RWBY Season 2 – Poser Powered Animation



The butt-kicking warrior students from Beacon Academy are back! RWBY season 2 is just around the corner (online premiere 24th July). Just yesterday the trailer for the 3D, beat ‘em up and RPG inspired anime premiered at Rooster Teeth’s very own convention (RTX). Obviously, as posted above, the trailer is now available online. The second seasons boasts better visuals – gone are the black silhouettes that constituted character extras. This in itself will please many, but visuals have been improved in many other areas including shadows and greater utilisation of Poser’s physics engine for hair and cloth (perhaps other stuff too – not sure).

RWBY Production Diaries – Interesting Tidbits

During development a number of “Production Diaries” were filmed and offer some interesting insights into how the anime is put together. Areas covered (albeit far too briefly) include: modelling, uv mapping, texturing, motion capture and animation, voice acting and sound effects. Though us 3D nerds would have sunk our teeth into deeper production diaries, there were some areas clarified from earlier technical discussion that took place at the previous RTX and elsewhere online.

I found the section on animation particularly interesting. It has been known that the RWBY team use a mix of motion capture and keyframing, but it was never clear how much of either was used. As it turns out much of the fight sequences are animated with traditional methods. Motion capture, on the other hand, seems to be heavily used for scenes that are heavy on character interaction, where emotion and subtle nuances are more important. Given Monty Oum’s previous projects this approach is not so surprising. This guy has built a cult following with his rapid paced hand-animated fight scenes.

RWBY: Inspiring and Guilty Pleasure

The work Rooster Teeth do with Poser on RWBY and Red Vs Blue continues to be inspirational, and I have to admit I have become a little intrigued with the plot. What are The White Fan up to, and is going to what about them? Any bets the young women with their male sidekicks (makes for an interesting change of pace, doesn’t it?) won’t be pushed to the fore of the coming conflict? No, I thought not. Of course a bunch of children with insane weaponry and magic will once again save the world. And why not? Adults are far too busy playing Politics and Tycoons™ to get involved with such noble endeavours.

Catch up

If you haven’t yet seen RWBY season 1 you can catch up at Rooster Teeth’s website and on their YouTube channel. You can also pick up RWBY season 1 on DVD/Blue-ray at Amazon.

Poser Pro 2014 60 Percent Off

For a limited time Smith Micro is offering Poser Pro 2014 for $199, which is about 60% off the regular price. Upgrades from previous versions of Poser are also on discount, ranging from $140 for older versions down to $100 for Poser Pro, Pro 2010, and Pro 2012.

What’s So Good About Poser?

Considering the amount of content and features Poser Pro 2014 packs, this is a pretty darn good deal. For DAZ Studio users looking for something a little more robust, while still very cost-effective, Poser might just be the way to go. I personally use both. I love the additional features of Poser, especially the easy to use “indirect lighting”, physics and animation tools. I prefer DAZ Studio for its user interface, integrated 3Delight render engine, and native Genesis support.

Poser Pro 2014 features include:

  • Full rigging and weight mapping
  • Physics simulation – Soft and hard body dynamics (cloth, hair, jiggly fleshy bits etc)
  • Morph tools
  • Hair creation tools
  • Fitting room (refit clothing designed from one model to another)
  • Advanced OpenGL preview – high quality shadows and materials
  • Node-based material editor
  • Indirect Lighting (Global illumination)
  • Image Based Lighting
  • True HDR support
  • Robust animation tools
  • Pixar subdivision surfaces (OpenSubdiv)

…and much more.

Reality 3

Also hard to pass up over at Smith Micro, is Pret-a-3D’s Reality 3 for Poser (currently $27.95). For those unfamiliar with the product, it is an scene translator and exporter for LuxRender, which is a physically based unbiased render engine. Essentially LuxRender is capable of producing physically accurate images as it closely simulates the behaviour of light and how it interacts with materials and objects.

Skilled use of the render engine can and does produce photorealistic images. The main drawback with LuxRender and unbiased rendering in general is that it is typically much slower than biased engines like Firefly (Poser) and 3Delight (DAZ Studio), though with the continued development of LuxCore, much faster GPU rendering methods are becoming more feasible.

A Note on Poser 3 for DAZ Studio

The good news for DAZ Studio users (that have been waiting, both patiently and otherwise) is that Reality 3 for DAZ Studio is in rapid development and will contain new features not yet in the Poser version. Paolo Ciccone, the developer, regularly posts updates on development progress at Pret-a-3D’s blog.


Victoria 6 Free For (Very) Limited Time

Greetings fellow 3D enthusiasts! Some cool news out of the DAZ camp for you all today. In celebration of her first birthday this weekend (11:59 PM MST Sunday June 29th, 2014) you can pick up Victoria 6 for free. For those new to the latest generation of Genesis figures, you will have to download the Genesis 2 Female base figure (also free). The Genesis 2 base figures, female and male, are both available for download direct from your “Product Library” at DAZ 3D and via the DAZ Install Manager (DIM).

There are a lot of DAZ Studio and Poser users out there that have yet to dip their feet into the Genesis 2 pool, even as far as installing the base G2 figures, let alone grabbing either the latest Victoria and Michael incarnations. Can we hope to see a similar offer for Michael 6? Let’s hope. So, if you haven’t yet picked up the figure the time is now. Pass the word along.

The birthday giveaway announcement forum thread

DAZ Studio Alembic Exporter to LightWave – Problems and Solutions


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DAZ 3D's Genesis exported via Alembic and rendered in LightWave 11.6.1

Genesis basic male test render LightWave. Exported via Alembic.

The blogs been fairly quiet for a while now. I’ve been going through some large life changes. A new website project has also taken a lot of time lately, but let us not dwell on the quiet time. Just tonight I had a chance to play around with the new Alembic Exporter for DAZ Studio. One huge limitation of the exporter is that it only supports a single UV map. The solution to this is quite simple. Merge the UV maps! Of course the first thing I thought to do was take the convoluted path of exporting Genesis to LightWave as an .OBJ, merging the UV’s, exporting back to DAZ, re-rigging, animate and finally export again via Alembic. This struck me as somewhat terrible. So I Googled for something like “merge UVs DAZ Studio”. First thing I stumble upon reminds me about DS’s Texture Atlas – Facepalm!

DAZ Studio Texture Atlas export menu

Texture Atlas is simple and great for game developers, and those looking for a way around the Alembic exporter’s single UV map restriction.

Maybe I could forgive myself a little for the fact I’ve never actually used the plugin, but I was aware of it and what it did. Atlas is simple and quick to use. With that process complete I had a nice unified UV and series of texture maps (diffuse, specular, trans, bump, displacement). Next I load my laughable test animation and export via Alembic. Make sure you have “Preserve SubDivision Surfaces” turned off if you’re exporting to LightWave. LW doesn’t support this information from DS, not even if using Catmull-Clark (which technically it should). Unfortunately this isn’t the end of our troubles though.

First up, LW’s Alembic importer doesn’t preserve any material information, so those have to be rebuilt from scratch. This isn’t such a big issue if you only need a single material each for skin, nails, lips, and eye surfaces. The second snag is that the textures appear faceted when reapplied in LW. This isn’t down to Genesis’s geometry. Exporting without subdivision information applies geometry “freezing”, so you can still export a high poly figure (or apply subdivision in LW itself). In both cases the textures have the same faceting problem, regardless of how many levels of subdivision were applied. The lower the subdivision level when exported from DAZ Studio, the worse the faceting when reapplying the textures in LW. Whether this is an issue with LW’s inability to accept real subdivision information, or a problem with DS’s exporter is not clear. Atlas doesn’t seem to be part of the problem though. The merged textures and UVs appeared as expected in DS. Unfortunately as we can’t export Alembic back in to DS I wasn’t able to test the exporter itself.

While Alembic is still a work in progress, and both the DS exporter and LightWave’s importer both have issues, Alembic is still a very convenient format for transferring animation data. With widespread industry support Alembic seems destined to succeed, so we can all rest assured that someday it will all work beautifully. I hope that both DAZ 3D and LightWave’s developers continue to refine their implementations.