Yay! In January, I reached my second anniversary at DreamWorks Animation. To celebrate, I put together this reel featuring some of my DWA work from 2015 and 2016.

If you’d like to see more, be sure to check out the original shows on Netflix. (My personal favorites are Home, All Hail King Julien, and of course Puss in Boots.)

For those of you obsessed with animation software, I mainly used Moho Pro 12LightWave 2015.3, Photoshop and After Effects to create this work.

Picture of D.R. Greenlaw

D.R. Greenlaw

Greenlaw likes to make comics, animated shorts, and funny voices.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Mohammed

    Hi, why do you use afteraffects? I’m not familiar with the software. So let’s say you created the animation in moho, do you use aftereffects for particle effects? What can it do that Moho can’t?

    1. D.R. Greenlaw

      Hi Mohammed.

      Thanks for asking. That’s a big subject but I’ll try to be concise. Basically, Moho is an animation program and After Effects is a compositing program. There is some overlap in the features and capabilities between the two programs but they are meant for different uses. Each has different strengths and weaknesses but luckily, they work exceptionally well together.

      I like to use Moho for the character animation because it has excellent bone rigging with full featured IK and set-driven key systems. This Switch Layer system is very flexible, especially when combined with Smart Bones Actions and Smart Bone Dials. Recently, the addition of Smart Warp gives Moho a fully customizable mesh warping system that rivals AE’s Puppet Warp and Liquify Tools.

      AE is technically capable of many of Moho’s puppet rigging and animation features after you add the third-party DuIK plugin (which I’ve also used in production,) but because AE doesn’t have Grouping the way Moho has, it can get awkward to animate many characters with because you’ll need to animate each one in its own precomp. I also find AE’s interactivity is much slower for this type of animation than Moho is. (As a matter of fact, Moho is pretty darn fast, even when using 2 – 4k images for your character art.)

      Where AE comes into play for a lot of my current 2D work is in the assembly of many elements–sometimes from other graphics and animation programs, or live action sources–and inserting VFX. Using Moho’s Layer Comps system, I can break out characters, BG and FG elements, mattes, etc., and put them together in AE’s 3D environment so I can apply DOF and Motion Blur effects there interactively. Moho also has a 3D camera and environment but its camera effects do not work interactively and they are slow to render compared to AE.

      AE’s biggest strength, as its name implies, is in its excellent VFX and image processing and manipulation tools. Particles, as you mentioned, are one area where AE has a huge advantage over Moho, but mostly if you’re using the third-party Trapcode Particular plugin for AE. I also use Moho’s particle system, especially when it needs to interact directly with a character, but Moho’s particles are really somewhat basic compared to Trapcode Particular.

      When Moho got Smart Warp last year, I’ve relied less on AE’s Puppet and Liquify, but sometimes I still use the AE tools because you can apply the directly to precomps. It’s not possible to this specific use of warping in Moho to a Group (which is not really the same as a precomp, but it’s the closest thing to it in Moho,) unless you render out the Group elements as a layer comp, reimport it as a sequence, and then apply the warp effect to the flattened sequence–which is every bit as awkward as it sounds if you need to make changes to the animation later. There are also many useful deformer effects in AE that Moho has no equivalent for. For example, I might use a wave deformer to make smoke and fire ‘wave’ more organically (like in the dragon scene in the reel,) or use turbulent displacement filter to make heat ripple fx or to make a character’s hair look like it’s under water.

      AE also offers a wider variety of output formats–you can output to all the popular image sequence formats, and almost any video container and codec available on your computer. That may sound less exciting, but it’s critically important to have this flexibility in a professional production environment. For example, I typically output to PNG sequences from Moho because it’s safer and more efficient when it comes to re-renders and fixes, and then output my comps from AE as .mov with the DNxHD codec at my workplace, or .avi with MagicYUV for my personal productions at home, neither of which I can output from Moho (at least in the Windows version. I’m not sure about Mac but I know you can at least output to Quicktime with ProRes from Mac.) These movie ‘clips’ are brought into an editorial program like Vegas, Avid or Premiere, mixed with the final audio tracks for the completed ‘show’ output. Naturally, you can output some movie formats from Moho that can be used in many editorial programs, but many studios and clients will have specific file format and quality requirements so it’s best to have a way to output anything that’s asked for.

      Anyway, it’s rare for me to create an entire animation or VFX piece in a single program. In fact, I don’t think I ever do that at work or in my personal projects. I find it’s usually more practical to have specialized tools for certain tasks (design, animation, sound, compositing, editorial, etc.) when you’re working under very tight deadlines.

      In my case, I never know what I’m going to be doing from week to week: pre-production, painting, animation, rigging, modeling, VFX, sound design…it could be anything. I also use 3D animation programs and other specialized production tools as the need arises, so it doesn’t hurt to learn as many tools and techniques as you can.

      Ugh…did I say I was going to keep this reply ‘concise’? Sorry, but once you get me started… 🙂

      There’s actually a lot more I can say about the differences and why I use both programs but, like I said, this is a very big subject, so I’ll leave it at that.

  2. Gustavo Jordan

    Hi D.R Greenlaw, hooray! At last I see someone in a Big Studio who use Moho, I saw many of your work is for Dawn of the Croods, and some of King Julian, the other one I dont recall. Anyway good to know about your work, let me invite you, we have a little Facebook group for peopple who love Moho, here is the link, https://www.facebook.com/groups/mohocharacteranimators/

    Take care, bye

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