Key release: Daz Studio 4

Key release: Daz Studio 4
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

November 14th 2011 at 9:00AM

Develop looks at the new Daz Studio 4 Advanced and Pro suites

What is it?: An art and animation tool with a focus on character design
Company: Daz 3D
Price: $229.95 (Advanced), $429.95 (Pro)
www.daz3d.com

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Like the base version of Daz Studio 4 released earlier this year, the new Advanced and Pro editions are at their core art and animation tools with an emphasis on character creation.

Designed to let artists create and manage assets – including props and environments – Daz Studio 4 includes a wealth of features, including a lip-sync engine, a RenderMan compliant render engine, mesh deformers; surface material shaders and advanced rendering effects.

All of those are currently available in the base version of Daz Studio 4, which is temporarily available for free. What makes the Advanced and Pro versions worth paying for, say the tech’s creators, are the extra features that push the tool well into the territory of high end design software.

MORE POWER TO YOU

“While the standard version of DAZ Studio is a solid solution for many digital artists and provides a large set of tools to help users be successful immediately, DAZ Studio 4 Advanced includes additional powerful render effects and controls that help users to really get the most out of their scenes,” says Daz 3D president and co-founder Dan Farr.

“DAZ Studio 4 Pro includes all that the standard and Advanced versions do, along with a very comprehensive and complete set of figure setup and content creation tools.

"Pro is designed for those who wish to design, or heavily edit and customise their own 3D elements – figures, clothing, hair, props, scenes, etcetera – beyond what is available within our large online catalogue.”

Whilst all of Daz 3D’s tools are suitable for those across numerous creative industries, it’s the very core of Daz Studio 4 Advanced and Pro that make the tool ideal for game developers.

A NEW BEGINNING

Having completely redesigned the geometry pipeline of Daz Studio 4, its creators have conceived the Genesis figure platform, which reside at the tool’s heart.

Genesis utilises single-skin, sub-d figures with weigh-map driven joint bending, making the job of exporting assets into various games engines via FBX or Collada simpler than ever.

Introducing a new weight-map system, and improved auto-rigging and auto-fit, Genesis offers users a virtually limitless set of additional figure shape variations that can all be built from a common base.

“These variations can range in both size and proportion while maintaining a common joint system,” explains Farr.

“Everything from massive, muscle-bound freaks or curvy super-heroines to adorable cartoon kids or frightful monsters can all be created and combined from this single figure base.”

CHANGING TIMES

The Advanced and Pro editions of Daz Studio 4 are in part a response to a changing industry. Farr and his colleagues have identified a greater need for quality content that works in a production house pipeline – particularly in the blossoming indie space.

That considered Daz 3D, which also provides packages of pre-made assets to game developers, has attempted to better bridge the gap between its catalogue of assets and requirements of the various game engines through its changes to the Studio 4 toolset.

“We had two major goals that drove our development for this version,” reveals Farr.

“First, creating a new figure platform that was free to service the largest demands of our customers. Our customers want maximum flexibility without compromising on the overall quality and realism of their figures.

"The technology behind our new Genesis figure platform addresses just that. This new platform provides a level of versatility and quality beyond anything our industry has ever seen before.

“Second, more and more new users are wanting to take advantage of high-end tools like ours, but have a hard time making it through the barriers to entry.

"One of the biggest barriers, we've found, is the learning curve and complexity of the tools. As a result, we worked hard to lower these barriers and make DAZ Studio 4 a better experience for first-time users.”