Ten things to know about DAZ Studio 4
1. Ooooh! New shiny!
DAZ Studio 4 is the latest version of my render application of choice. DAZ Studio 4 updates the underlying core libraries and render engine and also brings a whole new workflow, interface and generation of figure to the table. Read on for more details.
2. It’s free!
DAZ Studio 4 Standard Edition is free right now, but only for a limited time. After that it will cost around $50, and still a bargain. There is also expected to be an always free (but cut down in some way) Lite version as well as an Advanced and a Pro Edition for increasing amounts of cash. There is talk about some kind of web-based ultra-lite free trial edition, but that seems to be some way away as yet, if it appears at all.
The current (and free) Standard Edition is feature complete – there’s no time limits, silly watermarks or resolution constraints. This is the same version of DAZ Studio 4 Standard Edition that will cost money at a later date, and includes all future updates and upgrades, for free. Not bad, eh?
The hot news about DAZ Studo 4 is that is comes complete with DAZ3D’s next generation figure. Meet Genesis.
In the beginning, everyone ran around like this
Genesis is total unimesh figure that can be anything you want it to be. Morph dials can turn the figure into a Male, Female, Child, Alien, Bodybuilder and more – or any combination you choose. The base Genesis figure that comes with DAZ Studio 4 Standard is effectively Michael 4, Victoria 4, Kids 4 and a sizable chunk of their Morphs++ packs, all rolled into one. Joint modelling in particular is much improved; Genesis has none of those ugly fake crease lines we saw under Victoria 4’s shoulders.
Note that Genesis is a whole new figure, and is NOT compatible with existing V4 or M4 character morphs (textures are compatible though – see below). I expect additional Morph packs will be coming soon which enhances the figure further. As this is a gender neutral figure (Male or Female is just a spin of the dials) I expect we’ll see just one Anime Morph pack (rather than the Aiko & Hiro morphs needed for V4 and M4), a single Freak Morph pack which will bulk up both male and female figures, one Creature Morph pack (again, no need for one for male and one for female), and more.
…. then there were clothes
The other advantage with the Genesis figure is that all clothes made for it will be usable by both Male and Female figures. If (like me) you love rendering Fantasy and Superhero themed scenes, that’s a huge win. At last the Female figure will get decent armour, and with one single unified Bodysuit on the horizon it will be far easier to create superhero teams where the members all wear matching uniforms.
Same clothes, same figure, different sex
I should mention that this is nothing new. Victoria 4.2 had a Male Morph, but it was sadly underused and under-supported by the vast majority of content developers including DAZ3D themselves. I hope that this new push for a genuine universal mesh bears fruit this time around. From what I have seen so far, Genesis is a terrific figure and well deserves to succeed.
Children too. If I can’t make a decent Halfling Rogue from this, shoot me.
4. Included content
Aside from the base Genesis figure, DAZ Studio 4 Standard also includes:
- Male, Female and Child base resolution textures (shown above – they’re not half bad at all)
- Male, Female and Child Wetsuit textures
- Aldora Hair
- Duke Hair
- Sally Mae Hair
- WildMane Hair
- Journeyer Scout clothing (pants, boots, sash, vest, wristguards, armband, katana)
- Magus clothing (boots, collar, jacket, leggings, shorts, earrings, staff)
- K4 Basic Wear (boxers, briefs, shirt, tankini)
- The DAZ SubDragon LE (yep, a dragon, for free!)
- Aikanaro scenery
- Alchemy Chasm scene
- UberArea Lights
- UberEnvironment 2 Lights (all renders on this page use UE2 Park light, medium quality)
- … and more. I’m still working through the list like a kid in a candy store!
As all of the clothes can be mixed’n’matched and work with both the male and female morphs, this is a great starting wardrobe for fantasy and modern day renders, and could be pressed into service for superhero renders too with a little creative texturing. What this space!
No, not this space. The other space.
5. It works with all your current content
This is worth emphasising: if you currently use DAZ Studio 3, all of the existing content will work with DAZ Studio 4 just fine. There’s one notable (and temporary) exception: Dynamic Clothing does not yet work with DAZ Studio 4, but that is expected to be enabled in an update Real Soon. The dynamic clothing engine has not yet been updated to the new libraries, but when it is this feature will be rolled out to Standard Edition, for free.
If like me you have a frickin’ huge Runtime folder full of years worth of existing and much loved figures, clothes, props, hair and more, you’ll find they all work just fine inside DAZ Studio 4, right out the box. If you’re new to the render game, it’s comforting to know that there’s a decades worth of content out there, ready and waiting for you.
An added bonus is that textures made for Michael 4, Victoria 4 and Kids 4 work on the Genesis figure. Select the figure, then head into the Surfaces tab, select the correct UV Map, and you’re done. This means you’re not limited to just the provided base texture provided with DAZ Studio 4 Standard, but have access to thousands of other texture sets including the outstanding Elite textures for Vicky and Mike. Poses should also work to a fair degree, but expect some tweaking and fine-tuning along the way.
Genesis wearing Michael 4’s Elite Rob texture rather well
6. New layout if you want it, customizable if you don’t
When you first start up DAZ Studio 4, it looks something like this:
The layout is designed to be easy to use for someone new to the world of 3D with important tabs for content, positioning and all the basics right at your fingertips. Everything has a tooltip, and big fat friendly sliders are the order of the day.
One thing that has always been one of DAZ Studio’s strengths is that the interface is highly customizable to your tastes, and DAZ Studio 4 is no exception. Thanks to AprilYSH’s tips on how to turn the interface into a more comfortable layout for longtime DAZ Studio 3 users, plus my own tweaks to fit my netbook’s smaller screen, my own layout looks like this:
Much more workmanlike
It’s good that DAZ3D has taken the time and care to create a user interface which is designed specifically for new users, and extra kudos to them that you are entirely free to change it once the training wheels are off.
7. Render times
My own unscientific tests on my utterly lovely netbook (about as minimal a spec computer as you can get these days) show that DAZ Studio 4 is a touch faster than DAZ Studio 3 when rendering, and significantly faster to set up and load content. On your own systems your experience may differ, of course, but it’s good to see that the new edition doesn’t demand new hardware just to be able to run. Nice one, DAZ3D!
Hair is still a killer when it comes to render times, especially when using the UberEnvironment lights. For example, the render below took around 30 minutes to complete, and a good 50% of that time was on the hair. Nonetheless, I would have expected a render like this to take about an hour under DAZ Studio 3, so it’s definitely made a step in the right direction.
Genesis wearing V4 Sakura texture, Magus outfit and Aldora hair
8. What’s missing
There has to be a catch right? There’s a few, but nothing show-stopping. The 64bit version isn’t released yet, and dynamic clothing is Coming Soon. Some shaders which were designed specifically for DAZ Studio 3 are unlikely to work (the Poserwork shaders in particular, as I understand it) until they are recompiled and updated. This released has benefited from a long and extensive open beta testing period, but there’s bound to be bugs lurking and waiting to be discovered. DAZ Studio has a solid history of releasing regular updates though, so I expect any nasty bugs to be squished rapidly over the coming weeks.
It’s perhaps worth mentioning that DAZ Studio 4 installs a CMS Service demon which auto-starts and runs in the background on your computer as a kind of mini-indexer for your DAZ Studio and Poser content. This is designed to speed up searching through your Runtime folder (particularly when it gets very large), but some users are unhappy with the idea of Yet Another Service eating up their computer memory, especially when DAZ Studio itself is not running. If you wish, you can turn it off or uninstall it entirely with no negative side effects – it just means you can only use the Content Library tab to access content, and the My Stuff tab will be unpopulated and can be removed.
9. It installs alongside DAZ Studio 3
Perhaps best of all, DAZ Studio 4 installs into a separate folder and does not interfere with an existing DAZ Studio 3 installation at all.
If you currently use DAZ Studio 3, there’s nothing to be lost by giving DAZ Studio 4 a try. I plan to keep both on my computer while I learn the ropes with the new kid, and it’s good to know that my trusty copy of DAZ Studio 3 is there when I need the comfort blanket of a familiar application.
Genesis with M4 Elite Rob texture, K4 Basic Wear top and boxers
10. DAZ3D likes You Tube
There’s no shortage to tutorials, information and details about how to get the best out of DAZ Studio 4 over on DAZ3D’s You Tube channel. If you want to take DAZ Studio 4 for a spin, I recommend spending some time over there to learn more about the new features. The videos also detail the (many) new features which I haven’t even begun to explore yet.
There’s a full list of DAZ Studio 4 videos and tutorials at the bottom of this post. Here’s the overview vid.
(I mentioned DAZ Studio 4 is free, right?)