• Price: 111 . 58

  • Company: E Frontier

  • Pros: Custom morph target creation. New talk designer. Offers animation layers and universal poses (motion retargeting). New figures and new poses, and HDRI support for IBL.

  • Cons: Some reliability doubts. Main competition is freeware. High-end Mac or PC with OpenGL required for best performance.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

When Poser first emerged, it was little more than a digital puppet show. Now in its seventh incarnation, the software has come a long way, offering fast and sophisticated character creation, animation and rendering tools.

To its great credit, though, Poser has maintained its pick-up-and-play functionality. Indeed, one of the major new features is a quick-start dialog and project guide palette, which together offer step-by-step tutorials to get you up and running.

And while Poser has been improved from a beginner’s point of view, the experienced user will be pleased to see that the usability of morph targets has been improved, too, thanks to new controls in the new Morph Target Create tab. The tools themselves are mesh deformers that you apply to the model, setting your own limits so that you don’t exaggerate the morph too much. Poser’s fiddly parameter sliders can cause you to over-egg morphs quite regularly.

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Another new feature is universal posing. This is a pose retargeting tool that allows any biped figure to have any pose applied to it. Poses that you created for a male ninja in Poser 7 could be mapped onto a female executive, while poses from earlier versions of the software are saved first to a legacy figure to make it compatible with Poser mapping. 
The Talk Designer offers improved lip-sync animation. Using it is simple, as many new Poser models include phoneme morphs that allow the figure to make the mouth shapes required for speech. All you need is a piece of recorded speech and preferably a text transcript. Add a few eye-blink controls and press apply, then watch your model speak its lines. In practice, the technique is as tricky as most lip-synching to get right, but by tweaking the timing a little you can get a passable animated talking head quite quickly.
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