Character models suitable for animating?
I'm pretty confused looking through the different models available both bundled and on the various marketplace sites, I am using Nursoda's fantasy characters but want to pick a human model platform that will have a lot of compatibility with the level of detail/look of the Nursoda stuff, good for animation on an aging machine (i7 w GTX750), and with a wide variety of content available for fantasy/medieval stuff. Can someone point me in the right direction? I don't want to struggle to get stuff working.
Anyone have any opinions on this? I am looking right now at the M4/V4 bundles on Daz, but before I invest in a character platform, I'd like some opinions. I am having issues getting the DSON to function, so I just want simple manual installable characters and props. If I am missing out on some things that work with the stock Poser characters, please let me know. Essentially I want to be able to make a variety of fantasy characters with a good assortment of off the shelf costumes available.
To me, the best Figure is the one you have content to do what you have in mind.
I use various Figures in animation, and is usually comes down to the one that fits what I need to do.
I used one of the Poser figures in the last film I did something for, simply because I needed a low res wire frame scene.
Well, I think there are definite considerations for an animator: a character platform that is scalable using the Reduce Polygons function is a big plus, not too many polys to start is another, textures that look good with both preview renderer and firefly. Variety of morphs and clothing, and their quality. It does look like the Michael/Victoria 4 like is what I want, with the creature creator bundle to start, that looks like it would be able to make all sorts of creatures pretty easily, and the platform has a lot of content available. My main question I guess is how scalable is it, how low poly can it go without breaking up? Basically can it be used in crowd shots? My method is basically rendering as much in preview as possible, and using Firefly for depth of field when simulating it won't look right, and for close ups where hair needs to look perfect. But if I have a ship with 10 crew members I would really like to be able to have them onboard a long shot and animated moving around without it killing my system. I'm also thinking about getting this guys medieval warriors and the base to run them, depending on how my story unfolds I may get this first:
You didn't say which version of Poser you use. In the newer versions, you can reduce the polycount in Poser. However, M4 and V4 also come with Level of Detail geometries which you could use, but you would need to edit the CR2 files to link those meshes. For mediaeval scenes, the Mortem Vetus Viking characters for M4 come to mind.
Mortem Vetus Viking
Ah, I have 2014 Game Dev. I can reduce the polys, just some characters may not work, so that's why I'm checking before I make the plunge. Those vikings look great, I'll definitely consider that.
Currently, in terms of available variety of Clothing, Morphs, and Hair, M4/V4 might be your best bet. With the Hiro 4 and Aiko 4 morphs for those you can get more anime or cartoon like looks to them. However, as they are aging figures, it is unknown how long support for them is too continue. You should not have too much trouble acquiring content for them within the next 6 months to a year at least, because of how saturated the market is with content for them.
For additional Fantasy Creatures and Characters to supplement the Nursoda figures, I would also recommend the creations of Sixus 1 Media. They can be found scattered across the web, at the Sixus1.com store, YURdigital3D, Renderosity, and CGBytes currently. I particularly like their Orkz line, the Dwarvez Line, and the Reptilez Line. They have a lot of really nice creatures for fantasy, Horror, and some sci-fi though.
If you use Poser 2014 GD, it might be worth using the built in features for figure baking, and level of detail to reduce a fully clothed M4 or V4 to even more manageable memory usage, as they can use a lot of resources when fully kitted out.
Yeah, there is a M4/V4 package with the Aiko/Hiro models for $60, looking around there is a ton of content available for these characters so that probably is going to work best. Now if Poser could get a more powerful real-time rendering engine, I would really be set ;)
@eternityblue One option, but on the expensive side just for rendering, is to pick up one of the animation packages that can Host Poser scenes either through Poser Fusion or other plugins (for example Lightwave, Maya, Cinema 4D, 3DMax via Poser Fusion, or one of the VUE bundles with the 3D Import plugin). I will say, Lightwave and Vue both have wonderful Render engines (I personally prefer Lightwave for speed and quality).
There are some higher end rendering plugins for Poser as well that might be worth a look (Reality for example). It is possible to get a nice blend of efficiency and speed in Poser firefly with practice and effort, and if using a post production application to edit and compile your animation, a whole world of tricks becomes available (Photoshop or GiMP batch scripts for processing entire directories can be very useful). I am working to put some of my notes and practical experience into organized and helpful guides for animation and post-production but I do not have an ETA yet.
Yeah, Reality is on my list of things to get, but I don't know how useful it would be for animation. But I'm slowly getting my ducks in a row. Does anyone have practical experience using it for that? Last I looked it was only $25 on the dev's website. I'm thinking it would maybe help with stability, less possibility of Poser itself crashing if things get too heavy. Plus I do need more RAM. That would help with stability too. I'm working with a measly 8GB in Win 10 right now.
Today I got a bit excited using the Ryan lo-poly character, I may be able to use the medieval outfit with some attached armor to create a character or two, I've spent my hobby money for the month so I have a few weeks to make up my mind, I'm thinking of getting some Meshbox models and more Nursoda stuff, so this may take a couple months before I decide, so for now I'll experiment with Ryan. My real issue that I let myself get distracted by is writing a script and planning shots as opposed to playing around with characters. Maybe by the time I am really ready Poser 12 will be out with some super fast game engine powered preview rendering engine. I boy can dream.
Reality works for animations. The easiest way to put it is that you get frames that don't have differences in the lighting.
Lux Render is not a fast render engine, so it will take longer to render out the frames than some other engines, but if you are doing detailed scenes the results can be simply stunning.
It all comes down to how much time you are willing to let it render, and if you have multiple machines to do the final renders.
@eternityblue This is my 2 cents after working for several years now in complex animations in Poser.
If you want photo-realism, then Poser is definitely not the medium for that, as it lacks a proper animation pipeline. You see, photo-realism intensifies small errors, so it's incredibly more difficult to make say a smile look natural in photo-realistic animation.
So, I keep it realistic for my animations (no talking ducks for me), but I stay away from photo-realism. So you end with cartoon, or anime, or CGI look, and each have their own kinks. I don't know much about cartoon like animations, so someone else may advise on that.
For anime or CGI style animation, the main difference is how much to leave in the mind of the viewer. In anime style (think Steamboy) you use high quality poses, high quality props, simplified but very expressive faces; having a variety of poses (way more than humanly possible) for eyebrows, eyes and mouth is critical, as they convey the character's feelings. The high quality poses and props work to break disbelief. You use long pauses to avoid distractions and swift changes to avoid complications.
For anime style, I refer to Victoria 3 Reduced Resolution, Terai Yuki and Michael 3 Reduced Resolution. Terai Yuki is one of my favorites for anime-like work. She's so expressive! These guys have low enough polys for good fps previewing. I also like Rex and Roxie (with new textures, I don't like the built-in textures), but they have higher poly counts, so I shy from them. I usually just use Preview rendering to make movies, as my textures are not complicated and Preview is good enough - it also has the advantage of easily doing real time previews at 12 fps even when there are several toons (and 12 fps preview is a real, real, real time saver).
Notice that you'll not get much benefit for anime-style animations if you spend $$ to buy realistic characters, as you'll need to tone realism down. The more you put in the character, the less is in the head of the viewer, and the more work you have put to produce a satisfying movie. Steamboy is such a fantastic example - it's fully 3D, but the way they toned down movement and textures to match hand-drawn 2D animation is superb, and produces an impressionistic level of emotion that is miles above many movies with flesh and bone actors.
For CGI style animation (think Star Trek:Aurora) you want 30 fps, more fluid movements, better quality textures and more realistic characters. You want good, long movements and you don't want living things to stay immobile. That's quite a challenge; I'd say it's at least 10 times more work to build a good CGI-level animation than anime-style. I refer to M4 and V4; Rex and Roxie are probably good choices too, although some people here don't seem to like them, not sure why.
Yeah, I am playing with a bunch of different methods, what I am settling on is using high quality renders for background components and editing externally, then in Hitfilm compositing that with character layers with simple shadow catches where necessary. I wish the preview renderer was a bit better, things like transparency in hair just doesn't look right, one other option is to make 'solid' hair that won't look so borked in Preview but then won't ever look as good. I dunno yet. I am still at the point of throwing in the towel and buying iClone6, the possibility to have much better real time results is tempting. I wish I knew if SM had plans to address this aspect of Poser, I also use Muvizu and that has really great real time performance, also like I mentioned Hitfilm has some capacity for 3D so maybe the full version with OBJ import will be a possible solution. I could set up my scenes with particles and everything and just animate the characters in Poser. Right now I am sort of doing that anyway with 2d image layers on a 3d plane. It is like old Disney parallax camera sort of stuff, which lends a certain look, requires certain concessions, but does let me get depth of field without ridiculous render times and a lot more flexibility. So I think that is where I'm at: render as much in preview as possible, render character-only closeups in Firefly, leave depth-of-field off as much as possible and use the 3d capacity in the free Hitfilm Express for now until I outgrow it. I'm slowly reading a book on layout design and I think I just need to do good layout planning so I am not creating anything superfluous, but it remains interesting to the eye. I was an aspiring 2D animator using Anime Studio but the amount of work just to turn a head put me off for good on that, but a lot of the process from Anime Studio fits working with Poser and Hitfilm combo, which I think compliment each other really nicely.
Oops, I think I got way off topic, lol. Right now regarding the characters, I think I will just plan to invest in Nursoda's characters for now, I think there is a cohesion that would help my little creations seem consistent without too much stress to me. I think I need to get a little less ambitious, and 'stay on budget' regarding time investments, I tend to want big sweeping shots with a ton of stuff reflected off a lake surface with transparency on everything. I need to pare it down so I can actually get something done.
Since I went off topic anyhow, does anyone know an easy way to make a whole character or a group become shadow-catch only?
@shvrdavid I just bought Reality 4 last night and am pretty happy with the results, I would get weird banding with hair in Firefly renders that I would have to work out with various settings for the shot to not get bad shadow jitter and banding, both of those are eliminated. The render time at 64 samples is reasonable, the cue manager is helpful, the results are scalable, it may not be fast but better I just render the scene once and get a stable clip than use Firefly and get bad frames that need to be manually re-entered and sometimes Poser crashes or worse. I just got Reality so I'm pretty sure I can improve on the pretty decent results I'm already getting. About a minute per frame is ok, as long as it is reliable, and I can do preview animations in Posers preview, I think this is definitely workable.
And I think I was on crack earlier. Reality is in my toolbox now, but I don't think it is really suitable for my animation ambitions. Anything more than one character becomes way too slow. Well, at least now I know. I'll have to watch some videos on using Reality 4 to get more out of it, but for animation I don't think it will help me much.
That said, how about hair? Any tips on getting good results with economical graphic settings in Firefly?