Post your Firefly Renders

  • @morkonan
    I completely understand your objections. Me myself I have been a (IMHO quite skilled, 15+ years) user and real fanatic about the Firefly materials room ever since Firefly was introduced with Poser 5. Why? Because it gave us the possibility of adjusting things like shinyness, dirt layers, scratch effects and much more additionally to the naked diffuse color maps. HUGE advantage over Poser 4 render engine. Let me say I completely love the 'Advanced Materials Room' and I sure know each and any available node there by its first and family name, smile.

    However the modern methods of coding surface properties in PBR texture sets is a huge advantage over traditional Firefly texturing. It allows creation of all properties (base color, shinyness, roughness, height and normal detail, emissive light, special effects like dirt and grime and scratches and peeling paint) in one single go during creation. Furthermore, these properties are hard-coded (baked) in the PBR texture set, which dramatically reduces workload for the users computer during render time. Plus it allows for physically correct rendering, for those of us who go for realism. And you could have, if you wanted, virtually a million different materials on one texture template.

    Discovering this, as a content creator I had a desire to cover both render engines in Poser, Firefly as well as Superfly. But using PBR in Firefly meant individual adjustment of each and every single material to make it look right. This was not practicable for me on the long run when creating content. I wish Smith Micro had, with introduction of Superfly/Cycles, also provided an 'upgrade node' for earlier Poser versions to understand PBR textures in Poser 9+ Firefly. This would have been so important to encourage content creators go for the modern PBR textures for Superfly, without leaving Firefly users behind. Raising the quality of appearence of Poser renders i general. Unfortunately, Smith Micro did nothing like this. I guess (and I could even understand them) they preferred selling the new Poser 11 instead of encourageing users of former versions to stick with their Poser 9 or something.

    For a while I found Bagginsbills thread about some similar plan like I had (making Firefly understand PBR), but after RDNA went downhill Bagginsbill no longer posted there, and I found nowhere else he revived this idea. I assume he found that Firefly understanding PBR coding 'mathematically correct' requires just too complicated huge mathematical calculations which would make it grind to a halt.

    So, desperately in need of something like a converter for Firefly to understand PBR without manual adjustments, I tried my own shot. First I tried a 'mathematically correct' approach, trying all the necessary transformations and calibrations to convert a PBR texture set to understandable nodes for Firefly. All the gradients are non-linear, because Firefly has an entirely different mathematics under the hood, very very different from a PBR render engine.

    So i finally had to give up on this, but tried at least a 'best estimate' approach, meaning to come as close as possible to the Superfly appearence, but with as few as possible calculations, simplified, and accepting small differences in appearence. That was the PBR-Emulator. Then, finding it worked surprisingly well and universal, I realized I no longer needed the individual MAT Zones in Poser, because no individual adjustment was needed anyway. Reducing the MAT zones saved so many resources and reduced workload during render times, that I had to decide what was more important: the customers ability to tweak materials appearence inside Poser, or the advantages through reduction of MAT zones.

    While I started creating the first assets in this new technique it turned out that the second option, reduction of MAT zones, clearly won.

    And something else turned out: This was such a huge step forward in Poser texturing, that I abandoned my initial intentions to keep this my secret (because I had developped it over several months...) and benefit from the advantage over other content creators. Instead I realized how so important this could be for Poser to catch up with DAZ-Studio (where iRay has so quickly become a standard, making DAZ renders mostly look better than the Poser renders we find). The PBR-Emulator could help making PBR a standard for Poser as well, even for Firefly, even for users of older Poser versions. This could encourage content creators go for the amazing possibilities of PBR texturing without giving up on part of their customers who use Firefly. So I decided (against my initial intentions) to also sell the PBR-Emulator. I sell it pretty cheap for individual users who would like to re-texture their own private content, and there is a more expensive license exiting for fellow content creators who would like to use it creating textures for their own content.

    As for the desire for tweaking, which you mentioned: All the things you mentioned are possible with a 2D application like Paintshop, Photoshop, even the freeware GIMP. It is just a different way to do it now.

    The base color map can be tweaked just like it has always been, by filling or tinting different colors where you want them.

    If you don't like the dirt effects on the gauges, and you want to polish them, you simply open the roughness map, and darken the areas which you want to polish (see texture examples which I'm going to upload after this post).

    Changing the dial faces is just as easy as always, see texture above, just place the new faces where they belong in the base color map. Same with the rim colors, just tint the base color different.

    You want a wooden panel? Change the base color map, then adjust the roughness map to the desired roughness and probably scratches, but this work would have also been needed in traditional Materials Room texturing, not true? Finally, if you changed your material from a blank metal to a non-metal (or the other way round) just don't forget to adjust the metallic map accordingly.

    In my experience with content creation, there are very few customers who invest time in really changing textures. I never had a single complaint about this since I do my content the way I described. The 'power users' who have a desire for this (and me myself I have been one of those before I went into content creation) usually also have the skills to either use a 2D application for the maps, or to create a new MAT zone inside Poser and do there whatever they feel like. But all the others, they are just grateful if a prop uses as few computer resources as possible so they have considerable render times after just loading the prop with the standard textures. Many of these customers would not even dare look into the advanced materials room, they just don't care. That is why my partner and I, after careful discussion, decided to follow this road. But of course you can when you create your own content, go ahead with providing a hundred MAT zones (in former times this was my indicator for quality in a prop, too, by the way). So the decision about reducing MAT zones is not necessarily combined with using PBR textures in Firefly, as long as you have a means to make Firefly understand (=interpret) PBR standard coding well on a 'per pixed' basis.

  • 0_1509468541543_InstrumentsMat_Base_Color.jpg
    Instruments Base Color Map

  • 0_1509468637127_InstrumentsMat_Roughness.jpg
    Instrument Faces Roughness Map
    If you want to polish away the dirt on the faces, just darken the respective areas here

  • 0_1509468747989_Pitts01MatW_Base_Color.jpg
    Want the panel to be white (dirty) plastic? Here is the Base color map for it, like always. The lock-rings you mentioned are in the upper right corner, paint there whatever you want, then use the metallic map (black and white showing the scratches) as a mask so the metal scratches remain.

  • 0_1509468893590_Pitts01MatWo_Base_Color.jpg
    Or a wooden panel, here it is. I usually provide like 4 different material sets for everything, because it is so easy and quick to produce in Substance Painter.

  • @Bytefactory3D said in Post your Firefly Renders:

    this is awsome!
    Have you ever considered doing anaglyph (red/cyan) 3D on top of this? I'm going to post an example, many of us may have some red/cyan paper googles somewhere in a drawer :-) ?

    I've checked that out once before but I don't have the 'goggles' lol. Nicely done though! All renders actually.

  • some random Firefly renders for ya'lls entertainment! I might have repeated one or two, its easy to loose track in these threads.

    5_1509485305264_004.jpg 4_1509485305264_Tiger.jpg 2_1509485305264_H_reaction.jpg 1_1509485305264_eveline1.jpg

    3_1509486034639_hilux02a.jpg 2_1509486034639_safehouse01.jpg 1_1509486034639_safehouse03c.jpg 0_1509486034638_reading scripts.jpg

    5_1509486097345_back in the saddle0.jpg 4_1509486097345_concept shanty town04s.jpg 3_1509486097345_concept shanty town03s.jpg 2_1509486097345_concept shanty town05ss.jpg 1_1509486097344_Leone Girl 01bw.jpg 0_1509486097344_Leone Girl 03S.jpg

  • @Bytefactory3D said in Post your Firefly Renders:

    I completely understand your objections....

    I have no objections. :)

    You asked why I would want more material zones, so I wrote "why" and what I see as the advantages for those, namely easy customization from within the Mat Room without having to go outside of Poser.

    BUT, I fully support what you're doing and your reasons for limiting mat zones with no complaints at all, there. If you're making a product for others, you want them to have a great experience with it and this is likely the best way to go for the majority of your customers/end-users. And, those who want more mat zones? If they're tinkering with customizing the model, they likely already know how to create those zones, themselves. No harm, no foul, they'd probably enjoy the process given the reason they bought the model in the first place - PBR-like mats. :)

    So, I'm "on board" and have no issues or complaints with the premise.

    I'm very interested in this, since I render mostly in Firefly. Why? It's fast and I can get fairly desirable results, though I hunger for the realism that Superfly can provide. I just have to learn it more betterer and be willing to wait... :)

    There's a sale on the Substance pack, so I'll probably pick it up soon. While I don't consider you as advertising your product, here, I'll say you can look forward to a purchase from me once I delve into Substance.

    I would, however, like to read further exploration into this subject, especially one that covers the hows&whys of PBR in Firefly and some comparisons showing the advantages.

    What's the impact of many material zones on rendering times? Is it just the number of different/isolated operations that are dictated by "another material zone to process" or is there something greater, like each being allocated its own space, sometimes unnecessarily? I'd hate to think I'm substantially increasing my Firefly rendering times for little benefit for certain items/mat zone conveniences. (Did I just add 15% rendering time because I have a "Trim" mat zone on a shirt or lampshade?" :)

  • @morkonan
    I really don't want to advertise here, but the problem is that the technique I am describing as a new option for Firefly renders is based on something I developed myself, wish it could have been done by someone else, smile...
    I am always ready to send anybody who is interested and who contacts me the users guide (pdf).

    The PBR-Emulator adds around 30 nodes to the MAT zone in question, in order to be able to understand the standard metal/roughness PBR coding. Plus a PBR texture set of between 3 and 6 texture templates, preferably of high resolution, (I usually use 4096x4096). So if you remain with 100 MAT zones, this whole material needs to be prepared 100 times inside Poser, even if each of the 100 MAT domains contains just exactly the same material as all the others... Even if Poser keeps track of loaded texture maps and wouldn't load the very same map 100 times, still all the entire shader will be duplicated 100 times in the props files (figure, prop, materials) and needs to be prepared inside Poser during render times. That is where it saves a lot of resources if all the MAT domains can be collapsed to just one for each UV domain.

    This is the style for texturing which had been developed for real time render engines (game engines), so the purpose of PBR was (beside physically correct renders) also to reduce workload on the render engine to a very minimum, so it can be done in real time as the game is running. That is why all the properties are 'baked' into PBR maps, while in traditional Firefly materials it was coded in nodes which needed MANY calculations for each single pixel to be done during render time.

  • @Bytefactory3D have you looked into @bagginsbill 's matmatic node creation environment? That may afford you a way of defining the PBR map decoder and also simplify alternative map choices for different map zones.

  • 0_1509613416162_SidePromo04.jpg

  • @Bytefactory3D these are great Firefly renders! To my eye the only real "tell" as to which is which, is that SuperFly has the "edge" in fresnel effect specularity when the surface is close to parallel with the line of sight.

  • Poser Ambassadors

    @anomalaus said in Post your Firefly Renders:

    @Bytefactory3D these are great Firefly renders! To my eye the only real "tell" as to which is which, is that SuperFly has the "edge" in fresnel effect specularity when the surface is close to parallel with the line of sight.

    No it doesn't. That's just how he coded his emulator.

  • @bagginsbill meaning more work on the FF shader and you wouldn't tell them apart?

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    @anomalaus said in Post your Firefly Renders:

    @bagginsbill meaning more work on the FF shader and you wouldn't tell them apart?

    No - for that to be true there would need to be no discernible differences.

    What I'm saying is that I disagree with your assertion that the only difference (real "tell") is the fresnel effect at grazing angles.

    1. The difference in Fresnel is the result of the shader configuration and if configured properly FF and SF produce and draw identical Fresnel coefficients

    2. There are other differences that I can clearly see but you somehow dismissed

    So - I am saying that multiple differences exist, the particular difference you identified can actually be removed, but that others remain, and some of those cannot be removed.

  • Neither shader is important. The real problem is that Poser does a TERRIBLE job at representing people, something that should be its' strength. The main problem is it's inability to have muscles span joints and then to have skin flow around the resulting underlying object. The skinnier the model, the more you can't tell it does a terrible job, but try an athlete and it looks terrible. You can even see this in movie animation, where the Hulk is just, well, wrong. Sigh.

  • @bagginsbill that's fair. My admittedly hyperbolic comment was intended as encouragement, rather than critique, as I wouldn't know where to begin to offer advice on improvement of PBR shaders without having seen the nodes (and deferred my own offerings in favour of those who have actually levered their lids off).

  • Poser Ambassadors

    Here are renders, from each engine, of a shiny prop in a furnace (pure white environment sphere).

    There is no discernible difference in the Fresnel effect. However, the reflections differ in edge pixel detail, where SF is largely good, but FF produces artifacts (aliasing) that I can't justify or eliminate, and FF misses some or all of highlights on nearly sharp edges.

    If the prop had a softer reflection, even more differences would manifest. I will let you guess which is which.

    0_1509636308015_FT1.png 0_1509636311618_FT2.png

  • When images are shown side-by-side, a person (with stereo vision) can do a cross-eyed focus —overlaying the two images as one, and then the brain can easily notice each of the the differences between the two images. (They are seen practically animated, and draw attention.)

    This works on anything similar; including typed pages of text, identical (in appearance), but for a few worlds here and there; they stand out immediately.

  • @bagginsbill
    I can see the FF render is on the right, seeing the difference in the specular reflection and the aliasing.

    I can also of course see the differences and imperfections in my own comparison renders below. But as a content creator, I needed something which could allow me use PBR texture sets not only in both render engines, but also backward to at least Poser 9, because I didn't want to leave these customers behind. Going for perfection, or for mathematical correctness, in my case would have led to end up with nothing, because I could achieve neither the one, nor the other.

    As a content creator, what I needed was some solution which would satisfy my clients, telling my content 'looks good' for them. To achieve this, it was very necessary for my to use PBR (because I wanted to use Substance Painter, with all the special effects like surface roughness, scratches and so on), without individual adjustments in the Firefly materials, if possible even without a need to create different materials to load for different render engines.

    So in order to come up with something practicable (in terms of resources, render times, backward compatibility with at least Poser 9, etc) I needed to sacrifice some accuracy and correctness. That is why I called it 'Emulator', and not 'Converter', and I always made it clear it is not mathematically correct, but only intentends to 'come close' and keep the cost (resources and render times) as low as possible the same time.

    I assume that few customers will ever render content in both render engines with identical lighting, in order to compare deviations in the fresnel effect. Mostly what they want from me is an asset which 'looks good' in their perception, and if they are users of older Poser versions and can usually not benefit from using PBR textures, they will even be more grateful for something which 'comes close' and still doesn't grind Firefly to a halt during renders.

    As for fellow content creators, as long as they individually can live with the differences in appearence between a Firefly and a Superfly render in their content, for the advantage of doing the texturing only once for both render engines and all Poser versions 9+, I guess it is also an advantage doing so. So my reference renders are not intended to claim 'there is no difference', but instead 'see the difference and judge for yourself if it can be acceptable enough for you to use it in your content, or not'.

    I am grateful for the discussion, because it shows that basically both sides of the medal have their pro's and cons. And differences in judgement about reference renders basically result from different expectations about goals to achieve. Like I said, i would have been too happy (from the point of view of content creation) if Smith Micro could have come up with some 'upgrade node' like i.e. the P11 Physical Node offered for Poser 9 and Poser 10, but they haven't. I would be too happy if some 'perfect' or 'mathematically correct' shader exists for Firefly to use PBR, provided it is practicable in terms of resources and render times for the 'average Joe's expectations', which I have to respect as a content creator.

    Unfortunately I don't know any and never found one anywhere, so I went ahead and created my own practicable solution, that is the story behind my Firefly PBR renders.