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27.5 - What is Morphing?

27.5.1 - General

The term "morphing" conjures up pictures in the mind of something normal-looking twisting and turning, features running like wax and through some film-makers voodoo, and finally turning into... something else, maybe normal looking, maybe not. Morph can do every bit of that, and do it well.

The process of creating a morph is not really very complex, either. This documentation contains all the basic information you'll need to create outstanding morphs. However, to get the most from this product, it is worth taking the time to examine a very short description of what we mean by morphing in the technical sense.

27.5.2 - Quick Technical Overview

The concept of morphing has two meanings in this software:

  1. Distorting a single image into a new image using positional Control information supplied by the user. This is called Warp Morphing, or Warping.
  2. Combining distortions of two images to form a new image, using color information from both source images, along with positional Control information supplied by the user. This is the classic Morph operation.

Morphing can also be taken generally to mean the generation of a sequence of images using either method (a) or (b) as just discussed, instead of just a single image.

Such a sequence provides a continuous (or as nearly so as possible) change from one image to the other when these images are played back in real time as in a video or a movie.

If a sequence of images is desired as morph output, then the user can supply an additional control element: timing. This type of morphing is known as Motion Morphing.

27.5.3 - Controlling Morphing

When using Morph to generate morphs, you have powerful tools to manage the three most important factors in the process:

  1. Geometry:

    Localized positional changes of the image's surface — also called Topology management. You can think of this in more general terms as physical distortion, or warping. This is key to the morphing and warping processes, because when changing an image to a totally new look, portions of the image must move. Your ability to manage that movement is the key to creating highly effective and believable changes. This type of management is achieved through placing Controls on the image, or images, to be morphed or warped.

  2. Velocity:

    This is the rate of change of the specific physical distortions, or warps. The ability to cause a particular distortion to occur later, earlier, slower or faster than other portions of a morph is what allows you to subtly call attention to one area of a morph over another. Velocity management is accomplished by selecting Controls and then "assigning" them to a Velocity Curve. These curves manage the rate at which the topology of the image is changed along the path defined by the starting and ending Controls.

  3. Colorimetry:

    Colorimetry refers to transparency changes between two images (this does not apply to warp morphs). As the positions of features in an image change, so to must the color(s) of the regions that are moving. In every case, the colors change from those of the starting image to those of the ending image. Effective management of this facet of a morph allows you to keep the original colorations for all of or a portion of a morph as long as you feel it is required. You can also force an early change to the colors of the final frame this way. Transparency management is effected by assigning Controls to a Transparency Curve.

    A Transparency Curve affects the rate at which the colors for the area near the selected Controls change from the source image to the destination image. Note that an otherwise linear Transparency Curve can apply color changes in a nonlinear fashion if there is a velocity curve which also affects the same region. Velocity affects Transparency; but not the other way around.

 Tip:

? Unknown Style "mpoints" ? and ? Unknown Style "mlinks" ? are not generally used in most morphs; instead, you'll use lines and curves to achieve more complete and easier to use management of morphing elements. So the rest of the information in this tip is just in case you run into an older morph project that uses them.

27.5.3.1 - Points

Points are the ends of a Path over which you want a portion of an image to move. The portion of the image underneath the starting Point will move to the location underneath the ending Point — the area of the image that it moves through is what is known as the path. Note that we do not describe this as a "vector", as you may find it described in the technical literature which describes morphing — this is because in our software, the path may not be a straight line, and so it is inaccurate to describe it as a vector.

27.5.3.2 - Links

Links are Controls that exist between pairs of Points; when you add a link, it will appear between the pair of Points on the starting frame, and also between the pair of Points in the ending frame that specify the end of those two paths. The Link will deform as required to remain a straight line between the two paths as they change over the course of a morph or a warp.

The purpose of a link is to create a "hard" boundary over part of the image; a region where the image will not "flow" through where the link blocks it. You use Links to provide sharply defined borders in your morphs and warps between Points.

27.5.3.3 - Lines and Curves

Lines and Curves are Controls that perform functions similar to combinations of Points and Links, but they much more easily manage more complex areas. Lines and curves are applied using the tools located in the Toolbox. These tools allow you to create Controls that range from Ellipses to complex Freehand lines. Each Control is independent from other Controls, and has an element which is placed in both the start and the end image. Lines and curves differ from Points in that Points must be manipulated to the correct position in one of the images after they have been placed. Lines and curves allow you to draw around the feature in the start image and then draw around the feature in the end image.

27.5.3.3.1 - Types of Lines and Curves
 Warning:

It is possible for the image data to literally fold over, or tear at, any region where the Controls which specify the image's movements create topological changes which conflict with each other. When you see a fold, or a tear, you should be able to fix it by altering or removing one or more Controls in the area of the problem.

27.5.3.4 - Layers

Layers and layering allow you to separate various objects from the rest of the morph, and morph them independent of objects not in the same layer. For example, the Bounce motion morph project uses two layers.

The first Bounce layer (also known as the Base Layer) contains no Controls, and is essentially the background of the motion morph frames.

The second layer contains 1 object (the circle and square outlines), which is placed above the background.

When the morph is generated, the base layer is created first, and then any subsequent layers that have been specified. In this case there is only one other layer, so it is created and placed on top of the base layer.

The overall effect is the ball morphing into the square without ever altering the background information.

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