Poser Pro Pack
at a Glance

Maker: Curious Labs
Price: $149 (requires Poser 4, not included)
Platforms: Macintosh and Windows
Demo Available: No
URL: http://www.curiouslabs

Overall Impression: The Pro Pack, like Poser 4 itself, has a slick interface that makes working in it a snap. The features are robust, though support for models with very high polygon counts isn't really there. Nevertheless, this is a great tool for graphic designers who need to create animations in Flash (or other formats).

Key Benefits: The Pro Pack expands Poser 4 well beyond its previous role as a ... well, pose maker for predefined 3D characters into the realm of versatile 3D animation tools. Its "Setup Room" allows you to add bones to models created in just about any 3D program with extreme ease and lets you export to a broad variety of formats, including Flash. These exports can be rendered in a number of styles, from cartoon shading to texture-mapped images.

Disappointments: I was put off a bit by the slowness I encountered when working with my own 3D model that had a very high polygon count. I didn't expect it to be speedy, but working with my model in the Setup Room proved to be seriously time-consuming. With lower-count models, including the ones that come with Poser 4 and the Pro Pack, the process is quite quick.

Recommendation: Strong Buy


REVIEW MAY 15 , 2001

Curious Labs Poser Pro Pack
Advanced 3D character animation expansion module with Flash export

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

You're probably familiar with Poser, the 3D character animation suite formerly owned by the company formerly known as MetaCreations. When MetaCreations killed off its software division to focus on Web technologies, Poser went on the auction block (along with Painter, Carrara, Canoma, Bryce and a host of other well respected titles). It was snatched up by the team that originally created the software and others involved with its development and marketing. Thus was born Curious Labs.

Poser had always been a bit of a cult item, extremely popular with hobbyists. It was geared heavily toward preset characters and provided users with the ability to move these characters around in various poses—sort of like playing with 3D paper dolls. But it never really attracted a large customer base in the higher-end professional 3D market.

Now, however, comes the Poser Pro Pack, an expansion module for Poser 4 that promises to find a professional niche for Poser—namely designers who create animations in the Flash format.

The Poser 4 interface. Click image for 1,024 x 768 view.

What it does
The Pro Pack for Poser expands Poser in two very significant areas and also offers a number of important enhancements to the core program. The most significant enhancement for many is the ability to output to the Flash (.SWF) format. As I've said previously, 3D is becoming a critical tool for designers specifically because of the advent of Flash. Whether you're spinning a company logo, adding a little animation to a Web page or creating a full-blown animated presentation, 3D is virtually a prerequisite.

These days, everybody is offering Flash output. But your choices for 3D applications are mostly limited to very expensive 3D suites or applications that aren't terribly powerful or easy to use. The Poser Pro Pack, which is both affordable and easy to use, is a great solution for creating character animation in Flash. Don't get me wrong here. Poser is not a modeler. It comes with a ton of preset characters, ranging from people and props (such as clothing) to animals and robots. But, if you want to build your own models, you'll still need a 3D modeling application, such as Amorphium Pro, which is also targeted toward Flash designers (and also happens to come highly recommended by me).

The two small Flash animations below use two of the characters that come with Poser, along with some preset animations. Applying animations to models can be as simple as clicking on a preset library animation. You can also manually move around body parts (and cameras and lights) to create your own animations rather easily. (For the sake of file size, I've limited the colors in these animations to four. The first animation came out at 56 KB; the second is 92 KB. You can change color settings in the output options when you create your own animations.)

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.
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