Disco Dragon Part 1 (Released!)
Disco Dragon Part 2 (Released!)
The Adventures of Sen - ep.1
Siren 7
Black Desk #4
Secret Project (Released!)

The Drama with Project E

Make sure you see the official page first.

As most of you know, Project E ran into trouble over a month ago and I had to shelf it. Basically, the funds had run out and I was completely drained and tired of the project. I have hit Poser's limits, in a big way. 

Now FYI, I never give up on a project, ever, but this was different. I've done a BSc Geology thesis, MSc projects, even PhD projects and several C# software projects, fieldwork on complex 3.1Ga rocks with multiple intrusions and structural puzzles, and now comic projects that were all equally challenging and all required of me to be persistent and determined through the hardest of times, but I always managed. But Project E is a different beast because the very foundation of the whole project is broken: Poser. The relentless encounters with the most random problems completely drained me. If you think that is exaggerated, then you clearly haven't seen to what level I take my art (hint: Lali's Bits and the Disco Dragon). 

If you're new to Poser, don't let me put you off. Chances are you won't break Poser like I do. If you're an average Poser artist, load content, pose it, adjust a dial or two, do a bit of lighting, tweaking, rendering, chances are you'll have a lovely time. But the moment you really start rigging, morphing and creating figures and entire world in it, you'll get high blood pressure very quickly.

Now I know that there are a lot of nerds out there that enjoy unfucking Poser, which is cool, but I'm not like that. I'm too pragmatic to fart around for the sake of puzzling. I've never solved a cross-word puzzle in my life, for example. All my farting around is with clear purpose. I want my software to actually work, and if it doesn't, I move on, especially if it costs me $250 a year... I am someone that finds a workaround and thinks outside of the box. This time it clearly meant: outside of Poser. That realization is just heartbreaking, and has not in the least helped with my mojo. I hate the idea of giving up or failing, to my very core. But to continue was too risky, because I had no idea how much more time I'd be spending trying to find workarounds, or reporting bugs.

Now to be fair, the guys at Poser have responded and fixed several problems that I had reported, but by then it was just too late. Since they only develop P11 now, all their Service Releases and developments are useless for me since Project E mesh 5 and mesh4.5 (the Erogirl) don't even work properly in P11. (and because of that I'm also entirely missing out on all the Superfly fun). 

But still there's a lot of problems with the project despite all the fixes. Because P11 caused a lot of rigging problems in the beginning (now fixed) I was forced to re-rig the figure in P10. Also, since the JCM bug had not yet been fixed, I was forced to use Color Curvature's PML to make them (thank you CC for your help). However, I still used P11 to transfer the WM to clothing and saved them to the library (since P10 failed there). Unfortunately this has resulted in new issues: I cannot save compound figures anymore, some items when edited in P10 after coming from P11, get corrupted and don't load properly anymore. There's also another bug I discovered recently that occurs when saving newly converted clothing to the library, and upon reloading the WM of the waist is botched, while the original is fine. That also doesn't make me look forward to the helpdesk scenarios that will occur upon her possible release, half of it will be Poser's bullshit guaranteed. 

And these issues are just the issues I encountered after deciding to shelf PE, not to mention all the smaller nuisances with the new library (which was a total waste of time). PE herself still has scaling problems and mixed up channels. And there are several things in the rig I wish to change but I cannot because the moment I change the rig in setup room, Poser fucks up the channel orders (in both P10 and P11). I retrograded Lucy from mesh5 back to my old figure, with the new rig (called mesh4.5, or now just 'Erogirl') but even that caused problems. Luckily I've managed to fudge it enough to make her work somewhat decently. 



C4D or Modo?


So as you can imagine, my enthusiasm for Poser is entirely out the window. When you've been fighting a program since 2014, and you still have some fighting to do, its time to move on eh? I still use it, because I still have comics to do. But even now with comic-making, Poser's broken state is causing a lot of stress with me almost on a daily basis. For example, Poser is the only application that manages to get a blue screen of death, every week or so, among all the other apps I use. Its getting quite stupid now. There's no point reporting it because there doesn't seem to be a pattern, and my graphics card will get the blame, and nobody else uses Poser like I do... so I'm the only one that seems to find all the problems... (despite the fact that I have no problems with any other app, and I've found loads of issues in Poser anyway). And to be honest, the endless reporting of issues is also time-consuming, because you have to really figure out what exactly is going on (otherwise there's little chance they will deal with it). But sometimes I wouldn't know where to start. That takes a load of time I'd rather invest in comics. If they paid me to do it I might consider it. 



But anyway, its a mess and they need to re-write the whole app and fast, but something tells me SM won't let them. Its very sad because there is so much potential with Poser. its not for nothing that I chose to work with it all these years. So, thus, therefore, I've made plans to switch either to C4D or Modo, and I'm going to join forces with another artist to try and follow some online courses to speed up this transition... but when? No idea. I have too many scenes built up to give up Poser straight away, and its going to be a massive job to convert all the clothes and important items to C4D, so I might stick with it until I have Sen's first comic done. But after that I definitely need to move on a.s.a.p... I have already been playing around with C4D (see above, Lamborghini, and Lali on the right) and I have to admit, I am quite excited about it. Its pretty easy to pick up, and its pretty solid.

I also have to say that I really want to start moving forward again. My girlfriend, in the last two months has picked up Blender and made it her bitch. She's now doing courses in Maya, Max, Unity and fuck know what else. Seeing her learn so fast and totally go for it also made me realize how retarded I am limiting myself to Poser while C4D, Houdini or Modo are just so much more developed and exciting. Don't get me wrong, Poser has served me very well all these years, if you are a beginner I do recommend Poser, but I've now definitely hit her limits!

One thing I will promise, about this whole moving to C4D or Modo, is that I will only move once I can achieve the same quality as, or better than, I can do in Poser right now. I don't want my comic fans getting involved in this bullshit figure circus and software tribalism again. My ultimate challenge is that nobody will be able to notice the switch.  



Any hope for PE?


Maybe. What I will try to do is send PE off to some of my friends to fix her rig as best they can. Make sure the channels are ok and the scaling is somewhat working. I'll try to plan a session where I make all the morphs I promised to make in the CGbytes forums. I won't do any more innovations, I'll leave her as she is. Poser hates innovation, or logic for that matter. I won't risk it. Then I'll let her get tested and release her. It won't be a major event, but who knows, maybe she might still prove useful. She's not bad, and Poser, despite all its problems, can still be used to make art. 

But I'll be honest, I'm in no hurry to get back into the chaos that is CR2. If you want her sooner, organize a mob with torches and pitchforks, go to SM's office and convince them that PE is what you need. Then we might be getting somewhere.

8 comments:

  1. Will this figure work in Daz? I've been struggling with V4, and anything with "Genesis" in it is out of the question.

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    1. Not this version, but if I rig her in C4D it could work in DS through FBX export perhaps?

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  2. In the past I've seen amazing C4D renders from Lee Perry Smith, who uses photoscanned models. I can't find the ones I had in mind where he shared render settings, now you just find people sharing his head scan.


    I don't blame you for giving up on Poser. In addition I'd also suggest checking out a realtime engine such as Unreal. You could probably sell a version of one of your models on their marketplace. I was planning to sell some eventually, but right now there aren't any quality humans to use regardless of their sexual capabilities. Unity already has far better humans on it's marketplace.

    Unreal has been upgrading their animation and blendshape(aka morph targets) capabilities a lot lately to support realistic facial animation captured from a live performance. Not sure it can meet your needs yet. Check out the behind the scenes videos for Hellblade and videos on Paragon's improvements for rendering realistic characters. Personally I don't like working with Unity at all even though it can create good games. UE4 recently came out with a tool called Sequencer targeting Film makers, mimicking real world techniques. I know you're focused on comics though, might help with planning your shots, etc.

    Did you ever use Octane Render with Poser? Octane Render has plugins for most every 3D app. Though if you're using C4D there's other renderers such as Arnold. Lots of trials to explore I imagine.

    It's hard to pick between C4D and Modo. I'm rather fond of The Foundry for all the VFX it's apps are used in.

    I'll try to find Lee's old C4D old posts. Good luck. If you get interested in the UE4 angle, let me know.

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    1. I have been meaning to check out Unreal, but also Unity. My girlfriend is actually doing a course which includes Unity so I'll be keeping an eye on that too. But thanks I will definitely check out Unreal now that you've said that. It didn't occur to me as an option straight away.

      No I've always used Firefly. I have tried Octane and Reality before but ultimately the extra amount of work that it adds to a workflow put me off (400 frames per comic...). C4D's engine seems good enough though.

      I just tried out Modo, and I have to say that I already prefer C4D. Modo looks good but C4D feels more natural to me.

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    2. I had a brainfart in regards to Lee Perry Smith, he used Lightwave. There's someone else I can't recall that was doing great with C4D.

      Anyhow, This is Lee's most recent research using UE4, He thinks it needs more work but then again he's going for pure photorealism. For many his results are way better than most are used to. Odds are Unreal will get a skin shader upgrade because of him.

      http://ir-ltd.net/ue4-skin-shader/

      Would be nice if it was possible to release an FBX that worked in any app. Maya 2016.5/Ext 2 just added a tool called "Pose Editor", which allows you to sculpt corrective blendshapes for different poses/bends. As well as blendshapes that only activate when another blendshape is < or > a certain %. Sounds a lot like JCMs. Probably only works in Maya though.

      If C4D feels good, go for it.

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  3. Why don't you just release or sell PE on C4D as a fully rigged figure there instead of letting it die in Poser? I for one would definitely buy it if it was a C4D model.

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    1. Oh I probably will, and if it works in C4D apparently one could use it in DS too (not sure about that though. I've heard so many assertions about DS that turned out not to be entirely true).

      But its more likely that it will still get released as a Poser figure. I mean, I've come so far, not to release her would be a shame, even if she's not perfect. The question is just when.

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  4. Sorry to hear all that. I don't spend enough time doing 3D graphics to feel any need to branch out from Poser. It works for me, and I mostly understand it, and that's a good thing. But, I was really looking forward to a human figure with proper genitals and details built in. Having to "fix" what the big suppliers put out is annoying, and it seems like SM's figures get less anatomically correct as time goes on. :-/ Anyway, Lali gens help (and thanks for answering my questions, too). Best of luck with whatever way you go with this.

    And are you still using PE for the comics, or have you reverted to some other figure/prop combo?

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Hey, because of a sudden influx of spam, I need to moderate comments from now on, unfortunately. I'll try find a work-around in the meanwhile. Cheers!