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Morph Cut in Premiere Pro

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Morph Cut is a video transition in Premiere Pro that helps you create more polished interviews by smoothing out jump cuts between sound bites.

A common challenge that comes with editing footage with a "talking head" is that the subject can stutter, make frequent use of "umms", "uhs", or unwanted pauses. All of which keep you from having a clean, continuous sequence without the use of jump cuts or cross dissolves.

Now, you can effectively clean interview dialog by removing unwanted portions of a clip and then apply the Morph Cut video transition to smooth out distracting jump cuts. You can also use Morph Cut to effectively rearrange clips in your interview footage to ensure a smooth flow without any jumps in visual continuity.

Morph Cut uses an advanced combination of face tracking and optical flow interpolation to create a seamless transition between clips. When used effectively, a Morph Cut transition can be so seamless that it looks as natural as shooting the video without unwanted pauses or words that can break the narrative flow.

Apply Morph Cut

  Important: For best results, apply Morph Cut to fixed shots that have a single talking head and a static background.

  1. Set In and Out points on the Timeline to select the part of the clip that you want to remove.

    You can remove clips from your sequence in different ways, like lift and extract, delete, and ripple-delete. To see how you can do it in different ways, see this video tutorial.

    Repeat this step for all portions of the clip that you want to remove.

  2. In the Effects panel, choose Video Transitions > Dissolve > Morph Cut and drag the effect to the edit point between clips in the Timeline.

    Note:

    To avoid lip sync problems, apply Morph Cut between places where the last or first words of the speech peak. You can also use audio waveforms to help identify areas with a natural pause and make your cuts there.

  3. After you apply the Morph Cut effect, analysis of the clip begins immediately in the background. As analysis begins, an "Analyzing in background" banner displays within the Program Monitor indicating that analysis is occurring.

    You are free to work with the footage or elsewhere in the project while the analysis occurs.  

    Clip analysis after you apply Morph Cut

    After analysis is complete, a symmetrical transition is created, centered at the edit point. The transition duration matches the default of 30 frames specified for Video Transition Default Duration. You can change the default duration using the Preferences dialog.

    Note:

    A typical transition duration that works well is about 10-20 frames.

    If the lip movements and voice are not exactly in sync or the results are not satisfactory, change the In and Out points or adjust the duration of the transition.

    Note:

    Every time you make changes to a selected Morph Cut, or even undo a change, Premiere Pro retriggers a new analysis. However, you don't need to delete any previously analyzed data.   

Fine-tune transition

When you apply Morph Cut, a transition is created using default settings. You can fine-tune the transition using the Effect Controls panel or Timeline.

Modify transition using Effect Controls panel

The following controls in the Effect Controls panel help you adjust the duration of the transition and align it accurately.

Duration

The default duration of a video transition is 30 frames.

To change the default transition before applying a transition, use the Preferences dialog. In the General section, enter a new default for Video Transition Default Duration.

To change the duration of a transition after applying a transition, enter a new duration in the Duration field in the Effect Controls panel.

Alignment

Aligns the transition to be automatically centered on the edit point between the two clips with the Center At Cut option selected.

For finer control, you can drag the transition slightly left or right in the Effect Controls Timeline. Premiere Pro then creates an asymmetrical transition that is not centered on the edit point.

For more information on modifying transitions using the Effect Controls panel, see Modifying and customizing transitions.

Modify transition using the Timeline

Note:

Zoom into the Timeline so that you can clearly see the transition.

Duration

To change the duration of the transition, double-click the transition in a Timeline panel and enter the new duration in the Set Transition Duration dialog.

You can also lengthen or shorten the transition by dragging the edges of the transition as desired.

FAQ

No. When you apply Morph Cut to a clip that does not contain a talking head, you see a failure message that says "Analysis Failure: Couldn't find face in input video".

Morph Cut can be applied only on fixed shots that contain a well-framed talking head against a static background.

Applying Morph Cut to more than one talking head results in a blotchy frame.

Morph Cut uses a face tracker to analyze video footage and find the most prominent face in the video. If there are multiple faces, it can confuse the face tracker and result in Morph Cut blending one face with the other in the transition. This can cause a blotchy frame, which is best avoided.

Morph Cut works best on a static background. If there is more than one background to analyze, the result is a blotchy frame. However, you can have minimum background movement, like a tree blowing in the wind.

Morph Cut is designed to seamlessly transition between two similar shots. Given this focus, Morph Cut may not look right when applied to a clip that has different effects applied on both sides of the edit point.  

Here are some tips that can help you get good results:

  • Morph Cut works best with shorter transitions and similar head placement on either end of the cut.
  • Morph Cut performs best if there are few hand or face movements to interpolate.
  • After the initial application of Morph Cut, adjust the duration and symmetry of the transition as needed.

For a complete list of best practices, see this article.

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