#59: SHADOWS & LIGHT (Vue)
#58: ADVANCED DIRT MAPPING (Vue)
#57: SSS IN VUE 9, AND THE "SPECKLE" PROBLEM
#56: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL OF ART
#55: FIXING POSER CLOTHING
#54: MAKING "FOREST WAR - GOBLIN SHAMAN"
#53: MAKING A STUDIO RENDER FOR VUE
(and other apps)
#49: NEBULA MKIII (Vue)
#48: RENDER SETTINGS FOR VUE (Vue)
#47: POSTWORK - MAKING A RENDER INTENSE (Any)
#46: MAKING RIVERS THAT FOLLOW TERRAIN HEIGHTS (Vue or Bryce)

OPTIMIZING POSER & OTHER ITEMS FOR VUE

This is a tutorial on how to improve Poser and other imports, to work more efficiently within Vue,
so they take less resources and fix some common problems :)
Updated 03-06-2010
PART 1
  • As most folk who use Vue and Poser know, importing Poser items makes a HUGE hit on your resources! A 30k to 150k poly poser person, can take a massive chunk of avaliable resources, where as a 500k Sci-Fi space ship may not even take 1/4 as much.
    There are several reasons for this, and solutions for them:

  • Primarily, the fault lies with the enormous texture maps used for Poser. Often these are 4000x4000 in size or so, which is gigantic, and take tons of RAM to address.
      The amount of memory used by a texture varies, but basically, the more bit depth an image has, or the larger it's length and breadth, and the more detail variations it has, the more RAM it takes.
      So, two exact same pictures, but one is 1000 x 1000 pixels in size which givesa base of "1,000,000" but a 4000 x 4000 version of the sam epicture would have a base of "16,000,000", that's a huge potential jump in memory size!
    Note I said, potential, the actual size can vary greatly depending on the image.
    In general though, large image sizes = resource suckers!
    ;)

  • Images which are specifically greyscales (greyscale = black and white) can have less resource impact, as they dump the colour "bits", so less information on the file and thus less file size.
      Also, the .gif format can use less resources, provided the image is NOT a "Photographic/render" type of image with lots of highly varied image parts, i.e., a vector image is fine, that is, images with areas of flat, pure colour, such as decals or simple, 3 or 4 colour camouflage are ok for .gif format for small file size. A .jpg with such images is also small in size as well.

  • What I do to help with this memory useage problem, is to examine an Poser person's textures in the Poser material room, where the material image resides, say "Poser4/runtime/texures/DAZ/Characters/MilMan".
      I open that folder, COPY and PASTE a copy of the original image, into the same folder or into a new one I name "Originals", this is to preserve a copy of the original image if I wish to use it later for high quality pin up renders or the like.
      I then resize the originals down. A texture size of about 1500 or less pixels is fine, you can take it down further if you wish, but it's the big 2000 and larger ones you need to deal with for sure. If I'm making an "army" of Poser folk, a scene with many models, I may reduce all textures down to 512 or so size. But it's not vital for most work.

  • I resize images down using VSO Image Resizer, this is an awesome little app that lets you right click, and resize the actual file from inside the folder without needing to start another application up! You can also use Windows Image Resizer (For Windows XP only), or Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop etc.
       With VSO Image Resizer, remember and use "Action "Replace Original", you wish to save over the original. I set it to 95% quality, so you don't end up with low quality "jpg artifiacts".
      A problem with the jpg format, especially for bump maps, is that it is a "Lossy" format, it starts to degrade the lower the quality setting and the more often it's duplicated, so you start seeing square, blocky errors, called "jpg artifacts". These make bump maps look terrible for fine work, so bump maps should always be kept large, high quality or in lossless formats (if you want to use them that is, which you don't always need to , see below).

  • By saving over the originals, whenever you start Poser up, it will replace the huge image, automatically, with the small one. Saving you hassles!
    Though you may need to re-load/re-save the Poser file and material if it doesn't do so. Since you have a copy of the original, if you do a highly detailed close-up shot, you can instead load the big textures up again, in Poser or in Vue.

  • CAVEAT!!
    if you want to render very large "Pin up" images, that is, where the Poser figure will take up most of the image, and the image is also going to be large (2000 pizels or more), then you want to use the large original Poser textures. THis is because you'll need the high quality for such a big image in close up, especially the bump maps (and also displacement or normal maps)
poser texture recution and copy

PART 2
  • When Poser imports are brought into Vue, they often have black highlights! So it maybe a good idea to go through all materials, and change this as you see fit.
      By default I change the highlight to white, and set it to Highlight Global Intensity 5% and Highlight Global Size 5%, which is fine for simple materials like walls etc.
      Skin I usually put to 10 or 15% highlights, 15% is generally better for damp, sweaty or dark skin, as well as nails and lips.You may need to tweak according to the scene though.
       If you use variable highlights (see below) increase this as need as the image map may reduce the highlight strength.

  • Additonally, to improve the person's look for large pin up renders, remember that highlights are rarely flat and even, so link the colour or bump map to the Highlight tab if you wish (select greyscale when you link, not Alpha).
    This adds realism to any texture.However, it may need increasing in strength by increasing the % strength, or by adding a filter node...bit involved but basic point is that some textures create too dark an image to use for just the highlight base greyscale, running it through a filter that increases it's strength is an idea.There's several ways to do that, such as using the "Multiply" filter, which is kind of involved and for more experienced users...in other words...figure it out for yourself! ;)

  • Poser imports may not have a bump when brought in, or, they may import huge bump images. It's up to you, what to do here. Usually I just enter the Material Editor, and connect bump to the Greyscale of the Colour map, to provide some bump, and get rid of any bump maps. This saves resources by not using another image, and adds interesting bump on most things.
      Set bump to a very small size, usually -0.004 for skin or -.002 perhaps for female skin, or -0.05 for leather etc, or the like, as a default, as they can be too rough otherwise.
      Note the negative ( - ) there! Usually you want to invert the bump from an image as Vue is weird and inverts greyscale images compared to how most apps use them. Test to check, as sometimes it gets odd. This is a general rull for ALL bump and greyscale images with Vue. Usually, inverting works, rarely it doesn't. Easy test is to set the bump strength very high to let it be seen easier, then turn it back down after the check.

  • Note, that for some items, you may wish to keep a detailed, specific bump map. Up close or for large pinups or items, bump maps have to be VERY detailed to allow realism. So again, for "Pin ups" etc, you may well be needing to keep the huge bump images.
      Or, you can try and use a Vue procedural bump, or small tiling texture. All depends on what the item is. For example, fine armour with engravings, up close you'd need to use a supplied bump map if the engravings come from the bump, and you wish to keep them. But, if the figure is in the mid or background, the engraving may not be so prominent, so using a reduced bump image maybe ok.

DEFUALT HIGHLIGHT IMPORTS FROM POSER AS BLACK:
THIS IS BAD! HIGHLIGHTS SHOULD NEARLY ALWAYS BE WHITE
import showing black highlight defualt

CONNECT BUMP TO COLOUR, TO SAVE RESOURCES FROM HAVING A SEPERATE BUMP MAP


WITH BUMP CONNECTED TO COLOUR MAP
with bump
WITHOUT BUMP
without bump

ROLL MOUSE OVER, TO SEE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NO BUMP
AND -0.004 BUMP FROM COLOUR MAP
ROLL MOUSE OVER, TO SEE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN -.004 BUMP
AND -0.008 BUMP FROM COLOUR MAP


PART 3 - REFLECTIONS
  • Often, special features such as Reflection are messed up on import. Usually, Poser supplies a "reflection map", which is of almost no use in Vue. It sets reflection to 100%, and makes things worse!
      Remove the reflection map, and put reflection way down for most objects that have it, 15 to 25%, say.
     For added realism, you can add a Variable Reflection, from a procedural or image map, for precision or interest. For example, imagine an old, dirty mirror. The reflection will not be perfect on such a thing, some parts won't reflect or be partially reflective as they are covered in dirt. Using a variable reflection can simulate that. I find that objects with bump will not need "blurred reflections", so unless an object is a mirror or HAS to be very flat, use or add bump instead of blurred reflections, as it saves a lot of render time! Blurred reflections in the material editor, require a lot of extra CPU cycles that isn't really necessary most of the time.

  • If the object isn't going to have much of a visible reflection or is inthe background, don't bother adding variable reflection.


    Always remember this general rule: if it's in the background and not seen too well, you don't need anything fancy! ;)

PART 4 - FIRE MATERIALS
  • Poser "fire" materials often have Reflection on, you do not want this!! When importing Poser "fire" materials, which have transparencies, make sure to turn off the Reflection completely, and turn highlights to zero as well. All you want to see is the fire iteself, with the rest cut out neatly ;)

  • Note to add Luminosity to the material, and perhaps a Light in the scene, as mentioned in part 9 below. If it is to light an area up in a Radiosity render, Luminosity, especially high values 100% and higher, will cast light.
This pic shows how bad the Poser fire looks on import, if not fixed,
due to the defualt use of reflection maps in Psoer for Fire
poser fire = bad
ORIGINAL FIRE MATERIAL IMPORT SETTINGS
note these add reflection, and Cast and Recieve shadows, which are bad, fire doesn't need to recieve shadows.
Casting shadows is "iffy", except for making an "area light" wjich must cast shadows, or doing radiosity renders, where the fire will actually throw light.

ORIGINAL FIRE MATERIAL IMPORT SETTINGS,
these add highlights, not needed and may show up on the alpha plane transparency, ruining the look
Turn off reflectivity.
Add Luminous, so the fire is bright, and visible in the dark.
Highlights turned off.
Cast Shadows and Recieve shadows should be OFF, usually, for fire material, except "area lights".


FINAL, TWEAKED FIRE (with light)

    PART 5 - METALS

    Remember that METALS have a unique material property: they colour light reflected from them, with their innate colour, which is why all light from lead, for example has a bluish grey look.
    So, in the Material Editor, go to the EFFECTS tab, and adjust the "COLOUR REFLECTED LIGHT (METALLIC)", property. Up to you how much to set it, as it depends on what looks nice, but I set it to maximum for polished metals, and less for dull/corroded stuff. or link it to the texure or colour map for variations.

metal

PART 6 - OPTIMIZING THE MODEL

  • Not all parts of the model maybe actually visible. So, if you wish, delete them! They are just memory waste. For example, a knight in armour, you won't see his actual legs, so delete them to save some polygons and materials. Thus, you can often delete much of a heavily clothed figure! ;) However, a warning! If you later wish to alter the figure, to show his leg for example...there's nothing there...

  • Thus, what I usually do, is save the full figure as an unwelded .vob Vue model with all parts, but, when putting them in the final scene, I'll delete non-essential parts, or save a copy that's reduced and named as reduced version

  • When you weld a model up into one solid item, you reduce resource needs too, as it's one solid, not dozens of them.

PART 7 - OPTIMIZE BY USING PROCEDURAL MATERIALS
  • Another trick to cut file sizes for materials, is to use procedural materials or your own special reduced ones. Procedurals are often fine on not very obvious parts, say, leather shoes. Easy to mix up a brownish material in the Material Editor for this kind of job, especially using my Dirt Map Material, hint hint ;) .
     I've also got a bunch of materials I made for metal, wood, etc, that are generic to much of the art I do (fantasy), I can swap these in to replace Poser ones.
    This trick saves a ton of resources!

PART 8 - OPTIMIZE BY REDUCING THE NUMBER OF MATERIALS
  • Another way to cut file sizes down is to reduce the NUMBER of materials in your figures and scene. Each material uses resources. So why have half a dozen leather materials, which all look much the same at mid-range, if your resources are suffering? Use the "Collapse Identical Materials" on Poser import, that tends to reduce that problem, but not totally.

  • Go through the materials in your model, see which are the same or, can be replaced by the same material. Often, Poser imports have left/right eyes with the same materials, but each is named left/right
    usually Collapse identical materials stops that on Import, but not always as some are different.
    Unless you are VERY close to the face, there's no need to have different eyes, or, the arms and shoulders of a dress may
    have exactly the same material, but because they are named different, it doubles the number of materials, as they are
    seperate materials.

  • So I'll go through a model or series of models in a scene, they can all use the same basic set of materials for sword blades, another for brass, one for bronze, one for shoe leather and belts, and so on. That greatly reduces the total number of materials in a scene, and has a massive saving on resources!
    It is a matter of taste and checking though, since up close, some materials, especially if they have fine engraving and detail, are best left with original Poser image texture.

  • Note, if you do reduce materials, and then weld the model, if you "Split" it, it only splits into these reduced number of material regions!

  • When the Mapping type of a material is set to WORLD, it makes sure the fractal variances will be different by poistioning, by the way. Which is what you want to ensure each metal on a dozen soldier's armour will be different, for example!
 If a scene has a dozen soldiers, you don't need 12 different steel materials for their swords,
12 steel materials for their shields etc, which soon adds up to a vast number of materials you
don't need and in total will use up a LOT of resources
So, use a few procedural materials instead, and the fractal nature of well made procedural materials
set to "World" mapping will add enough randomness to give good variation like real metals.

PART 9 - LUMINOSITY
  • Note that importing some objects with lights, you will need to add some "Luminosity" to it, in the material editor. For example, the wick on a lantern will give off light, the LED display on a laser gun will be visible in the dark, so add Luminous to their properties, note, it will actually light a scene if the object is big enough or the Luminosity is set high.
      You can set Luminous to amounts higher than 100%, by typing in. However, once an objects luminosity is more than about 30%, you start losing the actual colours etc, it gets washed out, you can drive what parts are Luminous with a function (like in the Material Editor assigning the Luminous channel to the texture map)
    Another interesting point is that when you render with Radiosity, illuminated materials actually throw light into a scene! Thus, say you have a TV screen on a model, if you put Luminosity up, it will actually light the scene.

  • Another trick for lighted objects, with Vue6 Infinite, say a lamp flame, duplicate the lamp flame object, select Hide From Render, so it won't be seen as an object, and turn it into an "Area Light", maybe increase it's size just a small bit. So it surrounds the original and the light doesn't get blocked, or, do the reverse if it's inside another object, like a glowing liquid in a bottle.
    Bingo! Instant perfect light from the object, and you can still see the actual flame ;) It doesn't always work, sometimes your best using a few, soft, quadratic lights instead.
    Note, as of updating this tutorial, this trick doesn't seem to be working with Vue8 :/

PART 10 - EXPORT ALL CONTENTS OF A POSER SCENE

  • A neat ability of Poser, is to export the ENTIRE contents of a scene, to a folder: the pz3, .obj model, and the textures! Cool way to seperate out every dern texture in the scene for fixing, or models for making morphs etc.
  • To use this ability, do this in Poser:
    File--> Run Python Script--> navigate to your Poser program directory, Runtime-->, Python-->, Poser Scripts-->, Utility-->, CollectSceneInventory.py, then select "Copy all to Folder" and select destination folder.
  • This tip comes from folk on the Vue forums, www.renderosity.com :)

PART 11- SUBSURFACE SCATTERING (TRANSLUCENCY)
  • Vue Infinite v6 can use SubSurface Scattering (also reffered to simply as "SSS", and called "Translucency" in Vue), this lets skin, jade and similar materials have a more realistic look, but it is tricky to use!
  • See my tutorial #32 for more details on this!
  • Skin Average depth should be about 2mm, or 0.003 feet.
  • Balance 60%
  • Absorption 0.13
VUE SUB SURFCACE SCATTERING (TRANSLUCENCY) SETTINGS FOR VUE 6
These settings will give a very dark tan, or coppery look, as the Color Correction is at the default state, for skin more like Caucasian, you'd need to push the Overall Color up to a much lighter pink.

Note, as of Vue 8, this is different. Keep Scattering filter the default grey, and past "Overall color" into "Absorption filter color"
Vue SS settings

PART 12- SKIN VUE
  • A neat way to improve Poser people's skin is to use "SkinVue", a commercial Python plugin and material changer application that you can run from inside Vue.
    It makes skin much more realistic and natural without having to muck around with tweaking subsurface scattering, and even adds extra detail (Which would be a real pain in the arse to try and replicate yourself, in the material editor, believe me! lol).
    You can increase the specularity, which is to make skin more sweaty/moist, more red, veiny or even add "wet skin", for very sweaty skin (great for jungle/fight scenes), or emerging from the ocean etc..
    Best for close up and medium distance folk.
Three renders, below, show the difference on importing Victoria 4.2, with just her default materials, versus SkinVue, and SkinVue "wetskin".


skinvue off

skinvue on

skinvue wet


PART 13- COMPARING POSER SHADERS VS VUE MATERIALS

Vue can import with "Poser shaders" turned on, that is, import and render exactly as Poser is supposed do it...
I don't recommened that! Usually hand tweaking materials in Vue produces vastly better results, following comparison pics show this:

Figure on the left has the "Poser shaders" materials, figure on the right has hand tweaked materials for small resource usage.

Here, you can see the difference most obviously!


PART 14
  • And finally...when you are finished with your Poser person or object, save it as a Vue object (.vob) and include all textures!!
    Then use that object in your scenes, it will use less resources. It willl also make using the scene years later, if you want, much easier as it's nto looking for a "Poser" item, but just the Vue compatibile model.
    Sometimes I find welding the model up helps with resources, but screws up Translucency (Sub Surface Scattering)

I hope you find this of use! :)

 

 









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All original art, writing on this site, copyright of Steven James, "Silverblade the Enchanter" ©2012