Morphing technique |


Morphing technique

Morphing technique -- Previously used in ''Terminator 2,'' the longest continuous morphing sequence is in Michael Jackson's ''Black or White'' video

Just after Michael Jackson sings from atop a faux Statue of Liberty in his new ”Black or White” video, the smiling faces of 13 very different people — a sumo wrestler, a redhead, a Rastaman — start blending magically into each other, thanks to a technique called ”morphing.” Most notably seen in Terminator 2, the process takes two computer images — in this case photographs — and seamlessly transforms one into the other. Technicians tell the computer where to start and where to finish and, ba-boom, the machine takes over, generating every intermediate step. The ”Black or White” sequence, which is 50 seconds long and took 10 weeks to produce, is the longest continuous morphing ever and presented some hurdles because of the music and dancing. ”When you’re specifying where the eyebrow is and it’s changing every frame, there’s a significant amount of work, hand specification by the animator,” says Jamie Dixon of Pacific Data Images, who directed the morphing in ”Black or White” & and whose Hollywood-based company has, he says, done ”billions of these things” in just the past year. The animal sequence in ”Black or White” — in which the Gloved One gets morphed from a black panther into a human and then back into the beautiful beast — intrigued Jackson most. Dixon says Jackson was the easier mammal to work with: ”It became obvious that we had to have the panther do his deal and then have Michael mimic that.” Dixon admits he was initially worried about telling the star ”to get on his hands and knees and crawl around in a puddle,” but Jackson had no problem with his animal instincts. ”As it turned out,” Dixon says, ”he was totally into that.”