Switch layers in Moho

Switch layers allow you to define a group of layers, then "jump" between them.

Only one layer in the Switch group is visible at a time - as defined by the keyframes for the Switch layer.

By changing the data file for the Switch layer, you can change the sequence that the group presents itself in.

As of version 3.5, Switch layers can also interpolate (morph) from one layer to the next, if they are similarly structured.

One of the common uses for Switch layers is lipsynch.

Here I've created a character without a mouth

Here is the Moho file (4 kB)

Now let's create a Switch layer for the mouth, as a child of the head layer, so that when we move the head the mouth will move with it. First, create a Switch layer like any other layer.

After creating a new layer, I like to rename it immediately, so I don't lose track

When Moho asks you if you have a data file prepared and ready to use, just say No.
Create a vector layer as a child layer of the Switch layer.
Create a simple mouth on the vector layer - here we'll use just a simple filled 6-point loop, with the corners peaked.

You can, of course, create more complicated mouth arrangements that provide teeth, lips and tongue.

Let's name this vector layer "default", and use it as a base to create other mouth positions.

Duplicate this layer and rename the duplicate to "MBP"

Move the points to make the mouth appear closed during a render

Duplicate the default layer to create several other layers, and create more mouth shapes.

You can define your own set of mouth shapes, anything from a simple set of closed, partially open, open, up to a full set of 30 or more mouth shapes derived from phonetic studies (the study of the sounds we make when we speak).

Here's the Moho file (5 kB) with a sample set of mouth switch layers in place

Now that you have all your mouth shapes, let's animate between them.

Let's try manual animation first.

Make sure the Switch layer is selected so we're looking at the Switch layer timeline

Change to frame 1 in the timeline.
Right-click on the Switch layer in the hierarchy and select a child vector layer to display in frame 1 - say the "WQ" shape.
Change to another frame in the timeline - say frame 10.

Right-click on the Switch layer in the hierarchy and select a child vector layer to display in this frame - say the "AI" shape.

Change to another frame in the timeline - say frame 20.

Right-click on the Switch layer in the hierarchy and select a child vector layer to display in this frame.

Render frames 1 to 24 - you can see the result
Now let's set the Switch layer to interpolated movement

You can find this setting at the bottom of the Layer Properties box for the Switch layer.

Render frames 1 to 24 again - see the difference ? (My apologies to those downloading this on a slow modem - it's a 34Kb file)

Interpolation creates intermediate shapes between Switch layer keyframes.

Interpolated mode works best when you make all your shapes by modifying a base shape.

Depending on your mouth shapes and style of animation, it may or may not look better than jumping straight from one mouth shape to the next.

Creating all the keyframes needed and getting them aligned with recorded speech can be a tedious procedure within Moho 3.5

However, there are programs which are designed to do help with this, and produce a Switch data file, which is a set of Switch keyframes already laid out with timing.

The applications I know about are :
If you've used Magpie or PAMELA to create your Switch data file, you can then load it into the Switch layer rather than create all those Switch keyframes by hand.

Here's a Switch data file for use with the sample Moho file and Switch layer provided above (1 kB)

These programs help your mouth shape keyframes line up with the recorded speech.

You still need to composite the recorded sound file with the rendered Moho animation using video editing software (at least in Moho 3.5 - rumour says that version 4.0 will have audio support in some form, although it is unknown whether this will extend to rendered output)

Click on the image above for a Quicktime MOVie with sound (Cinepak codec, 898 kB)
Switch layers are not just limited to mouth movements.

You can switch between different eye positions, for blinks or other expressions.
You can switch between different eyebrow positions.
You can switch between different hand layers for hand movements, or head layers for turning heads

Switch layer don't even have to be simple vector layers - they can be grouped layers of bones and vectors.