Poser 1 was originally released as a Mac only product. Porting it to Windows required us to put components in place that were found in Poser up to version 7 and the first Poser Pro. With the release of Poser 8 and Poser Pro 2010, we were finally able to remove those old bits and pieces.
Poser 2 was a small niche product in the Fractal Design family. With the release of Poser 3, we transformed it into a run-away success — a testimony to ease of use, cool features and a great product. With Poser 4, we turned the product into a flagship, second only to Painter in terms of financial success.
Version 3 cemented our relationship with Zygote for the in-app content. They had published a CD called "Parts and Props” that we resold at Fractal for version 2, which had been a popular add-on. As product manager, I combed through Zygote's collection of off-the-shelf items and furnished them with copious image references for clothing items. But on one item, the "catsuit,” I needed to provide a good bit more guidance.
Version 3 was the marriage of the interface design skills of Phil Clevenger from Metatools and the functionality of Poser from Larry Weinberg at Fractal Design. This brought interface philosophy of Bryce to Poser users for the very first time. We were a little nervous that users from versions 1 and 2 might miss the old UI, so we enabled a quick shift to that original interface by simultaneously clicking P, O, and 2.
Version 3 included posable hands and a library of American Sign Language pose-sets. Several site licenses for the product were donated to major universities with programs for the hearing impaired. (PhilC also made a great Fingerspell plugin freebie, which you can download from his site!)
Version 3 supported BVH motion capture data, helping Poser emerge as a premier tool for motion researchers looking to display motion capture data.
Upon the release of Poser 3, Larry said to me "Some day in the future we're going to see a student who learns their animation skills from Poser becoming the next Spielberg." We've still got our fingers crossed on that one.
Steve Yatson, who was doing QA on Poser 3 at the time, proposed that he could set up a Poser email list in which we could invite users to participate. We promoted the list in a cover letter that was included with the Poser 3 box. This list grew very quickly and became a wonderful resource. However, the information would fall off the list and disappear as posts aged. A few resourceful list subscribers started funneling email list info onto a threaded forum, creating what is now the enormous Poser forum community.
In 1997, Metacreations' marketing wanted to create a 365 day calendar with images from all of the products. Poser users were only able to muster up a handful. Today, users could fill the calendar many times over. (Check out our Poser gallery.)
Clearly, we needed a way to allow users to swap clothing, or they would always be confined to using figures with the clothing modeled on. In a Poser 4 feature meeting I brought up this challenge and suggested that perhaps we could treat clothing a second figure that would match the transforms of the base figure. Larry immediately visualized how to create the now famous conforming clothing feature based on that simple concept. This was a turning point in the development of Poser and content for the app.
Version 4 introduced a number of great features including conforming clothing, magnets, a delightful sketch renderer, transparency, and facial morphs to support lipsync.
At trade shows we would subtly invite users that were interested in seeing the more "adult” aspects of the product to a closing Poser 4 demo. The QA team at the time had created some very interesting "blue” video that was the core of the demo. Sales would always stay open to follow-up on those last minute purchase opportunities.
Mike Helpingstine and the Lipsinc team in Cary, North Carolina had been quietly working on a research project based on Poser. They had figured out a process for analyzing the spoken word and transforming recorded sound files into a Poser file that would drive the Phoneme morph target we included with Poser. This product became Mimic, the first add-on application for Poser. Today this text to phoneme functionality is included in Poser 8.
When Larry and I founded Curious Labs, we hired most of the core Metacreations team that handled support, testing, sales and development of Poser to keep the product alive and preserve dozens of jobs. It was like working with family.
At our debut of the rebranded Curious Labs' Poser 4 in 2000, we launched the product at an enormous party at SIGGRAPH New Orleans, with over 600 folks in attendance. We created an animated lenticular invite that was shown on national TV because it was so cool. The party was a great intro for Curious Labs and the little product that could.
This article in the New York Times made me very proud of our PR team, our product and our users.
ProPack added support for Lightwave, 3DS Max and CINEMA 4D for Poser 4 users and really helped the product gain traction with other 3D product users. Poser emerged as the character content portal that it is today.
We released Avatar Lab in November 2001 as an affordable tool that could create animated 3D avatars for Adobe Atmosphere 3D worlds. We hoped with Adobe's backing of a virtual world, the dream of 3D on the web would really come alive. Although the product was really fun and very affordable, Adobe let the initiative fade away, and we were left without a viable market for the product.
Version 5 was the most ambitious release of Poser in its history, with a new REYES based rendering engine with raytracing and shader nodes for material creation, dynamic cloth, strand based dynamic hair, collision detection, photo based facial modeling, and our first in-house 3D character set.
A sad moment of silence for the Poser Render Progress Guy who retired with version 5. The file is called status45.avi and was simply a looping animation of our first Poser figure doing a sidestepping motion. It would loop throughout the render process. Hats off to you, Render Progress Guy!
Josh Reiss and Jack Walther worked many hours together to build upon Josh's BodyStudio, expanding the plug-in to work not just with Maya, but expanding the functionality to allow Poser scenes to be hosted inside Max, CINEMA 4D and LightWave as well. This work is alive today in our PoserFusion plug-in set that is included wih Poser Pro 2010.