poser Pro 2010 and it’s rather annoying…”

The review also points out that zooming in to preview hair in close-up, in an OpenGL preview, is likely to crash Poser. Real-time OpenGL is also said to have problems with handling transparencies (opacity) on materials.

Although, for making 2D stills pictures for use as iClone backdrops, one could probably work around such issues (have simple skin, paint/paste the hair on afterwards in Photoshop, avoid props with transparencies).

Be aware that successfully running the latest 4.3 version of OpenGL may be dependent on you having a good desktop gaming graphics-card — but most iCloners on desktop PCs will probably already have one, and I read that a lot of the OpenGL 4 features were back-ported to the older 3.3 version (which even my old GeForce 9600 card can run).

Wendy shows you how she paints her pussy

Wendy’s new ‘pussy painting’ speed-run, done in Carrara’s 3D model-painting tool…

If this is the DAZ Millennium Cat model, then the resulting texture should also fit the Clonecat for iClone.

There’s also a handy cat fur tutorial for Carrara, here.

Carrara ($150 Standard, $550 for Pro) is ‘the big sister’ of DAZ Studio, and loads all DAZ / Poser content (though the new support for Studio 4 -specific lights and Genesis figures is in beta until the final version 8.5 comes out).

The Carrara 3D Paint Tool shown above was introduced in Carrara Version 7, and has continued through the current version 8.5 beta, although the 3D Paint Tool only comes with the Pro versions. Although the Paint Tool preview is adequate, the main OpenGL real-time preview of scenes in Carrara 8 is very rough. It’s not at all like the slick near-production level OpenGL you see in DAZ Studio 3 and Poser 2012 — which sadly means that Carrara is still a tool for the sort of 3D masochist who loves struggling with hour-long render times for one small still image.

How to import your old runtime content into DAZ Studio 4

Many people will be about to install DAZ Studio 4 Pro, which they downloaded as a freebie earlier this month. This post is about successfully navigating the nightmare of trying to install your old DAZ Studio 3 content runtimes into the new version 4.

In trying out the DAZ Studio 4 beta trial, I hadn’t bothered to try to import my old DAZ content library. But now I have the final-final version, I wanted to see the old content in there. It’s actually quite easy and fast to do this, but you’re likely to spend hours being utterly baffled before you find the right hidden button. I know I was. It would be nice to think that the Help files would have been some help with this. Sadly, they’re all missing. And the forum help on this topic is generally impenetrable — in only one answer did I finally find a line that actually gave the right advice.

These are the three areas of the Content Manager area that let you right-click on them, and then offer a bewildering range of methods to find and/or import the old content…

None of these methods work, in terms of actually getting your old content to show up in the Content Manager, except for this one…

Quite why “Import Mapped Directories” is hidden away in an obscure right-click on such a tiny and un-labelled Content Library tab, I have no idea. Instead of showing us the whizzy new Genesis figures and a prominent link button to the DAZ Store, DAZ should know enough about its users to know that the very first thing they will likely want after install is… all their old content back. There should be a giant button in the middle of the screen right after install, to do this. There isn’t. Thousands of would-be DAZ Studio users have given up in despair on this point, and just gone back to using version 3, judging the great many forum posts on the topic. Sadly it’s just one more failure, in an epic string of fan-relations disasters made while trying to launch DAZ Studio 4. Which are all redeemed somewhat by the Big Freebie giveaway, but they still rankle…

Once you do get it working, the Content Manager is still much the same classic of un-usability as before (now even worse, in some respects) — but at least it now has tagging and keyword search.

Free subway for iClone

Got monsters? Want to put them in some creepy tunnels? Here’s CHS Entertainment’s free Creative Commons Attribution Subway Track for Blender, now converted by me for iClone and reduced from 290,000 polys to just 29k…

Download here as an iClone 5 project file, ready-lit.

Click on the picture for the large version.

You can also remove the lights and train track, by lowering their opacity to zero, to make it a generic tunnel. Flood the floor with water for even more graphical coolness.