As I reported a few months ago, the 3D graphics community consisted of a friendly rivalry between Poser users and DAZ Studio users, which did not really matter that much until the newest DAZ 3D released content dubbed Genesis 3 was incompatible with Poser and could only be used on DAZ Studio software.
In the few months since then much has happened. New versions of both programs, DAZ Studio 4.9 and Poser 11 were released, and then DAZ started something that has made everybody mad: encrypted content. There is a lot to cover.
Beautiful Fake People
Let’s get to what this is all about, it is creating pictures of beautiful fake people. There is some commercial applications to this, like illustration, animation and game development, but it is also a growing hobby.
The best 3D models come from DAZ 3D and they can generate the most realistic pictures like the one above. Each new figure they have released has been more realistic than the last. You can usually tell Genesis 3 figures from their realistic hands like in the one above.
Except that the picture above is not Genesis 3. It’s not even DAZ 3D. In fact there is not a single figure or prop in the picture from DAZ 3D. It is the Dawn model from Hivewire3D, specifically Elisa character with enhanced realistic hands. It was rendered in Poser 11 Pro.
My point is that you do not need DAZ products and software to create incredible images.
Poser 11 Pro Review
A Superfly Render (click for full size)
Back in November Smith Micro released Poser 11 and Poser 11 Pro. It continues to be the best software for this kind of work. Poser 11 adds a physics renderer called Superfly which is comparable to IRay or LUX Renderer but the materials can be built in the materials room like the Firefly renderer. My own experiments have been mixed. The biggest flaw in Superfly is that the results don’t come anywhere close to the preview, but the same thing can be said about IRay.
Among the other new features not found in DAZ Studio is “Subdivision surface morphing” which allows a better control of the face (or other parts) for the purposes of animation. There is also a new tool for adaptable figure weighting making it much easier to create new figures, and an easier way to share new morphs.
Poser continues to add tools to support import export to Maya, Blender, and other 3rd party software making it more desirable for professionals.
That’s why it costs $400, but the cost is the reason most hobbyists are going to DAZ Studio instead.
DAZ Studio 4.9
Meanwhile, DAZ Studio has released a new version 4.9 which except for some minor improvements is basically 4.8 with “DAZ Connect“.
What is DAZ Connect? It enables searching for products, purchasing, and installation of DAZ3D content directly in DS, without ever leaving DAZ Studio. What it really is is a DRM system to encrypt future products.
This has the whole community up in arms, both Poser users and DAZ Studio users. DRM will restrict the use of content. Despite the fact that they are no longer compatible, people still move between DAZ Studio and Poser, adapting and creating content for both. DRM destroys that. This last month DAZ released their first “freebie” for DAZ Studio users that is only available in DAZ Connect. This has become the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of people.
If DAZ3D continues down this road, it could kill all compatibility between DAZ and other 3rd party software and 3rd party content resources. Many people have attempted to make this point on the DAZ forums only to have their posts removed.
DAZ3D is currently saying that all their previous content will continue to be available as non-encrypted and they have no plans to make new content connect-only. They have also stated that all encrypted content will be released after 1 year as unencrypted. This has calmed some upset users, but there is a worry that they will change their minds in the future. Why have it if you are not going to use it?
The problems with DRM in an open community
Meanwhile, Charles Taylor the lead programmer of Poser, let his opinion of DRM be known in an interview with Renderosity.
The problem with DRM is that it is indiscriminate. It doesn’t know a legitimate user from a pirate. All too frequently legitimate users are prevented from using the product they have a valid license to use. Also, every DRM system is eventually hacked, so the only piracy it truly prevents is casual piracy.
Yes, it prevents some piracy. Would these people have purchased the content any way? We may never know that answer.
Ultimately DRM is no more effective than a padlock. It will keep the honest people honest. Anyone with a big enough hammer will steal it any way. The question that remains is, “Do you make your customers deal with the padlock every time they want to use the content they paid for just to keep the honest ones honest?”
At this time, we at Poser have no intent to introduce DRM to content. We think our customers are already honest.
DRM has its place. I don’t think 3D content is one of those places. Especially given the myriad of available export options in most 3D programs. With a click of the mouse, Poser content can be exported to something like FBX. DRM is so easily broken, it’s going to prevent very little piracy. It’s not worth the trouble for the company, the vendors or the customers.
Here is my own feeling on DRM in the 3D art community. I have been doing Poser since Poser 2 in the late 90’s. It takes a while to learn this hobby and get good at it. It can also be an expensive hobby.
Regardless of what tools you use, there is a learning curve in this hobby that requires some practice. “Free” DAZ Studio has brought a lot of new people into this hobby and that is a good thing. New people are just getting their feet wet and are not interested in spending lots of money.
NVIATWAS is what we sometimes call new amateurs, it’s an anagram of “Naked Vicky In A Temple With A Sword” which is the biggest cliché in the field. But it is a phase everyone goes through until they get good.
It is at this amateur level where you desire as much free content as possible whether it is DRM protected freebies or stolen “warez” which is what DRM is designed to protect, you want it all.
I went through my NVIATWAS phase, too. The above pic is not mine, its actually good, my own are not. I’ve never actually downloaded/used stolen 3D models (mostly because when I was in this phase there wasn’t enough interest to share them). My thing was using screenshots from video games as backgrounds, examples which you can see on the Date Ariane Wiki. It may not be as bad as theft, but it is still passing off others art as my own.
Eventually, you get good and want to do something more commercial, maybe even potentially sell. I reached that point about 5 years ago when I decided using video game screenshots in Date Ariane was amateurish.
I wanted to start creating stuff I could sell and that required purchasing new content and paying attention to licenses to make sure renders of models could be used commercially. Every prop and figure and texture in the current downloadable versions of Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air, that I did not make myself, was legally purchased.
I didn’t need DRM to keep me honest, it was the desire to keep things legal that kept me honest. DRM would make things more difficult because in some cases I had to go in and change some textures and figures on some of my purchased models and props to fit my needs.
In summary, amateurs don’t care about DRM and its existence or non existence will not get them to buy more, while the professionals who actually do make a lot of purchases are actually harmed with DRM and are unlikely to buy DRM protected models.
So, in this community, DRM really has no place in it.
DAZ3D Buys RuntimeDNA
In the latest bit of drama, the largest 3D product website just bought out the third largest, Runtime DNA. This has of course created a lot of mixed reactions, especially by the independent artists that broker products at RDNA. Some are happy for the change, thinking DAZ3D will bring in eyeballs and more sales.
Others, for reasons I explained above want no part of DAZ and are looking to move their products somewhere else. There does not seem to be a shortage of places: YUR Digital and CG Bytes seem to be advertising themselves to former RDNA artists, though Renderosity, Hivewire3D, and Content Paradise are better known.
Just more drama for the 3D Community to get over.