I’ve been using Daz Studio 3 for a couple of years now, mostly because I’ve been too lazy to learn Blender like I should -but I think I’m finally done. There’s just too much wrong with it and I don’t think it’s ever going to be fixed.
Most of the art of my online novel True Tales of the Soryan Order is done using Daz Studio 3 (the free version), and it’s been working out passably well for still images, but I’ve recently undertaken a serious animation project and the bugs and limitations are very frustrating and in one case just insurmountable.First things first -still images. My workflow calls for using the cartoon rendering mode of Daz Studio. It’s a bit more complex than just choosing “Cartoon” in the rendering options, but it usually worked.
The main problem with Cartoon mode in Daz is that when an object is lying at approximately or greater than 70 degrees to the camera, it’s rendered as black. This is obviously very annoying. Look at this image rendered in the “Normal” mode of Daz 3:
Then look at the same image rendered in “Cartoon” mode. The ground is all black. That kind of sucks. Actually it REALLY sucks:
What this means usually for me in still rendering is that I have to make two renders, one in Cartoon and one in Normal, then combine the layers in Photoshop. Definitely do-able but damned annoying.
So you can see where I’m going with this. With still images, you can kind of finesse some things, maybe move something off to the side, set up the scene in such a way to avoid the issue. If you can’t then you resort to compositing in Photoshop. But in animation, there’s no way to really get around it.
At any given frame, there’s probably gonna be something that’s positioned at least 70 degrees to the camera, and whatever it is will be rendered as black. With video, there’s really no time to go back and then render the same clip again but this time in the normal mode, then composite those clips together? This could potentially add hours to your workflow.
To quote Bill Murray from the movie S.T.R.I.P.E.S. – “I think it sucks.”
So that’s that. Now on to the second farce. I bought Dreamlight’s Lens Flare plugin for Daz. Checking the system requirements, it states it needs the latest version of Daz as of this writing, which is DAZStudio 184.108.40.206.
Normally I’m very hesitant to upgrade Daz, because there are usually show-stopping bugs in each release. But I decided to chance it for this plugin, simply because adding a decent lens flare at render time could save me time later in Final Cut Express.
So I downloaded it, and of course I was given cause to regret it. I installed Daz and then the Dreamlight lens flare plugin. As soon as I did so, Daz stopped rendering videos.
What I mean by this is that Daz looked like it was rendering, it took the entire 6.5 hours supposedly rendering the clip, but when all was said and done all I got was a .mov file that was only 8kb large and consisted of a black screen with 0 frames in it.
I have to admit that first I thought it was the Dreamlight plugin, so I uninstalled it and re-rendered a test clip -same thing, 8kb empty file. Crap. So it had nothing to do with the Dreamlight lens flare plugin.
Doing a search yielded this forum thread (since vanished) explaining that this is a bug plaguing the Mac version of Studio 3. Windows users seem unaffected.
The thing is, I’m not really sure how the bugs are tracked at Daz. Is this bug even really reported or did someone in the forum just say it’s a bug and then never reported it? It looked like someone from the forum team was on the thread but who knows what happened.
I tried to go to the bug submission page and submit but it asked me for my login info and when I entered it I was told it was wrong. I wasn’t in the mood at the time to go and register again for another part of the site so I’ll go back later. Hopefully there’s a way when you login to search through the bugs to prevent duplicate bug submissions.
Anyway, I was forced to revert to a previous version of Daz to continue working (luckily I always kept the installers of older versions).
Installing the Dreamlight plugin into the older version seemed to work (no errors), but I couldn’t get it to function in an animation so I guess it really did need that later version. Curses. No telling when that bug will be fixed so I’m not holding my breath on it. I suspect the Daz team is overworked and probably putting most of their efforts into the commercial programs that they can actually collect money for.
So there we have it. Another day, another Daz failure. Really this is all my fault. I started getting into 3D years ago. If I would have put in the necessary work with Blender back then I’d already be up to par with the animation in that program. Now I’m paying for my laziness.
Those of you reading this don’t make my mistake. If you’re serious about 3D animation, get something else with a better track record, even if you have to pay for it.