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Ben’s CGI Blog

Ben Margolis is the Chief Developer at Rocketship 3D. He has been a Poser user since 1996 (Version 2.0), a Renderosity Member since 1998,  and is the Project Leader for PzDB, a Microsoft Access database application designed for CGI illustrators. His blog is cross-posted on his personal website

July 7 2014

It’s official.  We’re done.  PzDB 1.3 was officially rolled out today.  Sorry for the delay, but at the very end there we had to invent an entirely new technology.  The PzDB Grouping Pack.

There we were packing up the last version, when someone asked, “what about default Groups?” When we released PzDB 1.2, Victoria 4 was the top of the line.  There have been *just a few* additional characters released since then.  And as we were compiling the new list of Default Groups it became unmanageable.  But we also realized, not all Poser users have Genesis 2 content, and DAZ Studio users certainly don’t need groups for Poser default content.

What if users could install only sets of Groups that they needed? …  But I digress.  If you’re a PzDB user you’ll be reading all about Grouping Packs in the documentation.  And if you’re not a PzDB user, and your reading my blog, then you really should download the free trial.

That’s all for this week, now get back to work (right after you upgrade PzDB).

May 23 2014
Where does the time go?
Wow, six week without an update! Sorry about that.

Well it has been a busy few weeks. First, a couple of weeks ago we had a massive hard drive failure on our biggest production computer, the one we use for 3D rendering, Poser ... and web publishing. While no data was lost, thanks to RAID, and appropriate backup procedures,  we did have to totally start over with Windows ... and all the apps. And that took time. So many apps, much disks, such downloading,

Then transferring all the data from the old, broken, multi-terrabyte RAID stack to a new, larger, multi-terabyte RAID stack took DAYS. And when all is said and done web publishing still wasn't working. That took another week (and several calls to GoDaddy) but at last, here we are!

Oh that's right, you don't care about any of that! You don’t care about my little problems. You just want product development updates! (You're so predictable.)

Let's see, PzDB 1.3 is almost, almost, almost ready for release, just finishing up the manual and a last couple of things we overlooked in the new user Wizard (none of our beta testers being new users). Not to mention all the advertising art and graphics, for which we needed our main production computer. Did I mention the massive harddrive failure?

And the Universal Sizing Apparatus! We’ll be adding a few new Presets and MeasureMe Poses in the Downloads page. Plus, we're working on both Apparatuses for Vehicles and Furniture & Interiors (or should we just call it the “Universal Sizing Apparatus for Sets”? I welcome your feedback on the issue.)

And about the other new products: I can't talk about those. Stop asking me! (Seriously, first PzDB, then the rest of the Apparatuses, then we'll have something to talk about.)

So that's all for now. More later, get back to work.

April 12 2014
The End of Beta (yay)
We're just finishing up things right and  left around here! PzDB13SoonIco

PzDB 1.3 is wrapping up Beta this week. Release Candidate 1 is going out to the beta users and is actually already on sale in our Payloadz Store with automatic online license delivery.(Because we have to test that, too.)

Just as soon as we have the documentation done, that'll be heading out the door.  And yes, it comes with a new, clean 60 day free trial for all you cheapskates who still haven't "decided to buy it" ... yet.

But (I hear you ask) with the Sizing Apparatuses done, and PzDB 1.3 almost finished, what will you be doing next? Excellent question! And the answer is; while we still have two more Sizing Apparatuses  in the works, we also have  two  entirely new products coming out that we think will really impact your CGI animation productivity. Yes, twice between now and the end of the year, we hope to drastically improve your work-flow. We want to help you go from just wanting to do CGI animation to getting it done.

But  I’m getting a little ahead of myself, first thinks first, we have PzDB 1.3 to release.   More next time.

March 6 2014
Compatible Logo1bFinding compatibility, followed by good luck, hard work, a little sweat and a lot of love, and then finally: Release!  I am referring, of course, to DAZ Studio and the Universal Sizing Apparatus. 

We are pleased to announce that the Universal Sizing Apparatus/Woman version 2, and the Universal Sizing Apparatus/Man, and  the free Universal Sizing Apparatus/ HxWxD  version 2, have all been released and all DAZ Studio compatible.  And to celebrate our newfound compatibility: Rocketship 3D is now a DAZ studio Affiliate!  As you may have noticed the lovely and a scantily clad Victoria 6 leaning against the wall like a prostitute in the sidebar.

So head on over to the store to pick up your copy of the Universal Sizing Apparatus/Man, and if you’ve already purchased Universal Sizing Apparatus/Woman, you should be receiving an update for your vendor.  Either way make sure you grab the freebie HxWxD.

Now back to work on the new release of PzDB.

February 1, 2014
THERE! (Finally.)

The Seventh Seal has been broken!  The last DAZ Studio compatibility issue has been resolved.  After the most extensive beta testing in our company history, I’m happy to report that now we have the Universal Sizing Apparatus compatible with DAZ studio.  Special thanks to Tom Latham for all of his diligent work.  We could not have done this without you, Tom.

What we’ve learned during the course of this project about cross-platform compatibility between Poser and DAZ Studio could fill a book (and just might).  While, to us end-users, Poser and Daz Studio appear to be very similar programs, they are not.  It is true that they both read the same data files, and do very similar things, but they are about as alike as CorelDraw and Adobe illustrator, or Microsoft Access and dBase.

While you could import two Adobe illustrator files into CorelDraw and merge them, you would not get the same results as you would if you merged those files in Adobe illustrator.  Nor would you expect to.  They are different programs, and as they import or export each other’s data they make minor changes to it.  The same is true for Poser and DAZ studio.  But because those programs represent a three dimensional “real” space, we expect things to be real in there.  To be consistent.  But they are just two different programs with two different ways of juggling bits and digits and the results are similar, but not identicUniSizeM-PoserDAZal.

A given morph target will work in both programs, but, from our experiments we’ve learned that minor, nuanced adjustments to morph targets do not produce the exact same results in both programs.  And most likely, no one has ever noticed, or cared.  But for the Sizing Apparatus to work, we needed precise, identical behavior in both programs.

We solved the final puzzle by adding large amounts of data that forces DAZ Studio to interpret the parameters in precisely the same way as Poser does.  This extra data is unnecessary for Poser, but does not negatively affect it.

So now with this knowledge we are ready to finally wrap up this project.  The Universal Sizing Apparatus/Man has been ready for weeks but he wanted to fix this before we release it.  Now all that is left is rewriting the Manual to include all this new information we’ve discovered and then packaging these products at for distribution.  It’s been a good week.

PzDB13SoonIcoJanuary 10, 2014
(I used to love that game.)

Suddenly I feel like Cave Johnson: “Some of you may have noticed that the Beta Testing for PzDB 1.3 has gone on longer than we expected.  Well it turns out trying to keep people from stealing your software is a little like trying to keep the NSA out of your email” 

But seriously, we like to make software that works. But a Product Activation system is designed to keep software from working when you don’t want it to work. And making software work when you want it to work, and not work when you don’t want it to work ... well sometimes that doesn’t work.

So we’ve got good news and bad news: first the good news, the next version of the PzDB 1.3 does have the new Product Activation system built in, and we have the new Product Activation web server up and running.  And the bad news, we just can’t seem to get PzDB to talk to the new web server, and time is running out. I mean that literally.  But the PzDB 1.3 beta version we distributed back in September has an expiration date built-in of January 15. And so: TIME EXTENSION!

Everyone involved in the PzDB 1.3 beta test will be receiving email shortly with a patch that will extend the beta test for one month.  We certainly expect to have all of this ironed out by then.  (Hmmm,  maybe we should have made it two months.)

December 15 2013
I got it… I got it… I got it… I ain’t got it.

OK, everyone who has a working Universal Sizing Apparatus in DAZ Studio take one step forward … Not so fast Margolis.  So close, and yet so far away!  Despite my recent reports to the contrary, conflicts with DAZ Studio continue.  Every time we fix one thing in Poser, we break something else and DAZ Studio.  But we are making progress.

Thanks to the diligence beta testing efforts of a user in Austin Texas, we’ve established that the original sizing apparatus was off by a little less than 1%.  Turns out, some of the original measuring devices that we used to create the apparatus in the first place, were themselves inaccurate.  We have now recalibrated the apparatus to the internal measurement systems in both programs.

I cannot list all the things we learned about poser and DAZ studio compatibility issues,  internalized geometry files are one problem right there.  Links to external .OBJ files are much more stable.  We’ve learned all kinds of things about how to create parameters that don’t have cross talk.  But still there are problems.

The current Universal Sizing Apparatus/ Women imports properly into DAZ studio, measures correctly at maximum sizes, minimum sizes, and default sizes, and yet does not actually measure correctly between them.  How on Earth is that possible?

Work continues…


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