Thursday, May 13, 2010

Help! What to do when your DAZ 3D models won't install properly

There are vampires out there. They drive Italian sportscars. Black ones. They drive too fast ... and they'd be seductive enough to put Brad Pitt out of a job, even before you get to the sportscars! Seriously, though, this is well worth seeing in more detail:

The character just "happened" when I started to create a new face that looked dark and brooding ... like Heathcliff in Mad Max leathers (gods, what a thought), and the result is a stunner. It's always worth messing about with the elements in the shot to see if something else will work out better. Here I am setting it up, trying this, trying that:

You have to admit, the late dusk sky and the black hair work way better than blond and blue sky. And as soon as you see this, it makes you think, "There are vampires out there..." So I shipped the image into Gimp and painted on some mist in the foreground and the moon in the sky. Result: big wow factor!

It all started with a sportscar -- DAZ was having a new-release special on this; you could save about 50%, and it's a really nice item:

The only problem is, at least for me the model won't install properly for love or money! I ran the installer twice -- it looks like it runs, but nothing installs. So I rebooted the computer and ran it again. Still nothing. I searched on the component files -- according to Windows Search, they didn't unpack, which was so completely weird. Soooo...

Here's the question, then: what do you do, when your DAZ 3D models won't install? Or if any 3D models won't install, come to that?

First, in the immortal words of The Book: Don't Panic. (Or, panic if you like for a bit, then go for a cup or tea and calm down again, because you'll need to be able to follow some simple instructions to get out of this mess.)

Make a folder on the desktop called "Sportscar," or whatever the model is, which won't install. Run the installer again, but this time, instead of telling it to install to DAZ, just tell it to install to the folder you just made...

Sure enough, it'll have unpacked all its folders. Now, you ask yourself, why, if the installer could unpack its goodies to a new folder you just made, why can't it can't unpack them and put them into the DAZ folder hierarchy? I don't have an answer to that, but this is what happens, when a DAZ 3D model doesn't install.

However, if you look inside the folder you made (and which you told the installer to unpack into), you'll see this:

/Read Me's
/Runtime

...two folders. The Read Me file probably won't help, because it more than likely contains a license, plus a list of files you just unpacked, plus a web address and an "Enjoy!" message -- because the designer figured the installer worked. If he or she knew the installer would mess you around, they would have fixed it before sending it to market!

However, the RUNTIME folder is where you want to be!

Inside /Runtime you'll find some more folders:

/Geometries
/Textures
/Libraries

...and you're halfway home. GEOMETRIES are your OBJ files ... the actual 3D models which you load into the program. TEXTURES are the JPG files which you put onto the 3D models, to give them color and, uh, texture.

Now, /Libraries is going to include any or all of a bunch of sub-folders:

/Character
/Pose
/Camera
/Lights

...and you don't even need to know what these are. All you need to know is where to copy the folders you will find inside these, so that the program works properly!

This is how DAZ Studio 3 works: it's a file hierarchy, and so long as you save the files in the right places, you're home and dried. The program will find them, load them, manipulate them for you.

So, here's the file hierarchy -- for Vista users, at least! You'll have to Google it, to find the hierarchy for XP and Windows 7 ... I haven't looked that far, since I got saddled with Vista Home Premium, and it's enough of a challenge!

C:\Users\[you]\Documents\DAZ 3D\Studio3\Content\Runtime...

This gets you into the DAZ ballpark. Everything the program needs is stored inside of its Runtime master folder. Inside this catch-all are sub-folders that will be looking a little bit familiar:

\Geometries
\Libraries
\Morphs
\Textures

You're about to have a Eureka! moment. Go back to the files you unpacked into a folder of your own making on the desktop. Go into the Runtime\Geometries folder, and you'll see yet another sub-folder, which is called after the designer or the model.

For instance, if I'd designed a model -- say, a pair of boots for M4, I would store the actual OBJ files in a folder called M4BOOTS. Then, I would store the textures which fit the boots in a folder in \Textures called (!) M4BOOTS ... and so on.

All you have to do is "get down to the bottom level" in these folders and make sure that the actual folder in which the "geometries," the textures, the poses and so on, are copied in whole into the right DAZ folders.

So you'd end up with something along the lines of...

\Runtime\Geometries\M4BOOTS ... and inside this would be the OBJ models.
\Runtime\Textures\M4BOOTS ... and inside this would be the JPG textures.
\Runtime\Libraries\Pose\M4BOOTS ... and inside this would be the pose preset files.

Follow this pattern through carefully. Don't guess anything, do it step by step till you're used to doing this. You'll have it down pat in no time. Geometries, textures and Poses are the three groups of files you're using all the time -- but you don't see them because DAZ Studio 3 is a GUI (Graphical User Interface) which dos all the shortcuts for you.

The upside to this is that once you learn the pattern for copying the folders where they need to be, it works for everything. You can go shopping at Renderosity and save quite a bit o their models -- but they don't come with installers. The folders (which will be starting to look mighty familiar) are in ZIP files. Unpack them ... then you have to know where to put them.

And now, you do!

Jade, 13 May
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