Friday, June 29, 2012

DAZ|Studio 4 PRO and Poser Pro 2012 - a comparison

Okay, first off, I have only spent about 4 or 5 hours using Poser Pro 2012 and 6 years using DAZ|Studio.

Within this post I am going to touch on the following, because they are important to me:
  • Cost
  • Documentation
  • User Interface
  • Included Content
  • Content Management
  • Scene Composition
  • Lighting
  • Rendering
  • Content Creation
Please keep in mind, I am not a professional, this is purely from a hobbyist perspective, everyone has their own way of doing things and you may not agree with my opinion, this is NOT a flame towards either program.

COST

Cost, for the hobbyist, can make or break a decision.  Luckily the folks at DAZ run some pretty crazy specials and for a long time was available for free, at this moment DAZ|Studio 4 Pro is $429.99.  PoserPro2012, on the other is not free, and has a regular price of $499.99, that is a big difference, especially for a hobbyist who does not make any, or much, money from his hobby.

So, the Cost category goes to DAZ|Studio 4 Pro, because it saves you $70.00 for the program.  (The basic version of studio is still free at the time of this post)

Documentation

DAZ|Studio has all their documentation available online in wiki format.  That is great, as long as you have internet available.  Unfortunately, wiki seems to have some really big holes in the information.  All the cool features that would get you to normally purchase the software (content creation tools, auto-fit tool, etc) have very little information available and you will either have to ask a lot of questions, twiddle until it is right, or search the great interwebiverse for the information.  There are also some video tutorials on the DAZ YouTube channel with up-to-date information.  Searching the internet will bring up tutorials but, due to interface and scripting changes, may not be as informative as you hope if they are for an older version.

PoserPro2012 comes with documentation in a 812 page .pdf format, in addition to a plethora of up-to-date/barely changed tutorials on the SmithMicro site, RuntimeDNA and a large amount of other 3D sites.  Some of these tutorials also go way back to earlier versions, but in every case I have seen, they are still accurate and helpful.

PoserPro2012 wins the documentation category, hands down.

User Interface

For me, this is a HUGE factor in my preference.  The UI for any program does not need to be "intuitive," it needs to be "intuitive to YOU."

With that in mind, I always preferred Studio over Poser.  The past 6 years I have used Studio 1, 2, 3, 4 and every incarnation since 0.8.  My Poser experience was limited to Poser 5 for that entire time and it was just clumsy for me where Studio 0-3 were intuitive.

With Studio 4, as with every major upgrade it seemed, there was an overhaul of the UI, nothing really major, until version 3.  It hurt a bit going from v2 to v3, but my experience with Poser5 did help some making the change.  The version 4 interface seems to have removed all of the goodness that I grew to love in version 3, although, it is still very easy to use once you get used to it.  More customization (ahem, like in version 3) would be wonderful.

The PoserPro2012 interface, remember I come from Poser5, is a wonderful change.  The layout is easy to navigate, Poser5 made me feel a little claustrophobic, PoserPro2012 has come leaps and bounds in my opinion with the interface.

As for now, this is a hard choice.  While the UI for Poser is more mature in its implementation and when you open up the program it does not feel like some child's toy, Studio still seems to feel like it is geared for 10-15 year olds (no offense intended to our younger artists).

Since this is a comparison between Studio4 Pro and PoserPro2012, Poser is going to take home the interface overall because it feels less like a video game and more like a 3D application.

Included Content

Content, for those who do not know, refers to the models that you can load and go with.

Studio4 comes with:
  • Genesis - a triax weight mapped androgynous character with morphs for male and female
  • The Millenium Dragon
  • Male and Female clothing for Genesis
  • 2 load and go scenes with accompanying tutorials (which can be downloaded for free)
  • Content Creation Tools - to make your figures animatable
  • Advanced shader creation
  • Auto-fit tool - just in case you have been using the DAZ figures for the past few years and have a backlog of clothing, this tool allows you to fit Generation 4 figure clothes to the Genesis figure (specifically, Micheal and Victoria 4 clothing - but you can purchase additional capabilities for the older figures)
PoserPro2012 comes with:
  •  Human figures: 74, thats right 74! Human figures of varying resolution and quality dating back to Poser (original), also, the newer figures are weight mapped.
  • Cartoon figures: 3 Superheroes (Alphaman, Betaboy and Gammagirl) + 13 other toon figures
  • 34 Animals: pets, sealife, dinosaurs, etc
  • 4 Anatomy figures: 2 musculature, 2 skeletal (1 male, 1 female of each)
  • 3 stick figures, 8 other skeletons, 5 mannequins, 2 heads and 4 hands
  • a few robots, a plushie, a zeppelin, a few vehicles
  • Advanced shader room
  • Dynamic Cloth
  • Dynamic Hair
  • Content Creation Tools
  • Multitude of poses, lights, etc
With the above list, Poser does seem to come with more actual content.  Something that should be kept in mind though, the DAZ figures Micheal and Victoria have more overall content created for them both for sale and as freebies, they are also in poser format, and Studio does read the Poser format natively.  Poser does not read DAZ native formats (.daz, .dsf, etc).

Both programs, however use different forms of weight mapping and are not actually compatible.  You can get the figures to work...but not as well as they will work in their program.

While Genesis is 'neat,' (look it up on YouTube) I will have to side with Poser on the content side, makes up for that $70.00 difference easily (most base human figures will be anywhere from $20-$40.00).

Content Management

With content, you have to learn how to manage it or you will spend hours looking for that particular hair you want or texture, or pose even.

StudioPro has a built in management system that has the ability to only bring up what you have for a particular figure - at the moment, for older content, you have to learn how to set this up.  This is called "Smart Content."  You select Genesis, click on the Smart Content tab and you get to see everything available for Genesis that you have installed "metadata" for (not to worry, the new stuff comes with installers for it).

Other than that, the interface at this point becomes clumsy as you go through tree after tree in your content folder(s) looking for things.

Poser used to have it even worse, in Poser5 you have a thin drawer that you get to search through, this has changed with PoserPro2012!  Your content library actually opens in a different window with quick-clickable icons for Figures, Poses, Faces, Hair, Hands, Props, Lights, Cameras, Materials and Scenes.  Underneath the icons is a drop down menu "Show Library" which allows you to view all of your selected content (according to current icon) across all folders or a particular folder that you choose!  You also have the ability to further customize the look of the library window.

While both programs have searchable content, PoserPro2012 makes the library so easy to navigate, unless you have a LOT of content you will not use it often.  PP2012 also has a "Favorites" tab in the library window so for the figures and items that you use a lot, you will not have to go far.

PoserPro2012 takes the gold for Content Management.

Scene Composition

Scene Composition, putting things where you want them, is a major concern.  If you have to struggle with the interface to put things where you want them the experience will be less than fun.

Moving and placing items within a scene in Studio is easy and quick, thanks to the manipulator style that is used, just grab the arrow and move, rotate or scale.  In addition, the manipulator is similar to many other programs, such as Hexagon, Carrara and Blender.

PoserPro2012 on the other hand seems to make it just a bit harder.  You can noodle with the translation with the 'body' of a figure selected to move an entire figure.  I have not found a way to make it similar to other programs and a quick run through the preferences sheds no visible light on this.

Studio excels in this category just because of the manipulators, but I also want to mention that while Studio seems great for a large encompassing scene, PP2012 excels at smaller scenes.

Lighting

Both programs have their pros and cons here.

PP2012's pro is the light controls that Studio does not have, while Studio's pro is being able to setup the lights with a "view through" as you would a camera.

Studio and Poser both have some good light controls, a skilled person will be able to make magic happen.

I would consider this a "tie."  Neither program has superior lighting, just different styles of lighting.

Rendering

DAZ|Studio uses the 3Delight render engine based off of Renderman and PoserPro2012 uses the Firefly render engine.

The controls for both render engines in each program are fairly the same at the advanced level, with a few more options in Poser than in Studio.

As with the lighting, the style of render you are going for will play a large part of which program you prefer.  Studio seems a little less "real" in the final product.

The main concern here is, while you can set your scene or character up in Poser, save and load into Studio, you cannot do the reverse without a lot more work (setting pose files for positions for everything).  If you start your scene in Studio, you will not be able to take it into Poser to render.

Content Creation

For those that want to do this, I strongly suggest Studio for posepacks, Poser for materials, and either is fine for rigging - although Poser has the rigging documentation.

In addition, any poses done in Studio that you want to share with Poser users will require the Poser Format Exporter from DAZ3d.com, overall it is easy to use.

This area of concern is my main reason for getting PP2012.  Although I do my posing in Studio, my prop creation is more comfortable with a modeling app -> Poser workflow, no export needed, just import model, set materials and save to library.

Also, Poser is considered a sort of "industry standard."  Poser files load natively into many different platforms, such as Carrara, or with cheap/free updates from the developer, like Mojoworld.

Studio files load natively into...Studio.  I have heard rumours that the new .dson format is going to fix some issues with Carrara, but I have not seen much success come out of importing daz files into any program.

Dynamic cloth and hair,  Poser has it natively, Studio does not. This has been an ongoing sore-spot since Optitex decided not to allow people to create dynamic clothing in Studio, and was the main reason I used Poser5 still.

Poser is a must for content creation.

 Overall

 Everything considered, even with my bias towards Studio, PP2012 scored higher overall.

DAZ|Studio 4 Pro : 4
PoserPro 2012 : 7

Main points that Studio lost out on are: Documentation, Content and overall exportability for Content Creation.

I still love, and use Studio, but in order for content creation and overall usage, I feel as though I have been forced into using PP2012.

Thank you, Smith-Micro, for improving the interface, that alone made the purchase worth it to me.