How to Use Premiere Pro's New Morph Cut Feature to Make Jump Cuts Disappear

Adobe included a ton of new features with the latest update to their Creative Cloud video apps, and one of them might make those of you who regularly shoot interviews very, very happy.

The feature is called Morph Cut, and if you haven't already gotten acquainted with it in Premiere Pro, it's essentially a video transition tool that uses interpolation and face tracking to make jumps cuts more seamless. CNET ran a couple of short tests with the Morph Cut to see if it worked as well as Adobe let on:

But perhaps more a more helpful and thorough demonstration is this one from the folks over at Anchor Line. In it, they put the Morph Cut feature through a battery of tests to see how it fairs when 1.) there's a lot of motion in the foreground (hands and gestures) and/or the background (cars, pedestrians, etc.), 2.) there's camera movement, 3.) there's an inanimate object instead of a human face, 4.) and there are multiple subjects.

It's pretty apparent what kinds of conditions are best for using this feature: a talking head, a fixed shot, and a static background. But Adobe has offered some other helpful tips and tricks on how to get the best results using Morph Cuts. Here's a list from their website:

  • 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).

Clearly in order for Morph Cuts to work properly, everything within the frame has to have as little movement and change as possible (this includes lighting), because you won't be able to utilize it if you choose to, say, shoot handheld outside with traffic in the background with a subject who gesticulates and moves around a lot. It doesn't seem like Adobe is touting this like it's a replacement for traditional editing techniques that cover up long breaks, mistakes, and other flubs -- you'll still have to learn how and when to cut to a different camera, still image, or b-roll footage to hide your edits.

But even though this transition has its limitations, it seems like it'll be a huge benefit for editors that work with a lot of talking head interviews -- I'm even thinking this could work occasionally in narrative films when you want to cut a mistake from an otherwise perfect delivery (under optimal conditions, of course).

Have you gotten the chance to use the Morph Cut feature? How well did it perform? Let us know in the comments.     

Your Comment

15 Comments

Tried it a couple times in projects over the past week. Haven't had it be useable yet where I needed it. The interviewee moved in the chair too much once and a car drove through the background another time. I had a hunch that a disappearing car may take the focus away from what was being said. I'll keep trying it though.

June 25, 2015 at 4:40PM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
516

I have been testing it. It still needs a little work. But the fact they are trying this is awesome!

June 25, 2015 at 5:14PM

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You voted '-1'.
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Walter Wallace
YouTuber
1412

Simpsons did it...I mean Avid did it (4 years ago)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzyKei1_4Vw

June 25, 2015 at 4:51PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
646

I've fully moved to Adobe, but damn it I miss Avid.

June 26, 2015 at 6:55AM

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Stelrad Two Machine Doulton
Editor by choice, film maker by necessity.
317

Mixed results for me, some seemless, some not. Definitely want to be locked off with a static background (although I did manage one shoulder mount shot just fine). Choosing which frame to start and stop the transition on will make a huge difference. I had one that looked terrible, then trimmed just a single frame off the start and it was perfect.

June 25, 2015 at 6:08PM, Edited June 25, 6:08PM

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Anthony Powell
Film Maker
161

Or you could just be more "honest" and use some kind of flash or dissolve transition to show the clear passage of time. B-roll has always been the traditional cover up -- but even then I definitely avoid putting lines together that are in any way out of context from the original speech, or neglect some important point that was made in between.

June 25, 2015 at 6:27PM

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Vernon Florida
Editor/Camera
91

Not applicable with short business profile videos. Business owners are not used to being on camera - they just wat to look/sound good. I splice up there speech all the time - re arranging the order of things said etc. it's all about the final product for them. I have no problem faking it to make it.

June 26, 2015 at 5:21AM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
516

I was very excited about this feature, but like others here have found it not to work well at all 9 times out of 10. The slightest issues with blinking and posture shift (often present when somebody pauses in an interview and you'd like to trim it) stop it from achieving a good result.

It's a very neat idea, but I don't think it's particularly useful as is. Occasionally there's a small pause or stammer that can be excised successfully, but I'm finding that most of the time it doesn't work well enough.

June 25, 2015 at 7:04PM

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Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
977

Definitely not very useful. Most of the times, the interviewed moves a lot from cut to cut and the tool can´t handle such a big head movement. In adition, you need the guy to be silent during the morph cut, which is not always possible.

June 26, 2015 at 4:41AM

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Jubal
Filmmaker
81

I've tried it a few times and it hasn't been so great as advertised. In all of the demos they're using very slight frame cuts. If a head or arm is moved more than a few inches it looks obvious and creepy

June 26, 2015 at 6:43AM

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Let's not forget that unless the shot is 'face to cam' it doesn't work either. Profile is impossible and three quarters is unusable. The facial recognition is rather primitive.

June 26, 2015 at 1:48PM, Edited June 26, 1:48PM

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James Coote
Director of Photography
279

I've shot a dozen short interviews over the past 2 weeks and after trying for over an hour on a pretty much ideal clip, I never got a seamless morph. I'm giving up until the next upgrade.

June 26, 2015 at 6:00PM

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i'd like it if this site applied a few more critical/review skills; i've found that instead of objectively reviewing anything, NFS just blindly pastes up product puffery from company marketing divisions. the Real story about morph cut is that it's one of a hundred features and functions on premiere pro 15 that was Broken On Arrival. the 2015 ppro is an absolute mess ---and any professional who tries to make a living using ppro should be warned off. NFS -- and other sites -- are still just waiving the Adobe-issued pom-poms since 2015 release; if they'd take even a cursory look at user forums, they could tell what POS meltdown this release is.

June 29, 2015 at 2:16PM

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stephen knifton
owner / creative director
500

Interesting. Maybe they should've spent more time fixing longstanding issues, like the ridiculously gimped effect UIs in their audio mixer. Premiere could be a decent enough audio tool for many projects, but the fact that plug-ins' GUIs aren't even shown (instead you get a drop-down listbox containing every parameter by name) just sucks beyond belief.

July 13, 2015 at 2:58AM

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David Gurney
DP
2408

After using Avid FluidMorph for many years, I have to say Morphcut is TERRIBLE in comparison, nothing but artifacts and even when it's good it's still only half as good as FluidMorph.

May 4, 2016 at 11:31AM

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