My Discovery of "Poser"
Updated: Dec 27, 2019
My interest in 3D animation was sparked after my mother took me and my brothers to the Santa Barbara film festival in 1998 when I was 13. I was amazed to see that one of the short films was all 3D animation and created by a single person. The film was about a small robot that tried to make his way to a box of donuts while dodging many obstacles along the way. Up until that point, I thought this sort of thing could only be done by major Hollywood studios since this was somewhat soon after the release of "Toy Story". I didn't realize the general population had access to these kinds of tools. My mother saw my curiosity and she was able to make contact with the creator of the short film after the festival. After speaking with him, we found out that he'd used the 3D program called "Bryce 4". This discovery changed my world.
Bryce 4 was perfect for a beginner like me to start learning the basics of 3D modeling and animation. The ease of use inspired me to make a 3D feature film. However, Bryce was made primarily for landscapes; not human figures. I needed to figure out a way to create 3D people. Once again, my mom made another discovery in a magazine article about a human figure tool called Poser 4. It was not long until Poser 4 was added to my toolkit.
I was pleased to find out that Poser was just as easy to use as Bryce. I was eager to see if I could combine the two programs to make a feature film. To my disappointment, they didn't mesh well together at all. I barely knew anything about these programs, but I decided to go ahead and start making a feature film anyway. My plan was just to learn the programs along the way. So, from September 2000 - April 2001, I worked on my first 3D feature, "Forsaken"
With such limited knowledge of what I was doing, the movie resulted in many unintended and unnatural body movements. The character's limbs would fly randomly and oftentimes break. It took 8 months to complete and the total duration was just over an hour. It was good practice overall and is still hilarious to watch all the awfulness.
I have always preferred making feature films since I was a kid. With 3 live-action features and 1 animated feature under my belt by the age of 13, I decided I wanted to dive into a second animated feature film. After Forsaken, I created "Silent Hill", based on the popular video game. I was a huge fan and wanted to create a movie that followed the same general storyline with my own spin. This was long before the live action Hollywood adaptation in 2006.
Created again with the same tools, "Silent Hill" took 18 months to complete and wasn't much of an improvement from "Forsaken." I wasn't spending much time learning how to make things better. I was focused on just creating a feature film. These two movies have never been shared anywhere beyond my family and friends.
During this time, I created some short films and used Poser for some school assignments.
Obviously, Poser looks very outdated compared to modern day 3D work.
However, I believe the story is more important than the realism of a film. Whether you use Maya or sock puppets, it is the story that matters most.
Very few people have heard of Poser in comparison to other 3D applications. With a lot of pre-made assets and figures, Poser allowed a novice like myself to dive into the world of 3D and explore the possibilities. It's a great introduction to the basic concepts and the world of 3D.
Poser has greatly improved since version 4, but it's still not perfect. If I had a dime for every time I got the "unexpectedly quit" message, I could buy a small country.
This message has haunted my dreams and caused me a lot of frustration throughout the years. I was sure to incorporate the message in "The Exigency" to add humor to the pain.
(Kyle introduces other projects created with Poser)
I have had a love-hate relationship with Poser. I can't hate it too much because it has allowed me to put my imagination on the screen for others to see. When I was a kid playing with action figures, I thought of stories and imagined my own movies playing from beginning to end. I always hoped I could have a way to make them a reality one day. 3D was the door that would allow me to make any kind of film without needing millions of dollars and a team of thousands. Poser played the biggest role in making that happen.
I have since stopped using Bryce but am still using Poser after 21 years. You'd think I'd know everything about the program by now, but there's still plenty of controls and options that I have never explored. I'm still not the best (just watch "The Exigency"). Although, with each project, there is a learning experience. As long as they keep developing the program, I'll probably be along for the ride, creating more stories.
See more at making of for "The Exigency".