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METAFORM / DROPS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Index

General Questions

What are the memory/system requirements for MetaForm?

What does MetaForm do?

What can you do with MetaForm?

How is Drops related to MetaForm?

What new features does MetaForm have compared to Drops?

 

Features and Use Questions

Why do you need the surface button toggles?

Why, when I apply a preset to a prop does it have no effect?

Why is a simulation/surfacing action necessary before the surface parameters become available for editing?

Why can't I increase the number of simulation frames beyond 30?

Why does the surface disappear when the plug-in is closed? Is there any way to save a file with the surface present?

When I apply a Preset, why does my emitter still output the default white surface material?

Why, when I parent a MetaForm prop to another object in Poser, does the MetaForm prop shrink?

 

Development Questions

Are there any plans for Mac development?

Why are there no editing functions? Do you intend to add them?

Does MetaForm support, or will it ever implement Booleans?

 

Effect Questions

I'm having trouble enabling emissions for the tongue of a dragon figure to create a fire breathing effect?

Can I control the random output/direction from an emitter to create pulses like a sprinkler?

How can I make particle emissions look more like a fountain?

Can I use MetaForm to create atmospheric effects like rain or snow?

 

 

 

Troubleshooting

Is there a manual supplied? Where is it?

Cannot download Drops? WinZip reports that the file is corrupted.

MetaForm reports a "Newer version of Poser Required" error.

MetaForm Reports: "Traceback (most recent call last): > File "<string>", line 45, in ? > ImportError: No module named MetaFormP*.pyd"

When I try to add a blob in Drops, Poser reports an error saying it cannot find the file wjxtempprop.pp2

If you can't find the answer to your problem, contact us at support@weirdjuice3d.com.  Forums soon too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Q. What are the memory/system requirements for MetaForm?

MetaForm's base system requirements are identical to Poser's minimum requirements, with a very small overhead for the memory footprint of the plug-in.

However, as with Poser, the more you attempt to do with MetaForm in a scene, the greater the memory requirements.

We recommend, for reasonably complex work using the supplied Presets, that users have at least 512MB RAM and also 100 MB free disk space.

Q. What does MetaForm do?

In Poser there are three standard ways to manipulate geometries: translation operations including movement, rotation and scaling, deformation operations controlled by joints and magnets and morph operations. MetaForm adds a fourth type of geometric manipulation to your Poser scenes: dynamic surfacing.

This is achieved by the introduction of a new type of Poser object (a surface) the geometry and mapping of which is calculated dynamically frame by frame according to the location and attributes of special underlying MetaForm and MetaFlow props and special parameters that can be added to any normal Poser prop and figure.

MetaForm's dynamic surfaces are further enhanced with advanced material mapping options, multi layer depth effects and particle simulation (MetaFlow) tools.

Q. What can you do with MetaForm?

MetaForm doesn't have a single specific use but instead adds a considerable amount of additional functionality to Poser. During the development process we concentrated on ensuring that certain key effects such as basic modeling, fire sources and water surfaces and fountains could be achieved but these only represent a sample of the potential applications.

Q. How is Drops related to MetaForm?

Drops and MetaForm both use the same basic technology to create volumetric surfaces around "field generating" objects in the Poser scene. In Drops the only objects are single point source metaballs (or blobs).

The current version of Drops (v1.0) is a slightly older implementation of the code, but it is intended to update this in the future.

Q. What new features does MetaForm have compared to Drops?

MetaForm provides the following main features in addition to Drops:

  • Different shaped field generating objects in addition to single point metaballs include boxes, spheres, cones, cylinders, planes, disks and filaments.
  • Advanced field characteristics including noise and wave patterns.
  • Advanced automatic UV mapping options for the surfaces including multiple projection types, perturbation and inherited texture coordinates from the underlying field generators which can be used as blending controls for P5 materials.
  • Multiple surfaces.
  • Multi layer (onion-skin) surfaces for depth material effects.
  • Virtual metaball generators (emitters), deflectors and consumers for creating fluid flow and gaseous simulation effects.
  • Integration with Poser figures and props allowing them to generate fields and emit/interact with particles.

FAQ Index

 

DEVELOPMENT QUESTIONS

Q. Are there any plans for Mac development?

We fully intend to support the Mac community and once the immediate (PC) release support is covered we will begin to look at Mac porting issues. Technical requirements still need to be addressed and no decision has yet been made as to whether ProPack will be supported or just P5/OS-X. Nor has a decision yet been made as to whether the current version of MetaForm will be ported or whether multi platform support will be deferred to the next development version.

In the meantime, our free metaball product (Drops) will serve as a "test bed" for any interface changes needed for cross platform/application porting, so a Mac version of that should appear as soon as we've covered the main technical requirements.

Q. Why are there no editing functions? Do you intend to add them?

Given the level of interest amongst users, some limited editing functionality is under consideration for inclusion in future updates of the current product.

Future products will likely concentrate more on the modeling possibilities, including CSG modeling which will necessarily require more advanced editing functionality.

Q. Does MetaForm support, or will it ever implement Booleans?

"True" Booleans (Constructive Solid Geometry) modeling is one of the key features in the product list for the next major release of MetaForm. It was excluded from the current version as the intention there was to concentrate on maximising the potential of the fluid simulation/iso-surface meta-modelling technology.

The current technology has some potential to emulate CSG modeling techniques by use of the solid MetaForm types and a combination of high subdivision and interpolation to reduce the surfacing inaccuracies that are prone to occur when generating regular forms with the sampling techniques used by MetaForm.

FAQ Index

 

FEATURES AND USE QUESTIONS

Q. Why do you need the surface button toggles?

The reasons for the toggle function are firstly that the surfacing calculations can be quite time consuming in "busy" scenes which would reduce interactivity if they were performed every time that a metaball was adjusted and secondly that individual MetaForm props and the interactive surface are actually separate props: the visibility needs to be switched between the (interactable) MetaForm props and the (dynamically calculated, but immobile) surface prop.

The surface toggle action both reduces the need for continual recalculation and controls the visibility of the props.

Q. Why, when I apply a preset to a prop does it have no effect?

The Presets that we have provided are generally of two separate types: Surface Presets (pose files applied to surface props which mainly set the materials and UV mapping parameters) and Emitter Presets (like the flamethrower) which set the particle dynamic parameters.

As the Presets are implemented as a special type of Pose file (pz2 or p2z) which set specifically named parameters and materials, they need to be applied to the correct type of props to have any specific effects.

Q. Why is a simulation/surfacing action necessary before the surface parameters become available for editing?

This isn't in fact necessary. The Surface prop that has the parameters can be edited at any time after it is created; either as a default action when MetaForm/MetaFlow props are added to an empty scene, or explicitly through the Create Surface button. When a Surface prop is first created and when it is not active, it has no geometry and therefore cannot be directly selected by the mouse in Poser's document window. However, it can still be accessed through the actor->props drop down menu under the document window or in the P5 parameters palette and the "current active" surface can also be selected by clicking on its name above the surfacing buttons of the plug-in.

Q. Why can't I increase the number of simulation frames beyond 30?

The number of frames is limited to the total number of animation frames in the Poser scene, which can be set by typing a new value into the Frames XXX of YYY field in the animation controls at the bottom of the Poser screen.

Strictly we didn't need to constrain the simulation length to the scene animation frame limits, but simulating extra frames does take more time and require more storage for frames that likely weren't going to be shown in an animation. If you need more frames, you need to set number of animation frames in Poser first, before performing the simulation.

The Number of Pre-Frames however, is not really limited, but pre-frame information is not stored, it just helps establish the "starting position" of the dynamic effects at the first frame.

Q. Why does the surface disappear when the plug-in is closed? Is there any way to save a file with the surface present?

It is a "designed-in" feature, the rationale being that removing all of the excess geometry reduces save times and save file size and whenever MetaForm functionality is re-enabled the geometries generally get recalculated again anyway.

If you want to use the surface geometries without the plug-in active, it is possible to save the pz3 file while surfacing is active in the plug-in and then, after closing the plug-in, revert or reload the file with the surface geometry present. Otherwise you can export the surfaces in a supported format using Poser's File->Export menu option (Wavefont Object format is best) and re-import them as a static prop.

Q. When I apply a Preset, why does my emitter still output the default white surface material?

The material settings are controlled by the Surface Presets, so loading an emitter with a preset will not actually change the surface materials of the emissions.

If a Surface Preset has been loaded to a Surface prop and the emitter output still shows the same default surface, it is possible that the emitter is associated with a different surface than the one intended. Most MetaForm and MetaFlow props are associated with a specific surface. If they are created when there are no surfaces present in the scene, the plug-in creates a default surface. Otherwise it associates the prop with the "current active" surface, i.e. the one named above the plugin's Surfacing buttons. In order to find which surface a specific MetaForm/MetaFlow prop is associated with, select the prop and the name of the active surface in the plug-in window will change to the one associated with the prop.

The association between the props and the surfaces cannot be changed so if a MetaForm/MetaFlow prop is associated with the "wrong" surface, the only option is to delete it and create a new prop.

Q. Why, when I parent a MetaForm prop to another object in Poser, does the MetaForm prop shrink?

When a prop is parented to another in Poser the prop's position and scale parameter values are recalculated relative to the new parent, so that the prop retains its current size and position in the universe, but has parameter values that are relative to the new parent. The same applies to un-parenting, in which case the new parent is the Poser universe. You can see the parameters values change when you perform a parenting operation on a prop.

The scale channels of MetaForm props are influenced by channel linking to the field extent and object scale parameters of the prop. This linking causes problems when MetaForm props are parented to one another or to other Poser actors. When Poser recalculates the parameters for MetaForm props it fails to take account of the effects of the scale channel linking and therefore the final calculations are wrong. However, if you manually reset the scale parameter values after parenting, the MetaForms continue to work in the normal way.

FAQ Index

 

EFFECT QUESTIONS

Q. I'm having trouble enabling emissions for the tongue of a dragon figure to create a fire breathing effect?

In the case of figures its not possible to restrict emissions to a single actor, but it would be possible to export a body part, re-import it as a prop, parent it to the original body part (with bends enabled), enable particle emissions (as a prop) and then turn it invisible, hence giving the same impression as a single body part emitter. However, for a "projection" effect like a dragon's breath, there is a problem with this method as the direction of the particle emissions is determined by the direction of the polygon normals.

A better idea for this effect is, however, using a Directional Emitter prop positioned and parented within the dragon's mouth. The Flamethrower Preset is specifically intended to be used with Directional Emitters and is also intended for animation use as an 'event'. The particle emissions actually start at zero in the first frame, but then increase to 200 at frame 5. The full flame effect is visible at about frame 20-30. On the other hand, for still work you can always load the flamethrower preset and set the emitter's Particle Rate parameter to 200 at the first frame. The pre-frame calculations use the first frame's parameter settings, so this should create a flamethrower effect from the outset. In order to increase the length of the flame increase the emitter's Particle Velocity parameter and in order to increase the "hotness" of the flame, reduce the emitter's Particle VMod Rate parameter. Also you can use deflectors to deflect the path of flames or enable particle deflections for mesh objects in the path.

Q. Can I control the random output/direction from an emitter to create pulses like a sprinkler?

The pulses are random although the randomness is controlled by a spline curve with periodicity set by the Variance Rate parameter.

However if you want something more controllable, all of the relevant particle rate and velocity parameters can also be keyframed. With use of the Poser animation graph it shouldn't be too difficult to set up an animation using spline breaks and/or linear keyframes to set up a pulsing emitter. For the direction in a rotating sprinkler, set the x or z angle for the emitter prop, and then rotate the emitter around the y axis throughout the duration of the animation.

Q. How can I make particle emissions look more like a fountain?

Sprinkler and fountain effects expose some drawbacks in the Poser/MetaForm implementation of fluid dynamics as the number of particles needed for a really good effect can be great and, unfortunately we're restricted to creating the fluids effects with geometry, hence extremely dense meshes and large simulation costs.

However itís easy to "add volume" to parts of a fountain by using (static) MetaForm props with relatively low particle requirements without losing the effect of individual droplets. So the MetaForm prop's cumulative field strength is lower than the threshold value of the surface, they will not, by themselves create a geometry, but the emitter generated droplet will enhance the field strength and create additional volume where they pass through the MetaForms' extents without losing the effect of a dynamic fluid flow.

Q. Can I use MetaForm to create atmospheric effects like rain or snow?

As with the question above all the MetaForm surfaces are created in Poser geometry and there are limits to the amount of geometry that can be created or calculated in a scene. For precipitation effects intended to fill a scene the total amount of geometry would be prohibitive. Creating precipitation using the P5 material room or depth mapping and post work would be a better approach. MetaForm may well be useable to create localised areas or precipitation and multi layer surfaces and clever transparency mapping could also be used to create larger "flurries" of precipitation. Animatable volumes of fog can also be created using solid MetaForm props with zero Field Strength, high Volume Noise and low Noise Phase Rate parameter values associated with high transparency surfaces.

FAQ Index

 

TROUBLESHOOTING

Q. Is there a manual supplied? Where is it?

The manual link in the HTML readme of the DAZ installer was incorrect. The User's Guide in the DAZ product is installed in the "Readme's\ProductLists\WeirdJuice" folder under the Poser directory where the product was installed. The file name is "MetaForm Users Guide.pdf".

Q. Cannot download Drops? WinZip reports that the file is corrupted.

This is an uncommon but recurring problem with downloads from our website. The cause is still under investigation. In the meantime the problem can be solved by locating and deleting the temporary copy of the file that the browser caches the download in before attempting to re-download the file. This file has the same name as the download and may be found in one of the temporary system folders, e.g. "Documents and Settings\User Name\Local Settings\Temp" or in a subfolder under the browser's installation folder.

Q. MetaForm reports a "Newer version of Poser Required" error.

When started, MetaForm performs a check on the version number and Python functionality of the Poser installation. With Poser ProPack MetaForm requires SR3 and with Poser 5 MetaForm has been tested to run on SR 2.1 or greater. If this check fails, it is recommended that Poser is upgraded with the latest SR (service release) pack available from the Curious Labs website. If your version of Poser is patched to the required level, but this error nevertheless still occurs, it may indicate some level of corruption in the Poser/Python installation. A re-installation followed by a reboot is recommended.

Q. MetaForm Reports: "Traceback (most recent call last): > File "<string>", line 45, in ? > ImportError: No module named MetaFormP*.pyd"

This is an indication of some level of corruption in the Poser Python installation or registry settings often occurring when Poser has been relocated from its original installation location. A re-installation and reboot is recommended. Alternately, copying either or both the files MetaFormP4PP.pyd and MetaFormP5.pyd into the directory "Runtime\Python\DLLs" may also solve this problem, but may need to be repeated if there are any future upgrades to the MetaForm installation in the default directory.

Q. When I try to add a blob in Drops, Poser reports an error saying it cannot find the file wjxtempprop.pp2

The problem is that the file in question is a temporary prop file that the plug-in creates and then asks Poser to load. It is specified without an explicit path, on the assumption that if the plug-in created it in the "current directory" Poser would be able to find it. When we updated the code for MetaForm, that was identified as an assumption, and the path was explicitly defined.

The solution may not work because itís possible that the plug-in deletes the file after use, but it may just delete the "wayward" copy. The other possible problem is that the blobs and anti-blobs may be indistinguishable, since they both use the same (copied) temp file. However, the anti-blob is really just a convenience button, and you can easily turn a blob into an anti-blob just by negating the value of the field strength parameter to.

An update to Drops is expected to be released in the near future.

FAQ Index

 

 
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