Digital Art Talk: Smart Content Panel Made Us Lazy
Ten years ago I started my journey with digital art. In 2009, when I came on the scene, Victoria 4 was the “It” girl and Poser was the “It” program. Victoria 4 was so widely supported and used that I got her and all her base figure friends for free!
I learned early on from some of the veterans to make my “runtimes” separate from where my program wanted to install things. This gave the user ultimate portability and control over organization of the assets. A “runtime” was basically a collection of folders where the programs pulled your assets from. Kind of like opening a Word document. In Poser and old Studio, the programs showed you the folders in the “runtimes” you told the programs to “see” through mapping. For instance, I had a whole runtime devoted to V4 Hair! All the hair, hair props, and materials I got went into that file. When I wanted to put hair on a character, I navigated through my content panel and opened my “V4 Hair” runtime.
I’ve found many newcomers to the 3D world don’t have any assets until they download Studio. They also don’t fully understand where their content “lives”. The Smart Pane in Studio makes finding content easy; so, most don’t explore the “Content” panel or know they can buy assets from a third party until much later.
The Smart Content Panel is helpful to find items quickly, especially when you have 100s of GB of “stuff”. You want an outfit for V7? Just highlight her and the Smart Pane shows you ALL the clothing you have that works on V7. Well, until it doesn’t. If a product isn’t made for the figure you have selected, by default, Studio won’t show you that product even if using autofit would allow that item to work. The Smart Pane also ignores content without proper metadata. This can be an issue if something is wrong with the metadata or if you get a product without metadata. I don’t only buy products from DAZ. I also buy things from Renderosity and people in the forums sometimes give away freebies or scripts. The content install manager doesn’t install those items for you and a lot of it doesn’t have metadata, thus it isn’t in the Smart Content Pane.
Since the installer and “smart pane” make installing and finding items easy, a lot of new comers have no clue how to get non-DAZ products into their program. Why? Probably because those individuals never needed “runtimes”. Those coming into 3D with G3 and G8 really have a lot of “point and click” install/use items available. They didn’t have to hand install an assets so they don’t understand where it goes let alone why.
Do you want to know a secret? Think of the content management installer as a giant program made for unzipping files. All that program is doing is putting files from a zip file into the correct section. While it is true Studio has deviated from the “traditional” runtime set up, if you know where to look in the hierarchy, you won’t get lost or mess anything up!
Download content from a third party and chances are you will be given a zip file. Unzip the file and click inside the product folder. Inside you will find other folders that correspond to places inside your Studio assets. Those folders mirror the ones where Studio gets the items you import into Studio.
If you do the “default” set up for Studio, all you have to do is unzip those third party files into the right places. Typically that is found along something like My DAZ 3D Library that lives in your Public Documents. Use your unzipping tool to automagically put those new files into those existing folders. OR you can simply drag and drop each folder from your zip file to the corresponding one in your Studio library. You are “merging” your new stuff into the existing folders. Essentially “unzip” and the “content downloader” are both performing this “merging” action.
Sometimes, things end up in the wrong place, even with a DAZ purchased file. If someone misspells a folder name, it won’t merge. So, the first thing to do if a product doesn’t show up when you load Studio is to check the zip file and make sure there wasn’t a typo of the folder. If there is, just rename it and merge it or drag it where it should be.
97% of the stuff you install from third party vendors will require you to use the “Content Library” tab to find the item. Luckily DAZ has some good set ups. For instance, if you are looking for a character you purchased from Renderosity you will find it in that character’s folder. Example: Character for Genesis 8. Typically found by looking for People\Genesis 8 Female\Characters inside the Content Library Tab. Under the “characters” folder will be a list of more folders with names. Inside those folders are the parts and pieces to inject the morphs and add the skins, etc. Instead of the Smart Content panel finding those items, YOU are finding those items! (Also go to your My DAZ 3D Library and you will see you have a People\Genesis 8 Female\Characters folder showing the same information!)
I hope this gives you a better understanding of where your assets are installed and how to find them!