The beauty of Motion Graphic with MOPs in Houdini

Houdini is a super fun experience but could be very challenging, at least before MOPs.

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My name is HOANG ANH Nguyen - Founder of Freaky Motion, a place where we strive to pursue an idea of visualizing our imagination to deliver the most cinematic experience to our audiences. Besides, I am working as Art & VFX Director and also running a small studio named hybrid.io with a vision of establishing a creative education environment for Vietnamese Motion Design Community.

In this short article, I will share my experience with Houdini and how I passed the learning curve to incorporate this software into production with the help of MOPs.

I started out as a Cinema 4D (C4D) user. Most of the time, I communicate with this application via its Mograph system. When I took the leap and switched to Houdini, of course I had to make sure that I could create the same quality of work as when I used C4D. However, these two softwares have two different ways of approaching. Instead of using Effectors or Fall-off like in C4D, the workflow in Houdini is more procedural and everything needs to be built from scratch. Honestly, it was pretty challenging and time-consuming for me as a new user who wanted to incorporate the software into production quickly. That was when I came across MOPs - a tool developed by Moritz Schwind and Henry ‘Toadstorm’ Foster that helps turn Houdini into a much more artist-friendly software.

With MOPs, you will get back your Modifiers ( Effectors ), Instancer ( Cloner ), and Fall-off just like in C4D. Cool, right? The awesome thing is, all the principles of Mograph (manipulating points, basically) are there in Houdini now, and I can use those Effectors on anything that I could create points from. Then, I can control the motion with one single slide just like using Mograph in C4D.

A real life example for the utilization of MOPs in Houdini can be found in our latest project Bphone 2018.

Here are two specific styleframes from the video where we implemented the method:

Instancing geometry to creat a complex futuristic tunnel, then animate with Transform Modifier.

Instancing geometry to creat a complex futuristic tunnel, then animate with Transform Modifier.

Complex structure inside Houdini. Controling emission texture and motion with MOPs Fall Off.

Complex structure inside Houdini. Controling emission texture and motion with MOPs Fall Off.

MOPs assisted us to form complex structures with diversified motion without the use of keyframe, which boosted our creativity and minimized the production time. In Styleframe 1, with MOPs Instancer we multiplied one object into various ‘clones’ and randomized their movement simultaneously. We also applied Noise Fall Off to randomize the attributes of the structural blocks in Styleframe 2 to control their scale and position, manage their lighting by manipulating their IDs, and move them as we desired. In the last scene, we used Plain Fall Off together with MOP Transform Modifier to achieve the rotation of the phones.

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Now that it feels familiar as it’s somewhat similar to C4D, Houdini is much easier to deal with. You can do all the good stuff C4D gives you and even more, considering how powerful Houdini is.

At this time, the system is more than enough. However, after my experience with MOPs, I don't think it’s simply just a version of MoGraph. It’s bigger and it could do crazier! Specifically, we’re probably not new to Xparticles in C4D. In my opinion, points are basically just particles. With the capacity of Houdini system, I strongly believe that MOPs could be a version of Xparticles inside of Houdini with a friendly interface that helps users to get up and run fast. If MOPs could allow users to create particles FX without opening POPnet, it would be such a significant revolution. Maybe then, we could combine it with MotionFX to create more complex and fascinating animation without the need of keyframe. To wrap up this article, I cannot stress enough how powerful a platform Houdini is, and with the help of MOPs it could bring any 3D Motion Artist’s imagination to the next level. The developers have now welcomed generous donations toward the project and it is a good time to support this little monster rock further. Believe you me, it’s worth every single penny you spend.

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Original by Hoang Anh Nguyen - Art & VFX Director
Edited by Giang Vu From Freaky Motion

Reference Link:
Houdini: https://www.sidefx.com/
MOPs: https://www.motionoperators.com/
Freaky Motion’s Project: http://www.freakymotion.com/introducing-bphone-3-by-bkav/
Henry Foster: http://www.toadstorm.com/
Mortiz Schwind: http://moritz-schwind.de