Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/790371
54 CINEMONTAGE / Q1 2017 54 CINEMONTAGE / Q1 2017 TECH TIPS by Joseph Herman W hen it comes to creating computer animation, there's a range of software that you can use for the job. If you are creating 3D character animation (think Wall-E or Despicable Me), there are lots of 3D applications from which to choose. For 2D character animation (think classic Disney films or The Powerpuff Girls), there are also several apps you can use — but many of them lack the tools that one really needs to do the job, especially when it comes to rigging your characters. One application, however, has emerged that does have what it takes. It's called Moho, it's published by Smith Micro, and in this article we'll look at version 12 of Moho, an innovative 2D character animation program that can produce professional, feature-quality work for the big screen, small screen and everything in between (see Figure 1). Moho was previously named Anime Studio Pro before this version, which may ring a bell. I'm in favor of the name change to Moho because the software can produce work in many different styles besides Anime, the distinct Japanese form of animation that, while having its fair share of fans, is not for everyone. If you want to emulate an Anime look, you can go right ahead and use Moho for that, but if you would rather work in a Disneyesque style or want to realize your own personal vision, Moho can do that too. Smart move on the name change. I've watched Moho evolve over the years to become what is now a robust and innovative 2D character animation program with remarkably innovative features. The first time I tried it, I was suitably impressed by its spline-based, resolution- independent drawing tools; also the ability it affords to attach your characters' forms to hierarchical bone rigs. The opportunity to rig your characters with bones was a feature that was simply lacking in many other 2D programs like After Effects or Flash, although it is a common feature in 3D programs. In fact, what immediately struck me about Moho's rigging tools was that they seemed to work a lot like the rigging tools in 3D applications. It was as if some of the lessons learned from 3D programs have been incorporated into Moho, and no other 2D program that I know has quite the same power when it comes to rigging. One feature that makes rigging in Moho so powerful is Smart Bones (added in a previous version). Smart Bones look the same as the standard bones that make up the skeletal rig of a character, but behave differently. With Smart Bones, you can link various aspects of your character's performance to the rotation of a bone. For example, the numerous mouth shapes that form vowels and consonants (otherwise known as phonemes), as well as smiles, frowns, eyebrows, eyelids and even head turns, can all be controlled with Smart Bones. Rotate a Smart Bone a little for the hint of a smile. Keep on rotating it for a bigger smile. Mix various Smart Bones together for a surprising variety of facial expressions. They're a great way to easily control complex movements (see Figure 2). WHAT'S NEW IN MOHO 12? The number of new features in Moho 12 is long and impressive. One of the most important is the addition of Bezier handles to vector splines. Many who work in design and computer graphics are already Smith Micro's Got Its Moho Workin' Game-Changing 2D Animation Software Figure 1: Two characters that were designed, rigged and animated in Smith Micro's Moho software, a remarkably full-featured and robust 2D animation solution.