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'Poser 7 Revealed': Use Poser with 3D Packages

In the latest excerpt of Poser 7 Revealed, Kelly L. Murdock shows how to use Poser with other valuable 3D packages.

All images from Poser 7 Revealed: The e frontier Official Guide by Kelly L. Murdock.

This is the next in a new series of excerpts from the Thomson Course Technology book Poser 7 Revealed: The e frontier Official Guide. In the next few months, VFXWorld readers will develop the skills needed to create, render and animate scenes and projects using the amazing tools offered by Poser 7. We will offer step-by-step tutorials for each task, followed by projects that allow readers to apply each new skill.

What You'll Do

In this lesson, you learn how to use Poser with other 3D packages.

The mechanism for using Poser content with other 3D packages is to import and export the content. There are several 3D formats that Poser supports, including 3ds, DXF, LWO and OBJ. You can learn more about these formats in Chapter 4, "Working with Files and Accessing Content Paradise."

Creating Models in 3ds Max for Use in Poser

Although Poser supports the 3ds format, it actually isn't the best format to use when exchanging files between 3ds Max and Poser. The 3ds format pre-dates 3ds Max and is the format used when 3d Studio was a DOS version. Current installations of 3ds Max uses the .MAX file format and Autodesk is moving toward the Filmbox (FBX) format, but sadly Poser doesn't support either of these formats.

Note: The 3ds file format has a maximum limit of 65,000 polygons.

[Figure 1] 3ds Max's OBJ Exporter.

The best available format for moving data between 3ds Max and Poser is the Wavefront OBJ format. The OBJ format splits the geometry information into a separate file from the material textures. OBJ materials are saved as separate MTL files. The OBJ Exporter in 3ds Max, shown in Figure 1, includes options to separate the model into groups by objects or materials. If the model has any maps, you'll need to enable the Texture Coordinates option. Smooth Groups can also be exported. However, if you want to save the materials, you'll need to export them separately using the Wavefront Material format. If both the OBJ and the MTL files are contained in the same folder when they're imported into Poser, the materials will show up in Poser.

Creating Models in Maya for Use in Poser

Maya uses its own file format for saving its content using the Maya Binary (MB) extension, but it can also export its 3D content using several different 3D formats. However, the short list available in the default version of Maya doesn't include any formats that are in common with Poser. Maya does support importing content into Maya using the Wavefront OBJ format. Like 3ds Max, Maya is a strong supporter of the Filmbox (FBX) format.

Even though there aren't any common formats between Maya and Poser, the extensible design of Maya makes it easy to install plug-in modules. A plug-in for exporting Maya content using the OBJ format is available, but you'll need to make it active. The name of the Maya plug-in is objExport.cpp. You can make it active using the Window, Settings/Preferences, Plug-in Manager menu command. Other plug-ins that allow Maya content to be exported as other formats such as LWO are common on the Web. Once these scripts are installed, you'll be able to export Maya content to Poser.

If you can find the right script, the best format for exporting content to and from Maya is also the Wavefront OBJ format, but you need to make sure that your models are converted to polygons before exporting them.

Although Maya can work with NURBS and Subdivision Surfaces, only polygons can be imported into Poser.

Caution: Maya can export content to the DXF_FBX format. Although these files have the DXF extension, they aren't compatible with Poser.

Creating Models in Other 3D Packages for Use in Poser

Two other popular 3D modeling packages include LightWave and SOFTIMAGE| XSI. LightWave can export content to the OBJ and LWO formats, but the LWO format obviously works the best. The best format for content in Softimage XSI is also the OBJ format.

For all other 3D packages, look first for the OBJ format and if it isn't available, try the 3DS or LWO formats, but try to avoid using the DXF format. This format is older and unstable for most products, except for CAD packages such as AutoCAD.

[Figure 2] A birdbath in 3ds Max (left). [Figure 3] The birdbath imported into Poser (right). 

Import 3ds Max Content into Poser

1. Start 3ds Max and load a piece of content such as a birdbath, as shown in Figure 2. Select the File, Export menu. Select a folder and name the file to be exported. Choose the Wavefront OBJ option from the File Type drop-down list and click the Export button.

The OBJ Exported dialog box appears.

2. In the OBJ Exporter dialog box, select the Group by Object option and enable the Use Materials, Texture Coordinates, Normals and Smooth Groups options. Then click the OK button.

The file is exported and saved.

3. With the same object selected, choose the File, Export menu again, change the File Type to Wavefront Material (MTL) and name the MTL file the same as the OBJ file. In the MTL Export dialog box that appears, enable the Export Maps option.

4. Start Poser and select the File, Import, Wavefront OBJ menu. Select the Centered and Place on Floor option in the Import Options dialog box. Then locate and open the birdbath file.

The birdbath object is imported into Poser, as shown in Figure 3. If you select the various groups in the Material Room, you'll see that the material groups are intact with different materials applied.

Import Maya Content into Poser

1. Start Maya and load a piece of content such as a bunch of daisies, as shown in Figure 4.

2. Select the Window, Settings/Preferences, Plug-in Manager menu. In the Plug-in Manager, enable the Loaded option next to the objExport plug-in and click the Refresh button.

3. Select the File, Export All menu. Select a folder and name the file to be exported. Choose the OBJexport option from the File Type drop-down list and click the Export button.

4. Start Poser and select the File, Import, Wavefront OBJ menu. Select the Centered and Place on Floor option in the Import Options dialog box. Then locate and open the daisies file.

The daisies are imported into Poser, as shown in Figure 5.

[Figure 4] A bunch of daisies in Maya (left). [Figure 5] The daisies imported into Poser (right). 

Find out more about how to put the power of Poser 7 to work as you learn how to use the new Talk Designer to automatically sync facial animations to an audio track, combine the power of Poser 7 with other software packages, create new motions using the new animation layers feature and much more. Check back to VFXWorld frequently to read new excerpts.

Poser 7 Revealed: The e frontier Official Guide by Kelly L. Murdock. Boston, MA: Thomson Course Technology, 2007. 592 pages with illustrations. ISBN 13: 978-1-59863-296-5; ISBN 10: 1-59863-296-5 ($29.99).

Kelly L. Murdock has a background in engineering, specializing in computer graphics. He has worked on several large-scale visualization projects, created 3D models for several blockbuster movies and has worked as a freelance 3D artist and designer. Murdock is the author or co-author of several books, including seven editions of the 3ds Max Bible, two editions of the Illustrator Bible, Adobe Creative Suite Bible, Maya 7 Revealed, LightWave 3D 8 Revealed and Poser 6 Revealed. He works with his brother at his co-founded design company, Logical Paradox Design.

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