The term morphing meaning "to morph" is derived from the word
metamorphosis. The dictionary defines metamorphosis as "a
change of form". This is what morphing software does to pictures,
changes one picture object to another, by creating a sequence
of smooth transitional link pictures between the starting
and ending pictures. The transitional link is an animation
Morphing is a standard special effect in many Hollywood productions. Using these software packages you will be able to add these special effects to your own computer movie files, home video productions and multimedia projects.
Each of the software packages are able to load a variety of picture files, such as .BMP, .PCX, .GIF etc. Two of the Windows software packages Photomorph 2 and VideoCraft has a feature of morphing two moving pictures (Windows .AVI files) files. This is a big improvement from using static picture files.
Choosing Picture Files
The first step in any morph is choosing the pictures to morph. Choosing suitable pictures is of utmost importance. In general the more care one takes in either creating or choosing suitable pictures to morph, the more successful the appearance of the finished product. For instance, if you are choosing to morph a two people, lets say a woman to a man, it is best to use two pictures that have the same general size and outline. So if the starting picture is a close up of the woman's face, you wouldn't want to morph it into a full body shot of the man. A better choice is a close up of the man's face. In addition, by matching the overall size of the face and head, you will improve the transitional quality of the morphing effect.
Picture file manipulation and sizing can be accomplished using many graphic programs like Photoshop and Corel.
Backgrounds are also important. When starting out it's better to use an object in front of a single color background. This focuses the morphing effect on the objects being morphed.
Using the same background for each picture, is the next best thing. If you are shooting pictures pairs to morph, don't move the camera between shots. If you own a photo manipulation program such as Adobe, you can remove the objects or persons you are going to morph from each picture and place them on identical backgrounds.
The reason for choosing identical backgrounds is when morphing an object against a complex background, a graphic distortion surrounds the object. This appears as a melting and mixing of the background closest the objects as they are undergoing the morph.
When setting up the morphing points in the any of the programs, choose points that will tend to limit this type of background distortion. For high quality morphs, such as those used in hollywood, a blue screen background technique is used. The blue screen background can be removed photographically and the morphing sequence is placed on top of an appropriate background. This effectively removes all the background distortion.
PhotoMorph 2 has a blue screen feature we will look at a little later. Many of the decisions we shall make, like choosing the morphing points, are the same for all packages. Of course the mechanics involved in setting the points in each program are different.