For a long time my Dad misunderstood when people talked about jump cuts, he thought they were saying “junk cuts”. This anecdote doesn’t mean anything, I was just reminded of it as I started typing this post.
I will first credit the one who inspired me to even think it possible, what I’m about to describe. This man has actually influenced me a lot over the years, and my last blog post about Avid’s ScriptSync wouldn’t have happened had I not seen this guy give a presentation about ScriptSync some years back. Anyway, I first met Steve Audette in 1998 at one of Avid’s Master Editor Workshops. I was blown away by the work Steve showed at this presentation eleven years ago, and I’m very happy to say we became and are still good friends.
One of the things that Steve demoed back then was using Elastic Reality to morph between the clips in a jump cut, making what was two clips into one, hiding the cut. This blew my mind. But I never used this particular idea until last week.
The project I was cutting I ended up with a jump cut that I couldn’t cover with b-roll. I thought about modifying the script so I could do away with one of the shots in the bad edit, but the words as they were were just too good. Since the interview subject didn’t move too much across the jump cut I was reminded of Steve Audette’s morphing maneuver.
I turned to RE:Vision Effects and their powerful RE:Flex plugin for After Effects to see if I could accomplish what I had in mind. RE:Vision’s effects are powerful but do require some learning, so after I brought my clips into After Effects via Pro Import AE I sat myself down and read through the user guide and reviewed how the plug-in works.
Essentially you set up a series of mask pairs, a mask shape that follows the “from” geometry then directly beneath that a mask shape that follows the corresponding “to” geometry. Clearly the more masks you create to control the morph the better results you will get, and I tried to walk that fine line of doing enough to make the effect work but do few enough that I could quickly move on to other editing tasks.
Thankfully it didn’t take all that long, and it wasn’t really all that hard. In fact when I started previewing the morph I had to double-check that my eyes weren’t deceiving me because the morph was actually working.
Someone with real morphing and warping experience could give you better advice, but I found parts of the face and body that had easily defined areas and made my mask outlines there. Like the eyes, the top of the blouse, the sides of the face, and of course the lips. I previewed the effect to see where warping artifacts appeared or where the effect wasn’t seamless then added mask outlines in those areas. If there were warping problems that I couldn’t see, well I didn’t consider those to be problems I needed to solve.
Another consideration for me was that this final video was going to be viewed primarily on the web, so a little bit of imperfection could be tolerated since it might end up masked my a compression artifact or a viewer might simply blame the defect on their internet connection.
The end result was definitely worth the time I spent, which was probably only about an hour, I was able to keep my interviewee saying the phrase I needed, and on camera too.
A big thank you to RE:Vision Effects for hooking me up with their powerful plug-in and another big thank you to Steve Audette for providing the inspiration.