Adobe Creative Cloud

June 18, 2015 /Product Focus /

Morph Cut – Tips & Tricks for Best Results

Morph cut is a very powerful new Video Transition in Premiere Pro CC 2015. It enables users to create polished interviews by smoothing out distracting jump cuts without cross-dissolves or cut away footage. To get the most out of this new and exciting feature, here are some best practice tips as well as some advice on what to expect when using Morph Cut in the real world.

Similar to Adobe Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill feature, users will need to be selective and understand when Morph Cut may or may not work in an ideal way. There are three main requirements to get it to work properly

  1. A “talking head” interview shot with a single subject
  2. A fixed shot (minimal camera movement may be OK)
  3. A static background (includes avoiding subtle lighting changes)
MorphCut_Waveform

Here is a good example of ideal framing for Morph Cut – Note that the head is large in the frame but not cropped, it’s evenly lit, and the hands are out of frame. Also notice that we’ve used the waveform to help show where there is a natural pause in speech and that the transition has been made asymmetrical so that it fits quite well into the speech gap.

That’s not to say that you can never get good results if all three of these conditions are not met, but you may run into blotchy results (such as when there is a lot of background/hand/body movement), or face detection may struggle (such as when the subject is really tightly framed or in profile) at which point you will see a analysis failure banner. Even with those three conditions met, results will vary depending on things like how the subject is framed and lit, how much the head or camera movement there is at the cut, how natural the speech pause is for lip syncing and other factors.

Of course we’ve chosen demo materials that maximize the power of the feature, but they are definitely not “red-herring” examples. Users should expect Morph Cut to work reasonably well most of the time and be totally seamless when conditions are right, but when working with less than idea footage Morph Cut may not be a solution to heal a jump cut. Our hope is that users who work with a lot of interview footage will learn what works best over time and set up their shots/subjects to be more conducive to Morph Cut.

Additional Tips and Tricks:

  • Look for relatively short, logical gaps with reasonably similar head placement at either end of the cut. It might help to use the waveform to help spot areas with natural pauses and base your cut around that if possible.
  • Adjust the Morph Cut duration and symmetry as needed after the initial application. It often helps to make it start and end toward the peaks of the last/first words around the morph to avoid difficult lip-syncing problems.
  • Generate render preview files after analysis is complete (not before) to make sure you’re seeing the correct performance and not dropping frames.
  • Consider framing your subject somewhat tight to limit the amount of hand or upper body movement, which Morph Cut will have to try to interpolate. But don’t frame it so tight that significant face or head details are cropped out, the Morph Cut face detection may struggle to recognize it.
  • Consider using Adjustment Layers to apply effects over Morph Cut transitions and their associated clips. It will generally work to apply effects directly, but you will avoid potential display problems, especially if you have to make many more adjustments after Morph Cut has been applied — such as with Lumetri Color effects.
  • Analysis is triggered automatically as soon as you drop the transition in. It is also re-triggered automatically whenever you trim the transition in or out symmetrically or asymmetrically.
  • Morph cut is a processor-heavy effect. Using it with large format media may cause slow analysis times, especially on GPUs with smaller memories (e.g. < 2GB VRAM).

Morph cut will always have some inherent limitations, especially in regards to movement in the background, far-away subjects, hands in the shot, or a lot of head movement. It may take some trial and error to learn when to use it versus reverting back to more traditional dissolves and cut-aways. We are excited to hear your candid feedback on how useful Morph Cut is for your preferred workflows.

Product Focus

Join the discussion

  • By Whitney - 2:07 AM on June 22, 2015  

    Love the idea and have been waiting impatiently for the release of this feature to correct some old projects where jump cuts were inevitable. However, despite my interview footage meeting the 3 above criteria, I keep getting the message “Analysis Failure: Couldn’t find face in input video”. Please tell me this isn’t because my interviewee is an African man and this technology, like so many other photo/video tools, favors white faces!!

    • By Meagan Keane - 1:59 PM on July 6, 2015  

      Hi Whitney –

      There are cases where Morph Cut fails to to find faces when the face is pretty obvious to the human eye. The most common cases of this have been where the face is in profile (or close to it), looking down, small in the frame, harshly lit or otherwise shot in a way where it doesn’t look like a face to the analysis algorithm. It can also be thrown off by a busy background or low contrast between the face and background, in which case it might be confusing different elements and not finding the face. In some cases you may be able to adjust the in/out points and the transition start/stop points and get it to work. In other cases you may just have to fall back to more traditional methods like a cross dissolve or cutaways, or just leaving the jump cut.

      -James Strawn

  • By Gary Treese - 12:19 PM on June 22, 2015  

    I’m trying to use morph cut with two parts of an interview shot in front of a green screen. The background is just a still image, but the morph isn’t working well. Is there a trick to using morph cut with Chroma Key?

    • By Meagan Keane - 2:00 PM on July 6, 2015  

      Hi Gary –

      Yes. The easiest method is probably to apply your morph cuts, then nest all the affected clips into a one container sequence and apply Ultra (or Chroma) Key to that. In some cases, interlacing has caused some artifacting to occur when using that workaround in which case you should not apply Ultra until you have made all your edits. Applied morph cut to the jump cuts as needed first and then export and import your movie before applying Ultra. I know that means some generational quality loss so I highly recommend the nested sequence method first. With other effects you can usually just use adjustment layer or apply them directly to the morph cut clips.

      -James Strawn

  • By chris mullington - 5:44 PM on June 22, 2015  

    I’m using morph cut for the first time . It’s crashing Premiere. My footage is locked off interviews on a black background and shot in 3840×2160, MXF files shot with a Sony FS7. My computer has 32 G of ram and 3.5 gz intel core i7 with an NVIDEA GeForce GTX 780M 4096 MB.

    Any ideas? I’m doing a documentary for TV and was really hoping to use this extensively.

    Chris Mullington

    • By Meagan Keane - 2:01 PM on July 6, 2015  

      Hi Chris –

      We have no record of this bug occurring on our internal test systems, and your video card and other specs look sufficient to handle morph cut without crashing. If possible, please file a report, including the exact steps you followed. And of you could make a simple test project + a very small media set available, that might really help us know if it’s reproducible elsewhere or not. Here’s the link to submit a report: adobe.ly/BugReport

      -James Strawn

  • By david - 9:21 AM on June 30, 2015  

    Hi!

    I have a talking head, medium to close up, solid green colour backdrop, 4k resolution. And morph cut can´t find the face. What is up with that? I have stills if you want something to look at. I have tried it on the original 4K slog2 material and also tried it with 1080p material graded to give the plugin more contrast.

    Very strange if you ask me=)

    • By Meagan Keane - 2:02 PM on July 6, 2015  

      Hi David –

      Yes. The easiest method is probably to apply your morph cuts, then nest all the affected clips into a one container sequence and apply Ultra (or Chroma) Key to that. In some cases, interlacing has caused some artifacting to occur when using that workaround in which case you should not apply Ultra until you have made all your edits. Applied morph cut to the jump cuts as needed first and then export and import your movie before applying Ultra. I know that means some generational quality loss so I highly recommend the nested sequence method first. With other effects you can usually just use adjustment layer or apply them directly to the morph cut clips.

      -James Strawn