Almost a year ago, I reviewed Smith Micro’s Poser Pro Game Dev edition. Now just months later they’ve released Poser Pro 11, which has absorbed all of those great video game development tools of the past iteration.
The Poser program has been long used for various hobbyist and commercial human renderings, but as the market has become more crowded, Smith Micro has pivoted, and significantly expanded the application’s usefulness. It now offers powerful rendering, physics simulations, and animation tools, in addition to its primary function of figure design and modeling. All of those features, along with a robust user community, make Poser Pro 11 an appealing tool for game developers.
Poser Pro 11 really does make working with the human form fairly accessible. However, while the user interface does make sense, if you’re coming from other 3D modeling programs, watching a couple of tutorials will make the transition much easier.
The program includes plenty of human and animal models that you can start playing with right away. All of the figures are pre-rigged, so you can click and drag to pose body parts, sculpt faces, or create ethnic varieties. Thousands of poses, morphs, clothing, hair, materials, and accessories are included in the package. The program also includes clothing fitting, layered materials, morph target creation, and new weight mapping tools for smoother transitions.
Like last year’s Game Dev edition, Poser Pro 11 offers a number of specific tools for game developers. The FBX import/export tools, with specific export targets like Unity, Unreal, and 3DS Max, along with an easy-to-use polygon reduction, are essential.
While Poser has long been a great standalone tool for creating content, the program hasn’t always been useful for game development. The figure combining, unseen polygon removal, and motion capture using the Kinect for Windows camera, certainly make the prospect of integrating Poser into your workflow more appealing.
The Kinect for Windows motion capture system in Poser Pro 11 is invaluable for creating your own realistic animations. Of course this do-it-yourself option is in addition to the previously included Walk Designer that automates biped walk and run cycles. A more specific and detailed interaction can be achieved with the Talk Designer, which can animate blinks and head nods, in addition to lip syncing, in both the standard and Pro editions. Those faces can also be made more specific with Face Room, which allows photo matching of imported photographs. The program actually has 144 facial poses and expressions included.
Poser Pro 11 is a native 64-bit application for both Mac and Windows systems. If you’re upgrading, everything should look about the same, but there is plenty of new stuff to justify the price. The new SuperFly brings the power of physically based shading and rendering to Poser. Built on Blender’s Cycles Render Engine, it accurately renders light the way it behaves in the real world, which makes it much easier to produce hyper-realistic renders. GPU-assisted rendering is supported via nVidia CUDA only in Poser Pro 11. There are also new caustics, for light refraction, and volumetric material that can simulate light absorption and diffusion.
Long ignored by game developers, Poser has always been a deep character creation and animation solution. With the Poser Pro Game Dev edition all of that changed, and Poser Pro 11 offers more than a few reasons to upgrade.
While Poser Pro 11 can’t be mastered overnight, there are plenty of solutions that the program offers, more than enough to warrant a look. While significantly different from most modeling programs, the UI does make sense, and Smith Micro has created a number of tutorial videos and webinars for the program. As with Unity, if you have a question about Poser, the answer is probably only a quick web search away.