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Poser Pro: Animation with Character

Smith Micro Team delivers a professional software for all users By Ko Maruyama
Poser has been around for a long time.  Through the years, the software has been used to produce many different types of character animations.  From simple illustration poses to broadcast animation, Poser continues to be a great, cost-effective solution for animators and non-animators to design character elements quickly and easily.  The robust new software shows that Smith Micro is dedicated to continuing this newly acquired product line.

Sure, hobbyists have been using the easy-to-learn software for years.  Poser has allowed first-time character animators create anything from skeleton battles to ballroom dance scenes (as well as the ever-popular bikini clad warrior princesses).  For professionals, Poser has been an excellent resource, allowing designers to quickly create simple animations that can be added to larger projects.  The new version makes the integration process even easier.

Personally, I learned Poser several years ago because I was asked to create several running sequences for a motion graphic element.  Rather than learning character animation from the ground up, Poser offered a 1, 2, 3 click process and we were able to generate a dozen different, client-approved animations within an hour.

Today, the popular character posing and animation software has evolved into a tool that contains a feature set professionals have come to expect in a pipeline environment.  A wide range of professional-grade tools, resources and the ability to play well with others all describe Smith Micro's Poser Pro.

Maya 2008 Support for Importing Camera Data

Poser Pro now supports COLLADA data, a 64-bit render engine and an integrated production solution that will make many 3D designers sit up and take notice.   Senior Director of Graphics Solutions for Smith Micro Software, Steve Yatson and I had talked at various trade shows about the future of the product line as it matured.  He has been keeping an eye on other 3D applications that designers use, and understands that designers are looking for a character development tool that can fit easily within a workflow that they are already familiar with.

To aid designers and 3D animators and modelers, Poser Pro now includes PoserFusion - a set of plugins which allow animated or static Poser Pro scenes to port directly into Autodesk's 3D Studio MAX, Maya, or MAXON CINEMA 4D (awesome for us in the MAXON/Adobe world as well).    Poser scenes can export their character rigs, morph targets, textures, lighting, cameras (and if the target 3D host supports it, COLLADA data interchange) without difficult multi-step procedures.

A PowerFusion object within CINEMA 4D / complete with materials

As part of the new render engine (which now affords options for background rendering), users can now import HDR images to be used as textures.  There is internal gamma control which will help you to color correct the image before exported.  SEE SIGGRAPH 2007 POSER PRO COVERAGE HERE (with Steve Rathmann):

Poser Pro @ Siggraph

The entire content section of the application has been re-built to house all of the important data you'll need to find your way around the new software, including access to online resources for models, textures and animations.  There are video tutorials which will help to guide you through the different processes you'll find in Poser Pro.  Of course, you'll find tons of help in the regular Poser venues still.  Specific portals designed to cater to Poser Pro users will also roll out with the launch of the new software.  Already, a wiki page has begun, as is noted on the Content resources:

The best part is that currently registered users of Poser 6 and Poser 7 can get Poser Pro for only $199.99 until July 31, 2008.  Honestly - there is no reason why regular users of Poser wouldn't want to upgrade, it offers an array of new tools not only internally to the application, but opens the potential for collaborative work with 3D designers who are using third party applications.  Render Queue and Background rendering are features every animator will appreciate.

The MSRP for new licenses of Poser Pro is $499.99, and can be purchased directly from the Smith Micro online store.

I will be continuing my coverage of this software through the next couple of months and come up with some project that you might try out for yourself.

For rants, ramblings and general announcements - check out a chaotic blog in the BlogZone:

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:product review, poser 6, poser 7, poser pro, DAZ Studio, DAZ 3D, second life, poser animation, Figure Animation, BVH data, COLLADA, Maya 2008 import, HDR, High Dynamic Range, FBX Animation, Motion Capture, Cinema 4D Plugin, Smith Micro, E-frontier, Poser 7 Pro

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