Fantasy Attic’s Halloween Freebies 2020. 31 days of freebies, one per day to Halloween, starting on the 1st of October.
Monthly Archives: September 2020
Cartoon Animator 4.3 Pipeline can now export your Project to Adobe After Effects. There’s a handy video on installing the script and sending the scene over. Nice. Now you can say to the animation snobs, “Oh yeah, it was made in After Effects!”
Freebie: Automatic OBJ Exporter
What’s that you say? You want semi-automatic speedy export of any Genesis figure from DAZ Studio, to use with Poser’s real-time Comic Book mode? What? And you also want it posed and clothed?
And you’d like to add fast and stable poly-reduction to about 200,000 polys, to make the figure wieldy inside Poser in real-time? And you want all but the unwanted specular textures loading back onto the OBJ, when you load it in Poser?
Oh, and you’d also like the poly-reduction to be done by an efficient stable super-fast third-party decimator that doesn’t crash or stall (i.e. MeshLab), or take forever to produce a crumpled mess (i.e. DAZ Decimator), or which needs three hours of wrangling and head-scratching to even start to make work (i.e. Blender)?
You’d also like this done in less than four minutes?
So… you want a miracle, right? Well, it’s here. All this is available in the new free Automatic OBJ Exporter suite of scripts, which provides a step-by-step and highly-automated way of getting posed/clothed Genesis figures to Poser for tooning. Works in Windows only, and to be so fast it requires the $52 Atangeo Balancer — which a script will launch from an icon inside the DAZ Studio Library.
G8M, with lineart and toon in Poser 11. Yes, with extreme poses / tight clothes you may have to fix some poke-through via Photoshop’s heal/clone brushes. And yes, you’ll also likely want to blend in a shadows render too, which hasn’t been done for this demo.
There’s a clear read-me, but here are a few extra tips on use:
1) On importing to Poser, there will be a message that the Specular materials cannot be found. They’re not needed for toon and are not available because they were deleted earlier by a script. Just carry on loading and the rest of the textures will load on fine.
2) Once you’re happy with your reduced OBJ in Poser, obviously you then re-name its export sub-folder to something meaningful like Export_0001_Kid_Bounty_Hunter_01 and also delete the larger original OBJ in that folder (it’s the one that now has a -bak file-name). The next time you run Automatic OBJ Exporter, you rename the final created export sub-folder as Export_0001_Kid_Bounty_Hunter_02. And so on. Otherwise Automatic OBJ Exporter will over-write your older exports.
Poser 12, priced and approximately dated
We have more news on Poser, giving a price and an approximate release date.
The date given is still a bit vague, at “Late Fall”. Which would put the release-window between Renderosity’s store discount cut-off of 24th September and the 31st October (which would be the last point that one could reasonably call “late Fall” or Autumn). You can understand that they don’t want to be more specific, since competitors could launch a big ‘must have’ 80% sale a week before and thus drain everyone’s PayPal at just the wrong moment. But it seems possible Poser 12 may be here quite soon now, perhaps even as early as the end of September. I assume there will be a generous free trial, like there is for Poser 11, which should allow for testing and thus allow for some facts to calm the forum hysterics.
So, on price there will be a $129 upgrade price from versions of Poser 11, which is quite reasonable seeing as this is for Pro with its additional features, not the old Standard. In the old days you’d have been happy to pay $129 just for Poser Standard. Also, you can currently get Poser 11 Pro for just $80 at Neowin Deals. ‘Five days to go’ on that, as of today. Given the possible release dates for Poser 12, it could be your last chance to get that deal.
But there won’t be any upgrade path from the old Smith Micro versions prior to Poser 11. That’s fair enough, as it’s something that greatly lessens the programming and help-desk load for Renderosity. People can hang on to antiques like Poser 6 and Poser 2014 forever, for some backwards compatibility, because these versions don’t “phone home” and thus should last as long as Windows. But there comes a point when users can’t expect their antiques, made by another company, to also be perpetual golden-tickets to a shiny new Poser 12.
Slightly worrying is the lack of a crossover period, and an apparent abrupt change…
“Poser 11 will no longer be available for purchase after the release of Poser 12”.
Worrying because that opens the door for some forum trolls to slyly suggest to newbies that their Poser 11 will stop running in a few weeks’ time. A forum clarification would have been useful in that respect, to the effect that Poser 11 will keep running and that 11 will continue to be supported at the help-desk.
In the meantime…
“The full version of Poser 11 is also discounted at 40% off” at the Renderosity Store.
Though note that the $80 Poser 11 Pro version still available via Neowin Deals for the next five days.
There’s also some misleading forum-mongering about a “replacement” render engine. This claim is not at all justified by the official announcement. The announcement says Blender’s Cycles (aka SuperFly) will have its version updated, not be junked and replaced. A Cycles upgrade for Poser 12 should be great news, as Cycles has come a long way since 2012 and it will likely mean rendering speed improvements for SuperFly.
An interesting idea from “Aversion of Reality” in the Blender crowd…
“What if we just faked all our face shading?”
What he means is not that you have 12 MATs for the same figure, each with a shadow position directly imprinted onto the skin MAT or some overlay for it. But rather that the scene has flat lighting, and that a module in the skin-shader controls how the skin appears to take a shadow from a light…
… but really the light has nothing to do with casting the shadow. It’s a sort of dynamic pseudo-shadow ramping in the shader.
Nice idea, but could become a bit tangly to co-ordinate across a whole head and shoulders render… unless you then had a master controller for shadows on all hair / neck / jacket surfaces, not just the face skin. But I guess that’s possible, and he already has it working here on both face and neck, as you can see.
You can already do something like this with duo-tone and colour-ramped materials and suchlike, and there are a number of such packs for Poser and DAZ. But what he’s suggesting for Blender shaders is different than that.
Additional Poser 12 information released
Some additional Poser 12 information has been released by Renderosity, include a hint at the release-window.
* “The Blender Cycles (Superfly) render engine updated”.
I suspected they would do that. If they go to the latest version then that should mean faster rendering times.
* Python updated
As previously announced. I assume they will go to the latest stable version, and then keep it stable rather than trying to keep pace with the latest .point versions. A number of PoserPython scripts may have to be updated for Poser 12, but that’s quite usual for a new Poser version and forum people are already working on that. A few forum freak-outs are happily proclaiming it’s the end of the world and that Poser is about to burn to the ground, as usual. But as usual… the useful scripts will get fixed by hard-working people who roll up their sleeves and do the required work, rather than crying doom! on the forums. The only real uncertainty is DAZ’s DSON Importer plugin, which brings in DAZ-format props and also G1 and G2 figures.
* “Post Render Effects, to speed or embellish renders for single frame or animation renders”.
Interesting, if they’re useful and not just a half-dozen cheesy filters. I wonder if Poser 12 will plug in something really powerful, like G’MIC, somehow? Just my guess.
* FBX import/export improvements. … Unimesh support features sprinkled throughout the code base.
Yes that would be needed for export to the Unity game engine, which is not in the list but which was effectively a feature announced in the recent call for beta-testers. Will this prevent the usual “exploding FBXs” which so hamper use of the FBX format for clothed characters? Will we be able to get clothed and posed FBX’s out of Poser, rather than T or A-pose? We’ll have to wait and see.
* “Material Room overhaul, with material-assignment power tools”.
Excellent. Anything that makes materials stripping / swapping / tweaking easier will be welcome. It would be nice if this was integrated with the Comic Book Mode, by enabling what the animation industry calls “MAT capture”… which means that Poser looks at the colours of the underlying diffuse and its texture, computes and averages them, then strips them out and replaces them with a newly generated flat toon material… of the same colour shade. Ideally you’d then get a quick pop-up colour wheel appearing next to the character and carrying all the new colours on it, thus enabling the user to make quick micro-refinements.
* Poser Reference Manual in HTML as well as PDF.
Nice, and it would enable search engines to get into it. Which might lessen the helpdesk and help forums burden by perhaps 20%, at a guess.
* Deprecated features will include: Face Room (better third-party tools exist); Path Palette (ill-conceived); Kinect support (unsupported); Flash support (obsolete).
Path palette was for animators, and probably only about a half-dozen people have even heard of it. The required Microsoft Kinect hardware can still be had from eBay, but you’ll need to be targeting an earlier version of Poser to use it. Fair enough that it’s going, and I think it was fairly bad at face capture anyway and only good for bodies. It will be interesting to see if there’s real-time face expression/animation capture via a webcam in Poser 12, which would give Poser 12 some parity with other software, but that’s just my guess. As for the Face Room, it is at least free and I’m always loathe to see still-usable free stuff vanish. Will it be pulled entirely, or just left as is and no longer supported at the helpdesk or poked at by the techies?
* “There is a strong likelihood of a 12.1 release in Q1 of 2021 with more unimesh support and new content options.”
Super, so that sounds like we can presumably expect the Poser 12 release between now and Christmas. Which was the expected release window. That would make sense, targeting the “back to school / university” university crowd while they still have some budget or grant money left, and also prepping Poser 12 to be picked up in the Black Friday spend and the Christmas gift market. Start saving double-hard in your PayPal balance for Black Friday, and with the Poser 12 upgrade price factored in, seems like good advice. One way for users of older Poser versions to prepare would be to pick up Poser 11 Pro now for $80, and thus unlock the Poser 12 upgrade price.
DAZ currently have a wide sale on for the U.S. Labor Day holiday, and it’s still on. For $7 for both I picked up Sickleyield’s Genesis 2 Female Clone for Genesis and Genesis 2 Male Clone for Genesis. I already had Sickleyield’s earlier Genesis 3 Clones for Genesis. I note there’s also a new male/female duo of Genesis 8 Clones for Genesis for $7 at Renderosity, though I didn’t get that.
Put them all together and the very flexible Genesis 1 would have compete Genesis autofit compatibility. Why Genesis 1? Because it has loads and loads of half-human creatures, aliens, toony etc, all very easily applied. So, although lacking the bends and subtler facial expressions of G8, it’s still useful. Especially if you can get it to Poser to toon it.
Of course Genesis 1 also came fitted with clones for backwards compatibility to V4, M4, A4 etc. With a few more paid autoclone packs it would also be possible to go the other way and add V3, M3, A3 etc clones, which are needed as 3 series autoclones did not ship with the original Genesis. It looks like now is the time to pick up such things, cheap and before they (possibly) start to vanish from stores.
How to Decimate in Blender 2.9… or not
I just wanted to make a quick test of the Blender Decimate ‘decimator’ feature. A free decimate, aka poly-reduction, aka mesh reduction. What could be nicer? Especially as the free Meshlab 2020 is still flaky and very crash-prone.
First of all, where is the Decimate panel in Blender? Everyone, including the official manual, shows you a nice picture of the Decimate panel itself. “Just click the Spanner icon…” reveal a couple of rather more helpful YouTube videos. But that was no use to me, because there was no Spanner icon…..
Bizarrely, the spanner icon then does appear and it persists, but only when the items in the scene are deselected and re-selected. No other change had been made. Go figure…
Anyway, with this “missing icon” hassle fixed, the user can finally select “Add modifier” and choose to load the Decimator panel…
Once the Decimate panel’s UI is visible there’s some weird stuff going on in it. You expect to see a normal poly-count and a nice smooth dial to dial this down. But you get “faces” instead of polys. I know this is a 2.3m poly .OBJ, so Blender telling me that it has a 73,000 “Face count” is not at all helpful.
Then there’s the reduction dial… which is not labelled as such and is not a dial, as it’s just horrible to try to operate with a mouse. There’s also no indication that its “1.0” setting is actually 100%. The best way to operate this awkward cryptic pseudo-dial appears to be double-clicking on it and just manually typing in a desired setting. Turns out that “0.18” = 18% of the original.
You can see the mesh modifying in real-time, which is something.
Then, buried deep in a forum, is the advice that you have to save the .BLEND file before you export, or you won’t get the reduction. Another bit of fairly vital advice missing from other sources, including the Manual.
So then I export to a new .OBJ file, with “Apply modifiers” ticked in the OBJ export panel. This takes five minutes, during with the PC becomes deeply unresponsive. And what do I get from that? A 174Mb OBJ, 50Mb bigger than the original!
Ok, so it’s back to search and the forums. Turns out you have to not only save the file but also, in the Modifier panel…
“Apply the modifier using the apply button on the modifier.”
“Modifiers can be permanently applied by clicking ‘Apply Modifier’ while in Object mode.”
OK. Where’s that button then, because it is definitely not on the panel I see…
Apparently it should be under the “Add modifier” label.
Does it show up if I move from Object to Edit mode? Nope. if I switch away to a new tab and then back again? Nope. If I close Blender and re-open. Nope.
Turns out this button has been recently removed(!) to be hidden under a fiddly little drop-down arrow…
This drop-down at least usefully informs me that I had switched to the wrong mode. Switching back to Object mode caused the “Apply” to become active…
On clicking the live “Apply” the Decimate Modifier panel vanishes, the items in the scene are deselected, and in the top item there’s a new little circular icon near the name. I assume it’s applied.
OK, so I save the .BLEND file a third time. Then save out as an OBJ, “Apply modifier” once again ticked in the export panel. Things go a little more smoothly now, though the export was still about three minutes. The only problem was… the resulting OBJ was was just as large as before at 174mb!
So, three hours later, I still had no decimated circa-20Mb .OBJ out of Blender. I gave up. Blender appears to have some very nice developing NPR and real-time features… but is still an utter pain in the arse to actually try to use.
Now I know why people who want to decimate OBJs a lot pay $50 for the speed and ease of Atangeo Balancer.
Fix the fin…
Does your base early Genesis figure always load into DAZ Studio with a head ridge / fin morph on her head, like she’s all set to audition for the next Aquaman movie?
Here’s the simple fix…
Right-click the top of the Parameters tab | Restore | Restore Figure. If you don’t see the Parameters tab anywhere, to open it you go: Top Menu bar | Window | Panes.
If it’s impossible for you to find this menu command, amidst the tangled and confusing DAZ Studio interface, then the keyboard command is…
Ctrl + Shift + F
… and this will fix the selected figure. Think of it as “F for Fin”!
However, this doesn’t fix it for good. It re-appears when you open a save scene (i.e. a saved scene on which you thought the fin had been removed) in which you have a dressed and posed Genesis 1 figure. Once you have your figure dressed and posed, what you need to do to “fix the fin” is to go to the Shaping panel, Select Head, and Restore Selected Item…
It’s caused by “CranialRidge” loading with Genesis at 100%. This is from the free pack Genesis Head Morphs…
Judging by the comments on the freebie page, others have also had this problem. Deleting the file from ..\content\data\DAZ 3D\Genesis\Base\Morphs\Agent 0013\Genesis_CranialRidge-Center_Morph fixes the problem, and a new Genesis 1 will load with no problem. Though any saved Genesis 1 scene files will load with a “missing files” freak-out from DAZ Studio. Simply re-save the scene to also fix this secondary problem.
Follow the threads….
Two vintage Poser forums are now on the Internet Archive, in newly searchable form: one (threaded, complete with images, 2016-2020) and two (a substantial archive of posts, but not complete and no images). Get ’em while they’re hot.
Once downloaded and extracted these can be searched with desktop-search software such as: DocFetcher (free and the best, but was broken by the very latest Java update); Multifind (free but has limitations); Copernic Desktop (nice but subscription-ware); or dtSearch (for pros, very expensive but you may find an old copy somewhere). Or, possibly there’s something in Windows 10 that bypasses the need for such extra software. I’m running on Window 8.1.x (thank goodness), so Windows 10 is a mystery to me.
Durn it, the old Smith Micro forums have been erased. Taking with them not only the old Poser forums, but also Manga Studio (Clip Studio) and MotionArtist forums. The my.smithmicro.com/docs/poser/ PDFs have also gone.
Update: Now un-shmushed…. You’re welcome.
RenderMan 24 Stylized Looks – the first look
In Spring 2021 Blender is to get the official new Pixar renderer, RenderMan 24. The cutting-edge RenderMan 24 will include “Stylized Looks”, on which all will be revealed in a webinar this evening. Although you can get a sneak-peek here, from which the screenshot below is taken…
That looks horrible, frankly. Though the painterly simplification brushes look a bit better…
But apparently the “Stylized Looks” will offer…
“a tool for any type of look creation, from photorealistic images to any other artistic genre, from comics to anime, from illustration to watercolor … toon shading to brush stroke effects … or anything you can imagine. … from conventional cartoon shading to hatching or brush strokes, with the hatching reacting to emulated light effects, and supports custom AOVs and display filters. … work usually done in comp to stylise an image can now be performed directly during rendering.”
And before you get too excited by that blurb… note that it will only be available to users of the commercial edition of the software. Not in the “free non-commercial edition”. Aww. Thus it’s going to be “production studios only” rather than for hobbyists, due to the fairly hefty $600 price tag for RenderMan 24.
Ah well… so there’ll still be a place for Blender’s forthcoming BEER NPR plugin. And, most likely, for Poser 12.
NVIDIA announce next-gen RTX graphics cards – shipping October
It’s now official that NVIDIA’s RTX graphics cards will move to a next-generation ‘RTX 30 series’ in October, with the most affordable model there being the $499 | £469 GeForce RTX 3070.
Their older ‘RTX 20 series’ GeForce RTX 2080 Super is said to be the current best for iRay, a card which in the UK will set you back at least £625 for the cheapest such brand on Amazon UK, which will make it unaffordable for many. So I guess the question is… will this new RTX 3070 match the RTX 2080 Super, while shaving £150+ off the price and bringing “the iRay card” below £500? Maybe not, but it’ll be interesting to see the first not-just-videogaming reviews and bench-tests, and learn how well they do with iRay renders. Including, ideally, a relatively complex scene tested with a real-time viewport iRay view.
NVIDIA will also ship the beta of its own Omniverse Machinima movie-making software, originally designed for architects but now also being touted for entertainment…
“Users will be able to import assets from games or from online marketplaces for stock content, or from content creation applications”
Set for October. Update: it’s now December and it thus appears to have been heavily delayed.
Incidentally, for future reference for those wanting to turn on the faster Interactive mode of iRay in the very latest version, it’s here…
I seem to recall it used to be up top, under the Engine: drop-down, so people upgrading from older version may be wondering where it went.
Render settings can be saved to a preset via the top menu | File… then the saved presets can be loaded back to the scene by drag-and-drop from their folder. For some reason, for me the saved presets never show up in the UI.
PzDB for $20
PzDB 1.2, now just over $20. Nice. There’s also a free trial of 1.3, if you just want to test PzDB first. For indexing a huge runtime you’ll also want to run this freebie first, which will fix any missing thumbnails before you then index with PzDB.
Only via the Store link above. Those who just splug down onto the main landing page see a higher price.
Release: Blender 2.90
Blender 2.90 has now been released, as a final not a beta.
Here’s six bits of new stuff that caught my eye in the Changelog…
1. Rendering speed improvements…
“Intel Embree is now used for ray tracing on the CPU. This significantly improves Cycles performance in scenes with motion blur. Scenes with high geometric complexity also benefit on average.”
So that potentially benefits Poser’s SuperFly, eventually, as SuperFly is a slightly tweaked Cycles under another name. I assume that Poser 12 will plug in the latest Cycles. Though this change may only offer a bit of benefit, as the benchmark improvements are not that great over the previous Blender.
2. Blender users “can use the denoiser interactively in the 3D viewport”, which you couldn’t before.
3. A new filter to auto-smooth jaggies in shadows…
4. Lots of improvements to the sculpting tools, including “four types of cloth simulation.” A plug-in called Extended Sculpt Tools v2.0 has also just been released.
5. Better and more logical/readable layout and nesting style for the zillions of sub-menus and tick-boxes. Also a new Search, for finding commands, menus and buttons in what is still a vast and labyrinthine UI…
“Ever wondered in which menu to find a certain operator? Wonder no more! The new search menu shows you that and more: See the menu and its hotkey; Add the operator to Quick Favorites …”
I think I’d rather have UI ‘skinning’ presets that radically simplify and aggregate/iconize the UI just for particular tasks, but it’s welcome all the same.
6. Grease Pencil improvements. Drag-and-drop to re-order a stack of Grease Pencil modifiers. There’s also what appears to be the ability to turn the edges of 3D geometry into Grease Pencil lineart. At the moment it’s looking very basic, and won’t be challenging Sketchup or Poser any time soon. But’s it’s now in there, and fill-layer improvements are due in 2.91. A quite recent update, 2.83.4, also changed how Freestyle lineart works, so it’s possible that will also be new to you in 2.9.
Overall, Blender is finally “getting there”. I can see myself taking a very in-depth look at Blender 3.0 when it arrives. Especially if it has really nice-looking and easy-to-use NPR by that time, either natively or via the BEER plugin.