Just when you thought Smith Micro was getting out of creative software, with the sale of Poser… “Introducing Moho 13 Animation Software” (YouTube Playlist link). Yes, Smith Micro have just issued a new release of what was formerly Anime Studio, their 2D animation creation software. It’s been three years since the last update. Note that it is not to be confused with the similarly-named 3D modelling software Modo.
I was most interested in the new “Enhanced 3D object support”, though I discovered it to be a “Moho 13 Pro only” feature. Judging by the video for this feature, the user can import and light/shade a simple 3D object in .OBJ, such a soccer ball. But I saw no demo of any exciting real-time automatic application of believable ink lines along the edge line of the ball, akin to Poser’s Comic-book mode or SketchUp. I know there is a Poser import option, but I’ve never seen anyone demo it by giving an imported character more than a very basic line style.
As such, Moho is mildly interesting. But a 2D animator should carefully evaluate the $400 Moho Pro 13 against Reallusion’s latest $199 Cartoon Animator 4 Pipeline (i.e.: Pro) version. The latter is much better supported by add-on content packs, including packs of pre-made motions and characters, albeit mostly costly ones. But Moho seems to have a more ‘pro’ feature set for animation, which may appeal more to trained animators who can make their own content and then make it all flow smoothly. And the Poser import may be useful for you, in that respect.
One wonders now what will happen with Smith Micro’s other creative software, given that the Poser press-release said they were re-focusing the business away from creative tools. For the moment they still have Rebelle (digital sketching/painting), MotionArtist (a unique motion-comics maker), and Flame Painter (particle-system based painting brushes, with a Photoshop bridge). Possibly Rebelle is only sold by them under licence from the developers, though?
While solid products, none seem well-placed in the market. Rebelle has superb watercolour features, but to ordinary mass-market folk it’s probably seen as a competitor to Corel’s Painter Essentials, and also to the increasingly excellent and wholly free Krita (nice brushes, but lacks watercolour). Flame Painter is in a nice niche at a nice price, but is up against Corel’s heavyweight ParticleShop. And finally MotionArtist, a maker for a semi-animated comics format that had some media-buzz some years ago but that never really took off in the market. Partly due to the motion-sickness that such ‘motion comics’ can induce in many readers. Partly due to both the audience and the mainstream comics industry preferring the well-worn traditional approach to comics presentation. Still, I seem to recall it has solid HTML5 output for making open public webcomics that don’t have to go through content stores, which may make it appeal to those who could take it off Smith Micro’s hands. It would be great to see it go open source, if a crowdfunder could make that happen, and be developed into a full-featured comics production start-to-finish workflow tool akin to a mix of a storyboarder with Comic Life and Krita. It could also have some basic game logic added, to make it into a 2.5D point-and-click ‘graphic-adventure’ game engine.