Filmmaking often comes down to problem-solving, though not that every task we face is necessarily problematic. I think we arrive at many solutions by way of new, situation-specific techniques that are built by a combination of the techniques we already know. When it comes to digital effects, it can help to possess a variety of techniques in our experiential arsenal. Who knows, perhaps having learned a basic tool within a software will help time-budget an effect, or maybe even save some money? In this vein, we're happy to bring you this After Effects tutorial from AE.Tuts+ -- in it, Axel Sorenson explains how to reshape one subject's face into another, without the use of (paid) third party plug-ins. His example uses stills, but remember, in AE, anything you can think, you can track!
I think I smell a dream-sequence coming on! You may be asking yourself, well, that's great Dave, but when else or how or why would I need to use this effect? Though it may seem very specific, the basic nature of the liquify tool means you have the ability to warp basically everything. Maybe you won't go as far as this demonstration, or maybe you'll push it even further -- or maybe you'll use it in a different way entirely. You also might say, well, this is just an effect between two stills over time, not with true motion pictures. This is absolutely right, but again, if you wanted to accomplish an effect like this starting with motion -- given proper execution on set to create ripe raw materials -- this is something you could hypothetically do as well.
Faces aren't the only shapes that could be matched and morphed, either. I think Axel's work here is a great example, because the human face certainly gives us a variety of major reference points to both create and gauge the final effect. That said, this is just a demonstration of what's possible with the right tool and technique -- whatever you can imagine.
To what ends have you guys used AE's liquify tool before? What sort of ideas do you have given the ability to morph one face into another?