If you are a videographer or a photographer dabbling in video you know how much of a pain in the ass it can be cutting interview footage with just one camera angle. The feared "jump cut" in an interview can completely ruin the overall production and professionalism of your entire video project. Luckily, Adobe has recently debuted their new Morph Cut tool in Premiere Pro CC to help filmmakers fix this sometimes unavoidable problem.
So what exactly is a jump cut in video editing? Unless someone is Mike Rowe and able to deliver a perfect interview, your video footage is going to have to be chopped up to produce a compelling story. In many cases, your interview might even be completely swapped around to make the flow as smooth as possible. The problem is that with each audio cut you also wind up with a major jump in video footage. These jumps in visual continuity instantly takes the viewer's focus away from the story being told and causes them to focus on your sloppy editing.
The most professional solution for avoiding the jump cut is to film with two or three separate cameras so that your visual cuts look intentional. If your camera angles are unique enough, then the viewer will not notice that the changes from camera to camera are actually an attempt to hide the cuts in audio. Next time you watch an interview on television, listen closely to the audio and you can hear how manipulated the actual interview can be despite how well the edit is presented.
The second most professional solution, and often the most entertaining, is to hide your jump cuts with visually exciting B-roll footage. In the most simple form, and editor places 2-10 second clips on top of the interview so the visuals underneath that footage are not needed at all. One of the most beautiful and well-crafted use of this method of editing can be found in the HBO series "The Jinx" where director Andrew Jarecki mixes lengthy interviews with beautifully shot reenactments to tell the fascinating story of suspected serial killer Robert Durst. The key to using good B-roll to hide your jump cuts is to remember to film as much extra video footage as possible that is related to the overall story.
With this new Morph Cut tool in Premiere Pro CC, Adobe has essentially offered a third option to hide the dreaded jump cut. By mapping the background between two similar and static shots, the Morph Cut software will analyze the stationary areas of the scene and attempt to seamlessly morph the subject of one scene into the next scene without any distracting movements. As the video above shows, you can adjust the number of frames used to create this transition.
I have not actually been able to use this tool yet since it was just recently announced, but I believe this is going to be an extremely powerful editing technique especially for small crews that might not have the budget to setup multiple cameras or film elaborate footage for B-roll applications. Lee Morris and I are currently editing our massive world landscape tutorial with Elia Locardi and I know how much time and stress this is going to save us personally. Let's hope that Adobe has developed an advanced enough plugin with this first release to make it actually useful from the get go.