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Just Checking In

June 6, 2012
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I was doing some maintenance on some web sites for people and I said, “Boy I should check in on the little Firelight blog…” It’s been a long time since I posted here. So what the heck happened? Well, work happened. A few things got to the point of overwhelming, and it got too hard to keep up with it all. Unfortunately the blog fell by the wayside. I also had a hard drive crash awhile back, and I haven’t even gotten the old 3D software reinstalled yet. And the photography took hold full time. It’s where my creative roots are.

So the little blog will remain intact, and while some of the posts are dated when it comes to software, I hope you find some of the thoughts and ideas here useful.

I’m Happy To Report…

September 27, 2010

Well I’m very happy to report that the Akismet spamcatcher that comes with WordPress works just great. I’ve been away from blogging for a bit because of work obligations, but did remember to check in this morning. What a field day the little spam bastards had, posting on everything from weight loss to football jerseys to Viagra. Don’t these assholes know what an annoyance they are? I was particularly amused by this one

This is a good post and may be one that needs to be followed up to see what happens A good friend sent this link the other day and I will be excitedly awaiting your next page. Proceed on the amazing work.

Just wonder what online translator they are using to come up with this crap.

It’s fun to scan those stupid things for a minute to see what plots are cooked up by these morons to scam people out of money, then just check them all and hit a mass delete.

Thanks to WordPress for a great little utility.

Editor’s Update Jan 2012: Comments are now turned off on the blog. Really tired of all the assholes peddling their viagra and fake iphones.

Poser Pro 10 Review From A Real User

September 6, 2010
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It’s web reality – look for a review of almost any piece of electronics or new software, and in many cases, you’ll simply find a regurgitated press release touting the new features. I had heard about the new Poser Pro 10, and when my fiend Mike announced to me he had gotten it, I asked him for a little rundown of what’s new, what’s better, is it worth it? He graciously replied and is kind enough to share the info with all of you out there too.

Smith Micro Poser Pro 10 Review
by Michael Darcy Brown

Here’s a somewhat subjective look at Smith Micro’s Poser Pro 10, intended for readers who have experience with Poser and might be thinking about upgrading.

PP10 is intended to be a professional tool, and the claim is based on two advantages over Poser 8 and previous versions:
-PP10 is 64 bit
-PP10 promises to correct some of the shortcomings of Poser which have kept it from being very useful for commercial purposes.

In my experience PP10 does seem to take full advantage of multi-core CPU power and big-gig memory.  Working with heavy, resource-demanding scenes does not give you the feeling of trying to sculpt with molasses in cold water. And rendering is orders of magnitude faster than Poser 7.

The correction of earlier Poser drawbacks attempts to fix two major shortcomings:
-the Poser Digital Asset Management system
-the less-than-professional render quality of the Firefly render engine

Poser’s Digital Asset Management system has always been a disaster. If you use the default Poser organization system it does not give much choice as to where you put resources. Poser looks for them in certain places and they had better be there. And it doesn’t help that DAZ products are self-installed by .exe file installers and give you few options as to where you put resources. To make it all worse, you cannot open most resource files simply by using the OS file finder and importing them; you have to use Poser’s file finder to open poses and such files. This system ensures that you will end up with a mess of files which are organized by Poser-version, and by vendor name, and in other ways, all at the same time, and eventually you won’t be able to find anything.

PP10 tries to fix some of this situation with a new file finder. It offers features lacking in non-Pro Poser,
-a search function (but the search is very slow)
-a favorites function, so you can make elements favorites and not have to find them in the morass every time you need them (but the favorites function is somewhat awkward)
-the file finder allows you to vary the size of the thumbnails and do some other things to help you find your files

These new features do help. However, they do not comprise a perfect remedy. Nor can I offer you one here. To really organize your Poser stuff you will need to learn how and why to create multiple runtimes. The new PP10 file finder plus creating and maintaining your own runtimes will allow you to, if only barely, maintain some semblance of organization among your Poser assets.

PP10 Improved Rendering and Lighting
Rendering with the Firefly engine is vastly improved in PP10 over Poser 7 (I never used Poser 8, so I can’t compare P8 and PP10).

The big feature addition to rendering in PP10 is Gamma Correction. The whole subject of Gamma Correction is a complex and even controversial (see the Poser Forum on Renderosity). How Gamma Correction affects rendering seems to depend on whether your are talking about hard-smooth surfaces or ‘organic’ surfaces. i.e. human skin. These are two completely different issues, concerning how shaders for legacy Poser products were set up, and lots of other factors. What Gamma Correction means to me is that PP10 renders hard/smooth surfaces quickly and easily (in terms of lighting and render set-up) with very good results.

As to the lighting:
-the Poser 8 Studio Lighting (which simulates common real-world studio lighting set-ups) can produce some pretty good results, with the right render settings. The look is a sort of Toy Story matte.
-the IBL lighting works best for the DAZ Michael and Victoria people. In renders settings you will need Displacement Maps, HDRI Optimized Output, and Gamma Correction all turned ON.

PP10’s 64 bit rendering means saying goodbye to the old 4096×4096 limits to image sizes. If you do renders for professional use, this alone probably makes it worth it to upgrade to PP10.

All in all, I would say that PP10 is worth the price, if you have some familiarity with Poser (if not, you would probably be better off with different software, because the money saved may not be worth the climbing the Poser learning curve). I have been able to get some renders from PP10 which I was satisfied with, even very satisfied; this never happened with Poser 7. I avoid the reflections shader, and I still cannot get the shadows right no matter what I do.  I guess I could try reading the manual.

Supposedly COLLADA makes it possible to import PP1- scenes into C4D and other higher-end 3D software. I was not able to test this. Maybe V-Ray has a plug-in in the works for PP11. That would, it seem, open the door to really high-grade renders of the huge library of low-priced content in the Poser/DAZ/Renderosity world.

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Thanks Mike! I appreciate you sharing the great info!

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Reality 1.0 Now Available for Daz Studio

September 3, 2010

Reality V 1.0 is now available for Daz Studio, and yes I’m exited about it since it hooks up to the great LuxRender, probably one of the finest 3D renderers out there, open source or not. The Reality program is discount priced at Daz 3D until 9/21/2010. Now the question is – Will I have time to work with it? This is a plug in I’d really love to spend a lot of time with, but that’s at a premium these days.

It looks like Daz has entered a new generation of rendering possibilities here, but will people hear the call? Users need to get out of the Default settings box and quit turning out the stuff that looks like it was done in 1998.

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Happy Birthday Michael!

August 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Michael! And instead of some cheezy Happy Birthday song, I’ll send to you best wishes and a listen one of my very favorite musical performances. This is the song that bangs around in my head at various times of the day.

Wishing you all the best and I hope you have a Happy Day!

More Splashes

August 28, 2010

Somewhere bouncing around on my hard drive I have some more splash photos to post along with some comments, but right now, this is much easier 😉 I’ve always been more interested in the droplet formations rather than large objects.

There’s much more on this over at Peta Pixel courtesy of guest poster Clint Decker

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Memories of Battle Creek

August 22, 2010

Back when I was a kid, I recall ordering things from the back of a cereal box. Back in those days, you could safely put a dollar bill into an envelope and have it safely delivered and then processed at the destination, which was usually Battle Creek, Michigan. Oh I had visions of Battle Creek, a magical place where a chignoned and bespectacled middle aged lady would lovingly handle your dollar bill, then carefully select your special offer toy, pack it up lovingly and then ship it off to destination. Things are so much different now. Your dollar bill would be lucky to endure transit through the postal system, and even then, could be ripped by unsavory employees.

I recall one of those special offer toys – it was a red plastic race car with a transmission powered by a rubber band. Money was at a premium when I was growing up and it was a real treat when my parents decided to spring the 35 cents at the time to get it.  Back in 1960, 35 cents could buy you a meal. I remember the day the little car came. My uncle was over that day and he helped me read the instructions. He discovered the car was also an amphibious vehicle, and he quickly went to put some water into the bathtub. We had a ball with that little thing, and even used to take it over to the wading pool at the local park.

Those were simpler days. Now with credit cards and online ordering, things just seem so impersonal.  Yes there is the one camera vendor who knows the sound of my voice when I call. Everything is neatly wrapped up into their computer file, I just tell them what I need and we’re done. But the mystery is gone, the angst of waiting “4 to 6 weeks for the order to be processed.” I placed my most recent camera accessory order on Thursday, and things arrived on Saturday. Hardly even a wait.

So what was in the order? Well a new 89B infrared filter, a few goodies for the Leica, and a new neutral density gradient filter. My 89B was lost long ago, my old ND grad was so banged up it was almost to the point of it not being useful anymore. While there is pleasure in receiving the goods, the mystery is gone. It still was a little bit of a thrill to get the stuff because they’re things I don’t normally use in my work. It will be mostly used for creative sprees, something I’m longing to get back to. Have to get into gear with the infrared though, because before you know it , summer will be gone and the leaves will be off the trees.

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