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Advanced Morphing in Adobe After Effects

Setting Up The Morph Effect

A lot of people have asked me how I created the VFX for the intro of my popular Adobe After Effects morphing tutorial. In the intro sequence I am holding a TV remote and then, moving my right over it, it transforms into a soccer ball directly in my hands!

After Effects Advanced Morphing 01 - Final Effect

The trick is actually pretty simple. As I spin my hand over the object I freeze all movement. Celina then comes into the scene and replaces the object in my hand while I try to hold perfectly still. After Celina has left the frame again I continue to move as if nothing had happened.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 02 - Base Footage

The last step is to create a smooth transition between the remote and the soccer ball to really sell the morph effect! That is what I will teach you in this tutorial.

Morphing One Object Into Another

First off, import the clip you filmed into After Effects. Create two separate layers, one going up to the moment where your helper is replacing the object and the second one starting after the object has been replaced. I cut out the middle section where Celina pops up and replaces the remote with a soccer ball. Try to align these two clips as best as you can for a seamless transition.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 03 - Split Layers

There will be an obvious cut where the remote control suddenly turns into the soccer ball. Also, since I did not manage to hold perfectly still, the position of my hands and arms does change slightly from one clip to the next. We will clean up this transition as part if this tutorial.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 04 - Split Layers

The first thing to do however, is to morph the remote control in my hand into the soccer ball. For this, duplicate the Remote layer, rename this copy to ‘Remote Morph’, and trim it down to the duration of the morph effect. Make sure this layer ends exactly when the soccer ball layer becomes visible.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 05 - Remote Morph Layer

Apply a mask to the remote control in my hand and animate the Mask Path property so the mask follows the movement of the remote. If you don’t know how to do this, go check out my After Effects masking tutorial.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 06 - Remote Mask

You should end up with a number of keyframes on the Mask Path property and the mask should follow the shape of the remote as precisely as possible. Finally, and this is important, rename the mask to ‘Remote’ so we can easily identify it.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 07 - Animated Remote Mask

Now repeat the same process for the Soccer Ball layer. First, duplicate the layer and rename the copy to ‘Soccer Ball Morph’. Trim the layer down to start at the same time as the Remote Morph layer and end when the full Soccer ball layer kicks in.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 08 - Soccer Ball Morph Layer

As before, add a mask to the soccer ball in the Soccer Ball Morph layer.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 09 - Soccer Ball Mask

Again, animate the Mask Path property to have the mask follow the shape of the ball as precisely as possible for the duration of the morph effect. Change the name of this mask to ‘Soccer Ball’.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 10 - Animated Soccer Ball Mask

Select the ‘Soccer Ball’ mask and copy and paste it onto the Remote Morph layer. Set the mask mode to ‘None’ so this mask has no effect on the contents of the footage.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 11 - Remote Morph Masks

Now select the ‘Remote’ mask on the Remote Morph layer and copy and paste it onto the Soccer Ball Morph layer. Set the mask mode to ‘None’ so the mask has no effect on the contents of this layer.

After Effects Advanced Morphing 12 - Soccer Ball Morph Masks

Because each layer contains both masks and because we will use it to control the morph effect, the naming of these masks is very important! Now that we’ve got the basics set up for the morph effect we will use the Reshape effect to transform the remote control into the soccer ball!

3 comments for Advanced Morphing in Adobe After Effects

  1. you’re right it wasn’t that bad. My problem was that I didn’t have any footage to use so I was using 2 still images, but they were not the same size. so when I pasted the masks it got very ugly and just would not work.

  2. Hi, I’m having a liquify tool problem that I’m struggling with for a few days.

    Let’s say that I have a video of a balloon flying in a room. I’m using the liquify effect to change the shape of the balloon on the first frame and a mask to protect distortion of the balloon’s surrounding .

    The problem is that once the balloon is moving , the liquify plugin ignores the movement of the mask and everything becomes a mess.

    I cannot get still images of the balloon.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    • You can use an adjustment layer with the liquify effect applied. Then track the movement of the adjustment layer to follow the balloon so the ‘liquify’ effect follows the balloon :)

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