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Sat, Nov 3 2012 0:19:45 UTC

Review of DSON Importer for Poser

Poser users and DAZ 3D have been at odds in the past year, thanks to the introduction of the Genesis figure, which wasn't compatible with the Poser software. This was a frustrating development for many in the 3D art community. But last month, DAZ 3D introduced a brand new tool called the DSON Importer, which the company says will solve all these problems, some even calling it Poser heaven. But is it?

Poser is a popular tool used by 3D artists all over the world who want to create renders using all kinds of pre-existing models. It's used to pose, texture, gear up and animate virtual characters, those characters often coming from several other sources. Traditionally, many Poser users have used DAZ 3D models, more specifically Victory 4 and Michael 4. Last year, DAZ decided to use a new technology that they had developed based around weight-mapped figures, and introduced Genesis, a brand new figure which, unlike previous models, could be shaped in vastly superior ways, in order to be morphed into a male, female, animal or even an alien creature.

The problem is that Genesis only worked in their own software, DAZ Studio. So for the first time in a long history of cooperation between Poser and DAZ, they broke compatibility. Some ways could still be used to bridge the gap, such as posing the model in DAZ Studio, then saving it and importing it in Poser using an exporter tool, but the result was mixed. A lot of Poser users were angry about this development, especially since Smith Micro introduced very similar weight-mapping technologies in their own Poser Pro 2012 release. But both technologies were incompatible.

So now, early last month, DAZ 3D announced the release of DSON Importer, and to this day this tool is still featured prominently on their front page, showing how big the demand must have been for the Genesis figure to work in Poser. First, let's see what this does. According to the store description, the DAZ Scene Object Notation (DSON) Importer enables the loading and use of models and figures created for the Genesis platform in Poser. So with this $24.99 purchase, Poser users are now able to use Genesis figures and clothes in Poser.

To start with, there are a few catches. First, you need Poser 9 or Poser Pro 2012 with SR3 or higher in order for this to work. On the Genesis side, you need content that has been converted to the DSON format. Right now, only part of what DAZ offers is compatible with the DSON Importer, although more has been appearing in the store this past month. DAZ Studio isn't needed to use this, but if you do use this software, you can convert your own content to be DSON compatible from within the user interface.

So how well does this work? Well, for one thing, the whole process is a lot easier than what it used to take to get Genesis to work in Poser. DSON Importer comes in an installer, so it's a matter of just a few clicks. There's a second package called Genesis Essentials that you also need to install. However, you may find out that not everything works as it would in DAZ Studio. For example, while it supports SubD and morph transfer, it does not deal with smoothing or collision detection. The interface itself is fairly simple, and well integrated into Poser. DAZ published a step by step guide showing you how to import Genesis, clothes, and then make everything fit. Basically, DSON enabled figures have some extra morphs that you can use, and the Importer adds an extra entry in the Scripts menu for utilities you will need.

At first glance, it seems to load Genesis itself and the base figures just fine. Everything in the Essentials pack loads and adapts well to the Poser environment. One thing that often happens however is that colors and shaders will not look the way they should. If you buy some clothing item for Genesis from DAZ 3D, and then load it in Poser, the materials may not have been optimized for Poser, but only DAZ Studio. As a result, you may find yourself doing more work in the Textures room than before.

That isn't to say you shouldn't bother with Genesis at all if you're a Poser user. For one, weight-mapped figures bend in a much better way than previous generations. Also, with SubD, you can get Genesis to have a much higher polygon count if you need it. For those a bit more advanced who are looking at modifying content, or creating their own content for Genesis without using DAZ Studio, the DSF Toolbox tool sold at DAZ 3D allows you to deal with the new file formats without having to install DAZ Studio. With it you can extract OBJ files, and map new UVs and textures.

When it comes to customizing, the basic Genesis figure allows you to modify its form greatly, such as morphing it into a child or even a werewolf. But when it comes to finer adjustments, you may find that your Victoria 4 or Michael 4 characters, especially with the Morphs++ modules, offer a greater range of changes. This is due in part to the limits imposed on the dials you get from DSON compatible content, and hidden dials. V4 and M4 textures and clothing should also work on Genesis without too much trouble, so even if you have older content, you can keep using it with this new figure.

Overall, DSON Importer is a great tool for Poser users, because it's clear DAZ 3D is focusing completely on Genesis, and has all but abandoned the older generations. This tool doesn't do everything that DAZ Studio allows you to do with Genesis, it's simply not a full compatibility, but for many people it will be good enough.

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