Interview with Poser Creator Marcopol

Jul 20, 2023 at 08:30 am by nemirc

As a pioneer in the creation of digital humans, Poser has attracted a wide variety of creators, thanks to its versatility, ease of use, and set of powerful features. After a journey through other creative mediums, Marcopol settled on digital art. He is interested in art history and often uses Poser to re-create images based on the style of classical artists like Vermeer. He has a long association with computers and computer graphics. 
In this interview Marcopol shares his background, love of creating, and why he chooses Poser as his tool for self-expression. And check out the slideshow (see above) which features selections of Marcopol's Poser scenes. 

Interview with Marcopol

Can you tell us about yourself?

I live in France. The visual arts have accompanied my life for a long time, my practice has gone through different modes of expression: drawing, painting, making dioramas, videos, to refocus today on photography and computer graphics. I also like to enrich my knowledge of art history. I also try to find the right words to analyze what all this brings me and pass it on. I think the value of art is a certain way of being in the world, of questioning how we look at it, and of trying to meet others, through nuances of communication more extensive. The images that I post here are intended to maintain these nuances, as an instrumentalist must do his scales.

How and when did you get involved in computer graphics and Poser?

At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, my first encounters with computer graphics were those with programming and code. In the 80s, there was no WYSIWYG interface or graphics software available to everyone. I did my apprenticeship in a computer center, ordering drawings on plotters by programs. I gained experience with the evolution of PCs and their graphics capabilities. I first practiced image editing (Photoshop has become a friend of mine) then video editing with Premiere and a little After Effects. I discovered 3D with the first version of 3DStudio, then with Lightwave. At the time, I practiced more matte painting on my videos to increase the environment of my filmed actors.

My first encounter with Poser came from a magazine that offered version 4. The manipulation of the characters interested me, but they weren't elaborate enough yet. Things really started with Poser 6, then 7 (I tracked all updates up to 11) and versions 3, then 4 of Michael and Victoria. I had a little taste of Genesis versions up to 8, but I preferred to develop my library and my skills around version 4 which is fully compatible with Poser.

Oldies but goldies

What are your favorite Poser features and why? What tools do you find yourself using the most?

I really like the concept of separate rooms: the 3 rooms that I use the most are: the pose room, the material room and the cloth room. 

In the pose room, I often use a single view, where I quite quickly set the view of the main camera which will give me the angle of view of the final rendering. The square format neutralizes the choice of verticality or horizontality of the image. When I manipulate the poses, I naturally use the posing camera, as well as the 2 camera arms, when I carefully place my hands. This is also true when I use the morph tools on bodies or clothing.

I use more and more the Create grouping function to make the different elements appear or disappear at will when I create an increasingly busy composition. I also like to place a horizon line or a focus distance guide when I'm going to integrate a photograph as a background, which is why the cloth plane that serves as my ground is also visible in the wireframe to show its alignment with the background in this case.

In the material room, I love to manipulate the nodes of the materials, it is a very powerful tool associated with the precise choice of lighting. I should point out in passing that I always render my renders in Firefly, because I am still not used to the settings in Superfly. Thanks to books and excellent tutorials offered on this site, I learned the role of the different functions (especially mathematical) on the nodes of materials. There I rediscovered my taste for programming and its logic. It goes without saying that scripts that automate these changes to a set of settings make life easier. In addition, I gladly like in Photoshop, to develop certain textures that I cannot find for purchase.

The cloth room is one of the rooms where I sometimes spend the most time, to get the movement of a garment that I want. Long before Dforce in Daz studio, I find this tool to be one of the most powerful in Poser. Here again, learning the different settings is necessary with the help of tutorials; once you master the basics of what makes a fabric fall, you can experiment without wasting hours on it. The two dynamic groups that are my favorite are the constrained group, which allows you to block certain parts of the garment in contact with a body; and the choreographed group which allows you to move parts of clothes in different directions (this is very useful for stretching a garment for example). Then create wind force is added to the possibilities of movement in the cloth room

I was interested for a while in dynamic simulations on soft bodies, but without developing my research enough.

The lost Prince
What workflow do you follow when working on a project? How does the creative process work?

I think creativity is not a continuous flow, like when a tap is turned on. I need a trigger, a stimulus, which opens me up to a question; if a question does not appear, you learn nothing, neither about yourself nor about others. I quote Marcel Duchamp from memory: “Making a work of art is like going on a date. In this conception, we must humbly accept that this appointment may be missed. 

It is often an accessory, an object or a body and its pose that will trigger my first search. I have a long practice as a model maker: when I choose to build a model, I am above all interested in the story that it will carry, and who will accompany me, until I have finished its achievement. 

Yet realism is not an end in itself for me, just like a certain eroticism that I like to question in my images; these are only the triggers for what could lead the viewer to enter a little into the darkness of the forest that I will discuss later. 

I love genre scenes, they tell "little" stories, while sometimes allowing themselves to convey a moral that goes beyond the simple contemplation of the details of the scene. In fact, I try to make mine the concept of Jean-François Lyotard: the figural; that is to say the moment when the figure escapes the narration to approach another type of discourse. Concretely, my sketches present unfinished stories where I challenge the viewer to question the choices of interpretation that my images leave to them. This often

involves the discovery of a work of art that gives a key to reading my image, or the choice of details in the composition that guide the movement of the gaze and the interpretation. Sometimes certain puns have the value of visual games, to prevent a single interpretation. 

Once the pose of the characters is in place, I look for the accessories and the degree of dressing of the bodies. Nudity is a primary state of the presence of the characters, as one learned to draw the muscles before mastering the drapes. Nudity is also sometimes the stripping down of an idea. It doesn't always impose itself. 

The lighting set becomes very important at this stage, it sometimes happens even before the decor. It is he who builds the penumbra of the forest. I got into the habit of following a set of tutorials, to use a set of 5 sources: Main light, back light, specular light, bounce light (simulation of reflected shards from the ground), HDR light. I really progressed when I integrated the HDR light settings. I sometimes make my own HDR light by

photographing reflective spheres in the landscapes where I walk, sometimes I reconstruct them artificially by software. For some images, especially in chiaroscuro, I associate the indirect light setting in the rendering with the SSS nodes of the materials; this of course increases some rendering times considerably.

The decor is either constructed or completed by a forced perspective given by a photo. From my beginnings, I loved breaking the limitations of 3D, through compositing. It is another challenge to perfect the integration. 

For me the image is finished, not when each detail is at the service of verisimilitude, but when after having attracted the spectator within my image by these details, I allow him to come out of it, by having made him discover the how I forced him to look at it. The main narrative of my images is that they are "machines to show".

the cheat with Ace of Hearts - after G. de La Tour
How would you convince someone new to 3D graphics to try out Poser? 

Poser transforms us into a puppeteer or a theater director, a photographer, a filmmaker. I love casting my characters, choosing their morphology, age, adapted to what I'm going to tell. I feel like a better photographer when I choose the angle of view and the lighting that will define the scene. The docility of the software teaches me patience, I can start over as many times as I want, my settings, my composition; what a real shooting session would hardly allow me. 

I share the idea that you have to find and cultivate your inner territory and be in the middle of the world, without being the center of the world. This is why I feel comfortable using Poser's space and its tools to reconstruct my little inner theater.

Do you have a wishlist of things where you would like to see Poser improve?

Like MollyFootman, I wish the import and export modules were more refined and reliable. I like to increase my prop library with different files that I glean from the net and adapt to the Poser interface. I find that Poser, like its competitor, often offers the same ranges of clothing, the same themes; as if you simply had to redo the previous ranges with each new character. 

In the era of recycling and extending the life of what we manufacture, I try for my part, in an artisanal way to readapt poses of new characters to V4 and M4 that I mainly use, as well as accessories that I put on their scale. 

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