Have you ever wondered how YouTube bloggers and reviewers get those incredible intro scenes at the beginning of their videos? Or while watching an amateur short film, you see some amazing 3d content that you know isn’t real but looks so beautiful? Obviously, your first thought is they paid for that intro. Or they used some very expensive professional programs that are way out of my budget. Well, this is where mO2 comes in. MO2 is a real-time 3d rendering engine that seamlessly integrates with Final Cut Pro X and Apple Motion. It brings high quality 3d animation directly into your footage and can mimic the surrounding environment with a click of a button.

What is the mO2 plugin?

MO2 is very much like Adobe After Effects but uses Apple’s Metal graphics system to harness the power of the Mac. The installer is simple and is used for bringing in all MotionVfx plugins after purchase. All of the plugins for mO2 are incredibly detailed and beautiful to work with. The intricacies of reflections and shadows definitely takes your footage from looking very amateur to professional. Motionvfx has bundle packs that can fit in with the needs of each user. For this review we’ll stick with the Studio Bundle. 

The Studio bundle comes with pretty much everything you could possibly need to get started for any type of job. This includes the mO2 plugin itself, the Advanced Shader Material Pack, the Electronics, Commercial, Sci-Fi, Money and Industrial 3d Models Packs, all for a discounted bundle rate.

The main mO2 plugin is the base for all the additional plugins and the 3d environment itself. It’s what allows you to manipulate the products in 3d space to fit in with its surrounding world. In one of my first tests, I wanted to see the type of cinematic quality a user could achieve using mO2 and a 3d model they provide. I used the included 3d jet to directly add into our family vacation scene. Below, as you can see in the screenshots and short video, I was able to implement the jet into our scene and then color correct, layer it, add film grain, additional lighting and flare with style, to quickly create an entirely different atmosphere that looks pretty cinematic. Do I feel this is a polished, ready to go scene added in a short film? No, but that isn’t due to mO2, this is because I was just testing the diversity of the plugin, and wanted to see if it was possible. If I was actually planning out the individual shots for a film, I do believe 100%, that I could have achieved a final rendition using the Motionvfx mO2 plugins.

I am using a 2018 MacBook Pro 15” and this took me from start to finish about 7 hours (including time to learn mO2 and the basic learning curve through YouTube tutorials, plus some testing) Also I do not have Apple Motion installed. So for anyone reading, you do not need both installed. This was all done through Final Cut Pro X alone. I believe the hardest part for anyone starting with 3d compositing using any real footage will be understanding perspective in each shot. Other than that, this test for me, was a success and I enjoyed the process very much.

As you can see, the mO2 plugin is fast and versatile. You can use this software for so many real world applications. I honestly didn’t focus on making titles and logos because, obviously that is one of the main projections for this software. I went in an alternate direction to see the boundaries that Motionvfx allows. Can you achieve something cinematic and beautiful, like you can in other dedicated visual effects software like After Effects using this plugin? The short answer is yes.  

The mO2 plugin alone comes with a huge range of materials, 3d objects, animations, templates and behaviors that will get you started. It’s the ideal add-on, that can quickly produce high quality advertisements, product shots, logos, and intros for your YouTube channels or low budget films. It also allows for importing your own 3d model files and materials quickly and easily, which I found to be incredibly useful.

Where is it located after installation?

At the start of any project, you will find the mO2 plugin under the Titles and Generators Sidebar menu. You simply add it into your project and it will create an empty scene or you can scroll through the templates they provide and use one of them as a starting point. The empty scene gives you a default camera, light, and background to add in your own text, logo, or 3d object. You can rotate, move, enlarge, or shrink any element that is brought in. Depending on the 3d model you’ve selected or imported into your project, you will find that it’s very easy to add and tweak the materials for each individual part. Taking the extra time to do this, will help you arrive at the look you are really shooting for. This all happens in real time. So you won’t need to wait for possibly hours to see the final effects. It all happens as you tweak the elements. 

To save even more time, what I’ve found to be extremely useful, is to go to preferences from the top menu in Final Cut Pro X or Motion, and under playback, turn off background render. This will allow for faster usability and manipulation. Another time saver while preparing the objects, lighting, and elements, is to click on the Tool Mode instead of the Diamond Mode, until you are ready to start tweaking the final details. Once you are at a point to see the higher detailed scene, you will first click on the Diamond mode, and then press command+r to render it in full quality. All of the elements can be animated in different ways. Most video editors are used to using keyframes, but mO2 has added behaviors and instancers to create immediate sequences of elements like spinning, scaling, and sliding, to speed up the process of your creativity. 

Final Thoughts

At the discounted cost of only $299 for the Studio Bundle, you cannot find a better deal. This is the affordable way to add 3d elements to your creative pipeline. It is not the complete solution for all projects, however it is a very stable plugin that can do more than expected. One thing I know many people complain about are these subscription based cloud licensing required to “use” the software. And yes, for some paying a monthly or yearly price is easy and almost forgettable. But for a lot of us, paying a one time fee helps illiminate the burden of that monthly expense. We can keep track of our finances better and not question if we have to stop using the software for a time to catch-up on other bills. MO2 sells us the software and we do not need to be connected to the internet to make it work. For me, this is a huge plus.

MO2 has continually added new plugins, model packs, and templates to keep us coming back. Some they have even given out for free, like the mLightDiffuse 1.0. MotionVfx.com is an amazing company, and does an incredible job at developing very high quality 3d model packs and elements for so many individual needs. They listen to their community and try to create the most usable plugins to incorporate the needs of their clients. 

MO2 Plugin and Studio Bundle is 5 out of 5 Stars. Love their software and will keep coming back for more.