When I heard about the Final Cut Pro X transition plug-in mMorphCut, I initially thought of a plug-in that could do morphing between two completely different subjects. The plug-in turned out to be far more useful. In their demo movie, MotionVFX’s CEO explains why you would want to have it. And I can assure you, if you have ever shot an interview you’ll definitely want this plug-in.
I used to own an app from Creaceed that could morph the photo of — for example — the face of an ape into that of a human. When MotionVFX sent me the announcement of the mMorphCut transition plug-in for Final Cut Pro X, I was thinking of that app. Still, I decided to take a peek at the plug-in page on the MotionVFX website and much to my surprise I saw their CEO presenting the plug-in, sitting behind a desk and apparently talking about the plug-in without hesitating even once.
Now, I have done my share of interviews and I have rarely encountered someone who can explain something with no hesitation, cough or “euh” whatsoever. The presentation being about the mMorphCut plug-in, the video had a “Before” version too. It showed clearly MotionVFX’s CEO hesitates and coughs as much as anyone else. It also showed what the mMorphCut plug-in is capable of.
mMorphCut is not a special effects plug-in pur sang, it’s a Final Cut Pro X transition plug-in designed to make the hesitations, coughs and “euh’s” go away without creating jumps in the process. It does work with Motion as well, but its real magic lies in enabling users to get rid of jumpy cuts. Up till now I always used cross-fades to get rid of jumps in-between cuts but those transition types do disrupt the flow of an interview. With mMorphCut that’s no longer the case. mMorphCut comes as a set of a standard 16/9 display ratio plug-in, a set of 4K (both UHD and DCI) versions, five different 2K and NTSC and PAL versions.
The plug-in is very simple and has only two controls to set: a drop-down with a selection of how serious the movements are in-between the cuts and a big “Re-analyze” button. You can stretch the transition itself on the timeline as usual, but if you make it too long you’ll end up making the morphing process visible. That’s great if you want to see what is happening behind the scenes, but for production purposes it’s best to keep the transition as short as possible.
mMorphCut works best with small movements, but it’s not limited to scenes with people giving interviews or presentations. Still, I tested it with myself sitting in front of a static camera and the results were perfect — identical to the demo on MotionVFX’s site. As soon as you introduce additional motion, however, mMorphCut becomes less effective. Take a look at part of my first attempt to briefly introduce some tutorials I’m preparing. For this presentation I mounted the camera on a Rhino slider EVO with the Rhino Motion motor set to loop back and forth slowly — something which you probably won’t do in real life, but it does show you what happens if there’s too much movement going on.
[videojs mp4=”/media/mMorphCutexample.mp4″ width=640 height=360]
For this experiment I adjusted the mMorphCut parameters to medium and high movement, and re-analysed the clip afterwards. It’s better than a straight cut, but not ideal.
Even then, without mMorphCut I’d cut the hesitations away and add a cross-fade or a fade-to-colour. This would introduce a disruption in the flow of the presentation ( See also: “How To Use Cross Dissolve Transitions Effectively In Video Editing”, “Fade” and “Crossfade/Mix/Dissolve”) — which goes to show that presentations such as the one of my experiment should best not be shot with a camera moving back and forth on a slider. With interviews too you’ll rarely see the camera moving. At the most, the director switches the point of view to another camera at regular intervals in order to introduce some dynamics.
When I slowed down the looping camera slide with the Rhino Motion to take over three seconds for it to complete, mMorphCut was about as effective as with a statically mounted camera.
With a static camera or using very slow camera motion, mMorphCut enables you to make a transition barely noticeable if at all, making for a very fluid result. mMorphCut is not expensive either. It costs only around €54.00.