RealityPaint’s Texture Transformer For Hivewire’s Dawn

Finally, Dawn (still free) has the game changer she has everyone has been waiting for. Thanks to realityPaint’s Texture Transformer, textures for DAZ 3D’s Victoria 4 can now be converted to work with Dawn. The application comes as a stand-alone product and as a plugin for realityPaint. The plugin is free with RP Pro, but it is unclear if it is included with the standard version. On one page it is stated “Free inside realityPaint-Pro or Standard…”, but on the product purchase page there is no mention of Texture Transformer being included with standard. Most likely the information has not been updated.

The below YouTube video states that the stand-alone Texture Transformer is not yet available (video uploaded on the 11th sep), but the realityPaint Update page clearly states the stand-alone version has been released, so we can safely assume the version at Hivewire, RuntimeDNA, Renderosity, and realityPaint is indeed the stand-alone texture converter.

RealityPaint’s products are currently on special at a 20% discount, but if you just want the standalone texture converter than you can pick it up for $34.95 (limited special) from all the participating vendors. If you’re a Hivewire member with reward points you can knock another $10 off this price.

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Poser 9 and other Smith Micro Art Apps At 90% Discount

For a limited time Smith Micro has put previous versions of Poser 9, Manga Studio 4 EX, and Anime Studio 8 Pro on sale.The current versions of these programs (Poser 10 etc) are currently retailing for $299, but you can pick up these older versions for just $29.99 each. That’s a saving of 90%! If you buy these all together you get the lot for $49.99!

Upgrade to current versions and save

Perhaps the best part of this deal is that you can then use these versions to upgrade to the current programs for the upgrade price of $179.99. Effectively this means you can get Poser 10, or Anime Studio Pro 8, or Manga Studio EX 5 for $209.99 (save $90 at current prices). Of course for Poser users this means you can sidegrade to Poser Pro 2014 for a total of $329.99 (regularly $499.99).

Right now looks like a great time for DAZ Studio users to jump the fence and take a good look around. If you like what you see then you can snap yourself up a very good deal on an upgrade.

Maya LT Brings State of The Art 3D Tools To Indie Developers

Ever find yourself drooling over programs like 3DS Max and Maya? I know I have. In fact that’s what I was doing when I stumbled upon Autodesk Maya LT, which was released just back at the end of August (2013). It packs in many of Maya 2014’s new tools and advancements. It actually includes all of Maya’s modeling tools, most of its material tools, a selection of animation tools (including rigging and weight painting), Viewport 2.0 and DirectX 11 viewport technology, among a few other fancy features.

High Quality Realtime Shaders with ShaderFX

A huge draw for those looking to create game assets comes in the form of ShaderFX, a node based realtime shader editor that allows for the creation of HSLS and CgFX shaders without the need for any programing knowledge. This feature is not currently in Maya 2014 (though it does support these real time shaders languages), so it is currently a nifty perk for Maya LT owners. Below is an example of a scene rendered in real time in UDK with custom converted CgFX shaders made in Maya. The ability to view results in Maya similar or the same as those in UDK, CryEngine, or Unity is pretty neat. These shaders can then be exported in a number of formats that suit most current 3D game engines.

obviously the meat of Maya LT lays in it’s modeling capabilities. The program also includes some handy retopology tools and geometry baking (to bump/normal maps), to help convert those high poly models down into something more suited for work in real time environments.

Maya LT Limitations

Perhaps the biggest drawback to LT is that it has a serious restriction on how much geometry can be exported, and the formats it can export in. For a start it can only export in its own native .mlt format and .fbx. With the .mlt format there is no limitation on polygon count, but only Maya LT can read it. With FBX the limit is a mere 25000 polygons! The argument here is that 1) LT is primarily targeting indie developers, who are primarily developing for iOS and other mobile devices 2) Autodesk need to implement some harsh measures to ensure LT doesn’t compete with its premium kin.

The suggested work-around is to export assets in multiple parts, if necessary. It is worth mentioning that there has been some rumbling about the possibility of lifting the export limit somewhat, though Autodesk is still very keen not to get too generous. For the inquisitive, there is an interesting thread on the Polycount forum in which the developers have sought to communicate and collect ideas.

The next big features to be excised are a good number of more advanced rigging features, advanced 2D/3D textures, MEL and Python scripting, and then the rendering features – all gone! To be fair rendering and the advanced 2D/3D textures (for software rendering) would be of little use to games developers. Rigging and scripting are very important to many users, but scripting could be used to circumvent limitations, and advanced rigging tools are one of those premium features (arguably).

So, while Maya LT has many of Maya 2014’s best features, it is sorely lacking in some respects, so this brings us to the all important question, how much? USD $795. Some people will be spitting their beverages at the screen in disgust at this point, while others will be carefully weighing up the pros and cons. To put it in perspective, Maya (and 3DS Max) are roughly 4 and a half times that. It’s also half the price of LightWave and Modo, but significantly more expensive than Carrara 8.5 or Shade 14. What it comes down to is that Maya is the gold standard in game and film asset creation. It is respected and used widely, and for a fraction of the price you can get a good deal of that power.

While it is half the price of the mid-level programs, it is still expensive in that it comes with some hefty restrictions. It is up to the punter to decide if the tool is for them.

Just For Indie Developers?

As far as I know there are no licensing limitations locking the software to indie game development, but with the cut-down feature list it is certainly a targeted product. This is to say that Maya LT may have other uses too. If you don’t mind having to cut your models up for export via FBX to your other 3D programs then Maya’s modelling tools and 3D painting might be an attractive asset to your 3D tool set, whether your a hobbyist with a bit of cash to burn or a content creator for programs like DAZ Studio and Poser. Or maybe there are some software nutters out there that just want to own everything they can get their hands on… like me.

So yeah, I’m personally a little excited by all this. I’d love to see Autodesk increase the polygon limit and include an OBJ export option, but on the whole, I think Maya LT is a solid product.

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Autodesk Maya LT 2014

Carrara 8.5: The Carrara We’ve Been Waiting For?

Carrara 8.5 pro box artThe long-awaited Carrara 8.5 hit the digital streets on the 26th of August. The point release comes packed with a beefy list of updates. As with any such release, some are super happy, some are dismissive, some others are firmly on the fence. Taking a look at just what is on offer gives us a good hint as to reasons for the mixed response.

What’s in the box?

The overwhelming bulk of the update relates to incorporating Genesis in to Carrara. This means that TriAx weight maps, the new DSON file format, smart content (plus CMS), and AutoFit have come to Carrara. Perhaps cynically, this can be viewed as paying for the privilege to purchase and use Gen 5 and 6 content.

On top of these new features are improvements to keyframe and animation tools, and new viewport representations for lights. According to some users that took part in the beta there are additional improvements not included in the new features list, such as improved stability, and faster viewport response.

For some, the hands-down best part about Carrara 8.5 is it finally offers support for Mac OSX 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8. The final cherry on top is the inclusion of Genesis content. Carrara 8.5 Pro buyers will get access to Victoria 5 and Michael 5 pro bundles. Carrara 8.5 (standard) users will receive starter bundles for the same figures. See the product page on the Carrara at DAZ’s store for full list of features.

Never been a better time to get Carrara?

If you are a long-time DAZ Studio or Poser (or even Bryce) user who has wondered if Carrara would be a good next step, then with Carrara being ready for Genesis 1 and 2 there really hasn’t been a better time. Carrara can do just about anything these other programs can, and then a whole lot more. Carrara has solid modelling and UV mapping tools, texture and weight painting, terrain and vegetation generation, volumetrics, rigid and soft body dynamics (which anecdotally have, or are being improved), and a fast and flexible render engine with many great features (multipass, SSS, global illumination etc). See tech specs for full mouth watering features gravy (currently only lists Carrara 8 features).

If you are already a Carrara user then the price of upgrading might seem a little steep, especially if you already own the included Genesis figures. If you couldn’t care a fig for TriAx, Genesis, and smart content then the upgrade might seem like an insult. Of course, if you’re a Mac user with a newer OS, then you’re probably just happy (or less angry) to finally have access to a version of the program that’s going to work with little hassle.


If you are a platinum club member you receive 50% off the current $285 ($171) for Carrara Pro. 40% off standard Carrara, usually $149.95. If you are an owner of a previous Carrara version (purchased through DAZ 3D), you can pick up Carrara Pro for $85, and standard for $44.98.

Carrara 8.5 Verdict

Regardless of what you think about Genesis and TriAx, 8.5 is a solid point release and a good base for Carrara 9, which is forecast for a Q1 2014 release. Getting full implementation for Genesis in Carrara was always going to be high on DAZ 3D’s list of priorities, so it is good that it is done and more-or-less out of the way – get that AutoFit with G2 working! With this done, DAZ will be able to spend more time getting a stellar 9 finalised and polished.

It would have been great to see some little hints for 9 dropped into the 8.5 release, and perhaps they are there for a closer inspection. Sure would be good to see a features list, but I’m getting away from the topic at hand.

Carrara 8.5 probably has the most to offer to new users that are only just picking up Carrara. For current users there is still a lot here, but paying for what is essentially a content delivery pipeline might not sit too easily, especially for those that already own the included Genesis content.

Carrara 8