Fork in the Road
I previously wrote about critic feedback for The Exigency and the big message about the visual quality needing significant improvement. That has been taken seriously and I'm doing what I can to make that happen. This brought me to a fork in the road where I needed to decide whether to stay with my old software where I'm most familiar or venture into the dark cold swamps of unfamiliarity in order to make it better.
Today, I can finally say that I've made the decision to step up and be brave with a program that I'm much less familiar with, Blender. After viewing some of the first rendered shots, I can't imagine using Poser for this. The difference is staggering. I feel as though I need to leave the nest and spread these wings.
Poser will still be used to provide the base character models from the previous film as a starting point, but that's about it. I don't plan to use Poser for any rendering or animation aside from pre-viz stuff.
This is not to say that this was not a difficult decision. I went back and forth many times trying to find ways to make it work. I found an ugly, inconvenient workaround that would have allowed me to import Poser animations directly into Blender, but it would have been a lousy experience. I made a comparison between Blender and Poser and the pros and cons. It is clear that the benefits of using Blender outweigh Poser for this next film. Plus, I tried using Poser recently and I was reminded of my struggles of the first film with weird glitches and frustrating bugs.
Although I anticipate this sequel will be completed at a higher quality and much faster than the original, it will also be more expensive. It is going to take a village to create this film and things are already underway. At the same time, I will be learning as much as I can in the process so I can be as effective as possible. In just the last few months, I've learned a fair amount.
The great thing about Blender is that it has a larger support community. It's easy to exchange files with other people and this makes the workflow so much faster and flexible. The other great thing is the many online render farms like RenderStreet.com
Having a render farm that I can pay a flat monthly rate for is a game changer. I'm so accustomed to rendering on my local machine which doesn't even come close in terms of render speed. I can crank up the quality settings and not worry about rendering for weeks only to find an error in the render and start over. What would normally take my computer weeks will now take hours.
Above all, Blender is open source and free to downloa at blender.org. That's hard to beat for such a robust tool. I think it's right up there along with Maya in terms of capabilities. There might be some downfalls but it's several steps above where I was. Not to say that I'll never use Poser again, but just not in the same capacity. It's time to buckle down and see what challenges lie ahead.